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Side by side comparisons of before and after easily show the appalling destruction at the site


By our Special reporter:

NOTE: Nothing you are about to read is True (except the quotes, which are accurate and correctly attributed)


Award winning Actor and internationally recognised Kelly historian, Steve Jager announced this week on his Facebook page that an historic site at Stringybark Creek “has been desecrated and destroyed”.


This site, according to famous Kelly historian Brad Webb was “one of Australia’s most sacred sites”, and is so important that to preserve it, it has been deliberately left off all tourist maps, all Heritage Victoria listings, all Google searches and every history book relating to the region.  In fact only a select handful of great Australians are even aware of its existence. Another Bushranger historian, Aidan Phelan said what happened there was ‘like digging up a battlefield in Gallipoli or raiding a crypt’

These three world famous Kelly authorities, along with acclaimed Landscape Designer Jim Fogarty and their millions of distressed and horrified Facebook followers have called the ‘perpetrator’ a vandal and a criminal and have called for him to be imprisoned.


Facebook moderators removed a strongly worded opinion piece by Mr Phelan, labelling it hate speech, even after the brilliant Mr Phelan objected, saying “Unfortunately there is no avenue for a manual review by a human being”, claiming that Facebook reviews are carried out by ‘bots’ and ‘algorithms’. According to Phelan, who would be an expert in hate speech recognition, the thousands of moderators that Facebook employs would be incapable of recognising hate speech.

Hoping one day to produce his first movie, Phelan recently brilliantly showed how actual movie maker and Hollywood favourite Justin Kurzel got everything wrong in True Story of the Kelly Gang. However, he announced that he was not in the habit of singling out people for public criticism, but in naming this ‘perpetrator’, he identified the man who ‘had the gall to go digging up a state forest for point scoring’. He also vehemently denied being a hypocrite.


At the site, it’s easy to confirm the truth of the grim descriptions provided by Kennedy Tree defenders, of the ghastly destruction and wanton desecration in the midst of hundreds of acres of forest and many miles from human habitation: an area easily the size of an average bathroom floor, possibly even bigger had obviously been disturbed. As the astonished Mr Phelan has noted himself the entire area looked like “a suburban garden bed covered in mulch”. Its believed that a specimen of Lepidosperma laterale was damaged in this frenzied attack and may not survive, meaning that the only places left on the entire planet where this precious rhizome still clings to life are all of the rest of that forest, the entire south-eastern seaboard of the Australian continent, New Caledonia and New Zealand! What a sad and  absolute tragedy and a shocking indictment. Looking at the tree and the area around it one can only marvel at the evil genius of a person who can wreak such havoc, vandalise the tree and its surrounds and yet leave almost no trace of this savagery.This Reporter couldn’t help wondering, looking at all the rest of what appears to be pristine forest all round, if that too, despite appearances  has also been destroyed?

Speaking about the possibility that the vandal may have found something of significance, and cleverly refusing to venture into paranoid conspiracy theory, Phelan asked  “Who can truthfully say that he wouldn’t be above concealing the fact and hiding the evidence by, say, pocketing the shot and digging up more ground than what is shown in the video he edited together to disguise where he found it?”


Phelan also asked “what was stopping him from working with the KTRG rather than against them?” One presumes he means ‘apart from the KTRG rejecting the offers that were made and the outright refusal of the KTRG to work with him’ So it’s an entirely valid question that needs an answer.


Sadly, now that the site has been entirely destroyed, the Kennedy Tree Group are going to have to abandon any hope that it will be able to be added to the register of Australia’s sacred sites because as Phelan wrote the area is now “too compromised to do further investigation”

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15 Replies to “A KENNEDY TREE FARCE”

  1. Bill Denheld says: Reply

    In 2014 Leo Kennedy asked me to help him to identify the site where his G. Grandfather was slain. A very large tree on the East bank of SBC was located in the target area and a press release was sent out with a specific request for archaeology and metal detection to take place. Journalist Lisa Clausen of The Age newspaper came to the party and wrote up a very good article to show why all the sites along SBC needed serious investigation, and despite Heritage Victoria (H.V) advising on the wording for a paragraph relating to that organization in ‘our’ press release, yet they were never available for comment when Lisa Clausen tried to contact them.

    Both Leo and I were disappointed by the lack of support from both H.V and the Archaeology community all of which were contacted over several months, and even Archae University departments were sought for help, but due to lack of support from these institutions, nothing has been achieved in the past 15 years since I nominated SBC for Heritage listing. Since that time we have seen Stringy Bark creek undergo a bogus archaeological dig by Adam Ford with the support of HV, and most recently they supported a most misleading tourist history walk implemented by DELWP and sanctioned by Heritage Vic to places where nothing ever happened. Then along comes the KTG group with another scenario altogether which also will require proper evaluation. However, by my previous experience this was never going to happen and their K tree being outside the HV listed area required no permit for metal detecting.

    For those not aware what 20 odd people are so upset about, watch this metal detecting video and see no ground level was penetrated, only the leaf litter and blackberry infestation was removed exposing the dirt ground layer for detection. Nothing of historical significance was found during this exercise. The only deep dig was to detect the shot gun in a separate area away from their chosen tree.

    See video https://youtu.be/m9h74eChcio

    See attached Age article April 2015,

    and another two years later April 2017 in the Herald Sun

    1. Leo Kennedy says: Reply

      I have just read Bill Denheld’s post.
      It is factually incorrect; as is his upload on his site with my image.
      No tree was found in the time I spent with him in 2014.
      On the day we ran out if time and did not search the area I asked him to explore (west of SBC) in regard to Sgt Kennedy. We only covered one hut vs his two and Tomkins’ spot.
      The only time I spent on the east side was to approximate where Tomkins may have been when the shout went up that Kennedy’s body had been found. Tomkins is described as 800 yards from the camp.
      I posed for a photo at his insistence at the approximate Tomkins spot.
      No approach was made by me to DELWP or HV.
      Sgt Kennedy was captured and murdered on the west side of SBC.
      In Reynolds evidence at the R v Kelly trial he is quoted in the Sketcher 6 Nov 1880 as saying Kennedy was … shot standing up.
      With this knowledge (that supported oral family history) I cautioned Bill in 2014 that metal detection would be futile and to forget about it. Based on Dr Reynolds’ testimony- there would be no shot in the ground it would have scattered for a considerable distance.
      I have been looking for years for a spit or a tree that was either still standing or had been taken by loggers. The latter was my father’s belief.
      Ford’s team in 2017 located a vicinity the tree was most probably in.
      The tree identified by the KTRG is within about 75 metres of the assessment by Ford.
      The tree bears a striking resemblance to the Kennedy tree in the Burman photos and has had its age estimated.
      After being shown the site I supported the KTRG’s approach to regulators for them to assess their findings.
      My family are extremely disappointed by what has been displayed in a youtube posted recently.
      We hope we never see a repeat at SBC ever again.
      The only positive is the regulators have decided to progress the assessment of the ‘Kennedy Tree’.
      We, as descendants, appreciate the way we have been approached and included and treated by the KTRG.
      We ask that anyone undertaking exploration at SBC approach DELWP and HV first; do research of what was said and written at the time; and above all treat this sacred place with respect and be sensitive to the descendants of the murdered police; and for that matter descendants of families of the Kelly Gang.

      1. Leo, thanks for your input. There are three things I would hope you can provide more information on:

        1. Reynolds belief that Kennedy was standing when murdered by Ned Kelly was based on his finding that he had been shot at point blank range and that the charge “had passed completely through the body and out at the back”. He also said the deceased must have been facing his murderer when he was shot as no wounds appear on the back except the he one caused by the charge passing through the body”

        My question is why do those findings necessitate a belief that Kennedy was standing? This was only Reynolds guess, he didnt mention it at the time of the Inquiry in November 1878, only at the Trial 2 years later. I cant think of a reason why those same observations couldn’t be consistent with the usual description of how Kennedy was murdered, which was while lying on the ground. Ive long thought that if he had been standing, the blast would have thrown him backwards and maybe not passed right through his body as easily as it could have if he was on the ground. Also if Kennedy had been standing, this suggests he was nowhere near mortally wounded – which would make his murder even more appalling but if we accept Kellys view that the gunfight had rendered him mortally wounded then it makes more sense that he would have been on the ground.

        2. Is your support for the KTG “Kennedy Tree” based entirely on its appearance?

        3. Who exactly are the “Regulators that you say are going to ‘progress their assessment of the Kennedy Tree’ and what do you know about how they plan to do this? Are they going to ask for submissions from other interested parties , or is it some sort of secretive process that the public with an interest in the site will be excluded from?

        And BTW I am finalising a Blog Post to go up in the next day or two which conclusively proves the Kennedy Tree was on the EASTERN side of SBC, and for that reason the KTG tree, for all its appearances, cant possibly be the tree beside which your .great grandfather was murdered. I hope you will contribute to the discussion to follow.

      2. Anonymous says: Reply

        Leo Kennedy is of course entitled to enormous respect and empathy. But Bill Denheld is the SBC expert, having discovered and amply proved his site for the SBC Police Camp – the Burman photo background is there for all to seeI

        I am therefore rather uncomfortable with Leo’s public denouncements of Bill, and his apparent acceptance of the KTG’s amateurish endevours. Lets not forget Leo’s embarrassing enthusiasm for the botched Ford “investigation”.

        I’d put my dollars on Bill anyday!

        Ian MacFarlane

  2. Excellent YouTube video Bill. Great shooting at 14 minutes! A blast! Recovered bullets at 20 minutes onwards, about 6 inches down, proves effective detection and shot depth. Reasonable conclusion at 31 minutes, after fully sweeping area live on video – “there was no shot fired into the ground here”. The ending is absolute gold! And a lot of winging comments by silly people who celebrate the murderers but have problems with crime scene investigation. They are just jealous of Bill’s lucky strike.

  3. Bill Denheld says: Reply

    Leo, in your reply to me you said –
    Quote – “It is factually incorrect; as is his upload on his site with my image. No tree was found in the time I spent with him in 2014.”

    Leo please read the newspaper articles that I have linked to my above posting. You and I worked hard to have an archaeological dig at the tree in front of which you stand. A press release with your picture was sent out to the media and also to Latrobe Uni Archaeology department dated 6 June 2014.

    It was not until late 2014 through commutations with the archaeology organization ‘The Past masters’ that introduced us to journalist ‘Lisa Clausen’ to our pending story that was published in The Age newspaper. – on page 2

    Later we all met at Stringy Bark Creek and showed them the sites, including the ‘Leo tree’ to archaeologists the ‘Past Master’ Mr, Mike Hermes and Dr. Tim Stone the very tree we identified as possibly the Kennedy tree, as well as what I had metal detected there, and you will remember you took my picture with metal detector near the tree, and in your presence I dug up a round lead ball of 0.31 calibre close to the tree in front of which you stand.

    To say “ no tree was found with him ( me) in 2014” is factually incorrect. Please withdraw that statement.

    Please see the Press release 6th June 2014 – the one sent to Latrobe Uni -the head of Archae department Susan Lawrence.


  4. Leo Kennedy says: Reply

    Factually incorrect again.
    Those articles do not support your east side idea.
    You should recall my reasons why I did not support it.
    No press release looking like that was ever endorsed by me.

    1. Anonymous says: Reply

      Leo seems to have some sort of beef with Bill which he hasn’t explained yet..

      Leo certainly doesn’t seem to like Bill.


      We read those articles and press release very differently. They seem to completely support Bill’s account. Not your’s, Leo!

      Horrie and Alf

    2. Hi again Leo
      Can you possibly be a little more specific in what you are referring to in saying “Factually incorrect again”.

      You say you posed for a photo at the ‘Tomkins spot’ 800 yards from the camp but in the background of that photo is a large Eucalypt that to me very much resembles the Burman photo of the Kennedy Tree. Its obviously quite a bit bigger than the Kennedy Tree Groups tree. I am just wondering why that one couldn’t be the right one – its on the east of the creek which is where Pewtress said it was, and its at a much more believable distance from the nominated possible Police camp sites than the KTG tree is>

      In the press release it doesnt actually say what side of the creek that photo was taken, and it only claims that you and Bill have identified “a likely spot”>

      So I am interested to know what exactly you are referring to as ‘factually incorrect’.

      1. This is what is known as “a pregnant pause”.


        1. Bill is a Kelly Gang supporter but that does not mean he isn’t devoted to exact SBC science and correctness.
          Everyone who knows Bill (apart from a coupla nasty Kelly crazies) know this!


  5. Anonymous says: Reply

    Article about deliberate damage at SBC and Leo Kennedy’s views thereon. Herald-Sun Melb!

    Horrie and Alf (Ggrrr)

  6. Has any consideration ever been given to the possibility that Sgt Kennedy was murdered at some other place and his body then moved to the location it was later found?

    1. By the Kelly Gang having nothing better to do? By persons unknown for no purpose?

  7. I thought this Benalla Ensign article might bring some balance to the hype.
    Also see- Herald Sun parody


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