This painting was inspired by the first drama about the Western Australian convict Joseph Johns who became known as Moondyne Joe.
After his first two years as a convict working in the colony, Joe was rewarded with a conditional pardon. With his freedom granted Joe headed to the Moondyne Hills near Toodyay. There, Joe became a skilled bushman and lived in a cave. He wore a hand made kangaroo-skin cape with possum-skin shoes. Joe received rewards for finding farmers’ stock that had strayed but Moondyne, the convict bushman, was not trusted by all.
When a valuable stallion mysteriously disappeared, mounted troopers visited Joe and found the stallion. Joe was then escorted by troopers to the Toodyay lock-up. Joe made the decision that night to escape and used his knife and fork to open the cell door and make his way to the local bush inn. Here Joe was telling his tale when the troopers burst through the door so Joe dashed up stairs and slid down the roof onto a horse and galloped away. The troopers gave chase and recaptured Joe within days and he then served three years in Fremantle before returning to the hills he called home. He was involved in more high dramas that made him the celebrity of the colony.