The recent ‘Last Stand’ commemoration proved it : hardly anyone gives a stuff about Kelly mythology anymore.

 

Last month I predicted before the anniversary of Ned Kellys capture that this year any kind of commemoration or celebration of it by Kelly devotees would be a flop, because even in Victoria interest in celebrating debunked Kelly mythology has fallen to barely recordable levels. Kelly sympathisers have already noticed it themselves and have been complaining at the way Beechworth tourist interests seem to be sidelining their hero, and at the Burke Museum the same thing is happening.They  try to mitigate their despair  by pointing to the restoration of the Kelly house at Beveridge and the Tower construction at Glenrowan, but they fail – or wilfully refuse  – to understand the difference between preserving history and preserving their delusional fantasies about Kelly – both these local endeavours are related to preservation of the true history, not of the Kelly myths the sympathisers want to promote. They can take no comfort from those two projects.


But its not just in the north east where interest in Kelly mythology has changed : its an Australia-wide phenomenon, nowhere more easily seen than in the types of ‘Kelly’ books that have been published in Australia over the last few years. If you made a list of all the very many ‘Kelly’ books published say since Max Browns 1948 publication “Australian Son”, what you would find is that up until ten years ago almost every single one of them was “pro” Kelly – there were dozens and dozens of them – it was all one way for decades. But the publication of ‘pro-Kelly’ literature came to a more or less complete stop in 2012 with the landmark publication of Ian MacFarlanes ‘The Kelly Gang Unmasked’. This book was an intelligent fact-based meticulously researched and referenced masterpiece which arrested the march of Kelly idolatry in its tracks. The Kelly sympathiser mob absolutely hate this book, because its demolition of the mythology was devastating and virtually irrefutable.

 

Since The Kelly Gang Unmasked appeared on bookshelves, I can think of only three new pro-Kelly publications, and none was substantive. (The authors were Peter Fitzsimmons, Bradley Webb and Eugenie Navarre, and I haven’t counted Rebecca Wilsons terrible book about Kate Kelly).

 

On the other hand over that same period substantial works which debunk the Kelly myths and expose the truth about the Kelly Outbreak now, by my count number at least a fifteen:

Black Snake

by Leo Kennedy,

NK Under the Microscope

edited by Craig Cormack,

Ned Kelly Stock thief, Bank Robber Murder,Psychopath

by Scott and MacFarlane

Glenrowan

1st and 2nd editions by Aidan Phelan,

Doug Morrissey’s Trilogy,

A Lawless life

The Stringybark Creek Police Murders

Selectors Squatters and Stock Thieves

Stuart Dawsons 4 publications:

 Redeeming Fitzpatrick,

Such is Life,

The Myth of the Republic,

The Death of Metcalf

Grantlee Kiezas 2 books

Mrs Kelly  

The Kelly Hunters 

Nabbing Ned 

by David Dufty, 

the most recent and freshest look yet at the outbreak

 

There are a couple of other publications which I haven’t counted for either side because they are very worthwhile but impartial compilations of articles from the time of the outbreak.(Authors Trudy Toohill and Kelvyn Gill)

 

The telling observation is that over this time, despite various promises, there hasnt been even one attempt by a pro-Kelly author to rebut any of the arguments or the evidence assembled by the new Kelly authors. The only responses have been incoherent ranting and abhorrent personal abuse on Facebook of every one of these authors by known trolls on Facebook, reactions which are irrelevant, except for one thing – they illustrate the anti-intellectual mind-set of Kelly devotees, and they condemn prominent Kelly sympathiser spokespeople who have remained silent about this abuse, when they should be condemning it.

 

Speaking of Facebook, and the internet generally, here also there has been a dramatic decline in interest and activity related to the Kelly story. Back in 2012 there were several active Kelly forums, one of which – the NK Forum – didn’t survive more than another couple of years,  another , called Kelly Country 2000 still exists but is dead, and the  Iron Outlaw web-page is still there but is also dead. A Facebook page called NK Central  run by a Kelly family descendant lasted only a couple of years, and another Kelly family descendant Joanne Griffiths has a FB page called NK Center which  is also dead. The remaining three or four active Kelly related  FB pages  are all dominated by blind kelly fanatics who aren’t interested in anything but recycling now disproven myths and fantasies about Ned Kelly, in giving voice to police hate, and in wallowing around in sickly sentimental recollections of the Kelly story they learned and immersed themselves in three or four decades ago. Some of these places pretend to be interested in ‘all sides’ but anyone voicing contrary opinions is rapidly kicked out, one or two others are more honest about their purpose and openly warn visitors that anything thats not pro Ned will be removed – thats a kind of openness and honesty I can respect. Finally there are a couple which have made themselves irrelevant to the conversation by hiding themselves behind a Members Only screen.

 

 

One curiosity that amuses me is a novel that the pro-Kelly mob admire even though in it the author doesn’t paint Kelly as a victim of persecution but as a violent and delinquent youth and as a volatile bully. More importantly the author leaves out the theme that has been central to pro-Kelly narratives for 50 years, the debunked theory of the Republic of North east Victoria. Leaving this theme out reduces the Kelly story to one of pure criminality, as Ian Jones himself pointed out years ago, but most of the pro-Kelly mob don’t seen to have realised this yet and continue to praise the book. They all seem to be in denial about the huge problem that taking out the republic myth has created for them : they have to find something which simply doesn’t exist – a sane justification for Glenrowan without the republic – certainly, Aidan Phelan couldnt find one.

 

 

Yet another indicator of how comprehensively Kelly mythology has dropped out of favour is to think about who is promoting it these days compared with a decade or two ago. Back then academics of many kinds, professors,  barristers, Judges and a variety of other intellectuals were genuinely interested in it. People as well known as Professor Manning Clark wrote about Ned Kelly, and students wrote PhD theses on the topic, two of them being Doug Morrissey and John Mcquilton. There were many other academics who took an interest in the Kelly story – for example there was a huge line-up of them at the 1967 and 1993 Kelly symposia – largely it must be said because of the ceaseless advocacy of amateur historian Ian Jones. Now of course almost all of those people have passed,  but no new faces have emerged to replace them. The only academic still showing an interest in the Kelly story nowadays is Dr Stuart Dawson whose work is aimed at correcting not perpetuating the myths – a complete reversal of the situation a decade or two ago.

 

The reality is that there was an awakening of interest in the Kelly story in the second half of last century, it was re-examined in great detail from a variety of angles by a great variety of people and ultimately found NOT to be about a hero as was hoped but about a murderous psychopath. And then pretty much everyone with at least half a brain moved on. Case closed.

 

So to put this year’s activities into perspective, consider the sorts of things that were happening a decade and more ago. Back then, Siege commemorations involved huge numbers of visitors to the region, and restaurants and tourist accommodation was booked out. Commemorative booklets and T-shirts and decorated mugs and other memorabilia were produced. Politicians, academics, dignitaries and famous actors and actresses, not to mention experts like Jones and McQuilton would appear, speeches were made and on one occasion a special steam-train trip was commissioned. Not so long ago, Joanne Griffiths organised Grantlee Kieza to attend and give a speech. And these things didn’t just happen once a year – there were several such events annually – an annual Ned Kelly celebration over an entire weekend in August, the Siege commemoration in June and in November further activities commemorated Kellys death. But back then, the entire Kelly legend was widely supported and celebrated. Not anymore.

 

Former fence-sitter but now unapologetic myth defender and close ally of the worst of the trolls, police haters and bigots in the Kelly world,Mark Perry, for several weeks before this years Siege weekend begged and pleaded on Facebook for Sympathisers to join him and Neal Carney at the Hibernian on the anniversary. He talked it up with promises of “music, book signings, police historian, cosplay, laybacks, darts comp and so much more” and posted to my Blog he had 35 confirmed attendees. 

 

So now, with the Siege weekend behind them, the Kelly mob have claimed I got it all wrong and the commemoration was a tremendous success. One of them wrote There are photos all over the net providing people’s experiences and proving once again how the troll from New Zealand has got it all wrong as usual”.  Another wrote “I wonder why Davy/Dee, Sam/Brad are so quiet about the success of the siege weekend,? Wrong again weren’t you boys?

 

“Bloody oath they were wrong. In a big way. Egg on their funny little faces” wrote Perry, who is clearly in denial about what actually happened. Denial is a hallmark of Kelly sympathiser psychopathology, so nothing unusual in that.

 

So, was I wrong ?

 

Well, of  Perrys 35 confirmed attendees only 12 turned up, and there was no commemorative T-shirt or stubby holder, no formal dinner, no speeches, no special guests, no music. They had a few beers and a pub meal and that was it.One pair who attended objected to Perry posting a picture of them all and crowing about his ‘success’ on my Page, so he deleted it. He posted the same photo on his own page with this comment “A big wave and hello to doctor David. We considered giving you the finger but decency and our code of ethics prevailed… for now.” This from the guy who bleats about good manners costing nothing. But it was good to know that in the backs of their minds as they toasted a murderous psychopath they worried about what Dee had said about what they were up to. 

 

 

So who exactly should we now say has egg on his funny little face I wonder? In comparison with what the Siege Weekend used to be, and even in comparison with Perry’s own boasting about what was planned, only a blind idiot would fail to recognise this most recent Siege commemoration as a totally embarrassing and eminently predictable flop.

 

Much as they might like to deny it, this years Siege weekend commemoration proved again that the downward spiral of interest in Kelly mythology continues, and that Kelly devotees are a delusional and ever-shrinking cohort of denialists, nostalgically clinging to a dead mythology, like the Flat Earth conspiracy theorists and the Moon Landing deniers cling to their debunked understandings of the world. Obviously there will always be deluded people among us, some claiming the earth is flat, others that nobody ever landed on the moon, others that vaccines dont work and that Hugo Chavez controls voting machines from beyond the grave, and in Australia there will always be a tiny bunch of fanatics who claim that Ned Kelly was a hero. 

 

But the rest of us have moved on. The Legend is dead. RIP.

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18 Replies to “The recent ‘Last Stand’ commemoration proved it : hardly anyone gives a stuff about Kelly mythology anymore.”

  1. Dear David. You are an idiot and incorrect as usual. You are becoming very deluded in your old age. The night was an absolute success. Livers heal. But you may have too much shit on yours for this to occur. Love from everyone in the Kelly world with a life. xxx

    1. Incorrect?

      Which guest speakers and celebrities that came to Glenrowan did I miss? Which new pro-Kelly books did I miss? Which new pro-Kelly FB pages did I miss? Which new pro-Kelly professors/academics/ intellectuals did I miss? Which reopening of the Kelly Vault, and of the NK Beechworth weekend did I miss? You said 36 confirmed but only 12 turned up – what did I miss there Mark?

      Here are the facts ( again) : your pathetic gathering at Glenrowan was an abysmal failure by comparison with every known measure of what Siege Commemorations have been in the past.

      The evidence is overwhelming – over the last ten years the Kelly legend has been in massive retreat. And you scurrying around winking at everyone and big noting yourself on every available FB page isnt going to change a thing.

  2. Well written, David. Could not agree with you more. As you know, I have been very cutting with my remarks towards Kelly nuts, but in many instances it has brought the true nature of these misfits to the fore. I make no apologies for exposing them for what they are.
    As some of you know, I have been very active in having myths, lies and fiction removed from government websites over the last 12 months. They are numerous, and I am pleased that my efforts to expose the rubbish they were presenting to the public as the truth, is now being removed. Even the Victorian IBAC, who had a load of fiction on their website, has removed the nonsense that claimed that many police were dismissed, demoted, and their careers were shattered.
    There is much more to come, and the cover for my book that will be directed at this country’s youth is being produced as I write this. There will be a section on the RC results and also a section that will address the myths.
    I note that on Aiden Phelan’s website, a great deal of fictitious nonsense is still being presented as factual. More than time he removed the rubbish and presented the truth.
    Is that too much to ask?

  3. Well this was an interesting read.
    I attended Glenrowan on the siege weekend and was absolutely flabbergasted at the amount of people that were in town. Having spoken to a couple of the locals I was informed that they hadn’t seen so many people there for years (not including the Covid period). Friday night at the pub was a big night with a lot of people enjoying themselves. Was a big disappointment that this was the only night that the pub was open, but anyway…
    Whilst I am by no means a Kelly sympathiser (I’m more a history buff) I was intrigued as to what bought these people together. It would seem that a lot of them were actually attending the weekend as a remembrance for the people who had actually died during the siege. The Kelly sympathisers seem to be far and in between. I also interacted with a group of approximately 18-20 people who came together on a apparent annual “pilgrimage” for the commemoration. I can only assume this was the group you were referring to in your blog, as I recalled the names Mark and Neil. I found them to very informative on the Kelly story, and in fact, more in sympathy toward the police officers killed in the Stringy Bark Creek incident than towards Ned Kelly. With further interactions with this particular group of people, I found that different opinions abounded and discussion’s were had…is not what a group is for?
    I should point out that I was invited to join their Facebook group, but not being a Ned Kelly “nerd” I have not joined, but being a public group I had a review of it. I found it to be a group of people having a healthy debate on the Kelly saga. This alone would indicate to me that people with a different opinion are not removed from this particular group. I also noticed that during and after the Siege weekend the group has grown to over 1000 members.
    Unfortunately after reading your blog, I did come away from it feeling that you are an angry man on a mission to de-bunk any other person’s opinions on the Kelly story, should they not align with yours. I would also hope you are not the “Dr. Dave” you referred to in your blog, as I would imagine belittling and name calling would be beneath a Doctor.
    Oh, I should point out that I did in fact buy a personalised autographed book from an author that night in Glenrowan.

    1. I hope this follows my previous reply, I didn’t want it to be anonymous…
      So….
      Regards,

      Andrew Raye,

      1. Andrew Raye? Who would know? There are worrying inconsistencies in your post that leave me deeply sceptical of your claims.

        My concern is there is a crisis of domestic violence in this country, and yet we have the ongoing promotion by ‘sympathisers’ of a violent killer as some sort of Australian hero. A decade or two ago it was at least possible to believe Kelly may have been something worthwhile in some limited way, but modern scholarship has rendered that view completely untenable. But trust me your new found friends wont hesitate to kick you off their platform if you dare challenge their obsolete Kelly delusions. Good luck.

  4. Some comments are so revolting they have to be deleted, but I dont do it very often. However Ive just deleted two from Mark Perry who seems to have completely lost his cool, and is now posting the most foul mouthed abuse imaginable. So now we know what lurks beneath that carefully crafted fake exterior : pure bile. Sad.

    1. Took you a while to figure that out!

      1. And now I have deleted another one from the poor man, that some may have read, and been further amazed as I was to see how completely he has emerged from under the Mr Nice Guy facade and revealed himself as a vicious and nasty. Why he thinks he can ban me from his page and abuse my willingness to let him post here and post such revolting rubbish is beyond me. Sorry , thats not going to happen.

        He has claimed several times on his own Page that almost nobody loves him in the Kelly world. Now we can all see why.

  5. Pot calling kettle black mcfarley. So much for you never deleting things.

    1. Ive NEVER said I didn’t delete comments or block people and Ive NEVER said people shouldn’t use fake names. What Ive objected to is people criticizing ME for doing those things and then doing them themselves, like I daresay you are doing right now. Hypocrisy.

  6. Good evening Brad. Tell me why you are going after Aidan’s work too now? I am interested. He is an excellent researcher and author. What do you feel he has presented incorrectly? I hope your visit to Ethiopia was fruitful? Goo to be home though I am sure.

  7. Good evening David. Genuine question. What has domestic violence got to do with the kelly story? It seemed an abrupt change of direction and was out of place somewhat?

    1. I long ago suggested a link between the epidemic of domestic violence in this country and the promotion of a violent killer as an icon. Are you prepared to say that there couldnt possibly be a link between the two?

  8. There are always possibilities. But I believe you are drawing a long bow here.

  9. Some readers of this blog may know Trevor Poultney who worked as a guide at the Old Melbourne Gaol for many years. In the latest National Trust Victoria magazine there is a Vale tribute to Trevor who has passed away. It says that after retiring as an OMG guide in 2021 he retired to his native New Zealand. While I did not go on one of Trevor’s guided tours, I did meet him there and discuss several Ned topics, and corresponded with him a number of times while preparing my Redeeming Fitzpatrick and Ned Kelly’s Last Words articles, and afterwards. He was a lively and entertaining guy, and will be missed by many.

    1. Thanks Stuart, I havent ever been on one of those tours but no doubt they are interesting. But this guy Poulney, being a Kiwi was no doubt a top fellow.

      1. Yes, jandels, chilli-bin and all 😎

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