By John Pedler
Published: Wednesday, October 23, 2019
This iconic outback route owes part of its history to cattle rustling.
In 1870, Henry Arthur “Harry” Readford droved about 1,000 stolen cattle from Queensland through to Blanchewater Station in northern SA, roughly following the route we now know as the Strzelecki Track.
He sold the mob at Blanchewater and then skedaddled to Adelaide.
Two years later, he was tracked down and arrested in Sydney, and wound up in court in the Queensland town of Roma. Despite overwhelming evidence against him, he was acquitted. It’s thought the jury was so taken by his skill and daring that they couldn’t bring themselves to convict him.
Following the verdict, a stunned Judge Blakeney turned to the jury members and said, “Thank God, gentlemen, that verdict is yours, not mine.”
The government then closed the Roma District Court for two years.