A bushranger who dared express his love for another man will become the namesake of a new art installation projected on a Ballarat building.
Andrew George Scott became known as 'Captain Moonlite' across the south-east of Australia in a short, violent decade of crime between 1868 and 1878.
Sometimes affecting a cloak and crepe mask and the manners of a literate gentleman, Moonlite defrauded and robbed farm stations and banks with the assistance of gangs of young men, to one of whom he professed his love in letters and in action.
Now Child and Family Services Ballarat (Cafs) is calling for LGBTIQ+ and ally creatives to submit their work for inclusion in Captain Moonlite Rides Again - Visual Stories of Ballarat Pride.
Cafs CEO Wendy Sturgess said the organisation received funding from the Victorian Government Pride Events and Festivals Fund 2021 to run the installation, naming it after Scott - aka Captain Moonlight and Alexander Scott - who spent 'time' in the Ballarat region in the 1870s.
Time, because not only was Moonlite active around Ballarat early in his career, but he also did time in Ballarat Gaol, before escaping with other prisoners for a brief period.
The bearded bushranger, who Cafs says is arguably one of the first members of the local LGBTIQ+ community, is the catalyst behind the projection art installation that will celebrate Ballarat Pride in March.
My heart to you is the same as to my own dearest Mother, Jim's sisters are my sisters, his friends my friends, his hopes were my hopesCaptain Moonlite, Andrew Scott
Captain Moonlite was said to have a same-sex partner, James Nesbitt, with whom he formed a gang after they were released from prison.
In fact, Scott was known to have partners of both genders, and was well-known for his loquacious and beguiling oratory and manner. He was also a preacher prior to his life of crime, which began with forcing a manager to open the safe at the bank in Mount Egerton, from which he took gold and cash.
Later convicted of the crime and imprisoned in the dank, shoddily-built gaol of Ballarat, he dug through his cell wall to a engage another inmate in an escape. Overpowering a warder, six men used a rope made of torn blankets to escape.
After their recapture, Scott served part of a ten-year sentence in Her Majesty's Prison Pentridge, where he met Nesbitt.
On release the pair travelled giving lectures about prison life and Scott's notoriety. This soon was inflamed by tabloid print articles accusing Scott of further misdeeds, and he succumbed to a life of crime again, though more violent than before.
There is no doubt the pair shared an intense romantic connection, although the notions of 'love' and 'partnership' have changed greatly in the intervening 150 years.
But Scott's letters to Nesbitt's family after the young man's death in 1879 - a botched robbery at Wantabadgery, near Wagga Wagga in NSW, led to a police shootout in which Nesbitt was killed - are full of heartfelt emotion and pain.
From Prisoner Andrew G. Scott, Alias Moonlight
My dearest Mrs Nesbitt,
To the mother of Jim no colder address would be true,
My heart to you is the same as to my own dearest Mother, Jim's sisters are my sisters, his friends my friends, his hopes were my hopes
His grave will be my resting place and I trust I may be worthy to be with him when we shall all meet to part no more, when an all-seeing God who can read all hearts will be the judge
Ms Sturgess said Cafs is calling on creatives from the LGBTIQ+ community and allies to submit work that will be projected on to the Market Street side of Cafs' historic Lydiard Street North building.
The event will include an official launch on Friday 5 March 2020 hosted by and broadcast live on Ballarat's own LaNCE TV.
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