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AUSTRALIAN SONGS

Ben Hall

traditional Australian song
composer unknown

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.

See also  Dunn, Gilbert & Ben Hall
John Gilbert Brave Ben Hall
Ballad of Ben Hall's Gang

Come all you young Australians and everyone besides
I'll sing to you a ditty that will fill you with surprise
Concerning of a ranger bold whose name it was Ben Hall
But cruelly murdered was this day which proved his downfall

An outcast from society he was forced to take the road
All through his false and treacherous wife who sold off his abode
He was hunted like a native dog from bush to hill and dale
Till he turned upon his enemies and they could not find his trail

All out with his companions men's blood he scorned to shed
He oft-times stayed their lifted hands with vengeance on their heads
No petty mean or pilfering act he ever stooped to do
But robbed the rich and hearty man and scorned to rob the poor

One night as he in ambush lay all on the Lachlan Plain
When thinking everything secure to ease himself had lain
When to his consternation and to his great surprise
And without one moment's warning a bullet past him flies

And it was soon succeeded by a volley sharp and loud
With twelve revolving rifles all pointed at his head
Where are you Gilbert? where is Dunn? he loudly did call
It was all in vain they were not there to witness his downfall

They riddled all his body as if they were afraid
But in his dying moment he breathed curses on their heads
That cowardly hearted Condel the sergeant of police
He crept and fired with fiendish glee till death did him release

Although he had a lions heart more braver than the brave
Those cowards shot him like a dog no word of challenge gave
Though many friends had poor Ben Hall his enemies were few
Like the emblems of his native land his days were numbered too

It's through Australia's sunny climb Ben Hall will roam no more
His name is spread both near and far to every distant shore
For generations after this parents will to their children call
And rehearse for them the daring deeds committed by Ben Hall

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