YOU don’t ever really own anything, you just hold onto it until you die, an old man once told McCrossins Mill museum director Kent Mayo.
The museum has recently received a Tranter revolver that once belonged to notorious bush ranger Captain Thunderbolt.
Mr Mayo said he couldn’t understand for a long time why the larrikin was so revered.
“When I first came here I couldn’t understand why all people ever talked about was Thunderbolt because he was a criminal,” he said.
“Once I got involved with this museum I learned that people see a different side to him, that he was always courteous to women without fail.
“He had a pretty dry sense of humour, he was a larrikin but there was something likeable about him.”
Captain Thunderbolt was the longest roaming bush ranger in Australia.
“He was a gifted writer and he had great relationships with horses,” Mr Mayo said.
“He had a part-Aboriginal girlfriend called Mary Anne Bugg who taught Fred Ward to read.
“She taught him a few manners, not that he ever had many, when you’re sticking a gun in people’s face it’s fair to say you don’t care much for civility.”
Around 15 years ago Mr Mayo began to hunt for artefacts belonging to Captain Thunderbolt.
“There’s always people who come in here and claim they own one of Thunderbolt’s revolvers, half of NSW reckons they’re related to Fred Ward the bush ranger, every second person,” Mr Mayo said.
“We never dismiss these fanciful stories, sometimes I get a bit bloody impatient but I know that’s not the way to go.
“If people believe in you they’ll actually trust you and they’ll give you things you just wouldn’t believe.”
The newest addition came to the museum by an elderly man who’s family had treasured the revolver.
Legend has it the revolver was involved in a shoot out on Kerra Station between Captain Thunderbolt and local police.
“We call it synchronicity when things turn up, I went to the museum in Bingara to ask them about it and they were a bit cagey, I gave up in the end,” Mr Mayo said.
“Then just two weeks ago this really elderly chap came in here and sure enough it was the revolver.”
Thunderbolt...Life and Legend is exhibiting at McCrossins Mill.