John Boyle O’Reilly’s novel Moondyne is in part loosely based on the life of a real life bushranger who was nicknamed Moondyne Joe.

Born in Wales, as Joseph Bolitho Johns, Moondyne Joe was transported to Fremantle, Western Australia on a convict ship in 1853. Pardoned in 1855, he settled in the Avon Valley near Toodyay. But he couldn’t seem to keep himself out of trouble and was in out of various gaols around the state, often arrested for fairly petty crimes like horse stealing.

In Toodyay, in early the 1860s, a new gaol was built especially to incarcerate Moondyne after he had escaped from a previous lock-up. The gaol is now a museum, still with some of the original cells.

Moondyne Joe Toodyay Gaol


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