My year in the Kelly scene started dramatically enough in January 2018, with a threat of blackmail by a notorious right-wing troll who declared that he would ruin my career and try to get me deported if I didn’t remove everything I have ever written on the Internet about Ned Kelly and promise never to mention Kelly ever again! This is part of his pathetic email to me :
“…we want your entire Internet media to do with Ned Kelly removed and you cease trolling Kelly related Internet sites to cause discord and that you do not start up any more Ned Kelly related sites on the Internet. No ifs and no buts..”
The troll had already maliciously sabotaged in succession, three great Kelly Forums that I began and was moderating using the pro-boards platform. No doubt he was thrilled that scores of interesting and thoughtful contributions and debates were lost for ever, but to put a stop to his vandalism in 2014 I switched to the Blogger platform. The troll discovered that Google weren’t as susceptible as the proboards administrators were to his lies, so the Death of the Legend Blog continued uninterrupted for four years. I ignored the trolls email, responded later to further attacks and note that at years end his Facebook page is as good as dead and my career is perfectly on track!
However, Blogger kept changing things and ‘upgrading’ the platform and the Blogger sites functionality slowly deteriorated so this year I decided to transfer to Word Press, and put Death of the Legend Blog out to pasture. I transferred all its content to this new wordpress Blog, ‘Ned Kelly The True Story’ so nothing is lost.
This year I wrote 47 Blog Posts, more or less one every week, and covered all the big themes in the Kelly story, but there were three topics that I returned to several times so they could be explored in depth : the sickening background of criminal behaviour by the greater Kelly clan, the ‘Fitzpatrick’ controversy, and the lies told by Ned Kelly and many of the people who propagate the Kelly myths.
There have also been 5 book reviews. ‘The Larrikin Years’ is a long out of print Kelly primer that I highly recommend, there was an excellent Travel Guide with an unfortunately inaccurate Kelly story accompaniment, and as expected Leo Kennedys book Black Snake provoked huge outrage among Kelly sympathisers, many of whom unleashed venom and personal attacks on the author whilst unashamedly announcing the book was rubbish and they would never read it. Doug Morrisseys excellent second book ‘Selectors squatters and Thieves’ was also rubbished by sympathisers who again were often proud to declare they wouldn’t read it, whilst others dismissed it because it didn’t have references – but even if it did they would have found some other excuse for dismissing it! The most important publication this year by a huge margin was the free, exhaustively referenced and comprehensive deconstruction of a central Kelly myth, that of the Republic of North East Victoria by Dr Stuart Dawson. I will return to this book later.
I also wrote posts featuring a number of historical and contemporary individuals in the Kelly story: Harry Power, George King, John Delaney, Mrs Scott, and Steve Jager who published a response to Dawson, Jack Peterson who runs a Facebook site that’s characterised by fake history and extreme Kelly fanaticism, and Ian Jones the Kelly author who passed in August. The posts about Delaney and Mrs Scott are insights you wont have come across before and everyone should read them again.
There were a couple of events during the year that I didn’t get around to posting about – the first was the $150,000 Ned Kelly Alive report submitted to north-east regional councils in August, a report which explored the options for making greater use of the Kelly story to enhance tourism jobs in the region. It suggested massive expenditure on promoting various tourist ventures in the region, but not much has happened so far. I am not opposed to promoting the Kelly story as long as they tell the truth and make it clear what is history and what is mythology when they promote it.
Another event I haven’t written about were the changes to the tourist experience at Stringybark Creek unveiled earlier this month. They are a positive step in the right direction, replacing glorification of killers with respectful remembering and honouring of murdered Policemen. Apparently the signage identifies a different, and yet again wrong location for the Police camp – neither the one labelled years ago by Ian Jones, not the one proposed by the CSI Group whose case is based on weird pseudo-science, or the Two Huts site, the correct site identified by Bill Denheld! This site was identified by TV celebrity archaeologist Adam Ford and is wrong – which is why he hasn’t released the report on his ‘dig’ up there.
In 2018 there were announcements about the making of three new Kelly movies. One, due for release late in 2019 is a full-length feature film based on the fictional “True Story of the Kelly Gang” by Australian writer Peter Carey. Kelly sympathisers have trouble accepting its not going to be ‘true’ but I dont. Historical fiction is OK by me when its clearly identified as such. Another movie, also in production is a short movie about the police murders at Stringybark Creek. Its being produced by student movie makers in Melbourne and was succesfully crowdfunded. They claim it will be accurate – if so it won’t show a ‘gun battle’ it will show the killings as murder, and it will show Kennedy being chased and executed in cold blood. Its due for release in the next few months. The third movie, called ‘Glenrowan’ was announced with great seriousness and fanfare on Facebook by Matthew Holmes, Aidan Phelan and others six months ago but once again they’ve run into funding trouble and have decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign next month to make a much smaller movie, another short film about Stringybark Creek! Are they trying to embarass and show up the student movie makers by copying them? Meanwhile the Glenrowan movie, which they claim will be historically accurate is on the back burner.
My half dozen posts fully exposing the environment of Kelly clan criminality and the sickening litany of violence, drunkenness and arson, animal cruelty and sexual assault that Ned Kelly must have witnessed growing up are the first of its kind in the Kelly world anywhere, as far as I know. Who else has done something other than cover it up, or just mention fragments of it in passing or ignore it altogether in their presentations of Kelly history? The examples that I copied from the Court reports in the newspapers of the time couldn’t possibly have been the entirety of the Kelly clan delinquency: as now, it was no doubt also true then that what ends up in court, especially when it comes to domestic violence is the mere tip of a very violent iceberg – but no Kelly apologist wanted to comment or discuss any of this dirty laundry. Undoubtedly the young Ned Kelly saw a lot more domestic violence, a lot more drunkenness, a lot more crime and a lot more animal cruelty than any of us will ever know about. My two most recent posts have been about the effects this environment would have had on the growing Ned Kelly , and explain in large part the origins of his criminality. (Part Two) Again, no Kelly sympathiser dared speak up in Neds defence.
The Kelly apologists did however want to discuss Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick, both on the Blog and especially on Facebook, responding to a series of seven Blog posts that I made challenging the deplorable fake history the Kelly mythmakers have created around this man’s memory. Everyone interested in Kelly history needs to read all those posts because Fitzpatrick plays a central role in the Kelly story and his role in it should be recorded and understood correctly. The Kelly mythology about the incident and about the man is a character assassination and a cover-up. My posts were adding to the revelations previously made by Dr Stuart Dawson. I don’t think anyone has ever before looked carefully at Fitzpatricks death certificate and recognised as I did that Justin Corfields claim regarding his cause of death, cirrhosis – repeated and believed by all Kelly writers and apologists – was wrong, completely wrong. There’s no mention of cirrhosis on his death certificate, but the belief that it did has for a long time sustained the false claim that Fitzpatrick died an alcoholic. In fact he died a sad lingering and probably agonising death from disseminated cancer. This revelation about the death certificate drove the Kelly apologists into a state of hysteria and angry denial. They were so determined to find something else to sustain their now baseless belief in Fitzpatrick’s alcoholism that they claimed that he deliberately detoured to Winton, just so he could visit the pub there on his way to and from Greta– but all maps show Winton is on the direct route; there was no detour! The seething hate that Kelly sympathisers have for Fitzpatrick was astonishing to observe as they performed verbal gymnastics around the words on the death certificate in their futile attempts to cling to their belief it said he had alcoholic liver disease. Simply and unequivocally – it didnt! Putting the record straight about Fitzpatrick is long overdue.
Lastly I want to say why I think that the most important Kelly event of 2018 was not the passing of Ian Jones, at 86 years of age, but the publication of Stuart Dawsons free book, ‘Ned Kelly and the Myth of a Republic of North east Victoria’. Certainly, Ian Jones was the most significant figure in the Kelly story over the last fifty years, his passing was an important milestone and marked the end of a remarkable era in Kelly history telling. Jones contribution was enormous. However, over the last few years of his life his influence and involvement in the Kelly world was very much reduced, and he was only rarely seen or heard from. His major achievements happened last century, and nothing much changed as a result of his passing in 2018. However, in 2018, two months before Ian Jones died, the entire Kelly legend was radically realigned with the publication of the results of Stuart Dawsons research into the Kelly Republic theory. Ironically perhaps, it was Ian Jones who declared that without the Republic, Glenrowan was ‘madness’– and so, now that both Ian Jones and the Republic has gone, thats what the Kelly apologists and the history books have to learn to cope with. Like it or not Dawsons book resulted in a seismic shift in our understanding of Kelly history, and signalled the beginning of the end for Kelly idolatry. My post on the topic, and Dawsons free book ( HERE.) are well worth reading, but only Dawsons is compulsory!