Born in the early to mid 1830s, Frederick Wordsworth Ward, otherwise known as Captain Thunderbolt, was a hardworking bushranger. His extensive crime record states he robbed: 25 mail coaches;16 stations and residences; six hawkers; one toll-bar gate and stole 80 horses.
In 1856, he was sentenced to Cockatoo Island Prison, Sydney Harbour. Fred’s devoted wife Mary Ann Bugg, helped him to escape by swimming with him through the shark infested waters.
Later, a police report about his death was left incomplete, stirring up great controversy that continues today. Was it Fred Ward, his brother, or perhaps someone else who was shot by Constable Walker at Kentucky Creek and laid to rest in the Old Uralla Cemetery? Some claimed to have seen Ward in Glen Innes only days after the shooting.
Nonetheless, a fine headstone for Fred Ward remains, as does the mystery of his death. The full story makes great reading and exciting sightseeing.
While in Uralla don't miss these Thunderbolt related sites -
McCrossin's Mill Museum - "The Life and Legend of Thunderbolt" Exhibit
This recently refurbished exhibit contains artefacts used by Captain Thunderbolt during his daring escapades.
Located in Uralla’s Pioneer Cemetery, this headstone was erected by residents of Uralla as a memorial to Captain Thunderbolt, however, it is now shrouded in controversy as debate continues over who is actually buried in the grave ... or whether anyone is buried there at all!
Originally known as Split Rock, this huge cluster of granite boulders is located 6km south of Uralla on the New England Highway. The rocks were infamously used by Captain Thunderbolt as a vantage point for detecting approaching mail coaches.
Found casting his steely gaze over Uralla’s main street, this life size statue of Captain Thunderbolt was produced as a Bicentennial project and designed and cast by sculptor, Denis Adams. It was unveiled with much pomp and ceremony in 1988.
Constable Walker Memorial Plaque
Sitting quietly a few metres east of Thunderbolt’s Statue, this often over-looked memorial was produced in 1970, at the time of the centenary of the death of Captain Thunderbolt, and commemorates the bravery of Constable Walker.