Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Man who was Starlight by Patrick McCarthy

The Man who was Starlight by Patrick McCarthy.  Hardcover book published Allen & Unwin 1987.

Bushrangers play an important role in the history of Australia.  We’ve all heard of Ned Kelly and his gang* and most of us are aware that he wasn’t the only Bushranger who terrorised Australia in the nineteenth century.  Who were the others?  Well… ummmmm… bushranger history is not one of my strong subjects and as I write this I’m having difficulty in naming some others…  Ben Hall… Captain Thunderbolt (I accidentally stumbled upon his grave a few years back… true)… mmmm, nope, I think that’s it for me.  My bushranger knowledge stops there. 

So Captain Starlight, also known as Henry Readford, is a bushranger dude that I am embarrassingly not so acquainted with.  He was famous for stealing cattle amongst a number of other achievements, including partly being the inspiration for Rolf Boldrewood’s book Robbery Under Arms.  This book aims to set the story straight about his exploits and appears to be quite detailed in its reportage and biographage (rhymes with reportage)… and how do I now know all of this?  I’ve got the book in front of me.

Ned Kelly books are very sellable.  Unfortunately Henry Readford isn’t a Ned Kelly.  There’s no armour, no shoot out, no Jerilderie letter and no movies starring either Mick Jagger or Heath Ledger.  So Captain Starlight is not in the spotlight.  Still, this book does fall into the category of Bushranger non-fiction and besides ignoramus here (that’s me), I’m sure there are others out there who have heard of the Captain and want to get all the facts neatly bundled together in one volume… and if they haven’t heard of him…?


  1. I stumbled across Captain Thunderbolt during some research for Uni - apparently he was the only person to ever successfully escape from Cockatoo Island when it was a penal colony. And you can find photos of him... well... dead... on the internets. I have to hear about you finding his grave!

  2. I was on holidays at the time and there was a sign indicating that the grave of Captain Thunderbolt was nearby... so i went and had a look. Not really that exciting but it was sort of related to the subject.
    All the best