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Uniting Epping Carinya Resident Investigates Death of Captain Thunderbolt in New Book

on Tuesday, October 4, 2022

Uniting Epping Carinya resident John Donohoe will reveal new details about the life and death of Australian bushranger Captain Thunderbolt in his new book. Captain Thunderbolt’s Folly - The Day the Gentleman Bushranger Got Himself Killed, Donohoe’s third book, examines how Frederick Ward, a master horseman, could be run down by a single mounted policeman and shot dead.

Donohoe, 65, who wrote his first book, Ben Hall’s Treasure, eight years’ ago, said he started visiting Uralla to learn more about The Gentleman Bushranger.

“When I started visiting Uralla, I was interested in learning more about Captain Thunderbolt. The more I found out the more fascinated I became, and I discovered there were many people who didn’t know about Captain Thunderbolt,” he said.

“Much like my book about Ben Hall, I have got a barrow to push. I have certain chapters where I deal with controversies that haven’t been dealt with before.”

Put in the words of a man who knew Thunderbolt, Edward Hynes said, “Thunderbolt would never have been caught, but for the fact that he had been drinking, and when chased by the police took the wrong horse”.

Donohoe investigates what happened during the chase by Constable Walker, when Thunderbolt was shot dead and the aftermath, including the Magisterial Inquiry.

“On that fateful day, 25 May 1870, Ward had spent two hours imbibing at Blanch’s Inn and he was quite inebriated,” he said.

“He was not going to go quietly either. He had been in gaol twice on Cockatoo Island and was in solitary confinement on the last trip. He always said, ‘I’ll never go back’.”

Donohoe said the book would be released in November, when he would present it to residents at Uniting Carinya.

“The first two books did quite well, so I am hoping this run of luck continues,” he said.

“When I came in to Carinya five years’ ago I sold a number of both books and some were nice enough to buy them as presents for their family. I expect to get some support again if they like the Thunderbolt story.

“I’m the youngest at Uniting Carinya and it’s the best move I have ever made. Everything looks nice and it’s a place that I don’t think I will ever leave. It’s like I have a whole lot of aunties who are always there to help. It’s good in that way.

“I think the biggest reward of writing is the measured praise from people who say thank you and that I have really enlightened them about something. Though each book has given me an enjoyable writing experience, it’s more the research that gets me excited.”

Uniting Epping Carinya Village Manager, Lisa Ciantar, said it was fantastic to have John as part of the community.

“John is always trying to create a sense of community and the residents are looking forward to learning more about the history of Australian Bushranger Captain Thunderbolt in one of John’s talks in the community hall,” she said.

“The residents are also very supportive of his writing and it’s an amazing achievement for John to be releasing his third book.” 

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