This song tells the story of bushranger Ben Hall and his outlaw gang. They killed 2 policemen, stole over 20 racehorses, and robbed 21 towns.
In 1865 the NSW Parliament passed the legislation, The Felons Apprehension Act, to stop the worst of the bushrangers: Ben Hall, John Gilbert, and John Dunn.
It essentially declared that those men were outlaws and could be killed by anyone anytime without warning.
At dawn on 5 May 1865, eight policemen, heavily armed with Colt rifles and double-barrelled shotguns, lie in wait for Ben Hall. The police had been tipped off by Ben's friend Michael Conoley and had set a trap for Ben. Coneley received a substantial reward for betraying his friend.
In the 5th stanza of the song Ben Hall asks "Where are you Gilbert? where is Dunn?"
Ben was alone and fled without firing a shot. He was shot in the back 30 times and buried 2 days later in Forbes Cemetery.
Note: A variety of sources list Ben Hall's birth date as 9 May 1837 and as 29 April 1837. We are not sure which one is correct.
A memorial called "Ben Hall's Wall" is located in Breeza, south of Gunnedah, New South Wales.
Come all you young Australians and everyone besides
An outcast from society he was forced to take the road
All out with his companions men's blood he scorned to shed
One night as he in ambush lay all on the Lachlan Plain
And it was soon succeeded by a volley sharp and loud
They riddled all his body as if they were afraid
Although he had a lions heart more braver than the brave
It's through Australia's sunny climb Ben Hall will roam no more