The Most Famous Bush Ranger, Ranked

Choose the bush ranger you think is the most famous!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Jun 11, 2024 07:38
Debates about which bush ranger holds the most notoriety often capture the interest of enthusiasts and historians alike. By ranking these iconic figures, we not only revisit their storied pasts but also measure the impact they've had on cultural and historical narratives. Such evaluations offer insights and foster a deeper appreciation of the outlaw lore associated with Australia’s colonial periods. This site provides a dynamic list where individual preferences shape the ongoing discussion about these legendary outlaws. Each vote casts a new light on familiar legends, potentially reshaping how these figures are viewed in the public eye. We invite you to contribute your view and see how your choices compare with others in the community.

Who Is the Most Famous Bush Ranger?

  1. 1

    Ned Kelly

    An Australian bushranger, outlaw, gang leader, and convicted police murderer. Kelly's legacy is controversial; some see him as a cold-blooded killer, while others view him as a folk hero and symbol of Irish-Australian resistance against oppression by the British ruling class.
    • Last Stand: Glenrowan, 1880
    • Famous Armor: Homemade metal armor
  2. 2

    Harry Power

    An Irish-born Australian bushranger, Power was notorious in the Victoria region. He is often remembered as the mentor of Ned Kelly, teaching him many of the skills that he later used in his own bushranging career.
    • Mentor to Ned Kelly: Taught Ned Kelly bushranging skills
    • Capture: Captured in 1870
  3. 3

    Captain Thunderbolt

    Frederick Ward, better known by his alias Captain Thunderbolt, was an Australian bushranger renowned for his endurance and escape from Cockatoo Island. He roamed the New England region and is known for his long career as a bushranger.
    • Escape Artist: Escaped from Cockatoo Island
    • Career Length: Six years
  4. 4

    Frank Gardiner

    Often considered the father of bushranging in New South Wales, Gardiner was responsible for the infamous gold escort robbery at Eugowra Rocks. He is known for his daring and the audacity of his crimes.
    • Gold Escort Robbery: Largest gold robbery of the time
    • Later Life: Exiled to the United States
  5. 5

    Ben Hall

    An Australian bushranger, Hall and his associates carried out many raids across New South Wales, from Bathurst to Forbes, often eluding capture. He is considered one of the most notorious bushrangers in Australian history.
    • Notorious Raids: Over 100
    • Death: Shot dead in 1865
  6. 6

    Dan Morgan

    Known as 'Mad Dog', he was a bushranger of the 19th century. Morgan was notorious for his short temper and for killing those who opposed him. He roamed the areas between New South Wales and Victoria, becoming one of the most feared bushrangers of his time.
    • Reputation: Feared for his temper
    • Death: Shot and killed in 1865
  7. 7

    Matthew Brady

    Brady was transported to Australia as a convict but soon became a bushranger. Known for his 'gentlemanly' behaviour, he was one of the most notorious bushrangers in Tasmania during the early 19th century.
    • Gentleman Bushranger: Known for his polite manners
    • Capture: Captured in 1826
  8. 8

    Johnny Gilbert

    A member of Ben Hall's gang, Gilbert was involved in the infamous robbery of the gold escort at Eugowra Rocks. He was known for his reckless bravery and was one of the most pursued men in Australian history.
    • Association: Ben Hall's gang
    • Death: Shot dead in 1865
  9. 9

    Moondyne Joe

    Joseph Bolitho Johns, better known as Moondyne Joe, was Western Australia's best-known bushranger. Famous for his numerous daring escapes from prison, Joe became a folk hero, embodying the Australian spirit of resistance against authority.
    • Escape Artist: Notorious for prison breaks
    • Legacy: Folk hero in Western Australia
  10. 10

    Martin Cash

    An Irish convict turned bushranger in Tasmania during the early 19th century. Cash was known for his daring escapes and the fact that unlike many of his contemporaries, he did not kill. He is often remembered as a 'gentleman bushranger'.
    • No Kill Policy: Never killed anyone
    • Memoirs: Published his memoirs

Missing your favorite bush ranger?

Error: Failed to render graph
No discussion started, be the first!

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most famous bush ranger. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or bushranger is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 121 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each bushranger once every 24 hours. The rank of each bushranger is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.


Additional Information

More about the Most Famous Bush Ranger

Ned Kelly
Rank #1 for the most famous bush ranger: Ned Kelly (Source)
Bushrangers were outlaws in the Australian bush during the late 18th and 19th centuries. They often began as convicts who escaped from penal colonies. These men and women sought freedom in the vast, untamed land. They became legends in Australian folklore, with their stories passed down through generations.

The term "bushranger" itself evokes images of rugged individuals living outside the law. They roamed the countryside, often on horseback, and knew the terrain well. Their knowledge of the land allowed them to evade capture for long periods. They relied on their skills in survival, hunting, and navigation. Often, they found refuge in dense forests and mountains, which provided cover and resources.

Bushrangers engaged in various criminal activities. They robbed stagecoaches, banks, and small settlements. They targeted wealthy landowners and travelers. Sometimes, they shared their loot with the poor, earning them a reputation as folk heroes. This Robin Hood-like image, however, was not always accurate. Many bushrangers were violent and ruthless. Their actions brought fear and chaos to communities.

The rise of bushrangers coincided with the gold rushes of the mid-19th century. The discovery of gold attracted thousands of people to Australia. With the influx of wealth, opportunities for crime increased. Bushrangers took advantage of this, targeting gold transports and miners. The authorities struggled to maintain order. Law enforcement was often outnumbered and outgunned.

The government responded by forming special police units. These units were tasked with capturing or killing bushrangers. They used tactics such as offering rewards for information and employing Aboriginal trackers. The trackers' deep understanding of the land proved invaluable. Despite these efforts, many bushrangers remained elusive for years.

Public opinion on bushrangers was divided. Some saw them as rebels fighting against an unjust system. Others viewed them as common criminals who disrupted society. Newspapers of the time played a significant role in shaping these perceptions. Sensational stories of daring escapes and bold robberies captivated readers. This media coverage contributed to the mythologizing of bushrangers.

The end of the bushranger era came with improved law enforcement and infrastructure. The expansion of the railway network made it harder for bushrangers to operate. The last known bushrangers were captured or killed by the early 20th century. Their legacy, however, lives on in Australian culture. Books, films, and songs continue to celebrate their exploits.

Bushrangers left an indelible mark on Australia's history. They were products of their time, shaped by the harsh conditions and social dynamics of the colonial era. Their stories reflect the struggles and aspirations of a young nation. While their actions were often criminal, their legend endures as a symbol of resistance and adventure.

Share this article