Mudgee History | Roy Cameron

Driving the Coach: Later Pasha Barry moved to New South Wales, and continued to work for Cobb driving coaches all along the principal routes in the West.
Driving the Coach: Later Pasha Barry moved to New South Wales, and continued to work for Cobb driving coaches all along the principal routes in the West.

A man of high rank, John 'Pasha' Barry

Part 1 – Introduction, Coaching and Bushrangers

During his life time of 86 years John Barry lived in the townships of Mudgee, Wellington and Cunnamulla in Queensland. 

In all three he was held in high esteem and was always addressed as “Pasha”, meaning in  Turkish, “a man of high rank”.

Pasha Barry was born in Roscommon, Ireland in 1832, and came to Melbourne in 1847, aged 15 years. 

For a few years he worked as a stable lad and in July 1853 he joined Cobb and Co as an apprentice stage coach driver on their Melbourne to Castlemaine run. 

Later he was given charge of a Cobb and Co coach and drove on many of their routes in Victoria. 

Later Pasha Barry moved to New South Wales, and continued to work for Cobb driving coaches all along the principal routes in the West.

After driving the coaches for a number of years, be became the local manager for Cobb and Co and supervised the traffic on the Mudgee to Coonamble line, as far  Walgett , and other lines emanating outwards. 

His services, as a coach driver, were always in much demand, and many a potential passenger would not travel, unless the “Pasha” was to be driver.

One of his regular passengers was the Chief Justice, Sir James Martin, when he was on a circuit to the West. 

Others were leading counsel W.B. Dalley and David Buchanan  and  Judges, G H Simpson  and Sir George Innes.

He drove many a stage coach to and from Mudgee and Wellington and to assist in accommodating his passengers he bought at Wellington the then Royal and later the Commercial Hotel. 

Afterwards he opened a hotel at Mudgee where he operated for a period of three years.  

Whilst there he became a member of the Municipal Council. In recognition of his service to the community he had the principal lamp in the town named after him – “Barry’s Lamp”.

As a stage coach driver he had many exciting experiences with bushrangers.

The following story was told by Maurice Joseph  Hennessy, “Old Ned” in the Wellington Times of 8 March, 1906.

“On one occasion when driving Cobb and Co’s coach from Cunningham Creek to Mudgee, he was stuck up by two armed men and compelled to drive the coach into the bush.

He was placed bound hand and foot with a number of passengers, who were all securely pinioned.

Among the number was one named Smith, a publican from Apple Tree Flat, from whom they took 26 pounds.

After taking the horses out of the coach and fastening them to a sapling they commenced ripping open the mail bags, one after the other, until they came to the Meroo bag which they struck as heavy.

The Chinese miners were sending a large sum of money down for banking in Sydney.

After they bushrangers had finished ransacking the contents of the coach, they were preparing to make their departure and set the prisoners free. 

They were in the act of mounting their horses, when “Pasha” reminded them they hadn’t left them enough to drink their health with. 

One of the “knights of the road” gave Pasha a pound note to ‘wet their whistles’.

They had not long parted company with the outlaws when a posse of police arrived.

Needless to add, they did not succeed in catching the bushrangers, Lowry and Foley. 

The former was one of the best rough riders of the time and one of most dare-devil fellow who had ever taken to the lawless life of a bushranger.”

Part 2 will deal with  bushrangers again holding up another “Pasha’s” stage coach.

Roy Cameron, OAM