Boundary Crossers: The hidden history of Australia’s other bushrangers

Meg Foster

The remarkable and revealing stories of the bushrangers history forgot.

Bushrangers are Australian legends. Ned Kelly, Ben Hall, ‘Captain Thunderbolt’ and their bushranging brethren are famous. They’re remembered as folk heroes and celebrated for their bravery and their ridicule of inept and corrupt authorities. But not all Australian bushrangers were white men. And not all were seen in this glowing light in their own times.

In Boundary Crossers, historian Meg Foster reveals the stories of bushrangers who didn’t fit the mould. African-American man Black Douglas, who was seen as the ‘terror’ of the Victorian goldfields, Sam Poo, known as Australia’s only Chinese bushranger, Aboriginal man Jimmy Governor, who was renowned as a mass murderer, and Captain Thunderbolt’s partner, Aboriginal woman Mary Ann Bugg, whose extraordinary exploits extended well beyond her time as ‘the Captain’s Lady’.

All lived remarkable lives that were far more significant, rich and complex than history books have led us to believe. Governor saw himself defending his family and fighting injustice. Mary Ann Bugg lived on the run with Thunderbolt, dressed in men’s clothes, assaulted and outwitted the police and manipulated colonial expectations to further her own ends. Sam Poo may have been an innocent victim instead of a violent killer. And Black Douglas was never simply a colonial bogeyman of settlers’ creation.


Meg Foster

FOSTER is an award-winning historian of bushranging, banditry, settler colonial and public history, and a Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge. She has published academically as well as in popular publications like Overland and Australian Book Review.

NewSouth Publishing

NewSouth Publishing is the publishing division of UNSW Press Ltd, a leading Australian university press.