The Day before Tragedy

On the 25th of October 1878, Ned, possibly joined by Joe, rides south across Toombullup to visit Johnny Byrne, a distant relative of Joe. Near the Byrne home, possibly alerted by Johnny, they discover the tracks of police horses heading deep into the ranges. Later, as the sun begins its decent over the North East, Ned rides back up the eastern end of Toombullup ridge near Emu Swamp, heading west towards Bullock Creek. Here, he comes across what he believes to be a different set of police tracks, heading for the old shingle hut on Stringybark Creek, less than a mile from their hut at Bullock Creek. According to Ned, ‘On the 25th of October, I came on police tracks between Table Top and the bogs. I crossed them and returning in the evening, I came on a different lot of tracks making for the shingle hut.’
Fearing the ‘country’ to be ‘woven with police’, with the proof of multiple police tracks, Ned, Joe, Dan and Steve spend an extremely anxious night, with little or no sleep, waiting only till the arrival of daybreak. It is impossible to comprehend what these four young men would have been feeling during those hours. All that is certain, are the lives that would come to be lost, destroyed and forever altered by the tragedy that occurred on October 26, 1878.

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