The Legend Of Ben Hall

I’ve followed the making of the film The Legend Of Ben Hall right from its beginning as a proposed short film in 2014.  I’ve been interested in Matthew Holmes’ films because he filmed part of one, Twin Rivers, near my old home in Murray Bridge, South Australia which had a number of my friends and acquaintances in it.

Through a small donation to The Legend of Ben Hall’s Kickstarter campaign I was able to hear about the development of the short film, and then when interest was shown in making it a feature film I have followed that also.

If you don’t know the story here is a brief synopsis from the film website:

After two years running from the law, bushranger Ben Hall has gone into hiding, He is soon drawn back into bushranging by the reappearance of his old friend, John Gilbert. Reforming the gang and taking on a new recruit John Dunn, the trio begin a spree of robberies and crimes across New South Wales. After the killing of two policemen, the three become the most wanted men in the colony.

When the Government moves to declare them outlaws that can shot on sight by any person who chooses, Ben Hall makes desperate plans to flee the colony. But with a such a large bounty on their heads, treachery abounds where they least expect it … 

It was with great anticipation that I went to see the film last year and loved the attention to detail of the historical accuracy of the story, costumes, sets, and the characters. The story is fast paced with plenty of action and some romance too.  The score is beautiful and changes seamlessly from exciting to melancholy as the film progresses.  I’m listening to some of it as I write this blog post.

The Legend Of Ben Hall movie poster


Here is John Gilbert, one of the Hall Gang, I would definitely say he was a villain.


Recently I was looking through New South Wales Police Gazettes for a family tree I am currently working on. (not my own)  I came across the following item:


In 1865 the reward was paid out for the capture of John Gilbert.  I knew of Ben Hall and his gang before seeing the film and knew that he was a real person and that the characters in the film were real, however finding a record such as this when I’m doing research for a real person brought home to me the reality of the story of Ben Hall and John Gilbert in a way I have never known before with a movie I had seen or a book I had read.

In further news from the film website I’m looking forward to these upcoming movies:

The Legend of Ben Hall is the first film in a planned series by writer-director-producer Matthew Holmes. The screenplays for The Legend of Frank Gardiner and The Legend of John Vane  are already complete and in development by Two Tone Pictures and Running Panda Films.

These three companion films will form THE LEGENDS TRILOGY, an epic saga of the New South Wales bushrangers and the first of its kind ever produced in Australia. Each film will be based on authentic history and will immaculately recreate these stories for world-wide audiences. Two Tone Pictures is hoping to start production as early as 2017, with many cast members of The Legend of Ben Hall already set to reprise their roles.

Baptism Record

Whilst doing some research for someone else today I was thrilled to find this baptism record because it gave more clues than just the baptism and I haven’t seen one with this extra information before.

Birth and baptism record for Sarah Blears

Birth and baptism record for Sarah Blears

On the second row from left to right it has the date of birth, 5 Feb 1865, date of baptism 12 Mar 1865, child’s name, names of parents Wilbraham and Margaret, surname Blears, address 64 Mop Lane, father’s occupation Boiler Maker, and the signature of who performed the ceremony.

Underneath that on a new line it says, “late Hodson, m, at Cathd 1853”.  I hadn’t seen this on a baptism record before so I looked at the rest of the page and found it written on other entries like the one above Sarah’s.  At first I wondered if it meant the town they were from, that Hodson was a town but then the next part I was fairly sure was “married at Cathedral 1853”.  My next idea was maiden name.  Could it be Sarah’s mother’s maiden name?  Excitedly I searched for a marriage between Wilbraham (he switches between William and Wilbraham) Blears and Margaret Hodson and this is what I found.

William Blears Wedding

William Blears’ Marriage

I would certainly like to find more baptism registers with these extra details on them in the future!

River Torrens In Flood

Not far from where I live in Felixstow, South Australia is the River Torrens.  I have always loved rivers and spent many hours watching the River Murray when I lived at Murray Bridge.  The recent flooding in South Australia has provided for some interesting viewing and photography.  I’m no great photographer and I use my phone camera but I still love to record my life and local area in photos.

On the 14th of September, just a little over a week ago, we had extensive flooding in parts of the Adelaide Hills, South Coast and Adelaide suburbs.  Here are some of the photos I took on the 15th.




Park bench almost covered by water


Catchment channel leading into the river and the bridge over O.G. Road in the distance.

Catchment channel leading into the river and the bridge over O.G. Road in the distance.


Catchment channel leading to the Torrens at Drage Reserve, Felixstow.

Catchment channel leading to the Torrens at Drage Reserve, Felixstow.


Lochiel Park ford

Lochiel Park ford

The local news has reported extensively on the flooding:

I couldn’t help myself but check Trove to see what was reported about other times the River Torrens had flooded in my area.


Saturday 13th August 1870 the River Torrens flooded, this report stating that the water at Felixstow and Marden was nearly bank high.  It is hard to tell how much water that is as the river is very different today from how it was then.  This picture below shows how differently the river looked at Felixstow in 1910.

Photo courtesy of State Library of South Australia River Torrens at Felixstow 1910

Photo courtesy of State Library of South Australia
River Torrens at Felixstow 1910


Photo courtesy of the State Library of South Australia River Torrens at Felixstow

Photo courtesy of the State Library of South Australia River Torrens at Felixstow also 1910

This photo shows the river as much wider than it is today.


Here is a transcript of the above newspaper clipping from the South Australian Register 30 August 1889.

Felixstow Bridge
“On Monday morning Alderman Solomon, M.P. introduced a deputation representing the Districts of Payneham, Campbelltown, Teatree Gully, and Yatala South, to ask the Government to put a sum of money on the Estimates for the restoration of the Felixstow Bridge swept away by the recent floods in the River Torrens.  It was pointed out that the bridge was not only a convenience but a necessity to the people of the districts named and the fruitgrowers and cultivators in the hills and country beyond.”

I’m glad that our road bridges are much sturdier than they were in days of old.  Here is the footbridge where I take my grandchildren to feed the ducks.  I think we’ll be waiting a fair while for it to be fixed.

Footbridge between Drage Reserve and Klemzig Interchange

Footbridge under water, between Drage Reserve and Klemzig Interchange, 15 September 2016


Drage Reserve to Klemzig Interchange footbridge

Drage Reserve to Klemzig Interchange footbridge, 23 September 2016


Wheal Watkins

Wheal Watkins is an old lead and silver mine in the Adelaide Hills of South Australian near Glen Osmond.  I went to an open day on Sunday held by the Burnside Historical Society.  Dave Monceaux was the knowledgeable guide who gave us a surface tour.

Dave Monceaux talking about the lower adit

Dave Monceaux talking about the lower adit


Entrance to lower adit

Entrance to lower adit

You can go in a couple of metres to a gate and with torches we could see quite a way back into the hill.  The Cornish miners liked to make tunnels into the side of hills where they could.  Lead was first discovered on a neighbouring property in 1840 and mining started there in 1841 it was named Wheal Gawler.  Mining commenced at Wheal Watkins in 1844.

When I got home from visiting the mine I started doing some research into it.  I found that a James Heneker was the first to find lead in the area.  I recognised the name as one I had researched for a friend and yes James is her 3x great uncle.

Part of James Heneker's obituary

Part of James Heneker’s obituary

In the September newsletter of the Burnside Historical Society is a report on the state of the mine site and what they are doing to preserve and protect it.


Finds On Facebook – James Heeps

I was browsing through Facebook today and came across this picture in a genealogy group I’m part of.  Thanks to Karen for posting the photo.

Farmers Union of Victoria, Delegates At The First Conference, October 1879.

Farmers Union of Victoria, Delegates At The First Conference, October 1879,

This piqued my interest as a number of my ancestors moved from South Australia to Victoria, Australia and sure enough my 3x great grandfather James Heeps is in the picture.


James Heeps 1879

James Heeps 1879

James was born in Kettering, Northamptonshire, England circa 1834 and came to South Australia with his parents and siblings in 1847.  He married Tamar Bodger on 11 May 1854 and stayed in South Australia until about 1860 when he moved his family to Victoria settling in the Tylden area.  Between 1876 and 1879 James moved to the Rochester/Elmore area in Victoria.  He farmed and opened a grain merchant business in Elmore.  It doesn’t surprise me that James was involved in the early days of the Farmer’s Union as he was very active in public service.  In 1887 he was made a magistrate, in 1890 he was part of the founding of the Elmore Progress Association and stood for the Victorian General Election in 1892.  He died in 1902 and is buried in Elmore cemetery with his wife Tamar.

Here is my profile for him on

This is the only photo we have of James.  For me it is worth being on Facebook not just for the family fun and friends but for genealogy too.

My Birthplace Chart

I have been enjoying others’ birthplace charts today and here is mine.  It is a pedigree chart which starts with me and each spot shows where the person was born.  All my direct ancestors came to South Australia, some settled here and others went to Victoria during the gold rush.

MyBirthplaceChart11 South Australians

7 Victorians

6 Scottish

4 English

2 Irish

1 German