The Kelly Vault Can do Better

The Kelly Vault calls itself a History Museum, and is dedicated to the preservation of Kelly history. I was encouraged to see  this quote from the Manager of the Burke Museum on their Facebook Page  We are not a SHRINE. We are a MUSEUM” Also on their Facebook Page there is a reference a to an ABC interview with Doug Morrissey and in another place mention of Doug Morrisseys 2015 publication “Ned Kelly : A lawless Life” – along with a single negative comment about it –  so I thought I could discern a willingness by the people running the Vault to at least attempt some sort of even handedness.I felt quite positive about the Vault.
Not so long ago I visited the Museum. Its housed in an historic  little four room building known as the old “Sub-Treasury building” on Ford St in the Historic and Cultural Precinct of Beechworth.  Its right next door to the Beechworth Courthouse the place where Ned Kelly’s commital hearings took place for the murder of Lonigan.  You can stand in the very dock where Ned stood and remember that well known etching of him standing there, holding his lapel with his left hand, full beard quite neatly trimmed.  But don’t forget Ellen Kelly also stood there once, and Standish, Fitzpatrick, Sir Redmond Barry, Gaunson, McIntyre and a host of other Kelly identities have also stood or sat somewhere in that room which you are free to explore at your leisure. (Incidentally, as you do so, and listen to the broadcast of audio re-enactments of snippets of court activities, see how good your Kelly knowledge is and identify the major factual mistake in one of them – and post it in Comments if you do!!   Frankly I was so surprised when I heard it the first time I couldn’t believe my ears so I had to listen through the entire tape again to make certain. God only knows how many Kelly buffs have heard that tape and missed it!)
The door to the Cell where Harry Power was kept

Straight across the road is the Town Hall, another building that Ned Kelly would have been familiar with, and around the back of it you can enter the Cell that once held Harry Power! And looking up the road you see the grim walls of the Beechworth Gaol. All in all it’s the most concentrated bit of Kellyana anywhere. 

But back to the vault: In the first room there are three posters labelled “Time Line of Key events in the life of Edward ‘Ned’ Kelly”. Whoever wrote them did a great job of sticking to the important facts, and avoiding the temptation to inject value judgements and subliminal messages about Ned being a victim or the Police being corrupt. The basic story is presented in a very fair way, and after reading the Time Line, I was looking forward to viewing the Collection. 
The prize possession of the Vault would have to be the gun called Betty. It’s the one Ned Kelly stole from someone when he held up the Bank at Euroa, and is on prominent display. There’s also a table top supposed to have been rescued from the Ann Jones Inn, an original Ned Kelly death mask, pages from the original manuscripts of Ian Jones Kelly biography and Peter Careys Kelly novel , the Kelly “armour” worn by Mick Jagger, the Sydney Nolan painting that looks like it was done with spray cans a Kelly tragic paid around $170,000 for, other guns, …and so on. Certainly there’s plenty there to keep any Kelly buff engaged for a good while. 
But – and I know you were all expecting this from me – but, yes, there are problems, some of them minor like my disappointment that the man behind the desk knew nothing about one of the other rifles on display – it was unlabeled, lying next to some farming equipment that once belonged to Aaron Sherrit ( I think it was). And I didn’t believe him when I asked if the documents on display, such as the Arrest Warrant for Dan Kelly were the real thing or facsimiles and he said they were all real. (Can someone confirm that?)
But there are major problems as well. 
The first of these is that the professional objective factual approach adopted in “The Time Line” is abandoned in the Explanatory notes that are attached to many of the exhibits, and yes, it’s the old Jones-Kelly Mythology that is injected into the narrative without the slightest hint that the backgrounder information provided might be pure speculation.  Heres  an example : In the Time Line it accurately says of the Fitzpatrick Incident  April 15th 1878  The Fitzpatrick Incident takes place resulting in the arrest of Ned’s mother…”  But elsewhere in the Museum in the explanatory attached to the (real or facsimile?) arrest warrant for Dan, even though all writers seem to disagree on exactly what happened it says  Fitzpatrick made a clumsy advance towards 14 year old Kate Kelly and a brawl erupted” Why pick that description rather than the ones which suggest Kate had no involvement of that kind at all? Remember Ned saying that if Fitzpatrick had molested his sister Victoria wouldn’t have been big enough to hide him? Or instead, why not insert Molony’s allegation that Kate was raped?  The point is, in a museum, unless it’s a Private Museum dedicated to pushing one particular line – such as to Glorify the dear Leader Kim Jong Il – if no one is really sure what happened, the uncertainty should be made clear. Museums are not there to make up stories but to tell us about what is known, and about what is unknown. Where they wish to speculate – and it can be perfectly legitimate to do so – it should be made clear.
Heres another example : of Neds trial, the time line accurately says this:
28-29th October : Neds trial is held at the Supreme Court in Melbourne. Judge Sir Redmond Barry presides. Ned is found guilty of Lonigans murder and is sentenced to death
But elsewhere in the Museum, accompanying that famous engraving of Ned in the Dock in Beechworth (Real or facsimile?) it says this about Neds trial:
Ned was incompetently defended and virtually at the mercy of his Judge, Sir Redmond Barry who wanted to rush the trial through in a single day”.
Now, the statement that Ned was incompetently defended, and at the mercy of the Judge is a matter of opinion, but the claim that Neds trial was rushed is simply wrong. This notion remains popular among Kelly sympathisers who remain determined not to acknowledge that it was refuted as far back as 1967, at the Symposium whose deliberations were published in the book “ Ned Kelly Man and Myth”. But even if they hadn’t read the book, if someone from the Vault had bothered just to go next door to the Courthouse they would have read this  A typical murder trial in Beechworth in those days took from one to two hours!
Heres another example : in keeping with the Timelines adherence to the facts, the Republic of North East Victoria isn’t mentioned. However in the display about Glenrowan it says this:
In June 1880 the Kelly Gang planned a pre-emptive strike against their Police enemies – first step in creating the republic of North East Victoria that would win justice for the Kellys and all the folk of the North East who had supported them.”
And later it says “..they would move on Benalla, rob the Bank of New South Wales and proclaim the Republic”
In the display referencing the Kelly Armour it says this : “In the early months of 1880 as the Kelly outbreak gained momentum into a full blown rebellion the gang and their inner circle were plotting their climactic event – the declaration of a Republic in North East Victoria
In another place, a poster about Ned Kellys Jerilderie Letter says “perhaps most importantly it forshadows his attempt to establish a republic in the colonies north east”.
Nowhere in the Kelly Vault could I find even the slightest hint that the notion of a Republic of North east Victoria might be something other than a well established fact. I defy anyone to tell me that an uninformed tourist who visited the Vault, such as the Dutch family who were there when I was, after reading the information displayed would take away anything other than a firm belief that a plan to establish a Republic of North east Victoria was an established part of Australian history. What would they think and how would they feel about the Vault if later they learned  the truth about the Republlic of North East Vicoria, which is that its an idea that’s almost completely without foundation? Nowhere in the Kelly Vault is there anything like an acknowledgement that the Republic of North east Victoria is actually the controversial pet theory developed nearly 50 years ago by the Vaults “Historical Consultant” Mr Ian Jones ,and is an idea which was never mentioned by Ned Kelly? How many people leaving the Vault would believe that The Republic of North East Victoria wasn’t mentioned even once in the numerous speeches Kelly made to Hostages, in any of his many letters,  by any of his supporters, it was not heard about by Police spies who infiltrated the Gang, it was not discussed at Ned Kellys trial, its not supported by any documentation such as the fondly dreamed of but never found ‘Declaration’, or the elusive Notebook of Minutes, and is an idea which is contradicted by almost every deed and act and word of Ned Kelly’s during his entire lifetime? 
The Kelly Vaults support and unqualified promotion of the flimsy Jones-Kelly Myth about the Republic of North East Victoria is unprofessional and ought to be damaging to its reputation. Its clear from the fact that Ian Jones was there at the opening of the Vault, that his name is first on the list at the Vault entrance of Acknowledgements offered to supporters of the vault, by the quotes of Ian Jones posted in the Vault itself, and by the content of the display information, that he had a dominating influence on the way in which the Vault tells the Kelly story, just as he influenced the way Peter Fitzsimons told the story in his 2013 book.

Clearly Ian Jones wields enormous power in the Kelly world around Beechworth, and equally clearly, nobody dares challenge it. Further proof of this might be in the fact that in the many bookshops and places in Beechworth where Kelly material is sold, its impossible to find a copy of Ian MacFarlanes book The Kelly Gang Unmasked, or of Doug Morrisseys book, A Lawless Life, but Fitzsimons book is available and of course  at many places you can buy Ian Jones latest, The Kellys and Beechworth.

So here is the challenge for the Kelly Vault and for Matt Shore who appears to be its main promotor : do you want the Kelly Vault to be a worthy Museum that tells the Kelly story without fear or favour, with integrity and respect for honesty and openness? Or are you going to allow it continue to promote the dodgy Jones-Kelly Myths, and be part of Ian Jones determination to silence anyone who dares question him, and become simply another vehicle for the promotion of his private fantasy about Ned Kelly, a virtual Private Museum? If thats what you’re going to do then maybe Ian Jones and his supporters, and maybe Joanne Griffiths and people like Noeleen Lloyd  and the Kelly family should be the ones funding it, not the State Government. Its not the job of the Government to fund private hobbies. 

I am not asking the Vault to tell the story MY way, but its Kelly sympathisers who keep on insisting the  Jury is still out on Ned Kelly.’Man or Myth? Hero or Villain?’  it says right at the entrance to the Vault on a Ned Kelly Adventure Camps poster which describes the Museum as “ Our new museum”! But if thats what they believe why aren’t they putting the other side of the argument to the public as well? In fact, not putting the other side of the argument in the Museum, and heavily promoting the Jones-Kelly myths alone proves what I have been arguing all along, that this “Hero or Villain” argument is not a sincere argument but a tactic of the Kelly Sympathisers. 

At the moment, the Vault is more of a Shrine than a Museum. I am so disappointed.

In Part Two of this post, I will expose another problem at the Vault.
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42 Replies to “The Kelly Vault Can do Better”

  1. Anonymous says: Reply

    Dee this is a real shame and once again shows us how much influence tourism and Ian Jones have in setting in concrete the mythologised Kelly story, particularly in Kelly Country. Even more disappointing that the funding for this comes from the Victorian State Government. With so many of the Kelly myths having been exposed and more contemporary research continuing this trend, perhaps it's time that Q & A launched a debate into the whole thing. But I suspect that the luvvies at the ABC would not be receptive to that.

    By the way, is Ian Jones still active, as last I heard he was sick and wanted his email address not made public?

  2. Ian Jones is frail and ancient. I wish him well despite his misleading ways. He is a really nice guy. I just wish he hadn't led us all astray.

  3. Ken Brown says: Reply

    The Poms think we are daft worshiping a redneck psychopath who killed and injured cops.

    A shrine or "museum" is utterly inappropriate.

  4. Another well-written thoughtful blog, Dee!

    The absurdity of beginning a republic by robbing a bank is laughable nonsense. Even Mussolini's short-lived social republic avoided that. Republics generally are begun by forward-thinking people seeking to improve the lives of their fellows. Ned Kelly wasn't such a person. He was a horse thief who liked shooting police (and who knows how many others).

    The Kellys were parasites who preyed on their communities. There was precious little goodwill in their rotten little hearts.

  5. Being led astray !
    String Bark Creek is just another example despite my concerted effort to have Ian Jones acknowledge his location there was wrong. I have not been to the NK Vault but wonder what Matt Shore and the display organisers say about SBC. I bet they haven't made mention of my research that pin points exactly where Constable Lonigan was shot. Its thirteen years since I first notified Mr Jones of finding the fireplaces of two huts on the western bank of the creek where the police had camped, and yet seven years later, the authorities under Jones's spell spent $55.000k sending N. K. touring Route tourists to his spurious site on the east bank, all in accords with his 1995 book, and recent reprints that still denies historical truth. See- Ned Kelly A Short Life- 2003 edition, in Notes, bottom of page 385 wherein he continues to pull zee wool over zee eyes.

  6. Come on guys. Is there ANYTHING about the other side of the Kelly Story you like? Is there ANY book or museum or book other than Morrisey and McFarlane that you have time for?

    I am looking forward to the day I see Dee's museum up and running. Or Dees books on the shelves. A blog is a good thing. But it doesn't require any outlay. Or putting of money where ones mouths are. I will buy your book and pay entry to your museum. Let's get that ball rolling…

  7. Mark, are you saying that you don’t agree that the Kelly Vault has some serious problems that need to be addressed?

    I have to tell you I had high hopes for the Vault, because of the things on its FB Page, and on Matt Shores other interest, the Adventure Tours business, which claims to be "historically accurate", and "balanced and impartial”. So I was truly disappointed at what I saw there. Its not about what I like, its about a museum being true to its principles.

  8. An enormous amount of work has gone into the Vault over a great many years. I understand you having an issue with it Dee. . I don't. It's great for the town too. I am not sure that Ned being portrayed as a murderous thug would be great for Beechworth or North East Tourism either. It may err on the "Jones" side but I just don't like to see Ian Jones, who has devoted his life to the Kelly story, denigrated. I just think it's a bit mean spirited and tacky. . I'm so glad he is not an internet user. I have felt very embarrassed over some of the negative stuff written about him of late. He has given all of us lots to think about and introduced many to the story, including myself. One day, he will be gone and perhaps then, the emphasis may change. Meanwhile though, lets not crap on his lifes work.

    Let's remember too, it's the first permanent home for Kelly relics and certainly leaves the smaller regional Kelly tourist attractions wanting. It will develop and evolve over time. I guess I expected you to slam it as it doesn't conform with your vision or thoughts on the Kelly Outbreak. And nothing is set in stone.

    It is indeed a Museum, rather than a shrine in my opinion. . Patrick Watt and Matt Shore have done some great work curating. Yes, I must declare I am mentioned on the acknowledgements board just inside the entrance but as you know, I don't hold with the portrayal of the Kellys as heroes either. Yet I don't think the vault sanctifies Ned either. (nor do I have any financial stake by the way…) I also don't hold with the republic idea any longer, based partly on your work here I must say. But it's presence within the narrative doesn't make the museum "poor history". Give it time. Rome wasn't built in a day.

    Marketing a Kelly attraction with Ned Kelly as a black hearted, black hatted villain wouldn't translate into tourist dollars I suspect. And God knows, a small regional museum, even in a reasonably vibrant centre like Beechworth needs to attract the punter. But considering this, in my opinion, a quite balanced view is offered.

    Perhaps you should re-visit with an open mind again (I am not suggesting your first visit wasn't), meet with Matt and Patrick and offer some private, quiet feedback personally rather than denigrate it which will possibly dissuade people to visit. They are both very approachable and nice blokes. You can catch more flies with honey than poison.

    Thank you for listening.
    Happy New Year to you and family.
    And all visitors here.

  9. Thanks Mark I appreciate your willingness to offer up your thoughts. Are you a little surprised that nobody else wants to defend the Kelly Vault?

    My point is simple : the Museum claims to be impartial and balanced but as Ive pointed out,it isn’t. It claims to be providing “historically accurate information” but as Ive pointed out, it isn’t. (Those claims are prominently displayed at the entrance) Its up to the Vault what it does about these things, and it wouldn’t be hard to change a few things round. If I was a Matt Shore my interest would be in maintaining the good reputation of my Museum by adhering scrupulously to those claims of balance, impartiality and historical accuracy, rather than trying to please Ian Jones.

    Regarding Mr Jones, I also have enormous respect for the huge contribution that he has made, and Ive made that clear on many occasions in Posts over the last 18 months. However I don’t believe his eminence in the field means nobody has the right to challenge him, though I have the feeling that he does, and so do his supporters. But I am not ATTACKING but CHALLENGING some of his ideas and his tactics – and no doubt if I waited as you suggest till he is ‘gone’ I would be criticised for doing so when he’s not around to defend them!

    And surely you’re not suggesting that it doesn’t really matter if what the Vault promotes is entertaining nonsense as long as it keeps Beechworths Tourist industry alive?

  10. Anonymous says: Reply

    I think what Mark has to say is very fair given that there are many complicated aspects of the Kelly story to juggle, especially when you take the risk of putting yourself in the public limelight creating a museum. Knowing that there are different public views and criticisms about Ned Kelly prevailing it is risky business to begin with.

    There has to be some balance of views met with the Kelly story and the Beechworth 'Vault' has been very successful so far because I think its heart appears to be in the right place with this balance, even if some believe it isn't accurate in places yet.

    I can understand Dee's need for the truth to be told without compromise and getting the facts correct. A museum should be educational and accurate, but I also believe it needs to be more than just this.

    What I have noticed is that the challenge of presenting the Ned Kelly story in a museum format seems to work best when the artifacts are presented in such a way that they are open to interpretation given the known facts are also presented hand in hand (maybe this factual information could be improved and referenced better). Just as Dee has personally interpreted the visit to the 'Vault' and reacted accordingly, many have also been thrilled just to see one particular document or artifact as it provided some learning or entry level into an aspect of this complex Australian historical story.

    There is always room for improvement 'nothing fails like success', and the Kelly story is one that seems to evolve with time given our intellectual need to recontextualise and develop new verified theories. Let's hope that the 'Vault' can also continue to grow and develop into the best representation of the story, untarnished and honest, but also appreciative and respectful of many views and new information or evidence.

    I admire those involved with the 'Vault' as I'm sure much diplomacy, time and effort has taken place already just to get this exhibition up and running independently. It may honour Ian Jones to a certain degree but probably for a very good reason because he has been trying to get to the truth of the Kelly story for a lot longer than most living historians. Ian may also be Matt Shore's mentor and so deserves rightly to be referenced bibliographically. Ian Jones is obviously not well enough to debate others views at this point but he has presented us publicly with a great legacy of information and intelligent interpretation.

    Keep up the great effort Matt Shore with the 'Vault' as many admire your courage and balanced perspective.

  11. ‘Anonymous’ many thanks for your thoughtful contribution. You make many good points, and I particularly agree with your ideas about the way the story is evolving, and your hope that the Vault will "continue to grow and develop into the best representation of the story, untarnished and honest” That is my hope as well, and is why I bothered to visit the Vault and record my impressions on the Blog.

    I should perhaps reveal that Matt Shore has sent me a personal message on Facebook inviting me to ring him to discuss these issues in Private, but I am not going to. Ive made my case in a Public Forum, on the Blog, and I look forward to his response right here on the Blog, or on the Vaults Facebook Page, in the Public Forum.

    Let me make it perfectly clear : Matt Shore has done a great job in getting all this interesting stuff together in one place, securing the old treasury Building to house it for public inspection and promoting it and making it popular. The question for him now is how willing is he to listen and respond to criticism and make it even better? That is my challenge.

  12. Anonymous. Couldn't have said it better myself!!

    Of course the "Vault" is a work in progress. that's the beauty of the guys behind it.
    You may indeed get your wish too Dee. These people do listen and learn. They are not traditional sympathisers. Nor am I. I appreciate your work on this blog. Now, if we can just get you to appreciate theirs in a less confronting, angry fashion, all will be well. Go back. Talk to them. You have lots to contribute. as does Matt Shore, Patrick Watt and indeed all of us.

    Gotta go. Big day today.
    Thanks for listening.

  13. Ive changed the title of this Post to better reflect my feelings about it! I also wanted to say that telling the truth about Ned Kelly will have almost no effect on the appeal and the fascination of the amazing story hast it is.

  14. Anonymous says: Reply

    Dee perhaps you should also change the body of your review to reflect your later comments too? It seems a shame you haven't included your later comments in your initial assessment.

  15. Great point. Surely a review of such a successful museum shouldn't hinge on a few lines of text to which you disagree Dee? Tell us about what you saw – layout, artifacts, come on, REVIEW the bloody place and be as impartial as you want them to be!!!!! TELL US WHAT YOU REALLY SAW!

  16. I provided my review, which is my impression and assessment of the Museum as a visitor might experience it. What you’re asking for is a description and catalogue. I suppose you want your movie reviewers to give the Plot away too!

  17. Dee. Hello.

    Unfortunate that you won't take Matt up on his offer and talk to him. It seems that grandstanding anonymously is better. Calling Matt would blow your cover i guess. . It's a pity. I am very disappointed in this curious decision of yours. A quiet conversation between people with the same interest can be so much more enlightening. I am sure Matt would be happy for you to THEN post it.

    Glad to see you have softened your stance on the Vault somewhat. This is one Kelly thing you will not be able to tear down. I would like to read more about what you DID like about the vault though. I gathered by your tone you weren't impressed by the Nolan Art? (I for one am glad this Kelly "tragic" as you called them, purchased this worthy piece of history: Nolans last Kelly image…) What about the way the Armour replicas are presented? How about the Jones/McMenomy/Kenneally manuscripts? Tell us more. We know the bad. Tell us more of the good.

    Look forward to more feedback.
    As others do it appears.
    Cheers. Thanks.

  18. Hey Mark, thats a very provocative Post from you, and I am sorry you feel I am “grandstanding” , but yes I am determined to protect my privacy and my identity from Kelly thugs, who no doubt would be delighted if Matt could reveal it to them. To be clear, I don’t regard Matt as a thug! But my interest is not in becoming mates with Kelly sympathisers but in replacing Jones-Kelly Mythology with historical accuracy about the Kelly Outbreak.

    As for telling more of the good, well the Vault has a whole Facebook full of praise about how great it is so I don’t feel a burning need to add to that – I feel a burning need to give it some honest informed feedback instead of the screeds of sycophantic adulation from its fans who mostly haven’t the faintest idea about the kelly story – Nobody has yet told me if all the documents in the Vault are real or facsimiles and no-one has yet told me anything about the Gun in the corner behind Betty. Regarding the Nolan artwork, its certainly far from his best work, and no I didnt like it, and I am not impressed just because its by Nolan, cost a whole lot of money and is about Ned Kelly. But the owner is a self described 'Kelly Tragic' according to the newspapers, so it wasn’t my term but his own. There are many Nolan “Kellys” that are superb, and I would kill to have one, but thats not one of them. As for further feedback about the Vault, I promised more and that should be up pretty soon. What I find curious is Matt Shores reluctance to publicly defend his much publicly promoted, and publicly funded Vault. Maybe he will after my next Post because it will certainly be another challenge for him.

  19. Hi Dee. Thank you for your feedback.

    Matt is no Kelly sympathiser in the sense you use the term and I am sure he would keep your secrets. Don't be afraid to talk to him. You would find him very receptive. No one is asking or expecting you to buddy up. Matt doesn't live on Planet Janet. He would get that. Trust. Some of us are intelligent, decent people believe it or not. I find this cloak and dagger routine annoying and overwrought.

    I wasn't meaning to sound so provocative. (apologies for upsetting you…) I said you grand stand because when you criticise things like the Vault in public like this, you jeopardise it's viability. I think that is wrong. Do you concede this point?

    I feel some quietly placed private conversation with Matt would be in order and fair to both of you. You could just call yourself "X"….You have hidden who you are here on this blog successfully and could do the same with an anonymous phone call. Maybe even disguise your voice with a ring modulator. The way the BBC does with the Daleks… (not that I am wanting to turn this into a James Bond 007 exercise..)

    So now that I whinged, it's only fair to say something good. I have greatly enjoyed reading your blog in the past year and have changed my thoughts (or at least some of them) on the Kellys accordingly. And I continue to look forward to more. Criticism and discussion, validation is good. I just feel that sometimes you can come across a little cruel and demeaning the way you sometimes put it out there. People have feelings. There are other ways.

    Do I have a fair point? I believe you to be highly intelligent and mostly reasonable. I look forward to your feedback and then we can move forward. The Kelly Saga will continue to fascinate us all. It's how we all handle ourselves (wink..) that will be the litmus test.


  20. Do we all remember and Nicky Cowey,
    Despite my efforts to find out who she was I got nowhere, does anyone know?

    She had the most interesting Kelly webpage of all, all now gone. I communicated with Nicky by email over several years without ever having a private discussion by phone, so perhaps Dee is Nicky's sister? I noticed that when Ex Chief Justice of Victoria, John H Phillips died so did Bailup.

    There seems a need to protect one's identity if controversial ideas about Ned are to be discussed. I don't know what the fuss is about as I remain open to all this and nothing has ever yet happened to me, except for when one fellow webb@iron threatened me with this- " Dear Bill, Just a reminder in case you forgot, you're a total c**t. Looking forward to bumping into you in the street one day! Cheers, Brad"

    Just like Matt does not want to be other than anonymous, I imagine neither does Dee.

    Don't worry Dee and Matt, I'm prepared to take all the bumps.

    In the meantime, I want to ask Matt, where in the NK Vault Museum are you showing the true site at SBC? Or in your N.K. Adventure tours school camping tours are shown the true site at SBC ?
    Is it the Jones site, or the famous CSI@SBC- Kelly tree site, or the Two Huts site just diagonally opposite the Jones site?

    It's important to me because historical truth is what I'm about and whats a museum and a Kelly camping tour should be all about.
    Matt, you can ring me anytime to tell me, you have my number.

  21. Nicky Cowie was before my time Bill, but was a great fuss made over the real identity of this person at the time? I am guessing not, because Nicky Cowie was a sympathiser and as long as Nicky Cowie was telling the sympathisers what they wanted to hear, there would be no interest in finding out his/her real identity. Same with Captain Jack Hoyle on the Outlaw site – another person wanting to protect his/her identity but being Pro-Kelly, the Sympathisers didnt care. Its only when you start challenging their myths and un-historical claims that they start wanting to know who you are so they can attack you personally, as Brad has done to you. So I guess we know who the Anonymous who attacks me is, his fondness for the “C” word gives it away! I wonder how he got on up in the Bowral doctors surgery when he went to expose me? What a mad joke that would have been!

    If Matt Shore sticks to his word and has Tours that are “balanced” he ought to be taking people to your site as well as any others in contention so people can make up their own minds. My guess is that he won’t be taking them to your site because Ian Jones would frown on such behaviour. Is there anyone prepared to say what happens when they go to SBC?

    I might have to go ‘undercover’ to observe what happens for myself!

    Happy New Year

  22. Hi Bill. Is that really you? Are you sure? Am I really me? Is Sharon really a yankee from North Carolina. I always thought Nicky was Nicky. Perhaps I am wrong.

    Enough of this gay banter. Nickys site was indeed excellent. we corresponded for a while and I was aware who she was and where she was and how she fit in. And she was critical of Pro Kelly work too.

  23. So Mark why did Nicky drop out?

  24. Mark's efforts to steer the directions of this blog are a bit ham-fisted. Matt reminds me of U2 – a lot of noise, but little substance. Of course, all this is said with the greatest possible respect – OK.

  25. I also thought Nicky was Nicky! But maybe two of us are wrong!
    Last I was told she went off to start a family 🙂

  26. A West Australian woman touring a bushranger exhibition was harrassed and threatened by the individual mentioned by Bill. The Ironoutlaw facebook page issued a death threat to "The Kelly Gang Unmasked" book author until removed by Facebook.Woeful, sub-human behavior.

    Mark's memory doesn't extend this far…


  27. If anyone ever doubts that I am who I say I am, they can always ask Marian Matta. She has been a guest in my home during an overseas trip. 🙂
    Oh, yeah, we Southerners sure don't cotton to being called "Yankees" even if that is how ya'll refer to all Americans. 😉 The Late Unpleasantness (aka The War of Northern Aggression aka The American Civil War) kinda put a damper on that whole thing! 😉 Still, yeah, I know what you meant, Mark, no offense taken, just a quick humorous cultural lesson. 🙂
    Regarding Nicky, lots of people met this lady in person at Kelly events. She was friendly with Brad Webb, so he can certainly attest for her. I was going to say that I was told by someone close to her that she left the website for personal family reasons without giving the reason, but since someone else said it, I will say it, too. She was having a baby and wanted to devote more time to her growing family. At least that was the official reason given. I don't care to speculate if anything else came into play.

  28. Many Pages of Nicky Cowies Bailup site can still be viewed HERE Its a shame that all that hard work is not as accessible as it should be, and that an intelligent person with so much knowledge and opinions worth hearing has dropped out completely.

    It hasn’t escaped my notice that the discussion is once again on personalities and off topic. Is anyone going to answer my questions about the Vault? Should it promote the disproven view about Kellys ‘rushed’ trial? That Kate was groped? That Ned planned to establish a Republic? Should Bills site be part of a “balanced” view of Kelly history?

  29. To be fair, even though bailup is considered Nicky's website (and was registered in the Cowie name) in the early days it certainly seemed that the bulk of the content was somewhat equally divided between her and Dave White who did a tremendous amount of work for the site. Most people thought of "Nicky & Dave" when bailup was mentioned back in the heyday of it. I came along a little later and did some small contributions to the site (as did others), then, eventually, Dave and I ventured out into his own website.

  30. Hamish. Good Afternoon. I am fully aware of what has been done by different people in the Kelly world. Thank you.

    And Scott. (hi.) Are you saying Matt or myself remind you of U2? I ask because you haven't presented this clearly. I am Mark. Matt is Matt.

    Scott.. In the interests of staying on topic, what are your thoughts on the Vault? You have heard mine and Dee's. Lets hear yours.

  31. Anonymous says: Reply

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  32. Anonymous says: Reply

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  33. To the Anonymous author of the two posts I have removed, Ive removed them because this is not a Gossip Column. My original enquiry regarding the reasons Nicky Cowie left did not need to be answered with specifics but “Personal Reasons” is enough. My interest was in finding out if her departure was the result of something to do with the Kelly world that was already in the Public domain. I probably shouldn’t even have asked…

  34. Anonymous says: Reply

    What public funding was used?

  35. Anonymous says: Reply

    Looks like I have to ask again.
    You claim government funding was used setting up the Vault. ALL of the funding was from private donations. Where do you get the idea the government would help?

  36. OK well as no-one from the Vault has answered, I will, even though I am not privy to the Accounts of the Vault. I am simply making some assumptions based on what is public knowledge.

    The Vault is described as an Annex of the Burke Museum, which means that its actually a part of that Museum, which is a Publicly funded facility is it not? Much of the material in the Vault was originally housed in the Burke Museum,and belongs to the Burke museum – or in other words to the Public of Victoria does it not? And the Vault itself is part of the Publicly owned Heritage precinct. So the ongoing costs of ownership and insurance and maintenance of the Vault building is presumably met from the Public purse, and would be considerable,don’t you agree? So can you provide some detail about how exactly “ALL of the funding was from Private donations?” Perhaps you can back it up with a balance sheet of how much money was raised and what it was spent on, and tell us how the ongoing costs, such as advertising, printing tickets, insuring the Vaults items etc etc are covered by these donations. Given how reluctant Sympathisers were to support Joanne Griffiths Kelly Center ( she raised just over a thousand ) I VERY much doubt private donations would cover anything but the most minimal of the incidental costs of the Vaults existence. Matt Shore would know but I doubt he would be wanting to make public the subsidy his Vault is receiving from the Victorian taxpayer.

  37. Anonymous says: Reply

    Why would anyone hand over balance sheets to the likes of you?
    What belongs to the Burke Museum belongs to the Indigo shire not the public of Victoria.
    You know what? I was going to give a fuller response but you are just not worth wasting breath on. You have proved that with your distasteful, disrespectful post regarding Ned being a terrorist. It appears obvious to all except the Deecypils, that you have some serious issues. If you had the guts to put money where your mouth is and print this tripe, it would be lining litter trays before sunset.

  38. Wow you’re pretty angry! I wasn’t asking for any Balance sheets, merely noting that I am not in any sort of position to have access to them, not being on the Board of the Burke Museum! I gave you a reasonable and polite answer to your questions and don’t know why you couldn’t have given me a reasonable and polite one in return. I can only guess its because you realise you were wrong , when you wrote that “ALL of the funding was from private donations “ and now, rather than admit it you’re doing what so many of the kelly sympathisers do which is attack me. Its what I expect nowadays from Kelly spokespeople who realise their precious hero is being exposed for the unpleasant liar and killer that he was. Dont waste your time and mine coming here if you’re not intending to engage in honest discussion – go to the Ned Kelly Forum and “Like” a letterbox.

  39. I have found the Indigo Shire Budget for 2015/16 on-line. In relation to the costs of the Historic Precinct it shows a significant shortfall in the Budget – in other words the difference between the revenue the Precint generated and what it costs to run it. In 2014/15 It was $348,000 and is projected to be $358,000 in 2015/16. This is well over half the roughy $600,000 it costs to run the entire Precinct, which includes the Vault, and this is money tipped in by Ratepayers as a subsidy. Theres no suggestion in that Document that The Kelly Vault has its own independent funding.

    Burke Museum & Historic Precinct Service area

    2015-16 Budget Expenditure $607,000
    Revenue $249,000
    Net Cost $358,000
    The purpose of this service is to:
    • collect, conserve and preserve the unique and nationally significant story of Beechworth and District;
    • display the collection for interpretation and education, to make accessible for researchers and interested tourists alike;
    • promote and support knowledge sharing amongst other museums in the shire;
    • make accessible for research: academic historians, genealogical researchers;
    • maintain the historic precinct and make it accessible to visitors; and
    • to be a key driver for local tourism

  40. I was doing some google searching today and I found that is back online, so no more having to go to the wayback machine to access it! There is no new content there yet, so I don't know if it is there to stand as just a reference or if new things will be added at some point. According to the whois registry the current registry of the domain name began on February 22, 2016 a month or so after we all had been talking about Nicky and the site here. Is that a coincidence?

  41. Thats excellent Sharon.Click HERE to go the Bail Up site and read things written a decade ago. It will be MOST interesting to see what happens next!

  42. Peter Newman says: Reply

    The biography on William "Brickey" Williamson complied by Marian Matta is really interesting, and fleshes out the life of this key witness to the so-called 'Fitzpatrick incident'. Matta compiled the biography having been contacted back in 2004 by the last of Brickey's surviving grandchildren. I'm not that familiar with the Bail Up website, so maybe it is old material, but just new to me. Anyway, it was interesting to me that Brickey put all the Kelly business behind him and went on to become a successful farmer up at Wagga Wagga. Things turned out quite well for him in the end.

    With all the family historians out there, it would be really interesting to see what other information might be out there about some of the key sympathisers and others involved in the Kelly saga.

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