Late in 1845, the notorious bushranger Wilson, and an accomplice also named Wilson, rode south from Grafton with mounted police troopers in hot pursuit.
Active in the New England and Northern Rivers area, the two bushrangers had just committed several depredations in the Grafton area.
Nearing the Macleay River, their horses began to tire and they pulled over near a creek where the mounted police had to cross, determined to ambush their pursuers.
As the troopers were going up the banks, the bushrangers covered them with their firearms and ordered them to dismount. They then mounted the troopers' horses and rode off.
Their next stop would be the upper station at Ravenswood, north of Kundabung.
Ravenswood was a grant originally made to William McGarvie of around 800 acres and the present Ravenswood Road was named after it.
At Ravenswood, the bushrangers bailed up a hut-keeper and stockman, refreshing themselves with food and drink from their captives.
After regaling the stockman and his companion with tales of their exploits, the bushrangers departed taking a double-barrel gun and leaving an order on the table for four pounds and a single-barrel gun in exchange.
In 2015, 170 years later, Roads and Maritime Services (RMS) were holding a community consultation near Kundabung when they heard of reports of old bricks and relics near the northern end of Ravenswood Road and in the path of proposed roadworks for the new highway section.
After a preliminary investigation, the RMS found the brick floor of an old building and engaged an archaeological team to carry out a detailed investigation after the Macleay River Historical Society had agreed to accept salvaged materials.
The excavation, by archaeologists Niche Environment and Heritage, revealed that the building was most likely a hut occupied by possibly a hut-keeper and stockman, and that there was no evidence of a more substantial homestead on the historic station.
Signs of a nearby palisaded yard were also found, which most likely had been used to hold sheep.
Relics uncovered included bricks, fragments of old bottles and plates, clay pipe remnants and other items.
Hundreds of relics were recovered, labelled and transferred to the Historical Society. One of our volunteers, archaeological student Leah Taylor, was engaged on the dig, gaining valuable experience.
It was concluded that the remains were those of the hut probably occupied by the hut-keeper and stockman visited by bushrangers all those years ago.
In 1846, the year following his visit to Ravenswood, Wilson the bushranger and his gang were confronted by a party of police on the Clarence River after they had robbed a settler there.
In the shootout that followed, Wilson was fatally wounded and his gang captured.
He received his mortal wound holding a double-barrel gun, possibly the same one he had secured at Ravenswood the year before.