FRANCIS CHRISTIE (alias "Frank Gardiner")
Frank Gardiner's correct name was Francis Christie. He was born to Charles and Jane Christie in Rosshire, Scotland, in the year 1829. His father was an agriculturalist, who arrived in Australia as a bounty migrant with his wife and five children per the ship "James" on 17th November 1834. All other legends about his origin and ancestors are just "old wives stories", and the statement made by some historians, that he was born at Boro in the Colony of New South Wales, is definitely wrong.
His first recorded crime came in Victoria in 1850, when he was convicted of horse stealing and sentenced to five years hard labour. His stay in Pentridge was not long, for he escaped the following year and fled back to the Goulbourn District of New South Wales. In March 1854, using the alias of "Clarke", he was arrested again for stealing horses and this time sent to Cockatoo Island for seven years. However, he was released in December 1859 on a ticket-of-leave, to remain in the Carcoar district and regularly report to the police. But the first thing he did was to head for the Kiandra gold diggings, thereby breaking his parole. The following March he turned up at Lambing Flat and shortly after opened up a butchering business at Spring Creek in partnership with a notorious character, William Fogg. Francis obviously was not too keen on living the honest life of a hard working man and got involved in more and more unlawful activities, which were to last for a period of twelve years, gradually progressing from horse and cattle stealing, to highway robberies under arms, violent assaults, and the attempted murder of two police officers. Francis used other nick-names like "Jones", "The Prince of Tobymen", "The King of The Road", but mostly "Frank Gardiner".
In June 1862, Frank masterminded the gold escort robbery at Eugowra Rock; it was the biggest robbery in bushranging history in Australia. The booty of 2,700 ounces of gold plus cash totalled 14,000 pounds! Although several of the men in the district were apprehended, and just over half of the gold and cash found, their leader disappeared into thin air, leaving his gang under the leadership of his devoted friend, Benjamin Hall. Ben was married to Bridget ("Biddy") Walsh, whose younger sister Catherine ("Kitty") left her husband John Brown for her lover, Frank Gardiner, and finally disappeared with him.
In early 1864, a man named Mark Brown recognized Frank Gardiner who was living with his mistress Kitty as "Mr and Mrs" Christie, the shopkeepers, at Apis Creek near Rockhampton; he duly reported the matter to the police - and thus, the future of "Mr & Mrs Christie" was decided. Gardiner was found and apprehended, tried in Sydney, and sentenced to thirty two years imprisonment. In 1867, Kitty gave up waiting for him, and took up with Richard Taylor, the brother of James Taylor, and followed him to the diggings in New Zealand, where they hoped to find gold. However, instead of gold, poor Kitty found death. In 1868 she passed away at Waipatukaha at the age of twenty-five.
Gardiner served only ten years, then he was granted an early release, which was conditional on his leaving the country. He was taken to Newcastle and put on a ship to Hong Kong. Next he was heard of in San Francisco, where he became a saloon proprietor. He married a rich widow who bore him two sons. The circumstances of his death are not known. There were many unsubstantiated rumours, one that he died of pneumonia in 1904, but no records were found.
Anyhow, the story doesn't end there: Who were those two Californians who arrived in Wheogo in 1912? They posed as mining prospectors, carried some plans, and sought permission to dig for some rock specimens. But why had they dug up all around Gardiner's former camp? What were they carrying in the bags when they made their fast exit. It was rumoured that they were Gardiner's twin sons. Did they find all that they were looking for ....perhaps there is something still there.....?