Troopers, Trackers, Bushrangers and their weapons

The three phases of the war against bushrangers

An explanation of the weapons used during the three principal phases of the war against bushrangers on the Australian frontier

The first generation of bushrangers were convict escapers, known as convict bolters. The firearm used during this time (from the late 1780’s to the end of the transportation period in the 1840’s and 50’s) was the flintlock musket.

The age of the Wild Colonial Boys coincided with the gold rushes in NSW and Victoria. Weapons had developed and now had rifles – spiral grooves inside the barrel which caused the musket ball to spin as it travelled the length of the barrel and the spin gave the ball distance and accuracy. During this time, around the 1850’s, an Enfield musket, a percussion cap weapon, would have been used by British troops and colonial police forces.

The Martini-Henry, a breech loader, was a revolution in technology and was brought into service in the 1870’s. It was much faster and it moved away from the use of powder and ball to a bullet. This firearm was used to fight the last of the bushrangers, the Kelly brothers in Victoria and the Governor brothers in NSW.


This material was produced originally for the virtual excursion education program and was filmed on location at Hyde Park Barracks Museum.

Thanks to Brad Manera, Military Historian and Manager of the Anzac Memorial, Sydney.

Music by Warren Fahey. ‘The Wild Colonial Boy’, traditional Australian song, composer unknown.