He died game in the dying game


“Tell ‘em I died game,” was the epitaph of bushranger Fred Lowry who, while he managed to get these last words out, failed to mention where he’d hidden the proceeds of the Mudgee mail robbery on 13th July, 1863. It was the second biggest coach robbery in NSW and, while it made Lowry’s name, he didn’t have long to bask in the glory.

Thomas Frederick Lowry was born in 1836 but there are no precise records as to exactly where he came into this world. Some sources claim he was born in Homebush, Sydney and grew up in the Young district of NSW, while others have him born either near the Fish or Abercrombie Rivers, somewhere in the triangle formed by Young, Bathurst and Goulburn.

What is not in dispute is that on New Year’s Day, 1863, he and his mate, John Foley, attended a race meeting and the pair tried to bail up a number of onlookers. A shooting took place in which Lowry wounded a man named Foran. He and Foley were then overpowered by the locals and apprehended by the police near Fish River Creek. Lowry was sent to Bathrust Gaol but in February managed to escape with a number of other prisoners.

Lowry then took up with Ben Hall and in company with members of the gang, robbed Barnes’s store at Cootamundra, before graduating to robbing mail coaches. He held up the Goulburn mail coach at a place called Big Hill, robbing and assaulting a man called Richard Morphy but it was the Mudgee mail that rocketed him into first grade, the incident taking place 16 miles from Bowenfields.

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