Delving into the archives - Warn

John Warn and the Phantom Bushranger

The Warn Vault.

The Warn Vault.

After being in the family for a century it was but recently that his property was sold and now there is a score of more farmers on the property. The time came when he saw the culmination of his dream.  

Together with his boys he rounded up a mob of seven hundred horses and drove them through the boundary gates on their long trail to Sydney and Melbourne markets.

Down the River Lachlan and on to the Murray they drove them, riding around them at night to stop them from stampeding. They reached Melbourne and sold four hundred geldings at a high price.  

Hearing that he would nearly double the price in Adelaide he set out for there with the remainder and sold out in one day.

It was nearly twelve months before they reached The Valley again, driving two hundred brood mares with them.  He could count his sovereigns in thousands now. He now bought racing blood and brood mares.  

The country was now getting more settled and races for substantial prizes were held in nearly every town and hamlet in the country.

Then came into being the bushranging gangs which caused consternation and alarm among the settlers. Among Ben Hall’s gang was a man who had worked for Warn horse-breaking.

He had thrown down honest work to ride the owl hoot trail.  

Gilbert knew that Warn had the best blood horses in the State and telling his mates in crime Hall and Dunn, they decided to call and get remounts.  

They were going after the Faithfull Brothers whom they had learned from bush wire information had imported breech-loading rifles from England, the first to enter Australia.

John had an underground vault built measuring 30' x 18' with 16 steps down into it.

It had a concrete floor, brick walls and a cement and stone arched roof, which was at ground level. Over the arch a tin roof was built.  This was similar to the style John would have seen as a boy in Suffolk.

It was nearing dusk when Warn had walked away from a huge vault he had just paid the workmen for building.  As he walked through his cherry orchard and other English fruit trees which he had imported from the land of his birth, he was at peace with the world and a sigh of contentment escaped him as he washed himself in the big tin dish which stood on the stove outside the kitchen door.  

Seated at the table with his family.

“Hands up!” came the curt demand from a bearded bushranger: “Sit still and you won’t get hurt.”  

To be continued.