Michael Burke - Bushranger

Task 5 for Gold Webquest

Michael Burke

Michael Burke was born at Fell Timber Creek (NSW) in 1843. "Micky", as they called him, never went to school. In 1863, when he was about twenty, he became involved in extensive horse and cattle stealing together with his cousin James Burke, and his best friend John Vane.

Early Life

Michael Burke was the only boy in the family and he had seven sisters. Michael never went to school but because he was raised in the bush he became an exceptional horseman.


It was in August 1863, that Michael Burke's "big one" took place: Mr Thomas Icely, the owner of Cliefden Station near Coombing Park, who was also a magistrate and one of the wealthiest men in the district, lost some thoroughbreds, including the precious racehorse Comus II, and it was Michael Burke who stole them, when he and three others, Gilbert, O'Meally and Vane made a raid upon the property. The stables were in charge of a man called "Charley the German", who tried to prevent the theft, but was shot by Burke in the neck. Charley was taken to hospital, where he slowly recovered, and Mr Icely offered a one hundred pound reward for the capture of the robbers who took off into the bush. However, the acts of extreme cruelty went on, horse and cattle stealing, robberies, raids on storekeepers and banks and even on a whole town.

24th of October - 1863

On the 24th of October Michael Burke and his gang suddenly attacked at the household of Mr Keightley, Gold Commissioner at Dunn's Plains near Rockley. Mr Keightley and his guest Dr Peachey were fired at, but showed stubborn resistance, and during the battle Burke was shot and seriously wounded in the stomach. He turned his revolver on himself and took his own life. His body was taken to Carcoar for the inquest and later handed over to the family. He was buried on his parents property at Mandurama near a creek.

His Life

Michael Burke's life didn't end well and it wasn't a very safe life either. He stole numerous things like cattle and stole some precious horses that were worth a lot of money from some of the wealthiest men in town. Bushrangers were always on the run and Michael Burke was one of them. He ended up committing suicide and didn't end his life in a very happy way by turning a revolver on himself.