Ben Hall & Bushrangers

Traditionally a home of the Wiradjuri people, white settlement followed the explorations of John Oxley who travelled through the area in 1817. The population in the district boomed when gold was discovered in 1861. The fledgling diggings township was named Forbes, it is thought after Sir Francis Forbes, the first Chief Justice of New South Wales.

The gold rush brought an influx of some 30,000 people creating a massive tent city and leading to the development of the substantial hotels, churches, civic and other buildings which you can still see in Forbes today.

As gold rush fever hit some turned to a life of crime, including the infamous Ben Hall and the Gardiner Gang; noted amongst Australia's most famous bushrangers.

But by the end of the 1860s gold had become secondary to the pastoral and developing agricultural wealth of the district and Forbes began to transform into the rural community it is today.

One of Australia's most notorious bushrangers, Ben Hall's three year bushranging career began in 1862 when he started associating with Frank Gardiner, a career bushranger. Ben Hall was linked with hundreds of robberies including the heist of an escort coach at Eugowra Rocks east of Forbes, reportedly carrying 14,000 pounds worth of gold and money. The site is now known as Escort Rock. Hall's career came to an end at Billabong Creek near Forbes in 1865 when he was shot down by a police party. Ben Hall was buried at Forbes Cemetery, two days before his 28th birthday.

Find out about Ben Hall at the Forbes Visitor Information Centre.

Churchill Street
Visitthe graves of Ben Hall, Catharine Ada Foster (better known as Kate Kelly - legendary sister of bushranger Ned), Rebecca Shield - the great-grandniece of Captain James Cook, French-Australian writer Paul Wenz and other local legends for fascinating insight into Forbes' past.

Ben Hall Road
This is the location 25km North West of Forbes where it is believed Ben Hall was shot dead by a police party in May 1865. Pick up a driving map at the Forbes Railway Arts & Visitor Information Centre.

Ben Hall Collage


The sister of bushranger Ned Kelly arrived in the Forbes district in 1885 aged in her early twenties. Kate was employed as a domestic for many local families and eventually met William Henry "Bricky" Foster, marrying him on 25 November 1888. The first of their six children was born in March of the following year.

On the evening of October 6 1898, Kate was reported missing by her neighbour and a police search ensued the following morning. A week later, Kate's body was found in the lagoon, behind a local residence.

The Police investigation and Magisterial Inquiry that followed would be considered inadequate by today's standards and 'Bricky' would certainly be considered a suspect, or at least a 'person of interest'.

Kate lived an extraordinary but indeed sad life and witnessed a lot of brutality and violence. There was little respect from the law based on the dealings with her family and the notoriety they received.

Kate Foster's body is buried in the Anglican Section of the Forbes Cemetery.