A gay bushranger with a love of poetry and guns. A grotesque hangman with a passion for flowers and gardening. A broken young man desperate for love and respect. These men – two of them lovers – are about to bring the era ofAustralia’s outlaws to a torrid and bloody climax. Moonlite is the true and epic story of George Scott, an Irish-born preacher who becomes, along with Ned Kelly, one of the nation’s most notorious and celebrated criminals.
Charismatic, intelligent and handsome, George Scott is unlike any other bushranger. Born into a privileged life in famine-wracked Ireland, Scott’s family loses its fortune and is forced to flee to New Zealand. There, Scott joins the local militia and fights as a soldier against the Maori in the brutal New Zealand wars.
After recovering from a series of serious gunshot wounds, he sails to Australia and becomes a Lay Preacher, captivating churchgoers with his fiery and inspiring sermons.
But Scott is also prone to bursts of madness. The local villagers back in Ireland often whispered that a ‘wild drop’ ran in the blood of the Scott family. One night he dons a mask in a small country town, arms himself with a gun and, dubbing himself Captain Moonlite, brazenly robs a bank before staging one of the country’s most audacious jailbreaks.
After falling in love with fellow prisoner James Nesbitt, a boyish petty criminal desperately searching for a father figure, Scott finds himself unable to shrug off his criminal past.
Pursued and harassed by the police, he stages a dramatic siege and prepares for a final showdown with the law – and a macabre executioner without a nose.
Meticulously researched and drawing on previously unpublished material, Moonlite is a brilliant work of non-fiction that reads like a novel.
Told at a cracking pace, and based on many of the extensive letters Scott wrote from his death cell, Moonlite is set amid the violent and sexually-repressed era of Australia in the second half of the 19th century.
With a cast of remarkable characters, it weaves together the extraordinary lives of our bushrangers and the desperation of a young nation eager to remove the stains of its convict past.
But most of all, Moonlite is a tragic love story.