Shortly after the police murders at Stringybark Creek, legislation was passed that made the Kelly gang outlaws, meaning they had no legal protections, and could be shot and killed on sight by anyone. Rewards were posted in ever increasing amounts for the supply of information that would lead to their capture, but nobody ever attempted to claim them, being fearful of the retribution that might follow, as the following response to a police offer of £50 for information illustrates:
“I have a mother and father keeping a little farm not far off and if I told anything they would be murdered and burnt”said a worker from Kilfera Station, explaining his silence. (The Age Nov13th 1878)
Even though the wider community was afraid of the gang, the gang was itself forever fearful of betrayal and capture and they would remain on the run, forever on the move between one safe haven and another, successfully evading the police until the confrontation at Glenrowan, twenty months later. In the meantime though, they had to survive, and to do that, they needed money, not just to keep them in supplies but much more importantly to purchase a protective network of supporters and to pay off sympathisers. This was a practice Kelly had learned from Harry Power.
So, barely six weeks after the police murders, on December 10th they robbed the National Bank at Euroa. However, instead of riding in and holding up the Bank and disappearing again, in time-honoured fashion, the day before the robbery the Gang held up and imprisoned the manager and staff of the Faithfulls Creek Station, four miles from Euroa, locking them all up in a small storehouse. Kelly seems to have wanted to establish a sort of bridgehead within striking distance of Euroa, because his first priority was to get his horses fed and watered and have their feet and shoes attended to by stablehand George Stephens – at gunpoint!
Any of several Kelly biographies can be consulted for a detailed description of what took place : Grantlee Kiezas ‘Mrs Kelly” is good but this incident was much more than just a robbery : Kelly wanted to make it an opportunity to begin the dissemination of his preferred new view of himself, that he was an innocent victim of police persecution and a gentleman bushranger in the mode of Ben Hall, one of his heroes. Hall was famous for holding the entire town of Canowindra captive for three days, and using the prisoners as a captive audience to whom he poured out his grievances. Eventually everyone was released unharmed, and the ‘gentleman bushranger’ image was born. Thus, Euroa was in one sense a copy-cat crime, Kelly adopting Halls strategy to reinvent his own public image and provide self-serving alternative versions of the events the wider public was learning about from the press.
Kelly therefore began with George Stephens, providing him with a sanitised version of the police murders at Stringybark creek, a version that Stephens later recounted at Kellys committal hearing in August 1880. Much of what Kelly told Stephens about these deaths we now know for certain were lies, such as the claim that Lonigan got behind logs and was shot in the head by Kelly as he came up from behind them, pistol in hand and about to fire. Another man imprisoned by the gang, draper James Gloster was also on the receiving end of Ned Kellys self-serving lecturing, and gave the committal hearing a few memorable Kelly quotes:
- “The people and the papers call me a murderer but I never murdered anybody in my life”
- “I killed him (Kennedy) in a fair stand up fight. A man killing his enemy is not murder.”
- “The police are my natural enemies”
And something you might not have read before that he mentioned to Gloster was that if his mother did not get justice and was not released soon, he would possibly overturn the train! (Argus August 9th 1880)
In attempting to rehabilitate his public image, as Hall had done, so Kelly also made a great show of being polite and fair-minded, especially when it came to women, something which Kelly supporters to this day mindlessly and admiringly recount. In fact, Kellys demonstrations of deference and courtesy in his interactions with his prisoners demonstrate his lack of understanding of the true nature of hostage taking at gunpoint which is that it is an inherently violent, an overwhelmingly offensive and outrageous personal indignity, and a violation of every human right and freedom. The idea that holding a door open, filling someone’s bath or rocking a crying baby on ones knee undoes the repulsive offence of being held hostage at gunpoint is absurd – but Kelly seemed to think it did, and to this day his supporters think the same thing. In fact, his ‘courtesy’ was mocking and insincere – if it were real he would have just robbed the bank and left them all alone. Instead he had to force them at gunpoint to become props in his narcissistic display of self-aggrandisement.
To make doubly sure his message got across, in the evening he dictated a letter to Joe Byrne that is now known as the Cameron letter. Once again, he claimed to be innocent, complaining falsely that “I was outlawed without any cause” and demonstrating his callous indifference to the lives he had already taken saying “Thank god, my conscience is as clear as the snow in Peru”. With breathtaking hypocrisy, he claimed the moral high ground for himself, vowing terrible vengeance on the authorities if his mother remained in prison: “If the public do not see justice done I will seek revenge for the name and character which has been given to me and my relations, while God gives me strength to pull a trigger.” This from a man whose living, before he murdered police at Stringybark creek, consisted of using an alias and lying to innocent casual acquaintances so they would sign forged documents to ‘legitimise’ the sale of stolen horses. What did he care about ‘justice’?
The veneer of gentleman bushranger was very thin : in the morning a party returning to the station from a hunting expedition in the ranges nearby is accosted by Kelly who holds his loaded revolver to the side of the head of one of them when he is challenged ; “I’ll shoot you dead on the spot if you give me any cheek” says Kelly. Even more frightening is Kellys response to an elderly scotsman by the name of Tennant who also refuses to be cowed. The loaded revolver is forced between his teeth, into the old mans mouth, a sickeningly violent threat that has the desired effect. The hunting party is forced into the crowded storehouse along with 14 or more others who’ve been kept there since the evening before.
In the afternoon, the Gang robbed the bank in Euroa of over £2000 using the time honoured method of sticking up the teller and the bank manager – Robert Scott – with loaded revolvers. Kelly didn’t hesitate to threaten ungentlemanly harm to the Bank managers’ wife and children when he refused to hand over the keys to the safe, and Mrs Scotts son George, terrified and crying, asked if they were all about to be shot. Their maid fainted twice. Once it was all done, the gang took manager Scott and his entire family back to the Station with them: “I am very sorry Mrs Scott but you must all come for my own safety” Kelly explained – in other words they were to be human shields. Mrs Scott drew attention to herself by changing into an extravagant French dress decorated with ribbons and lace for the trip to the Station, and later proclaimed “there was a great deal of personality about Ned Kelly”. She had fallen victim to Ned Kellys cynical charm offensive, ignoring the ugly facts about the widows he had created out of policeman’s wives a few weeks before, saying she didn’t think he was the bloodthirsty villain he had been represented to be. I wrote about this HERE.
The final act of Kellys PR campaign was to hand out loose change he had stolen from the Bank to some of the hostages and entertain them with tricks on horseback before the gang left, threatening the station manager with his life if anyone was released from the lockup before three hours.
Undoubtedly the raid had been daring and dramatic and a success, and because nobody was harmed Kellys reputation was enhanced in some quarters. However it needs to be remembered that at Faithfulls Creek everyone did exactly as they were told, the hostages there being only too well aware of what happened a few short weeks earlier at Stringybark Creek when the gangs orders were disobeyed and Kelly started shooting. Sensibly and to the hostages’ credit, Kellys violent threats and orders were obeyed, his fragile ego was not threatened by anyone armed and nobody was shot.
65 Replies to “The Actual True Story: Part VIII – Euroa”
Hi David, I think you have highlighted a key point about the relative ease with which the gang took over Euroa and subsequently Jerilderie: “everyone did exactly as they were told, the hostages there being only too well aware of what happened a few short weeks earlier at Stringybark Creek when the gangs orders were disobeyed and Kelly started shooting”. Ben Hall’s gang had no such prior deadly reputation which makes the Hall gang’s town stick up a vastly more impressive exploit than the Kelly gang’s imitations. In every way the Hall gang were superior – in armed robbery, in gentlemanly behaviour to the extent that can be applied to bush rangers, in amount of takings. If the Kelly gang had been captured before the Glenrowan event, it is doubtful they would have been remembered much today, and at any rate as little more than cop killers and bank robbers.
What you have also highlighted is the gang’s menacing gun-toting aggression to those from whom they demanded compliance. This is whitewashed from most retellings of the Kelly story. The photo below is the text from Alec Brierly’s 1978 Illustrated History of the Kelly Gang (pen illustrations) which gives the reader no reason to doubt that the Euroa raid was anything other than benign. These vapid versions of history – which dominate writings about the Kelly gang far more than they do of any other bushrangers – badly misinform their readers about what actually happened. But it is impossible to claim any reasonable understanding of what went on from such bowdlerised presentations.
A quick note on outlawed. Almost universally writers about Kelly say that the outlawry act allowed anyone to shoot any of the outlawed gang on sight. Ian Jones is possibly the only one of all such writers to note that the act laid quite specific conditions on the circumstances in which an outlawed could be killed, outside of which the killer could himself be charged with murder. The act aimed at capture to bring to trial, not extrajudicial execution, a point lost on practically every other commentator.
JJ Kenneally’s Inner History of the Kelly Gang manages to tell the Euroa stick up story without mentioning the part about Kelly forcing the muzzle of his revolver into Tennant’s mouth, although it is detailed in several newspaper reports of the day. What a fraud Kenneally was….
Thanks for your comments Stuart. The way in which so much of the Kelly story is whitewashed , and the police story blackened is a central tactic of the myth makers. Isnt it extraordinary how heavily the police are criticised and abused and labelled murderers and maniacs for firing at the Glenrowan Inn, and yet Kelly is the one who gathered them all there out them in harms way and was planning absolute slaughter of passengers and crew on the train once it arrived?
An incredible double standard!
I am not sure that I highlighted it as well as I wanted to but also quite remarkable was the extremes of behaviour exhibited by Kelly – ultra violent threats with a loaded revolver one moment and the next sweet talk and ostentatious displays of deference to women. This highly changeable unpredictable and volatile state of mind suggests a serious personality disorder of some sort.
Good post Dee.
Two more key points to add I think.
First, the role outsider hostages / sympathisers played in undermining any revolt from those present (a point Morrissey makes well, ‘The presence of strangers helps to explain why the captives were so obedient to the outlaws’ demands that they make no move for hours after they had left. They were still being watched.’ p. 103, A Lawless Life).
Second, the role / presence of James Gloster at Younghusbands and the likelihood his presence was to a facilitate ‘make over’ / PR stunt (i.e. burning the clothes worn at SBC and replacing them with flash gentlemanly attire).
While you write this Euroa bank holdup account very well, there remains a lack of understanding as to why the Kelly outbreak happened – and which recent anti Kelly historians and writers all seem to ignore.
You too always present a slanted anti version in favour of the authorities. We must not forget what life was like in those early days and how people saw their political situation. You always paint Ned and his clans men as the worst of criminals, but avoid telling the origins of why some resorted to acting the way they did.
“ The cruelest of the many wrongs that England inflicted on Ireland and is embalmed from oblivion in the historical enactment which proscribed the blessings of education from that sad and stricken country” – such are the opening words of Dan Kelly Outlaw. Chapter 1 ‘ Origins’ – and I urge all to read this free e-book, I have it linked on my webpage, but at the very least also read Chapter V. (5) here is a para-
“ The Victorian Government of that era had long been fighting the battle of the masses against the classes. The young colony had been first settled on a “ squatting” system and a mere handful of men had been permitted to obtain possession of the greater part of the lands of the State” — — and
“ Not unnaturally, the people looked upon the squatters as public enemies, and this sentiment increased in bitterness as the struggle between vested rights and the moneyless democracy proceeded.”
To simply pick and choose history to suit ‘a belief’ is not exactly a fair account, as recorded in the existing police records and popular press of the time. What remains in the archives is only one version much the same as asking the Liberal party to explain why the Whitlam Labour party was dismissed in the mid 1970s. It is now 50 years later that we learn the dismissal was probably a political sham.
People need to be able get the full story. I think the author of this “Dan Kelly Outlaw” book knew exactly why there was so much unrest, resentment -and why some like Ned were supported on a grand scale, but in the end failed to deliver and lost the struggle. Yes police got killed –some say murdered, but if working for the so called ‘Crown’ they have licence to kill and is not a crime.
Today Leo Kennedy has his latest Kennedy Tree discussion, another Kelly story in the Benalla News. In it he still does not say anything about whether the KTG tree is the Kennedy tree, He admires the KTG Group because they ‘did all the right things like asking DELWP what to do next? and Leo’s opening statement about Ned – “From lawless criminal to working class hero”. Almost the entire story is devoted to surprise surprise, the police getting shot while in the employ of the Victorian squattocracy. We know they employed the police to look after their interests.
We even know Sergeant Kennedy had been told where to find the fugitive Kelly brothers, but did not want his fellow constables to know too much so he and his mate Scanlan would not have to share the £ 200 reward moneys for their arrest, while the Kellys were only wanted for questioning.
Leo Kennedy discusses Kennedy Tree location – by Simon Ruppert
From lawless criminal to working-class hero, infamous bushranger Ned Kelly has been described as many things. However, those close to the story …
Bill, I draw your attention to volume 6 of this series. You can probably arrange a loan from your local library – or it may be available there as a reference volume.
Historical records of Victoria. Foundation series
The Foundation Series of Historical Records of Victoria, volumes 1-7, reproduces every available official document that survives from the vital first years of the Port Phillip District, 1835-1840. This vast treasury of documents was assembled by the editors from the collections of the Public Record Office of Victoria, the official state archives. Each volume of the series covers a different aspect of early colonial society and the arrangement of documents within each volume is thematic:
Vol. 1 Beginnings of permanent government
Vol. 2A The Aborigines of Port Phillip, 1835-1839
Vol. 2B The Aborigines and the protectors, 1838-1839
Vol. 3 The early development of Melbourne
Vol. 4 Communications, trade and transport
Vol. 5 Surveyor’s problems and achievements
Vol. 6 The crown, the land, the squatter, 1835-1840
Vol. 7 Public finance of Port Phillip, 1836-1840
Vol. 8 Cumulative indexes – this book includes a separate index to Aboriginal names
Alf says the actual title is ‘The Crown, the Land and the Squatter 1835-1840″. The Net says so.
Horrie and Alf
Bill, you will find I think, that squatters at first leased land rather than owning it. Ownership was possible later in the Port Phillip land rush chaos.
I have that marvellous series mentioned by Cam. As well as documents from Victoria, it relies on records from NSW and the UK as well. Literature about land usage in Victoria is pretty comprehensive when taken as a whole (but with obvious holes). Oooops, puns!
Hi Bill and others, I had not heard of a book called “Dan Kelly, Outlaw”, but found it is free to read on Project Gutenberg here, http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks13/1305481h.html
I found a description elsewhere online:
Edited by Ambrose Pratt, the original was printed in 1911. The front cover states, “being the Memoir of Daniel Kelly, leader of the Kelly Gang of bushrangers supposed to have been slain in the famous fight at Glenrowan.” The year is 1880 when Ned Kelly was hanged in Victoria and Dan Kelly was recorded as having been burnt alive at the Jones Hotel, Glenrowan, Australia. But Dan states he escaped. This book is his own account of what happened. He is bitter about the Irish situation which led up to the transporting of convicts to Australia, the rough treatment of his father, Red and the early days of the Kelly Gang and the tragedy which led to his brother’s hanging. The book contains wonderful detail of the convict days in Australia, horse and cattle duffing and the way of life of the settlers and convicts at that time.
So my first problem is that Ambrose Pratt claims to be offering an edited memoir by Dan Kelly himself. Since we know from several photos of the time that the Glenrowan Inn was totally burned down and the ground picked over by souvenir hunters in the next several days, there was no cellar in which Dan and Steve could have hidden as per the fabricated stories that started at some point. There is no question that Dan Kelly died in the fire and that his was one of the burned bodies dragged out from the place they were last seen when the blaze was under way and photographed at the scene. So the book is no way known a memoir of Dan Kelly.
The interesting question becomes, who was Ambrose Pratt? There is a short bio of him here, https://www.austlit.edu.au/austlit/page/A2172 He wrote “pot-boiler” fiction – “Pratt became a bestselling author of Australian bushranging, convict and larrikin yarns, socio-political and industrial romances and lurid spy novels set in European contexts.”
The bio say, “Family losses in the 1890s depression led Pratt into the law but he soon gained a reputation as a polished debater and contributor to the Australian Worker, reflecting his Labor sympathies. .. Pratt became a leader writer for the Age from 1905 and from 1918-1927 was editor and part-proprietor of the Australian Industrial and Mining Standard.”
So during the period when he wrote his entirely fictional “Dan Kelly Outlaw” pot-boiler he was an Age writer from a Labor party background. One might question his presentation of history as perhaps too keen to see class struggle in the context of the Kelly years.
Doug Morrissey examined the frequent contention that the struggle between squatters and selectors dominated that period, a view maintained by Ian Jones. Morrissey showed that that battle was over before the Kelly period, and had been decided in favour of the selectors.
This was also the era of the Mechanics’ Institutes, a movement started in England around the 1820s for the self-improvement of the working class and which spread to Australia with mid nineteenth century immigration. That led to many Victorian country towns building their own their Mechanics’ Institute halls and public libraries which were the heart of the self-improvement movement here. Benalla, Beechworth, and other towns already by and before the 1870s offered the opportunity for reading, socialising, public lectures and dances to citizens of the not so shiftless kind. Morrissey also shows that the different nationalities and religions generally got on with each other in the smaller towns and helped each other build churches and schools and work towards a generally improving society. So I am not persuaded by the full on class division approach as an explanation of support for the Kelly gang, which again I think has been considerably overstated.
Overall I think the claims in the 1911 Pratt book about antagonisms between squatters and selectors are made out of timeline context and – based on reading Morrissey – predate the period he claims them for. I suspect his Labor political background made him see old dynamics as influences well after their time had passed and they had ceased to be much more than memories. But it is interesting to think about.
I meant of course that Dan Kelly died before the fire, as did Steve Hart ( with the bodies seen next to each other just before the fire overtook that room, looking like mutual suicide), not that he or they were burned to death in the fire.
Stuart, Of course there is always an alternative view of history – according to which side of the fence you are from or want to be. In my posting above I am not saying your views are wrong rather I ask ‘have you read this account’ ? I linked the Gutenberg webpage Dan Kelly Outlaw on my webpages which you have also done here.
I simply asked for readers to at least read the opening chapter 1 and 5.
Its good of you to give us background of Ambrose Pratt, but why be dismissive of him? If as you point out he had been a editor / writer with The Age news paper, then with his labour sentiments he probably wrote a fair account.
I too have Morrissey’s ‘Selectors, Squatters and stock Thieves’, and after reading through it I see the same slanted views being expressed as you do. Morrissey talks about John Red Kelly, and then dismisses all their underclass whoos as them being “free from the Saxon Yoke having been achieved in Australia”, but again this is just his view. He does not mention the Australian Natives Association, Joseph Winter and John Walshe, nor that Samuel Winter who started ANA and owned opposition paper the Melb Herald.
This group helped spear head the move towards federation for a more egalitarian society. Nearly everybody on the other side of the fence have been written out of our history.
On the question of whether Dan could have escaped the fire- read the Preface on the link you provided. In other accounts I have read the rear of the Glenrowan Inn was not secure being overlooked, allowing escape during the early morning. I also have radar images of the deep earth scans we did at the Inn site with Gary Dean and Linton Briggs. These which show small depressions maybe a cellar, but in my opinion no safe way to survive a house fire.
We simply have to accept both sides of a story with equal weight,
for otherwise written history can’t be relied upon.
Hi Bill, just for everyone reading this, here is Pratt’s Preface in full:
“No man now living can either authenticate or authoritatively dispute the claim put forward in these memoirs. Did Daniel Kelly survive the Glenrowan tragedy, and was he actually saved, as is related by his brother? It is not my place to venture an opinion. Curious readers must answer the question for themselves, bearing advisedly in mind four established facts, which may be here enumerated:—
(I.) At a moment during the Glenrowan fight, which has never been determined, Ned Kelly disappeared from the hotel, made his way, unseen and unsuspected, through the police cordon into the outer forest, and was absent for an indefinite period. It is unknown what he did in that interval, where he went, whom he met. He returned, and was captured as the narrative describes.
(2.) There is not a shred of trustworthy evidence in existence to show that Daniel Kelly remained in the hotel after his brother’s disappearance, or that he was in the building when the fire broke out.
(3.) There is not a shred of evidence in existence to show that the charred bone dust, found among the ashes of the hotel after the conflagration, had ever belonged to Daniel Kelly.
(4.) Ned Kelly must be presumed to have had some strong motive for deserting his post in the thick of the combat. That he was no coward is proved by his subsequent return, calmly, and in cold blood, to share the fate of his mates, notwithstanding that, had he chosen, he could have escaped with ease, there being none to stay him. His motive, whatever it may have been, remains to this hour a mystery.
I respond to Mr Pratt as follows:
1) Ned Kelly left the Inn at a time now precisely determined and tracked in the timeline in my Republic Myth book – barely a minute before the Inn was effectively if thinly surrounded.
2) There is a truckload of witness statements in the papers of the day that Dan Kelly remained in the hotel after his brother Ned escaped, and that he was still in the building in the early morning when he took a couple of shots at the police while they were bringing the captured Ned to the station. Dan’s body was identified along with Steve Hart’s by Father Gibney who inspected the bodies for signs of life and saw that they were dead seconds before the fire took hold of that back room.
3) Really Mr Pratt, come on. The burnt bodies were retrieved from where they had been seen after the blaze died down.
4) It looks like Ned tried to get Byrne to go with him so the two of them in armour could attack the police line from behind while Dan and Steve fired from the Inn. Byrne didn’t go, as his leg was shot. He was overheard saying that. Ned then went alone, but found he couldn’t do much. In fact Ned had to return as he couldn’t get away – as documented in my Republic Myth book. He couldn’t get his armour off unhelped; he couldn’t mount his horse; he threw away his rifle as it clogged; and he didn’t go far as his tracks were traced back to where he had concealed himself overnight. His only hope was to rejoin his armoured mates so the 4 of them would have a (remote) chance of taking on and defeating the police and then making their escape. He didn’t know Byrne was dead as he never went back into the Inn after he left.
So nice try Ambrose, but no. Dan was definitively dead, and Pratt’s book must go the way of all the other “I was/ met/knew Dan Kelly after Glenrowan” stories, to the reject bin. I hope to get to chapters 1 and 5 as you suggest on the weekend, as this week has been pretty hectic. Looking forward to some serious pot boiling!
Thank you for the links to Victorian History records. I also have many books on the subject and find it all very fascinating. I have a treasured copy of Justin Moloney’s ‘A Passage of People’ which covers the demise of Irish aristocrats and plain farmers who were thrown out of their ancestral lands by the British – way back a lasting legacy.
Justin is G Grandson of Edmond Gorman, and as we all know the Gormans were neighbours to John and Ellen Kelly at Wallan East and by my records Edmond went to school with the Kelly kids. Also, much later one Gorman E.J played a part in the federation of Australia. What a co incidence that Ned Kelly went to school with Edmond and the class war ended with the Federation of Australia.
Justin’s document is an amazing account of how the ignorant British allowed ‘their’ upper class gain land holdings throughout Victoria and NSW in total ignorance of the local Kulin aboriginal clans who had for millennium occupied the land. He makes very compelling similarities to how the British over ran Ireland to how they over ran aboriginal ‘stewartship’ of the land. ( Stewart or Stuart meaning looking after ancestral land)
Anyway, here is what Justin Moloney writes about ‘Squatters and Oligarchy’ Page 65-
SQUATTERS AND OLIGARCHY:
The British Government may have proclaimed the lands that comprised what it named as Port Phillip as being a component of Empire, but British citizens had taken it upon themselves to move into these same lands forbidden them by the same Crown to which they indicated allegiance. Land-hunger, opportunism, individualists or capitalists, whatever the term applied, these were self-seeking adventurers, the ‘overstraighters’ who invaded from Van Diemen’s Land while ‘overlanders’ made their way past the boundary of the gazetted nineteen counties around Sydney and onto country they decided as suited to their wants, and there they ‘squatted’. It was as if the Crown having ‘stolen’ the land from the Kulin and others, had in turn had the land ‘stolen’ from it, Sydney based Governor Bourke declaring these acts as illegal. Squatters paid no purchase price, organized among themselves as to where their ‘runs’ abutted each other, introduced their stock of sheep and cattle, used the cheap labour of assigned convicts and some free men, and declared themselves ‘owners’ of property. As possessors of property and capital the new comers into lands of the Kulin and their neighbours then proceeded to assert that as the British law on political election specified prescribed levels of capital as requisite for access to the franchise, they were undoubtedly the men who should have primary voice in ruling the colony. They were supported in this invasion by the London merchants who desired the wool these squatters were now producing from flocks grazing on the lands they had taken for no cost, it only later that the Sydney Government enforced the ten pound licence fee paid by New South Wales squatters. (15).
Bill, doesn’t your reference to the “ignorant British” belie your earlier comment that we have to accept both sides of a story with equal weight? I am not saying that I agree or disagree with you about the matter of whether there was a class struggle in those times, but I do feel at times you are overly critical of one side. Personally I don’t think the British were any worse in the way they treated people back in those days than the French, Spanish, Dutch, Americans and others. And it is entirely in order to reassess history as is happening now with Black Lives Matter and the reappraisal of statues and monuments. But we have to be careful we don’t go too far the other way and totally denigrate everything the dominant side achieved. Keep in mind also that there is always an underclass in any society, including the Irish – even today.
Concerning Ambrose Pratt and his book “Dan Kelly” there was this in the introduction to the 4th edition of J.J. Keneally’s “Inner History of the Kelly Gang” –
“Several other similar so-called “True Stories of the Kelly Gang” were written with the sole object of denouncing the Kellys and libelling their relatives, neighbours, friends, and benefactors. But the most objectionable production of all, in book form, was called “Dan Kelly” by Ambrose Pratt. In this book Mr. Ambrose Pratt claimed that Dan Kelly had escaped during the siege of Glenrowan, and, after describing Dan as an illiterate, he claimed that his sordid concoction was written from the memoirs of Dan Kelly. But on the 28th of July, 1934, the same Ambrose Pratt stated in the “The Age’s Centenary History of Victoria” that Dan Kelly perished at Glenrowan.”
Ok, I am like Stuart Dawson, in that I like to go back to the original source to get the exact wording of things.I found a snippet at newspapers dot com (a paywall site) confirming it and then found the full on quote online, as Pratt had published the Age articles into book form and those pages had been scanned in at a University website.
Yes, Pratt truly said —
“In the battle that followed three of the outlaws were killed and many police wounded. The leader of the gang, Ned Kelly, was taken prisoner and subsequently hanged.”
Peter, I know what you are saying but as this topic David put up is about the Kelly robbing the Euroa bank, it was more a statement by Ned to say, ‘well if this system does not change then this and that will happen’. The sentiment on these pages is all about ‘murderers, stock thieves, bank robbers and thugs of the worst kind, while all along it was the system that was bad.
I am just expressing my views to level the ground a little. We have to ask why people break into houses and commit these crimes? There is always a reason.
I understand the Kelly gang bank robbery was not for their personal gain, Ned also burnt all the bank loan papers to help lessen the burden on poor farmers indebted to that bank, and the money distributed amongst his supporting sympathisers. It was more an act of ‘stick it up yours’ – meaning the squattocracy.
When I wrote the ‘ignorant British’, I meant also to point out the colonists had little regard for local Aboriginal clans, just like they did not care how they took over Ireland, Scotland and Wales.
Perhaps Justin Moloney’s ‘ A Passage of People’ page 60 explains it better regarding how the Irish and the ‘Kulin’ people of Port Phillip had something in common-
“ Throughout the region extending from the eastern shores of Port Phillip through to central Victoria the Kulin clans were linked through adherence to strict marriage rules, these in turn enabling social, ritual and economic alliances and obligation. This combination of social characteristics revolved around the designation of ‘marital’ partners had a strong resemblance to the ‘matching’ of sons and daughters by Irish parents as the older generation sought strengthening of land-tenancies as well as of local communities through the deliberate placement of the next generation. The Kingston earls’ use of their daughters as ‘marriage capital’ in enhancing of estates and political influence was yet another cultural example of this mode of social organization. The British neither saw nor comprehended and probably would have been astounded to be told how they, Irish country people and the Kulin shared a central component of social organization, and just as they dismissed the beliefs and knowledge of the Irish around the Galtee Mountains, so they derided and ignored those of the Kulin.
The point being, the land grab at Port Phillip had no such structure and the British allowed grossly unfair land tenure that favoured the squatter class at the expense of everyone else. It will be interesting to see how in our current Covid19 downturn, the haves and have-nots can get by?
And yes hello Sharon, I read Brian McDonald’s review if the Dan Kelly Outlaw book,
It did not go down too well even with Kelly sympathisers, however Ambrose Pratt was still close to the times and he saw and wrote the about horse and cattle duffing as something that did not hurt the poor, so most of the population turned a blind eye to duffing, but these days we look upon it as stealing and a terrible crime. Hope you are all safe up there in USA with Covid. please tell us.
Can you tell us all how it is
Bill, Ned Kelly was a horse thief who became involved with a violent attack on a policeman, stupidly tried to disarm police who were looking to arrest him as a result of that incident and ended up becoming a murderer on the run. His target at glenrowan wasn’t the authorities but policemen. Anthony Griffiths said Ned didnt have a political bone in his body! He wasn’t Irish and he wasn’t even a selector himself! If he tried to paint himself as some sort of voice for the downtrodden it was a conversion that only happened after he was outlawed, and could only have been a cynical ploy adopted out of desperation rather than anything to do with a real concern for justice or fairness and equality, ideals which he trampled into the ground in all his previous activities from being Powers assistant to bullying the McCormicks, stealing horses and shooting police.
My point is that arguing about squatters and selectors and land rights and who were the goodies and who were the baddies is not really anything to do with the Kelly story. The Kelly story is a crime story that has been converted into something completely different by people wanting to find a champion for their cause, which seems to be noble enough when its about social justice and equity, but thats just NOT what Kelly was about. He was a con man and the Kelly sympathiser industry is a con as well.
Gruesome as these photos purporting to show Dan Kelly and Steve Hart are, the bodies of no-one else from the Glenrowan Inn was missing or burnt. The inevitable conclusion is that these were Dan Kelly and Steve Hart. Their bodies were handed over to relatives for burial as described in The Kelly Gang Unmasked.
As they rushed to get away, the [Glenrowan] hostages glimpsed a haunting image. ‘They saw Dan Kelly and Hart standing in the passage fairly cowed. They looked gloomy and despairing, and said nothing to the prisoners as they left.’ [Macfarlane: KGU 23]
Constable Dwyer later went inside the burning Glenrowan Inn. There he saw the bodies of Dan Kelly and Steve Hart. ‘Steve Hart had his feet up on the bed. He was burning down to here—[pointing to his waist]—and his feet were on the bed, and his hands in that position—[indicating the same]—; and his face all burnt and his blood was passing and frizzling like a steak in a pan.’Asked if he was sure the other man was Dan Kelly, Dwyer replied, ‘I knew the man I saw in that position, with the black hair and sallow complexion, was Dan Kelly.’ [Macfarlane KGU 22]
At 4 pm a senior constable, five constables (including Thomas McIntyre) and one ex-constable arrived at Glenrowan from Melbourne, accompanying Chief Commissioner of Police Standish. They were in time to see the charred, unidentifiable bodies of Dan Kelly and Steve Hart being raked out of the ashes and iron roofing. [Macfarlane: KGU 24]
After the Glenrowan bloodbath ended, friends ordered ‘coffins of a first-class description, the cost being a matter of no consequence’ for the burnt bodies of Dan Kelly and Steve Hart. These came from Wangaratta undertaker John Grant. Grant arrived at Glenrowan with them in a buggy, and ‘they were seen to be high-priced articles’. The lids of the coffins already bore the names of Daniel Kelly and Steve Hart, their date of death and ages. [Macfarlane: KGU 106]
Oh dear, I have just read as requested chapters 1 and 5 of Ambrose Pratt’s 1911 “Dan Kelly, Outlaw” and don’t know whether to laugh or cry. In this alleged memoir of Dan Kelly, chapter 1 recounts the falsehood that Red Kelly shot at and wounded his landlord when “a chance was offered him to destroy one of the descendants of the man who had pauperised the Kellys”, for which he was transported. This is the tale of transportation for an agrarian outrage that gets a mention in the Royal Commission second progress report and was repeated by many. But we know that Red was transported for stealing two pigs from another poor farmer and grassed on one of his mates for shooting at and wounding a policeman. Getting g transported probably saved Red’s bacon, as his mate died before the voyage, so saving Red from his mate or his mate’s family’s revenge. He was a grass! A lagger! A stoolie! Just like young Ned would become when he lagged on Harry Power. So Pratt’s chapter 1 is fanciful nonsense about Red, an invented story doubtless based on Red’s own bragging to put anyone off the idea that he might have been a turncoat and give a different explanation for his transportation.
Chapter 2 continues the distortion – Talking about other Irish immigrants that Red would have met in Australia, “Most of them considered it a mere venial sin to “pot at” a landlord from behind a hedge; and few indeed that had not been concerned as actors or sympathizers in the agrarian outrages of the period. It was natural that my father, John Kelly, should appear something of a hero to those wild spirits. He had done a thing and suffered for it, which many of them had wished, perhaps, or even tried to do.” Red presenting himself as a hero for something he never did.
Chapter 3 has the boy Ned nicking horses. Chapter 4 says “Ned soon tired of the comparatively unexciting pursuit of hiding and keeping horses for reward. He did a good deal of that sort of business after the incident I have related, but he yearned for a more full-grown occupation,” and he gets into stealing and selling them. “Towards the middle of 1876, Ned became associated with the notorious bushranger Harry Power, and committed several crimes in his company.”
By chapter 5, “From the day of my father’s death until the end of the chapter Ned ruled our family as its unquestioned head.” Well, he messed that up good and proper, although Ian Jones took the same view – Ned became the head of the family. Since when would a bush Irishwoman be run around by her 12 year old son? Doesn’t smell right at all. Next we have what is allegedly the voice of Dan Kelly saying of his brother Ned, “Here was a lad still in his teens, who had declared war upon a section of society. The law should have seized him and either have held him a close prisoner until he had reformed, or have expelled him from the country.” Does that sound like it would be Dan Kelly’s view? (No, I don’t think so.)
Chapter 5 continues, “The Kelly country was filled with settlers of a vigorous and lawless breed—men of primitive instincts, wholly illiterate, and only semi-civilized. ” Nonsense. It was filed with colonists who wanted to make better lived for themselves, and the vast majority did so. Back to Pratt: “The Victorian Government of that era had long been fighting the battle of the masses against the classes. The young colony had been first settled on the “squatting” system, and a mere handful of men had been permitted to obtain possession of the greater part of the lands of the State. … The protracted contest engendered feelings of deep-seated and passionate ill-will. … They voiced their rage, but otherwise suffered passively—almost contentedly, indeed—because of the satisfaction they periodically experienced in railing at their oppressors. With public opinion flowing constantly in one channel of indignation, and ceaselessly directed against the stone wall of “squatterdom,” we need not be greatly astonished to learn that the people came to look upon crimes committed against individual squatters with a large amount of lenity.” After much waffly prose, Ned gets uppity. “My brother Ned was the best among us all. Nature intended him to be a good man and a useful citizen. Destiny drove him to the gallows. For that cruel twisting of Nature’s sweet intention I definitely charge society with the lion’s share of culpability—that society which saw him launched a mere child upon a criminal career, which knew the circumstances and the evil influences which surrounded him, and yet callously neglected to save him from his doom.”
Such is life. So what I make of it is a wildly exaggerated attempt in the way of book selling puffery to blame Ned’s choices on society; like an early sociologist saying there, there, we understand why you did the bad things you did, but it wasn’t really your fault, it was society’s fault, so let’s look at tfh social system where thousands of others are making better lives for themselves and saying the poor Kellys were actually victims. In fact, that reminds me of what Bridgette Kennedy, the wife of Sgt Michael Kennedy murdered by Ned Kelly at SBC, said as quoted in Leo Kennedy’s “Black Snake” book: “Many a family came out from Ireland, ours included. Plenty of families did it tough. But that did not mean they turned to stealing and robbing from their neighbours. Only a few families were bad or went bad, but none so bad as the Kellys.”.
Pratt’s social generalisations are misplaced. They belong to the period before the Kellys and do not excuse Red, Ned, and the rest of the family in any way that I can see.
David, the introduction to this blog states “Shortly after the police murders at Stringybark Creek, legislation was passed that made the Kelly gang outlaws, meaning they had no legal protections, and could be shot and killed on sight by anyone.
Your buddy Ian in his book says “It [outlawry] meant that police or ordinary citizens could lawfully kill them in certain circumstances. [page 81]
Who is right, eh?
If it Fitz, wear it!
Felons Apprehensions Act
“it shall be lawful for any of Her Majesty’s subjects whether a constable or not and without being
accountable for the using of any deadly weapon in aid of such apprehension whether its use be preceded by a demand of surrender or not to apprehend or take such outlaw alive or dead.”
In this case Ian MacFarlane is more correct. The relevant part of Section 3 of the Victorian Felons Apprehension Act is Section 3, the last part of which reads,
“And if after proclamation by the Governor with the advice of the Executive Council of the fact of such adjudication shall have been published in the Government Gazette and in one
or more Melbourne and one or more country newspapers such outlaw shall afterwards be found at large armed or there being reasonable ground to believe that he is armed it shall be lawful for any of Her Majesty’s subjects, whether a constable or not and without being accountable for the use of any deadly weapon in aid of such apprehension whether its use be preceded by a demand of surrender or not to apprehend or take such outlaw alive or dead”.
The particular circumstances are the words, “at large armed or there being reasonable ground to believe that he is armed”. If a person killed an outlaw outside of these specified circumstances, for example if they were able to apprehend him without killing him because he was not armed or could reasonably be thought not to be armed – or while swimming in a waterhole – or was able to be captured in his sleep, like Harry Power was – the person who wantonly killed an outlaw without meeting the criteria of the Act would be guilty of murder.
Most of the discussion about the outlawry act at the time of its introduction – ignored by Kellyphiles – was around the question of wanton killing. This discussion was central to the earlier NSW outlawry act on which the Victorian act was largely modelled. The intention of both Acts was to capture the outlaw to bring him to trial. So where most of the Kelly writers give selective quotes that present the Act as an open licence to kill a declared outlaw, it was no such thing. Ian Jones was one of the very few to notice that specific limit on killing.
The Act is presented in full here:
There was a sunset clause:
Duration of Act. 10 . This Act shall continue in force until the end of the next
Session of Parliament.
The 10th Parliament of Victoria ended on 24 June 1880. Thereafter, and thus at the Glenrowan siege, Ned and Dan Kelly were no longer outlaws. The Felons Apprehension Act 1878 no longer applied.
Horrie and Alf
Chief Commissioner of Police Standish and the Chief Justice of Victoria fulfilled the stipulations of The Act. Perhaps they thus were more responsible for outlawing the Kellys than the government of the day.
Another turnup for the book?
Sort of, Rebecca. You can follow the debate on the Bill that resulted in the Act in Hansard (online). The government led the move to introduce a Bill to outlaw the murderers in the exceptional circumstances that had arisen. Standish was asked to look into the earlier NSW outlawry act and found it “all that could be desired “. It was redrafted to suit Victoria with some important modifications, then rapidly passed into law. The government was responsible for initiating the legislation; Standish was involved in reviewing the NSW Act for suitability, and government lawyers were responsible for tailoring it to suit Victoria. I have written an article on the Act and its background which is tentatively scheduled to appear late this year.
Glad you are here Stuart – but Standish and the Chief Justice were endeavouring to comply with the provisions of The Act:
Yesterday afternoon an application was made to his Honour the Chief Justice by Mr. Gurner, the Crown solicitor, under the Felons Apprehension Act recently passed, for an order requiring Edward and Daniel Kelly and their two associates to surrender themselves. The application was based upon an affidavit sworn by Captain F. C. Standish, the chief commissioner of police. (Argus, 5 November 1878).
An application was made yesterday afternoon to the Chief Justice by Mr. Gurner, the Crown Solicitor, for an order adjudging the Kellys and the two unknown men to be outlaws for not having surrendered at Mansfield on the 12th inst. as required by a former order. The application was supported by an affidavit sworn by Captain Standish, the chief commissioner of police, verifying the fact that the men had not surrendered nor been captured, and that the notices requiring them to surrender had been published as directed. His honour made the order as sought against each of the men. (Argus, 16 November 1878.
Standish and the Chief Justice did other things along the same lines.
Ah, I misunderstood and thought the comment was about the implementation of the Act, rather than going through the steps of declaring someone an outlaw under the Act. OK, clear now.
Is there any evidence to suggest Ned was aware the sunset clause had come into effect?
Hi Thomas, none that I know of. Ned was apparently just continuing his bender; but contrary to what JJ Kenneally said in his 1929 Inner History, the warrants for Ned and Dan Kelly were issued before the Act came into effect and therefore remained in force regardless that the Felons Apprehension Act expired shortly before Ned’s apprehension. He was not apprehended under the provisions of the FAA and not charged with failing to surrender for trial, but was charged under the original and prior warrant for murder at SBC, the warrant produced at his trial. Kenneally claimed that at the time of Ned’s arrest there was not even a warrant in existence for him. Kenneally was dead wrong (excuse the pun).
Don’t think Ned was aware the Act had petered out. But the arrest warrants for the SBC murders, the FitzPatrick shooting and the Baumgarten horse stealing affair were still active. If cornered now the gang could no longer be dealt with as outlaws.
All this was obviated at Glenrowan where the gang planned to wreck the police train, and opened fire on Police clad in their armour.
I have come across a horrendous Ned Kelly ‘Exhibit’ by the Public Record Office, for which (wisely) no-one claims credit. You have to scroll to the end to find this out. The Exhibit is riddled with many errors, omissions and a general lack of attributions. A ghastly mess. Heads should roll:
Hello Rebecca, can you tell us what the horrendous NK ‘exhibit’ was?
Was it another photo of a burnt corpse from another direction?
Salutations Bill! I take it you followed the URL I provided. No burnt corpses there – just endless foolish mistakes. One captions says “Euroa letter dictated by Edward (Ned) Kelly to Superintendent John Sadlier”. I don’t think Ned met or talked to Sadlier, and certainly never dictated his Euroa’ letter to him.
The burnt corpse photos have been published often, sometimes in pro-Kelly books. I didn’t post those here.
Hi Rebecca, have you considered listing the mistakes on an email along with a reference to a correct source of information for each point and sending it to them with a request that these mistakes be corrected?
I did this with the Gold Museum’s Bushrangers exhibition a few years ago as half their posters about the Kelly gang had wrong information. They were going to put my Redeeming Fitzpatrick article (also now available as a download from Academia.edu) as a Qcode download but then chickened our as some clown thought it might be controversial. So facts are controversial to VPRO, the source of most of the Gold Museum’s info, along with Jones’s Short Life, and newer research that overturns the errors is disregarded. As you might guess., they didn’t change any of the signage and continued to misinform visitors about Victoria’s history. Our publicly funded cultural institutions are staffed by a high percentage of numpties. But worth a try to get sense into them….
Stuart, thanks for your helpful suggestion. The artsandculture.google.com/PROV exhibit seems derelict and abandoned. It is not possible to cut and paste the mistakes and the task of correcting them all seems near impossible. The unnamed person/people responsible are also pushing a simplistic, downtrodden Selectors and Irish Catholics bandwagon…
This sounds like a cop-out, but I don’t want to correct overpaid public servants who have stuffed up. If the Exhibit ever gets up and running, I will give it a very loud raspberry then!
Hi Rebecca, maybe it could be a topic for this blog? If David thought it might work? If the exhibition text was put up for critique at about a page and a half A4 equivalent (max) at a time then anyone could add criticism and the fleshed put results emailed to PROV? Of course this might not work or might get nowhere, but it would at least encourage some critical focus on the buffoons who get paid out of our taxes to put total drivel up as history.
What do you think, David, could it be worth just one post as an experiment? Then if it didn’t work to get critiques happening within a week, forget the experiment and move on.
If I get a chance on the weekend I will download the exhibition text and at least aim to send PROV an email pointing out say 3 bad errors as examples as to why the whole exhibition text needs review.
The Exhibit is full of absurd ‘facts’. In it Fitzpatrick is whacked on his helmet by Mrs Kelly a f t e r Ned shot him. Wrong way round.
Also Ned fired three shots, says who?
Bizarre, whacky BS!
Hi Cam, Fitzpatrick says Ned fired three shots. The whole Fitzpatrick incident story has been greatly misrepresented over many years. Nearly everything about it claimed by Jones and others is wrong. Fitzpatrick didn’t breach any orders about going to the Kelly house alone, his visit to arrest Dan was known and sanctioned, he wasn’t drunk, he didn’t need to produce a warrant to arrest a suspect for a gazetted offence, and if Fitzpatrick hadn’t attempted to arrest Dan that day another policeman would have sooner or later, obviously because he was wanted on warrant for an offense.
Trying to blame Fitzpatrick for the Kelly outbreak is absurd. The cause of the outbreak was the disruption of the Baumgarten horse stealing ring – as identified in the Royal Commission by Steele amongst others.
My free research article, “Redeeming Fitzpatrick: Ned Kelly and the Fitzpatrick Incident” which goes through the background, the incident, the testimony , and the aftermath, is here, https://www.academia.edu/40453673/Redeeming_Fitzpatrick_Ned_Kelly_and_the_Fitzpatrick_Incident
I have all your excellent pieces, Stuart.
The State Library echoes the furphy that “Fitzpatrick claimed that Ned shot him in the wrist, although it’s unclear whether Ned was even present at the time”.
Crikey – even Ned eventually admitted he was there! It’s in the KGU book, for heaven’s sake! And in your piece, Stuart.
Hi Rebecca and Cam, I clicked Rebecca’s link to the online Kelly exhibition and it is as you both said unbelievably bad, full of factual errors from start to finish. There is however no text to download, just links to some of the picture sources – but many don’t link and have 404 errors. There is no clear source for the exhibition. It is on Google Arts and Culture, but the credits page at the end is empty, and the media details say only the there has been a third party involved in the exhibit creation and PROV aren’t responsible even though they are the source of a lot of the content – see screenshot below.
In other words it is just online garbage with no-one identified to send a critique to. So I won’t waste any more time on it.
Stuart et al my apologies – Ive been otherwise occupied the last few days with little time for Kelly stuff.
I was going to say that I LIKE the idea of writing to the authorities and making them aware of the erroneous material they are promoting as history and trying to find out of anyone is interested in correcting it. But as you say Stuart this Google Arts and Culture link is a dead end. So I wonder how it got there in the first place ?
Its all very well for us to be having these outraged conversations on this Blog among ourselves but in reality its not going to change very much in the wider world.
Maybe theres another site we can look at? How about the Burke Museum and the Kelly Vault and the associated Kelly mythology that is promoted there? There is also the Ned Kelly Alive project at Glenrowan thats about to have a few million spent on promoting the Kelly story in some form or other. What a massive blunder thats going to turn out to be once everyone realises the truth about the Kelly story and that the man wasn’t a hero but a psychopath? What will they do then? Pull it all down?
It would be good to know what the Glenrowan project has in mind, as the Ned Kelly Alive report failed to demonstrate any viable return from its proposed splashing of millions of taxpayer dollars funding a mythical version of history based on well outdated and faulty storytelling by Kelly enthusiasts – total nonsense.
Not true Stuart. NKA proved an eye-watering $10M plus development by Griffiths on the outskirts of town (actually ‘1200 steps’) was unviable. The VR tower WAS viable. There’s a distinct difference.
Again you assume many things.
Talking of assumptions, there are overly many here:
It’s one thing to have a ‘viable’ Tower, quite another to turn it into regional tourist dollars.
And if one disagrees with a professional independent feasibility study like Ned Alive one can go and get an independent study of one’s own (alledgedly)
Hi Anonymous, the Ned Kelly Alive Report shows the Glenrowan development is unviable. Thanks to Craig for putting a link to the report in the adjoining post.
First, p. 57, Glenrowan Viewing Tower. Cost $2.05M; ongoing cost $120K p.a; 10 year total cost $3.25M.
This will “be installed in the centre of town” and provide “an elevated vantage point from which to see the locations that were pivotal to the Ned Kelly story … enhanced with Virtual Reality overlay, accessed via VR viewfinders and complemented by an augmented reality offering, an interactive map located within the tower, and audio elements triggered as visitors enter certain areas.” The report fails anywhere to indicate what story will be told about Glenrowan, but we can be fairly certain that it will not be the story of a vengeful gang attempting to derail a police train, massacre any survivors, and when that plan failed, sporadically shooting at police while innocent people lay terrified on the floor of the Glenrowan Inn. Kelly escaped early in the affray, collapsed in the nearby bush for most of the night, then came back at dawn trying to again rally his gang for an armoured shootout with the police (see my Republic Myth book).
It is hard to see how the financial analysis of the Glenrowan Viewing Tower (p. 94) shows a return of 35% ROI when it will be open 24/7 (which needs security staffing), and – note – admission will be free (p. 59). It is entirely a financial sink hole at state and local government expense .Glenrowan shops are closed at night, and the siege site area is mostly uneven ground surrounded by peacefully sleeping residents. Where is the economic rationale for the proposed 24/7 open hours? In fact it will result in further costs as a result of the unbudgeted 24/7 security requirements.
Second, p. 60, Siege Site VR/AR Experience. Cost $200K; ongoing cost $20K p.a.; 10 year total cost $250K.
“Visitors will be able to immerse themselves in the length of the siege by using a slider back and forward on their mobile devices, transporting them through time, beginning at the time of their arrival through to the unfolding of the whole story.” The first stage of the siege is timelined in my Republic Myth book, which tracked it from the arrival of the police train to Kelly’s escape into the bush half an hour later (Appendix). It is far more compact than previously thought. Little happened between then and Kelly’s return to rally his gang around 7am. Unless this new scholarship is incorporated, the VR/AR experience will be farcical. If it is incorporated, there will be long periods where nothing happens.
If both these proposed Glenrowan Experiences were built, at a combined construction cost of $2,550,000, and with a total cost including construction, running and marketing of $4 million over the 10 years that the Ned Kelly Alive Report proposes, it would result in only one half additional day of average tourist time in Glenrowan from those who go there.
Specifically, page 60 shows that Glenrowan currently receives an estimated 29,396 day and overnight visitors per annum. Page 61 shows that the majority [of Glenrowan visitors] are only staying for a few hours as the number of rooms in the town and average occupancy suggests just a small percentage stay overnight. These two Glenrowan Experience projects together are projected to increase visitor stay in Glenrowan by a total of half a day. (Viewing Tower p.59, 0.2 days; Siege Site p. 60, 0.3 days).
Glenrowan looks more derelict every year and if you are not a Kelly nut, there is no shopping centre to speak of. Kelly businesses are up for sale. Bob Hempel, who runs Ned Kelly’s Last Stand at the Glenrowan Tourist Centre, said in November 2017, “We used to get 70,000 people through our doors a year, now it’s down to 20,000”, https://www.weeklytimesnow.com.au/news/national/ned-kelly-fourth-movie-to-be-made-about-bushranger-legend/news-story/9a517644262ce131a70a7e53c927bb6f . It is hard to see any ROI here.
Further to Anonymous, who says “NKA proved an eye-watering $10M plus development by Griffiths on the outskirts of town (actually ‘1200 steps’) was unviable.” Where dis you get $10M from, I wonder? That’s chicken feed for that proposed project. The costs in the NKA Report are much greater for the so-called Glenrowan Ned Kelly Interpretive Centre.
See p. 62 of the NKA Report: Ned Kelly Interpretive Centre. Cost $15M; ongoing cost $3M p.a; 10 year total cost $45 million.
The report says that “a Business Plan and Operational framework is in development by the Ned Kelly Centre group” (the Griffiths group) separate to this report. It appears to be a privately owned museum which nevertheless seeks significant government funding. It is by far the most costly venture, projected to cost over a third of the total collective NKA spend outlined in the entire report. It will be a “mix of museum artefacts, high-tech experiential displays, contemplation spaces, educational programs and research resources.” [Almost every existing Kelly research resource is freely accessible online now through Trove and PROV.]
“The centre will require revenues of up to $3 million per annum to break even and fund the reinvestment in the building and technology to avoid falling behind.” So it is a private venture requiring $3M p.a. ongoing just to exist, while projecting 85,000 visitors per year.
On that very optimistic visitor estimate (given that Glenrowan currently draws less than 30,000 visitors per year, p. 60), every adult and child must spend $36 per head door charge alone at this Centre just to cover its annual running cost, before a cent goes toward repaying the $15M establishment cost. It is projected to increase visitor stay at Glenrowan by 0.3 of a day. Not much bang for $45 million over 10 years if you ask me.
So if all 3 Glenrowan projects got to run as the NKA report envisages, total visitor time per Kelly visitor in Glenrowan would increase by an estimated 0.8 of a day – if they go to all three and spend the envisaged time there. And the total cost of attracting these so-called cultural tourists would be (adding noises from the above figures…) yep, $49 million dollars of state and Shire funding over 10 years. An average of $4.9 million taxpayer funding a year to try and attract tourists to Glenrowan, for what exactly? Your taxes at work…
Fair point Ian. Let’s see what happens.
We’ve been to lots of historical locations but haven’t seen anyone using VR (virtual reality) equipment yet. Ned Kelly Alive relies on loads of VR stuff all over the Kelly Myth Maker Trail.
Maybe that poor old bugger Ned is the first myth/legend destroyed by the Coronavirus distancing rule. Maybe no-one will ever be able to visit this NE Victoria legendary vacuum.
Horrie and Alf
Highly unlikely Ian.
Highly unlikely Ian.
Thank heavens you’re here as the only person worthy to tell the story Stuart. We’d be completely lost without your guidance complimented by Ian’s numerous aliases. Again You re assuming how the story will be told but you have no idea what you’re talking about or what’s happening in the NE.
Sarah/Karma etc. etc., you’re back! Silly name guessing games again from a Kelly Fruitloop! Why don’t you address the issues? What does it matter if people use nom-de-plumes? You have done so for years.
Anonymous online sarcasm towards myself and Ian is pathetic. Put your name to it. What are these great movements in the north east of which I have no idea? Clearly they are not of Everest proportions. The Beechworth Gaol, for example, told me when I was up there last year that they weren’t looking at doing a Kelly expansion anytime soon. It’s not viable, I was told.
By all means point me to any coherent alternative version of the Kelly story than the dominant yet profoundly flawed Jones narrative. And explain why that needs a cent spent in Glenrowan (or anywhere else) for the telling. The fact is that without the iron suits the Kelly gang would be just a minor footnote in colonial history along with the other bushrangers.
After the republic myth fantasy was exposed as nonsense there was never anything to the gang but a crazed vengeance against the police for what was never persecution but basic policing against the ongoing depredations of a crime clan on their surrounding community. Little different to Mad Dog Morgan. If any proponents of Kelly tourism projects think they have a viable one, they should be able to get a bank loan, build it and back it as a commercial venture. Instead, proposals are just another handout club.
The fact is that the Kelly myth is falling apart. It is over, and while having a certain curiosity value, there is little to support putting any government funding into publicising the unfortunate legacy of a bunch of bandits.
Ned Kelly Alive promises “accurate history” but does not say who will provide it.
Modern authors have thoroughly debunked the Kelly legend, but none of them has been approached by Ned Kelly Alive. So what will we get?
Given that PROV, the State Library, the Old Melb Gaol, the Kelly Vault and Beechworth Kelly Elkins tours etc all promote total nonsense versions of the Kelly story (mostly a combination of the persecution myth, the Fitzpatrick myth and the republic myth), despite having been sent a pile of research to the contrary, the chances are that any NKA Report based history will be the same old drivel presented as “cultural” tourism.
It’s mighty strange that the State institutions which hold Kelly archival documents keep producing weird, misinterpretations of what the documents say. PROV has had many official inquiries. Maybe its time for another.
Bet no-one has bothered to ask Glenrowan people what they think about having a huge, eyesore tower in the centre of their town. And it will take a hell of a lot of AR and VR to bring the empty Glenrowan Inn site to life. SBC was much better, more contemplative, without the modern ‘interpretation’ and signage. Don’t think Ned Kelly Alive will ever get off the ground. It doesn’t deserve to.
The Ned Kelly Alive report shows that BS still Baffles Brains! Glib postulations built on shaky financial foundations. Auditor-General needs to have a good, extra long look.
Another Kelly myth busted:
According to the Pentridge Prison development website, C Division “was largely home to vagabonds and short-term prisoners, at one stage housing the notorious Ned Kelly”, http://pentridgecoburg.com.au/blog/c-division/
This is wrong. Ned Kelly’s prison record shows that he was sentenced to 3 years gaol in August 1871 (VPRS 4966 P0 Unit 1 Item 1). The only wing of Pentridge then built was A Division, opened in 1859 and renamed B Division in 1887. The original B Division was not open until 1879 and renamed C Division in 1890. Ned Kelly was never in C Division as the Pentridge website text claims.
The Old Melbourne Gaol site is better:
It says “Between 1842 and its closure in 1929 the gaol was the scene of 133 hangings including Australia’s most infamous citizen, the bushranger Ned Kelly.
That’s more like it!
Fun and games – due to the original Pentridge B Division apparently being built in stages, my conclusion may have been premature. Maybe there is still a question about how much of it was built by 1871 and when it first opened for business before a conclusion can be made one way or the other as to whether Ned K was in it or A Division…
Having said that, if prisoners went first to A Division for the separate and silent treatment, maybe that was as far as he went there… Plenty more to investigate here about the exact dates and locations..
Having a geek tonight at a book published March 1st 2017 by ABC Books which seems a bit derivative. It cites an archival document for the Metcalf shooting, rather than the book and source in which it first appeared. This is not publishing convention. A big question mark. We are wondering if this is a single botch-up or a hallmark of the book. Time will tell.
Horrie and Alf
Hi Horrie & Alf, can you tell us the title please? (Even if it’s not worth a tittle..,)