Travels and Adventures of Ben Bridge Throughout Western Australia and Northern Territory
by Ben Bridge
ISBN 978-0-85905-540-6, (2012, 1915?), A4, 94pp, illustrated, 285 grams
$30.00* + POST
An intriguing story of one of the great and almost forgotten characters of the Australian bush.
Ben Bridge was one of Australia’s greatest horsemen at a time when nearly all Australians were familiar with the finer points of horses and their riders.
Early acquaintance with men such as Ben Hall and Yellow Billy, and a love for a great horse led young Ben a little astray. From NSW to Queensland, the Territory to the Kimberley, Ben was tracked by the police, charged many times, released as many, except that several of these releases were unofficial – he broke out of gaol several times, including in Queensland where the gaol burnt down around him.
The police were searching for a will-o-the-wisp who many times was hiding mere yards from them.
Eventually after some 8 years on the ‘run’ he was captured in the Kimberley and extradited to stand trial in NSW, again.
The surprising conclusion is for those who read the book.
This is a re-edited version of an extremely rare book. At the time of publication no library in Australia had a copy. That in the NT disappeared as did one in Tamworth years ago.
The original ‘manuscript’ of this book is a 62 page printed booklet that is an editor’s, not to say reader’s, nightmare. The type must have been condemned years before, only surviving in a backblocks printing butchery for turning paper into meat wrappings. The text is in small type, faint and difficult to read. On top of that the text is jumbled and mis-lined, with stray words and lines, words as anagrams, line duplication and misnumbered chapters. This was the typesetters doing, not the writer. This is not unusual for country publications of the period and appears to be a tradition followed by some modern newspapers.
The time invested in retyping, checking and setting is not regretted by the editor.
Allen Maunder, the family genealogist, indicated that the original manuscript was taken down by Bertha Bridge under Ben’s direction, however Ben had taught himself to read and write on his bush sojourns.
Ben’s brother was the progenitor of the Bridge clan of the Kimberley, which includes Ernie Bridge, once an MP for the region. There is no known direct relationship with your editor, but both families come from the same area of Lancashire, and there is a remarkable similarity of Christian names in both clans.