Tom Roberts conceived the idea of a bushranger picture while he was staying at Inverell in northern NSW. He painted 'Bailed up' largely en plein air. It tells as much of the qualities of the local landscape as of its staged drama. Roberts superbly captures the summer heat conditions, which render to stillness the dramatic circumstances of a Cobb & Co hold up. The scene was painted from a purpose-built platform in a stringy bark tree, giving the work its high vantage point. Roberts modelled the figures on Inverell townspeople, including stagecoach driver 'Silent Bob Bates' who had been held up by local bushranger 'Captain Thunderbolt' three decades earlier.