Dee owns the Kelly Story

Does one of these towns own the Kelly story?

On the Kelly Facebook Pages they’re arguing about who owns the Kelly story and who has the right to tell it and where it should be told from. Theres a Glenrowan Camp led by Joanne Griffiths, who is an actual Kelly descendant apparently, and the Beechworth Camp centred around the Kelly Vault, an annexe to the Burke Museum that houses the private collection of a Kelly enthusiast, Matt Shore, along with the public collection of Kelly related objects from the museum.

The latest skirmish has been provoked by a letter to a local newspaper backing Joannes proposal. The Vault and the Ned Kelly Center both almost simultaneously posted an image of the letter, then proceeded to dismiss the points its author was trying to make. 

Frankly, the arguments between these two groups are unedifying and childish, and unlikely to enhance Public support for either side. I think the Vault is making a serious mistake in taking sides and aligning itself with Leigh Olvers group, though the Vault is probably in debt to it now because of the preposterous deal they made about exhibiting the Unforgotten Image. More than one person suggested if  the Vault hadn’t made those compromises then ‘the Public’ would  never have had the chance to see the photo. Well, yes but so what? Matt Shore said the Photo added nothing to the Kelly story, but the Vault seriously compromised its professional status in agreeing to  the peculiar demands of the Kelly faction that owned the Photo. Was it worth it Matt, to compromise your Museums reputation for something that added nothing to the Kelly story? Is the Vault going to reduce itself to the status of travelling Freak Show, now simultaneously exhibiting ‘the greatest Kelly discovery in 50 years’ and ‘ the Kelly find of the Century’?

Instead I think the Vault ought to have stayed neutral and strongly urged these two factions to settle their differences behind closed doors. What I would suggest they do is create some sort of Kelly descendants Organisation, register members and get them to vote for half a dozen members to form a committee to represent them all, for the committee to then elect a spokesperson and for everyone to support one leader and one policy in the Public space. At the moment the egos of Joanne Griffiths and Leigh Olver are not just getting in the way of progress, but actually ruining the prospects of ANYTHING being achieved by Kelly descendants.

So why have I called this post “Dee owns the Kelly story”?

Its because yesterday I received my copy of “Edward ‘Ned’ Kelly : The Definitive Record”  by Kelvyn Gill. Its over 1200 pages long, in two huge volumes. What the author has assembled is an exhaustive collection of every document and publication he could find that was issued at the time by newspapers, government and other sources that related to the Kelly outbreak. They are presented in chronological order  beginning from well before Ned was born, to well after. He makes a point of NOT including ‘oral history and anecdotal material’ – a wise move because todays oral history and anecdote are an almost bottomless pit of untestable tales, many of which would have only the barest trace of something historical at the bottom of them. On the other hand official records, telegrams, newspaper reports, and personal recollections made at the time have a far greater authority as source material. But there also numerous photos, old diagrams and lists, the text of the Cameron and Jerilderie Letters,  and The Royal Commission. And much much more. Kelvyn Gill has produced a marvellous academic resource and deserves huge congratulations and respect for what must amount to being almost a lifetimes work.

This is an invaluable collection that anyone SERIOUSLY interested in the Kelly story should own. Its a resource that will prove invaluable for any research you might want to do, but its also a fascinating place to randomly open and begin reading – there is something to learn and be surprised by on every page.

According to the original email I received about this work from Kelvyn Gill, only a limited number of these volumes is being printed. At present they can be ordered from him directly at a cost of $160 including Postage, but this is going to increase substantially once the book has wider retail release – he suggest it will be at least $200. For anyone wondering about the cost, try going to  a University Bookshop and buying a standard text book on any subject : many are double the price of this work which has taken Mr Gill 30 years to produce. Believe me, its well worth the purchase price : his email is

I wish everyone all the Best for 2017. The Kelly story is not going away and neither am I.

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18 Replies to “Dee owns the Kelly Story”

  1. Peter Newman says: Reply

    I endorse all you say about this book Dee. I picked up a copy from Kelvyn today and have hardly been able to put it down since. It is a "must have" for anyone with an interest in the Kelly story. And beautifully bound and presented. Kelvyn also mentioned there is a Volume 3 to come out later this year which will be the complete transcript of the Royal Commission report.

  2. Mike Witherspoon says: Reply

    Mr Gill deserves kudos. Of course he does! But the documents he presents mostly are free to access at PROV and SLV. The Police RC is available online and I have a rare Heinemann facsimile.

    The retired truck driver from Croydon should get himself a copy, since he hates to get up off his comfortable armchair to do actual, real research.

    Oh, and by the way, Happy New Year to all – except, perhaps, for "Fred" (above) and all his many iterations over recent years. He is one Almighty time-wasting fool.

  3. Jack Connor says: Reply

    I had the pleasure yesterday on ABC-TV to see "Two on the Great Dividing Range" With John Doyle and Tim Flannery being shown around the Stringybark Creek police killing ground by Bill Denheld. I had not seen this before. With the relevant Burman contemporary photo and overlays, Bill convinced John and Tim (and me and my wife) That his is the correct police camp site where the killings occurred.

    Bill has been deplorably treated over the years by the Kelly ignoramuses. He found the real site by hard work over many years, unlike the Kelly investigators who do their research from sofas and iron-lungs.

    Brilliant research on the ground. Congratulations, Bill and Carla! Wonderful people and wide open-minded investigators.

    Best wishes for 2017!

  4. Thanks Jack for this reminder, I have seen this great comedic travel duo a few times now in various TV shows. They seem to balance out each other – the laconic dry wit of Doyle with the serious always eager to learn Flannery – and at the same time take the mickey out of Aussie eccentricities and myths. I hope Bill didn't take it all too seriously as I'm sure that the duo didn't either.
    Both are not really Ned Kelly experts though are they, and Bill obviously had an open audience that seemed intrigued by his picture frames and measurements.

  5. You're sure the duo didnt take it all too seriously are you? On WHAT grounds exactly do you make this dismissive pronouncement? The Australian of the Year, renowned intellect, professor and high profile public figures were just pretending to be impressed, and were actually telling lies when they said they were convinced? Same for Peter Fitzsimons I suppose? Anonymous, I think you need to take your cynical sarcastic blinkers off and consider the possibility that Bill is right, and that people without an axe to grind and an open mind when looking at Bills evidence find it compelling, as those two and many others have.

  6. Anonymous says: Reply

    You are the one Dee who said that Flannery was not convinced, I didn't!….I said they (the duo) both seemed intrigued by the way Bill had gone about his study.
    So Peter Fitzsimmons adopted Bill's theory about Stringybark Creek, I didn't realise that??
    What a shame Bill has stuffed up the comparison analysis of the 'Ned' photo, I hope he didn't use the same method for working out Stringybark Creek… common sense – with no science!

  7. Oh, so you don't actually know how Bill showed the two huts site was the true site of the SBC murders? Perhaps you better spend a few hours reading and digesting what he did before you come back here daring to criticise someone and a process you know nothing about. And the question about Flannery was rhetorical : of COURSE he was convinced and so was Fitzsimons.

  8. Anonymous says: Reply

    Yes I do know the Two Huts SBC theory by Bill, but you haven't answered my question Dee!
    Where is this referenced in Peter Fitzsimons book? Did he adopt Bill's location for SBC as fact?

  9. Somehow I get the impression you're not all that interested in Ned Kelly as you weren't familiar with Bills SBC work and you didnt read Fitzsimons book. If you had, you would have read this at the very beginning, in his 'Background and Acknowledgement' : "For the record, having visited Stringybark Creek with Bill Denheld and seen the evidence with my own eyes, I am confident that he has it right"

    As I wrote before, Bills evidence and argument is very convincing and so I recommend you familiarise yourself with it before continuing on with your obviously poorly informed attacks on it.

  10. Thanks Dee, it looks like you have interjected into the whole discussion now and are attacking me, when I was responding initially to Jack Connor. Somehow my comments have been twisted around so that you are defending Bill and then you are making assumptions about me.
    It seems like you have been busy sifting through the Fitzsimons book to locate some quote to prove your assertions. So Fitzsimons saying he is confident that he (Bill) got it right, is enough to verify the actual location then? Bill's site is now fact!
    Fair enough each to their own theories then, Doyle and Flannery are a great duo that's for sure.

  11. Peter Fitzsimons seems to have adopted Bills site at SBC as fact. And seemed very warm toward him in the acknowledgements of the book. (as he was with Ian Jones..) At least that's how I took it when first reading this doorstop of a thing. And doesn't Bill provide the images on the pictorial pages?

  12. Hello Mark,
    You say Peter Fitzsimons seems to have adopted Bill's site at SBC as fact.

    I do hope one day you too will accept it as fact.
    If ever you can get over here I would be happy to guide you through the sites just as I do with anyone interested.

    There can only be one site that fits all the hard facts on the ground.

    A bit of background.

    PF needed to see for himself why my SBC research conflicted with both the Jones and the Linton Briggs – CSI@SBC sites. He needed to check it out for himself as he was writing his NK book chapters on SBC. I was contacted and we set a date for me to show him around as he would was on a trip through Kelly country and to Beechworth that day.

    When we got to StringyBark Creek I guided him and assistant through to the three contested sites, the first being the picnic ground where the Police monument is placed. I showed them the Briggs site near Kelly tree 50 metres south , then the Jones site 250 M further south and finishing up lastly at the site of the two huts even further south west bank.

    On a flat piece of land I pointed out the fireplaces of two old huts there as in the Burman photos, there was a steep slope in the background, the northern light fall on the trees, the orientation of the logs etc., he then threw up his arms and said 'that’s it' perfect fit, photo perfect, so this is it, right here. He walked off and around to contemplate the scene of long ago.

    He then wanted to go back across the creek to the Jones site on the east bank to study that site again and those drawings he had seen by John Ward on the story board. (the same drawings are on pages 144 of Ian Jones's 2003 NK A Short Life book).

    Looking at those drawings he said, 'that’s what I need to show in my book', a birds eye view. I pointed out the problems with the Jones book drawings, like the logs configuration, a tent in the wrong place, and there were no ruined huts and no creek. Well he said, if you can do better you've got the job, can you that for me?

    We left SBC and guided them onto Benalla where we showed them the old court house where Joe Byrne's body had been strung up for that horrific photo. From there we headed home as Peter and his assistant had an appointment for dinner with Ian Jones that evening.

    After meeting up with Ian Jones, PF maintained his conviction that the two huts site is in fact the correct site and he said so in his 2013 book Ned Kelly.

    Mark, if you have better information why PF should not have adopted the two huts site as fact, please lets all hear about it.

  13. Hi Bill. Interesting. Thanks. Umm, I wasn't saying PF was wrong accepting your version. It's compelling. And I still pour over everyones theories.. We are all starting to jump at shadows.. I may yet take you up on your kind offer.

  14. Jamey Bellows says: Reply

    In the Weekend Australian this article appeared:

    Truths need to be told about Australian bushranger Ned Kelly

    Henderson did not acknowledge Ian MacFarlane's earlier work "The Kelly Gang Unmasked" but MacFarlane did not comment publically about the Victorian government plans. Maybe he supported preserving the Beveridge Kelly Home as the wellspring from where are this evil began?

    Even so, Henderson's is a commanding voice. He will be listened to.

  15. Jeff Duncan says: Reply

    When Bill shows you the blown-up Burman photo at his Two Huts site, you may well gasp in amazement (as I did) how everything aligns so well.

    Bill has had to endure years of endless criticism and hatred. The Kelly people couldn't understand that establishing the site did not prove or disprove what happened there. It simply showed where it all happened.

    Bill deserves an Order of Australia for his decade of fossicking alone in the bush with Carla. They are real Aussie champions who deserve belated recognition for their ground-breaking research.

  16. Anonymous says: Reply

    Couldn't agree more Jeff. As you say, looking at Bill's work at SBC you can't help but agree with his findings. And his courage when being almost constantly under fire from the Kelly mythologists is worthy of a medal. More power to Bill!

  17. Peter Newman says: Reply

    Having Kelvyn's book is far more convenient than trying to access at PROV and SLV. The story just unfolds with every page. The criminality of the Kellys and their associates is staggering. These guys really had form. It seems to me the outbreak had more to do with the increasing pressure being brought upon the Kellys due to their dealings with the Baumgartens than the incident with Fitzpatrick.

    I am bookmarking as I go. But there is one thing that has jumped out at me so far relating to the Chinaman Ah Fook. And that is the reference (on page 69 of Vol. 1) to a reward of One hundred pounds being offered on 22 May 1874 to information that would lead to the conviction of the person or persons causing the death of that person who was found murdered and strangely mutilated in bush near the Woolshed on the 2nd May 1874. That is the only reference to this matter. It makes you wonder though – who and why would have done this? I note that the 'Ah Fook incident' with Ned took place in October 1869 (referenced on pp. 28 -29 of Vol. 1). Could Ah Fook's death some 4.5 years later be related, particularly given the Kelly's association with the Woolshed district. Does anyone know more about Ah Fook's death?

  18. Wow Peter, what a sinister finding! Ned Kelly had only just been released from Gaol, so who knows what retributions he may have been planning while locked up for the previous couple of years? Mind you I think the Chinese were regarded with suspicion and hostility by the non-asian population, so if theres no evidence the Kellys had anything to do with it we shouldn't leap to conclusions….equally it could be seen as evidence that Ah Fook was an argumentative trouble maker as suggested by the Kellys and he ended up picking an argument with the wrong person….Another Kelly mystery.

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