Harry Redford
Harry’s Shout

1870s Queensland Bushranger: Harry Redford (aka Captain Starlight)

The evidence was quite damning and presiding judge Charles William Blakeney directed for a conviction.

The jury brought in a verdict of not guilty in a short space of time. Judge Charles William Blakeney was stunned and angry, and said: ‘I thank God that verdict is yours, gentlemen, and not mine’.

Redford is alleged to have shouted drinks for the 12 good men that night at the Maranoa Hotel.

The matter did not rest there. Mr Justice Lutwyche informed the Attorney-General and the Colonial Secretary that obtaining convictions for cattle stealing was becoming increasingly difficult in Roma and recommended the town be removed from the list of places to hold a Circuit Court. The Executive Council agreed and rescinded the appointment of Roma for two years.
Judged By His Peers

1870s Queensland Bushranger: Harry Redford (aka Captain Starlight)

On the 11th February 1873, the white bull and Redford were star attractions at his trial in Roma. Redford was so obviously guilty of the crime that many claimed he should be jailed without trial. The local people had a great deal of sympathy for cattle duffers, hating the huge concerns such as Bowen Downs for their greed. The jury were so overawed by his skills as a bushman and so impressed with his heroic efforts in establishing a new stock route through the uncharted outback they judged him not guilty,
Justice Denied

1870s Queensland Bushranger: Harry Redford (aka Captain Starlight)

The jury retired to consider their verdict at 9 o'clock, and returned to Court about 10 with a verdict of " Not guilty."

The prisoner was discharged

This case lasted the whole day, from 9am to 10 p m.

The Court was crowded in every part, and much surprise was evinced at the verdict, in which the Judge joined ; and, after having requested the foreman to repeat it, observed,

"'Thank God, gentlemen, that verdict is yours, not mine."

The costs of the witnesses in this case, I am informed, were over £600.

Blakeney, Charles William (1802 - 1876) In 1870 over a thousand cattle disappeared from the Bowen Downs station, near Longreach. Six men were indicted; at the first trial they were acquitted by the jury on the grounds that the evidence was largely circumstantial; at the second trial the case broke down and did not go to the jury. One of the accused, Henry Redford, could not be traced for the first two trials but was finally apprehended in 1872. After detention for a year he was brought to trial in February 1873 and refused bail by the Roma bench, an action which Judge Alfred Lutwyche considered to be 'grievous oppression'. At the trial the case against Redford seemed clear. It was supposed that he and others took the cattle from Bowen Downs but only one beast, a valuable white bull, was identified. It was seen by an agent for Bowen Downs in South Australia in the possession of Walke, who swore that he bought the bull from Redford and that Redford signed a receipt as Henry Collins. When the jury returned a verdict of not guilty, Blakeney commented: 'Thank God, gentlemen, that the verdict is yours, not mine'. In letters to the Brisbane press members of the jury justified their verdict on the grounds that the witnesses were unreliable. One juryman blamed the judge, claiming that he was prejudiced and too severe. In parliament William Miles claimed that 'Judge Blakeney tried his cases in the coffee rooms of public-houses, and made remarks as to what he should do with certain persons if they came before him'. In April 1873 the government reacted to these adverse comments by depriving Roma of criminal jurisdiction in the District Court for eight months. This deprivation roused much criticism of government interference, the Roma juries and the unsuitability of Blakeney as judge. In August 1875 Blakeney resigned after a paralytic stroke. He wandered from his son's home, Cooltigue, at South Brisbane on 12 January 1876 and his body was found in the Brisbane River two days later. The coroner returned an open verdict.
The Evidence

1870s Queensland Bushranger: Harry Redford (aka Captain Starlight)

The first witness called was a cattle overseer on the Bowen Downs station owned by Messrs Morehead and Young.

He had been sent to Gracemere Station, near Rockhampton, to select and purchase bulls. He selected one, a very valuable Imported bull, of pure white colour, branded A on the near and off rump.

When he   selected the bull he placed an additional brand   on him - namely, S on the loin.

The bull outside the Court was the animal he bought at that time, he could not be mistaken as to his identity, irrespective of any brands which appeared on him, he is a very remarkable beast.

As the evidence hinged largely on the identification of the white bull, the Prosecutor asked:

‘Do you think you could recognise the bull anywhere?’ The answer came back: ‘Mate, I’d recognise his bones in a stew’.
Down To Strzelecki

1870s Queensland Bushranger: Harry Redford (aka Captain Starlight)

By June 1870 Redford was running low on supplies. Even though he was trusted and liked by the Aboriginal people of the area, and relied on them for information about water and feed he decided to trade the white bull to Alan Walker, a storekeeper at Strzelecki Creek , near Hill Hill cattle station.

He introduced himself as Henry Collins whose brother owned a property in outback Queensland. Redford sold the white bull and two branded cattle to Walke in exchange for supplies.
Crossing the Cooper

1870s Queensland Bushranger: Harry Redford (aka Captain Starlight)

Harry Redford stole 1000 head of cattle from the Aramac district and drove them to Adelaide to sell them. He picked a time when it was raining and knew that the water down Coopers Creek would give him two weeks grace before he could be tracked. This was quite a feat as this was largely unchartered area.

By June 1870 the group had come to Artracoona native well, some 1,200 kilometres from their starting point, and close to Wallelderdine station (called Hill Hill Station in most publications). Redford, running short of supplies, introduced himself to Alan Walke, a store keeper near the station, as Henry Collins whose brother owned a property in outback Queensland. Redford sold the white bull and two branded cattle to Walke in exchange for supplies.

He then moved the mob on between Lake Blanche and Lake Callabonna, arriving first at Mt Hopeless and then Blanchewater. The station manager, a man named Mules, purchased the entire mob for $10,000. It is not known if Redford ever received any money for this transaction as all he took to Adelaide was a note promising payment in six months.
The White Pedigreed Bull

1870s Queensland Bushranger: Harry Redford (aka Captain Starlight)

In early 1870 Redford, after recruiting four men, started work on cattle yards in a secluded gully that led to the Thompson River. The mustering of many small mobs of cattle from remote parts of Bowen Downs started in earnest. When he had about 300 in the yards they were then driven 40 kilometres south to another property. It was while droving one of these mobs south that Redford included a white pedigree bull in the mob, a bull imported from England, with quite distinctive markings and brands.

(Owners of Bowen Downs, Messrs Morehead and Young, sent their overseer to Gracemere Station, near Rockhampton, to select and purchase one or more bulls. He selected one, a very valuable Imported bull, of pure white colour, branded A on the near and off rump. When he selected the bull he placed an additional brand on him - namely, S on the loin.)

Redford did not want the bull but as is often the case, he found it very difficult to chase one lone animal away from the herd. This bull was to be a major problem to Redford.
The “Cockatoo”

(Australian slang for a person to lookout and warn bushrangers or people playing a two-up game if the Police were on the way)



1870s Queensland Bushranger: Harry Redford (aka Captain Starlight)

Redford’s most famous legacy in the Longreach district is 'Starlight's Lookout' also known as Cassidy's Knob. On this hill which rises gently over the surrounding plains, Redford is purported to have placed a man to keep watch while they were gathering the Bowen Downs cattle together for their epic journey.

There!!

1870s Queensland Bushranger: Harry Redford (aka Captain Starlight)

Harry Redford realised that many holdings were so extensive that stock from isolated portions would not be missed for some time, if ever.

Along with James McPherson, McKenzie, George Doudney and William Brooke, he mustered small mobs of cattle and stragglers from Bowen Downs station, the biggest in the area at about 1.75 million acres (about 700,000 hectares), and then drove the herd down the channels to another property. (Forrester’s Camp).

When about 1,000 cattle were assembled, plans were made to drive them overland to South Australia.
Waiting

1870s Queensland Bushranger: Harry Redford (aka Captain Starlight)

1869: Henry Arthur Readford, commonly known as Harry Redford at the age of 27, was squatting on a property named Wombundery, near present day Windorah. Redford was an expert bushman and drover who often worked as head teamster for William James Forrester, transporting stores to many outlying properties in western Queensland. He realised that many holdings were so extensive that stock from isolated portions would not be missed for some time, if ever.

Bowen Downs was one such property of immense size (approx. 744,000 ha). Redford devised a plan to steal cattle from the owners. Cattle duffing was very common, in fact many small farmers made a regular living by rounding up stray cattle, changing brands, or branding cleanskins, and using them to stock their own properties. Many of these men later became respected members of the community, their cattle-duffing enterprises soon forgotten. Redford may have joined their ranks if he had not devised a plan requiring great skill and daring: a plan that was to go down in history as one of Australia's largest cattle duffing exploits.
The Plan

1870s Queensland Bushranger: Harry Redford (aka Captain Starlight)

Harry plotted with James McPherson, McKenzie, George Doudney and William Brooke to steal cattle from Bowen Station and move them south for sale. They went 25 miles up the Thomson River and built cattle yards in the channels. Once completed, they mustered small mobs of cattle and stragglers from Bowen Downs station, the biggest in the area at about 1.75 million acres (about 700,000 hectares), and then drove the herd down the channels to another property. (Forrester’s Camp).

When about 1,000 cattle were assembled, plans were made to drive them overland to South Australia. Two of Redford's men refused to accompany him on a trek through largely unexplored country so Redford and two other men set out from a point reputed to be about 35 kilometres west of Isisford. They split the cattle into three mobs to avoid a suspiciously large dust cloud and followed the Barcoo River down to its junction with the Cooper, staying on the north side and crossing at a point close to the depot of the ill fated Burke and Wills expedition of 10 years earlier. The cattle were overlanded through largely unexplored country, travelling along the Barcoo River and Cooper Creek as well as the Strzelecki Track into South Australia.

Harry Redford has come to be more popularly known as 'Captain Starlight' - a fictitious name drawn from Rolfe Boldrewood's Australian classic 'Robbery Under Arms'.