A Bottle of Brandy from Moon’s Pioneer Hotel

Early in the hours of the 28th October 1878, having ridden across the rain drenched Oxley Flats from Greta, Joe knocked at the door of Moon’s Pioneer Hotel, while the other three waited across the road on horseback, and purchased a bottle of brandy. Briefly warmed by the liquor, they rode across the bridge toward Everton but found their way blocked by a torrent of fast-flowing water almost half a mile wide. With the bridges before them engulfed by the Ovens and its eight channels, they headed south-east in search of a crossing place. After a desperate ride of almost 8 miles, the gang finally found a ford near Taylors Gap. Crossing it, they halted at Coulson’s store, near the Everton railway station, and brought several boxes of tinned sardines and oats for their ten exhausted horses. Remounting, they headed up towards Beechworth as the sun began its rise over the ranges. Soaking wet and desperate for rest, they arrived at the highest corner of the tableland above Sheepstation Creek and risked firing eight shots to attract the attention of Aaron. After learning of the terrible tragedy that had occurred, Aaron travelled with them up to a cave just beyond Native Dog Peak and guarded them while they slept.
Later in the day, Joe would have made the journey down to his mother’s house, where he would have told her of the bloodshed that had occurred and his part in it, her cold blue eyes settling on the two rings that were now on his fingers. After this heartbreaking visit, he most likely would have crossed the footbridge to the Chinese camp, where he purchased some opium tar, the only thing that would have allowed his mind an escape from the dark reality he was now caught in.

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