A couple of weeks ago the Beechworth Historical Re-enactment Group announced they were looking for a new “Ned”. The person who grew a big bushy beard and played this central role in the recent Ned Kelly Weekend had decided he didn’t want to do it again, so they were advertising for a new volunteer to step forward.
And then to my complete surprise, after their AGM last Monday they announced, as in a death notice that – “with much sadness” – they’ve abandoned plans to hold the Ned Kelly Weekend in 2016. This ends a 13 year-long run of the annual event, and though they say they are just having a break for a year, its pretty obvious they are fed up with doing Ned Kelly re-enactments and want to get on and do other stuff.
“Its time too get get back to our roots and reenact all aspects of the 1880’s and not just the Kelly story which has dominated our group for the past few years”
This is really quite a significant change and shows that interest in Ned Kelly Mythology is shrinking even in Kelly country. One presumes the visitor numbers are down – because if the thing was booming everyone would be happy – and clearly theirs having a real struggle finding anyone interested enough in the Kelly myth to donate the time and effort to help them run the NKW.
On the NKF and IronOutlaw Facebook pages comments on the decision reveal that there have been “shitfights” going on among the organisers and wanna-be organisers, and a feeling that in recent years the whole thing has been a bit lacklustre. This is what the Ned Kelly Forum key master wrote about it :
“yes people this is the politics of our Ned Kelly world at its worst. This is a disgrace and those individuals who were a part in doing this ought to be ashamed of themselves and all will be made public very soon”
I hope he is feeling ashamed of his own role in this – last year the NKF offended the NKW organisers by putting on a show of their own on the same weekend and just up the road, so they could take advantage of the hard work the NKW people had done in organising their event and attracting the crowds. This year it was announced on the IO Faceboook page that they were all “back in love” having somehow patched up the relationship between the two groups but I suspect its all gone sour again. Given what I have seen of the way Kelly Fanatics behave towards people who have different opinions to their own, I am not surprised the NKW people have decided to abandon the whole thing. They are probably trying to rid themselves of kelly bullies who tried to dominate their organisation and compel it to present Kelly as a hero and a saint.
So this is a step in the right direction, a step away from re-enacting myth and pretending its history, perhaps towards a more honest presentation of Kelly country history in the future, one that acknowledges other views of Ned Kelly. Ive noted that the Ned Kelly Vault pointedly states at the very top of its Facebook page “We are not a shrine we are a museum”
It will be interesting to see if the NKF Keymaster makes good on his claim that “all will be made public very soon”. – in other words he wants to air all the dirty linen. In my experience the loud mouths on NKF are all talk and no action.
I wish the Beechworth Historical re-enactment Group all the best for the future and congratulate them on this bold move, putting the Kelly fanatics in their place.
The tide has clearly turned and is now running out on Kelly Mythology.
APOLOGY TO NKF : the announcement about being “back in Love” was made on the IronOutlaw Facebook Page, not the NKF Facebook Page as I originally mistakenly wrote. I was informed of this in an anonymous comment which I won’t publish but I apologise to the NKF for this error. I do note however that the person they described as “matchmaker” was a prominent NKF Member, the self described “Neducator” whose talk created all the acrimony when the NKF promoted it in competition with the NKW.
And, incidentally I couldnt help noticing tonight that the NKF Key Master has quietly deleted from yesterdays Post his claim that “all will be made Public very soon” This was what I predicted yesterday from the kelly loud mouths – all talk and no action. I wonder who told him to pull his head in?
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