At last, a movie that will reveal the true story about the brutality of the Kelly Gang killings at Stringybark Creek

I wonder if Ben Head and Ben Thompson realised what they were getting themselves into when they decided to attempt a movie about what happened to a party of four police at Stringybark Creek in 1878. I wonder if they realised that saying they were going to tell the story from ‘the police perspective’would make them the targets of the blind police–hating Kelly mafia that patrols cyberspace defending their fond fairy tales about the murderous psychopath Ned Kelly?


But whether these young students expected it or not, they have already become the subjects of abuse and belittlement on the pro-Kelly Facebook pages, with such comments as this misspelled vulgarity from  Aidan Phelans Bushrangers FB page : 


“Wats this Ben heads problem? I guess his a descendant of one of the corrupt coppers? Fitzpatrick was a drunk an alcoholic a womaniser n a liar nothing but a trouble maker Ben head check ur facts before running ur mouth.”


Almost every word in this two sentence post is either abuse or factually wrong – corrupt coppers? – Fitzpatrick a drunk alcoholic and womaniser? – and yet it was “Liked” by six people, one of whom was a prominent contributor of opinions to Iron Outlaw. What I thought was specially revealing, and sad, was that this ignorant hateful outburst was ‘Liked’ by Matthew Holmes, the film maker who last year attempted to crowdfund a Kelly movie that he claimed was going to be historically accurate, free of opinion and based on the evidence. His ‘Like’ of such a rotten post betrays the  truth about what he thinks the  true story is, and confirms my suspicions from last year about the sort of ‘true story’ he was hoping to make. His commitment to the Kelly fables seems to be greater than his commitment to truth or to the craft of movie making. Other posts in that thread were equally abusive and just as inaccurate but no attempt was made by Phelan to correct any of it or defend these students against such bullying. 


But I am here to defend what they are going to try and do, which, according to their video is to tell the true story about what happened at SBC for the first time. I have no inside information to share about exactly what they are planning to do – Ive no idea – but I don’t think they should be saying they are going to tell the story from the ‘police perspective’ – I think they should just say they are going to be telling the true story of what happened. Saying they are going to tell it from ‘the police perspective’ might suggest to  some that there is also an equally valid ‘Kelly’ perspective – but as I will argue,  an equally valid ‘kelly’ perspective simply doesn’t exist. But talking about the story from ‘the police perspective’  plays into the hands of the Kelly mythmakers who for years have been peddling this false dichotomy of ‘Kelly perspective vs police perspective’, ‘hero  vs villain’ as if they are equally valid choices – they are NOT, and this tactic is designed to confuse the discussions and maintain a feeble viability to their defence of Ned Kelly.


The point that needs to be understood is this : I am not saying that there is no such thing as a Kelly perspective – of course there is a Kelly perspective – its in the Jerilderie letter, and many other places, and the pro-Kelly bloggers and writers and commentators express it all the time.  But think of this analogy : the people who believe the moon landings were faked have a perspective, and so do the people whose perspective is that the moon landings actually happened – but no reasonable person is ever  going to say they are EQUALLY VALID perspectives, that there is an equivalence between the arguments for the landings being faked and being real. On the one hand there are the conspiracy theories and fake ‘facts’ about the ‘faked’ moon landings, and on the other the actual facts, the tons of hard  evidence and the documentation that shows that what actually happened was that men landed and walked on the moon.


Equally, we have the ‘police perspective’ which, to put it simply is the true story about what happened, and up against it there is the so-called Kelly perspective. 

Here’s what’s wrong with the ‘Kelly’ perspective : it’s a conspiracy theory and its full of lies. And here’s a list of some of them :


  • Police were NOT in disguise- they were out of uniform
  • Police were NOT armed to the teeth- they borrowed one extra rifle and one shotgun, that’s it!
  • Police did NOT go there with a plan to murder the Kellys but to arrest them.  
  • Police did NOT have body straps they had handcuffs
  • Lonigan did NOT get behind logs
  • Lonigan did NOT get his revolver out
  • Kelly shot Lonigan while he was out in the open, and lied about it for ever afterwards
  • Kelly fired ‘swan drops’ or a quartered bullet – nothing ‘crack shot’ about that
  • There was never a ‘fair fight’ or a gun battle : Scanlan may have fired once, if at all.
  • Chasing Kennedy half a mile through the bush and then killing him is not ‘self defence’


What actually happened was that Ned Kellys only experience of armed hold-ups  to that point was of innocent ordinary people on the road with Harry Power. He foolishly imagined he could bail up armed trained police and they would behave like frightened travellers. Going to the police camp was about the dumbest thing Kelly ever decided to do. And the instant police didn’t react the way he imagined they would ? – the only option left to him was to shoot Lonigan almost exactly where he stood, with a load of swan-drops. Ned Kellys claim that Lonigan got behind a pile of logs and came up from behind them to shoot at him is bollocks as was brilliantly illustrated in the Lawless movie last year.  

Why Kelly lingered on at the camp, thinking he might have better luck in disarming Scanlan and Kennedy when they returned is something we will never know. Despite his botched attempt to disarm two men that ended up with one  killed, he stupidly decided to try again even though he had already acquired two extra revolvers, a shotgun and any ammunition the police had bought with them, two horses and  any other police supplies that they wanted.  Why wasn’t that enough? It makes almost no sense to wait around risking another confrontation in the hope they might get two more revolvers and a rifle –  but then, why would we expect sense  from a psychopath?


My hope is that Ben Head and his crew will demonstrate that Ned Kelly forever lied about the murder of Lonigan, who was out in the open when he was shot, as Ive described elsewhere on this Blog, that he will show Scanlons death as being a cold blooded murder and not a gunfight, and that he will show Kennedys murder as a mob killing, four armed men chasing down a single fleeing, soon to be wounded policeman, a decent catholic Irishman with a loving wife and children. I hope Ben Head will show the Kelly gang robbing the dead bodies of the police, vision of a revolting  act of disrespect that  exposes another Kelly lie – that they showed respect for the police by covering Kennedys corpse with a cape. 


And I hope Ben Head will stop calling this story the police perspective and start simply calling it the truth, the sickening violent and ghastly truth about what the Kelly Gang did to four good men at Stringybark Creek.

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10 Replies to “At last, a movie that will reveal the true story about the brutality of the Kelly Gang killings at Stringybark Creek”

  1. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    It's pretty sad that some of those involved with a past Kelly film project have descended into becoming online bullies pulling down another budding film maker. I used to have across the board respect for all people involved with any creative arts project no matter what their perspective (as long as they are not harming anyone in it), but if your write-up about what was said and the Facebook likes is correct then this is a new low, where creative arts people slag off someone else's project and perspective just because it's not the same as their own. Pathetic. I loved Holmes' Ben Hall movie and pledged $500 towards his Kelly film, but I would not do so again after this. I will never support bigoted put-down merchants. I hope I am wrong and that these people realise what they are doing, retract their comments and apologise. I would then regain my past respect. I realise that people often put stuff online without thinking before they hit "send" or "post" or whatever, but for the generation that has grown up with computers this is pathetic and shows that many of them have a totally callous disregard for others' feelings. How do they know what that other guy is like? They are publicly judging and hanging him solely on the basis of one creative arts project he said he wants to do. Instead, they could have emailed or written to him with suggestions about information or source material relevant to the announced project so that it could be possibly be incorporated into it. They could have offered their expertise to help him make a better movie. But no, they want to play online bullies against a 19 year old. Unreal.

    As for the 'police perspective", with having seen only a short news article announcing the project that someone sent me, I have no idea what that might mean, but logically it would mean telling the story from McIntyre' perspective as related in his memoir. So what's the problem with that, if that's what it turns out to be? There is no general "police perspective". The last that was ever heard of such a thing was that sergeant from the Police History unit that wrote the "police perspective" chapter in Colin Cave's "Man and Myth" book from the 1967 Wangaratta Kelly conference. Hardly something to get excited about now. I welcome and applaud the new film project, just the same as I welcomed Holmes' attempted Kelly venture, and look forward to seeing the film of Peter Carey's book. It is all interesting stuff regardless of one's perspective. And only an un-Australian bigot would see it any other way.

  2. Thats a thing these Kelly sympathizers can never explain. Why did they rob the bodies, was it for souvenirs of their deed?

  3. "we have the ‘police perspective’ which, to put it simply is the true story about what happened" heh

  4. With due respect to the team; I will offer my sincere best for their success in this venture. I doubt the team will be able to do what the experts could not.
    Dee I doubt your hope of Ben Head and his crew will demonstrate that Ned Kelly forever lied about the murder of Lonigan. If McIntyre's memoirs are drawn into play; we stand a very good chance of a truthful tale being told.
    It would appear to me the students selected an iconic subject matter and due to the Kelly myth and popularity it was an easy choice to make. However, I fear the pair is doomed for failure. A budget of 15k, and a support team of amateur actors is the core of the production. How did the team obtain the material? Is it historically correct? Who is the research team? How will they deliver the facts? How will Head and Thompson present us with the truth? It would be a remarkable tale if they pull this one off.
    I wish them every success.

  5. Lots of questions! But they are not planning to tell the entire story just Stringybark which makes sense given the budget. I remain hopeful on the basis of what they've said publicly so far.

  6. Lots of question and rightly should be asked. Yes I understood the concept is based purely on stringybark. Though 15k to re-tell the true events consisting x amount of hours. I truly hope it can be done. It may even educate a few of us

  7. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    RC Q.12602. Commission to Constable Ernest Flood: "Is it a fact that Kennedy and you were continually after one or other of what was known as the Kelly mob?" — Flood (that famously relentless persecutor of the Kellys who never gave them a break): "Kennedy and I arrested two or three men for stealing a horse from the Kellys themselves, at the Falls River".

    Oops. Ya mean the police prosecuted someone who did the Kellys wrong? Like they treated them the same as any other wronged citizen? Rooly? Not in any of the Kelly books! Wunda why they missed it…

  8. Stuart sometimes I barely read the things that get posted, and Ive just read that post of yours again and suddenly the penny dropped! Thats a startling comment from Flood! The police actually helping the Kellys! So much for the persecution conspiracy!

  9. Will they use Bill Denheld's authentic police camp site?

  10. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    A "historical note" to a fiction book generally means there is some factual basis for its narrative. So while the storyline and dialogue is invented, the characters, setting and general background to it follow the understanding presented in the historical note. It means that it is creative fiction based around some real event or events. That means that the historical note in a novel set in olden times is based on whatever historical sources the novelist has used to understand that time in history. In other words it is claiming that there is a plausible historical basis for the purely fictional story.

    I examined today the historical note in a fictional novel that appears on many primary and lower secondary school recommended reading lists. It says in 'The hunt for Ned Kelly': "The police employed dozens of informers and sent out many search parties, but they did not handle it well at all and made many mistakes. They also harassed and persecuted the Kelly family and supporters as well as a good any other people; at one stage you could be arrested on the spot and flung into gaol without charge just for having perhaps once met Ned Kelly and his friends." (p. 199.)

    The historical sources for this book are listed as Kenneally's Inner History; Jones' Short Life; Corfield's Kelly Encyclopaedia; Molony's Ned Kelly; and McMenomy's Illustrated History (p. 200).

    "flung into gaol without charge just for having perhaps once met Ned Kelly and his friends." WTF

    No wonder school kids have no fn idea about Australian history.

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