Parade | From the toughest prisons to heist society

SNAPSHOT: Karan Singh, a junior doctor who has been working at Bathurst Base Hospital for three months, took this incredible photo.
SNAPSHOT: Karan Singh, a junior doctor who has been working at Bathurst Base Hospital for three months, took this incredible photo.

IN a former life, Parade used to drive the road between Bathurst and Forbes at least a couple of times a month – and often more.

Over many, many trips, Parade became closely acquainted with every kilometre of that trip – every corner and straight bit (the flat stretch leading into Cudal is a good spot if you’ve been waiting for ages to overtake), every quirk, hill and water crossing (going over the meandering Mandagery at Eugowra is nice).

Parade could calculate to the nearest minute how far away the next overtaking lane would be and had a series of landmarks he would use to mark his progress along the way: the turn-off to the Borenore Caves; the cairn at the turn-off to the Henry Parkes Way, the cemetery at Toogong, the lonely little house at Murga.

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And then, of course, there was the collection of rocks outside the village of Eugowra, where a group of bushrangers – including Frank Gardiner and Ben Hall – held up a coach in 1862 and stole gold that would be worth about $10 million today.

Which is where journalist and author James Phelps comes in.

Phelps, who has written a number of books about the nation’s toughest prisons and the hard nuts incarcerated in them, has turned his attention to the Eugowra Rocks gold robbery (and the hard nuts who pulled it off) in his latest book, Australian Heist.

And he will be in Bathurst next weekend to have a talk about it.

BooksPlus has organised to have Phelps speak on Saturday, August 18 at 6pm at the Oxford Hotel and is inviting locals to come along.

Tickets are available for $15 from BooksPlus and include light refreshments. Bookings are essential by phoning 6331 5994 or emailing admin@booksplus.com.au.

Parade would wager that Phelps, in writing his book, has become quite familiar with the heist site near Eugowra that Parade passed by for so many years without stopping and having a proper look around.

Whether he can claim to know the cemetery at Toogong or the lonely little house at Murga just as well is another matter.