Although the Goldfield days were quite rough and tumble, it was not until January 26, 1865, when bushranger Ben Hall and his gang entered Collector, that it would be put on the map. It was Constable Nelson and teenaged bushranger John Dunn who would make history that day.
They soon rounded up several men and boys as hostages, and made their way into town. As John Dunn kept watch over their captives out in the street, Ben Hall and John Gilbert entered 'Mr Kimberleys Public House' (Kimberley's Commercial Hotel) and took three firearms, some boots, clothing and other assorted articles.
Judge Meymott had been travelling the Goulburn road by carriage, and had witnessed the bushrangers making their work. Knowing that the bushrangers had moved to the vicinity of Collector, two of the three town constables were dispatched in search of them. This had left the town with one constable; Samuel Nelson.
Death of a Constable
As Constable Nelson headed towards the hotel, joined by one of his sons, a man (later identified as John Dunn) jumped up from behind a fence telling him to stand still. As the words were spoken the man fired a shot at Nelson, hitting him in the stomach, and then fired again at the body as it lay in the road. This second shot hit Constable Nelson in the face.
Ben Hall's gang rifled through Nelson's belongings, ransacking his corpse. They took his belt and sidearm’s before making their escape. Dunn was not apprehended until boxing day in 1865, and was hanged in Darlinghurst Gaol on 19th March 1866 aged 19
There is a lot more history to this hotel, but it was this event that overshadows them all. Prior to this event, the hotel was a small boot shop owned by Thomas Kimberley, who later built the hotel in 1860 incorporating his shop. The hotel was just one of five located in Collector that catered to the needs of those travelling to and from the goldfields in Kiandra.
It is now known as the 'Bushranger Hotel'. Inside you will find many guns and swords that were used by Bushrangers back in the day. Some of these artifacts have been found under floorboards by previous publicans and landlords.
The Haunting at the Bushranger Hotel
White, whispy figures have been seen travelling through the doorways, accompanied by the step of heavy shod boots. If you are a woman and are staying in the hotel, you may be fortunate enough to have the sensation of your hair been stroked and run through with invisible fingers.
Could Constable Nelson also still be there as well, maintaining his watchful eye over the town?