Mention the name Harry Redford in Longreach and you're sure to be greeted with tales from local residents that have been handed down from their parents and grandparents.|
During the last 117 years, the man has become something of a local legend.
Although writers have, to date, written about Harry Redford, recent evidence presented by Patrick McCarthy in his book 'The Man who was Starlight',has proven that Redford's name was in fact Henry Readford. But whether he be Redford or Readford, to local residents he has come to be more popularly known as 'Captain Starlight' - a ficticious name drawn from Rolfe Boldrewood's Australian classic 'Robbery Under Arms'.
Boldrewood based his central character Captain Starlight upon a combination of bushrangers of that period, as well as the renowned cattle duffer - Henry Readford.
He became part of outback folklore when in 1870, in the company of two others, he set out from 'Bowen Downs' with about 1000 head of stolen cattle.
The cattle were overlanded through largely unexplored country, travelling along the Barcoo River and Cooper Creek as well as the Strezlecki Track into South Australia. The mob included a white bull which was to prove something of a problem to Readford. He sold it at Hill Hill Station in South Australia so that he could purchase supplies from the station store. The bull was later shipped back to Queensland as evidence against Readford at his trial.|
From Hill Hill Station, Readford continued on to Blanchwater Station where he decided to sell the entire herd. The group moved south to Adelaide from where Readford made his way back to the eastern states. As to the whereabouts of his two companions, this is still unknown.
After his return to the east, Readford faced charges of cattle stealing, the trial being held at Roma, Queensland. The jury returned a verdict of not guilty, thus ending one of the most daring escapades in recent history.
Readford's most famous legacy in the Longreach district is 'Starlight's Lookout' also known as Cassidy's Knob. On this hill which rises gently over the surrounding plains, Readford is purported to have placed a man to keep watch while they were gathering the Bowen Downs cattle together for their epic journey.
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|Updated: 1 January 2002
Revised: 14 April 2001