Frank Gardiner - Bushranger
Known as 'The Gentleman Bushranger', he and Ben Hall combined to bring apprehension and fear to the highways of the goldfields.

The exploits of Frank Gardiner (aka Christie, Clarke, Jones'), one of the most notorious bushrangers ever to take up the profession, ranks highly in Australian folklore.
He was born to Charles and Jane Christie in Rosshire, Scotland, in 1829. His father was an agriculturalist, who arrived in Australia as a bounty migrant with his wife and five children on the ship "James" on 17th November 1834. By the time he was twenty he was skilled in the art of horse and cattle stealing, and his exploits quickly gained him notoriety in northern Victoria and southern New South Wales, where he operated.
At 20 he was sentenced to 5 years hard labour in Pentridge Prison, Melbourne, for horse stealing, but escaped after serving only 5 weeks.
Frank Gardiner was one of New South Wales first, and most notorious bushrangers and operated mainly in the western reaches of the state around the Bathurst diggings. He and Ben Hall formed an alliance at one period and he was known as a 'Gentleman' bushranger, meaning he had the respect of the poorer classes, dressed well, and was respectful of settlers and in particular, women.
He was part of (and probably instigator) of one of the most notorious robberies in Australia's early history when he and his gang held up the Eugowra Gold Escort.
Of those involved in the robbery, only three were ever brought to trial. Others involved, namely Gilbert, Hall and O'Meally, were shot dead while involved in other unrelated crimes. Gardiner on the other hand was never brought to trial for this robbery and majority of the proceeds from the Eugowra gold robbery were never recovered.
After the robbery Gardiner retired to the Queensland goldfields, west of Rockhampton, taking his share of the £12,000. There he used his true name and assumed an honest life which he shared with 'Kitty' Brown who had left her husband John Brown for her lover, Frank Gardiner. Catherine (Kitty) was the younger sister of Bridget (Biddy) who was married to Ben Hall. They operated a shop on the goldfields under the name of Mr. and Mrs Christie.
In early 1864, a man named Mark Brown recognized "Mr and Mrs" Christie, the shopkeepers, at Apis Creek near Rockhampton and reported the matter to the police. Gardiner was found and apprehended by Detective McGlone, tried in Sydney, and sentenced to thirty two years imprisonment in March 1864 at age 34, the first 2 years in irons.
In 1867 Kitty gave up waiting for him, and took up with Richard Taylor, the brother of James Taylor, and followed him to the diggings in New Zealand, where they hoped to find gold. However, instead of gold, Kitty found death. In 1868, after only few weeks in New Zealand she shot herself at Waipatukaha at the age of twenty-five.   (OK, NZ can be a bit boring but.... Really !)
Frank Gardiner, served 10 years of his sentence before being granted a pardon and was released on condition he leave the dominions of "Her Majesty". He was placed under guard on a ship and eventually made his way to San Francisco where he became the owner of a popular saloon. He married a rich widow who bore him two sons. It appears that here he remained, plying his trade for some years and is rumoured to have died there of pneumonia in 1904.

Pete Wilkins 2013

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