2016 : The Kelly Year in Review. Part 1

In this Two Part Post, I am going to review what happened in the wider world of Ned Kelly in 2016. The second Part will be about this Blog, but Part one will be about everything else. The contrast is  quite amazing, as you will see when you read Part Two in a few days time but today I will start where 2016 began and finished, with the Ned Kelly Vault, the driver of the only Kelly game in town this year, with its relentless promotion starting in March of a ‘forgotten photo’.

At the start of the year I posted a two part review of the Kelly Vault, the annexe to the Burke Museum at Beechworth.  I was critical of the fact that the information attached to many of the objects on display heavily favoured the Ned Kelly hero mythology and Ian Jones unproven theory about a Kelly republic, whilst  ignoring the alternative view of Ned Kelly, that he was a psychopath, mass murderer and outright villain. In a Museum, one expects at least an attempt at balance, but this was lacking.  I also objected to the display of what they claimed was ‘the most significant Kelly discovery in 50 years’ a piece of metal that Scientific analysis had PROVED was NOT what the Vault was claiming it was.   
The Vault answered some of my criticisms and made encouraging noises about review and renewal of its displays in the future, so in response I wrote a conciliatory Post entitled “The Vault Fires back”. At their request I also removed the word ‘Forgery’ from the title of the Post about the metal find, though it was really just a playful pun on the fact that the metal was claimed to have been found at the site of a bush forge. Additionally, an assurance was given by the man who discovered the metal that in August 2016, he would at last publish the results of the testing he had commissioned himself in 2010 that he said proved that the Vaults claim about his finding was indeed correct. In fact, the Book was never published, a limited release of Information announced as a substitute for the Book didn’t occur, and neither did a special Facebook page on the subject  that was going to go live in September. When I visited the Vault in November 2016, the metal was still on display and the Kelly Republic misinformation was unchanged.
In addition to the “most significant Kelly discovery in 50 years” the Kelly Vault also now has on display  “the Kelly find of the Century”, the arresting ‘forgotten image’ which though unprovable, is possibly of Ned Kelly in 1874, at work in the Bush, aged 19. They began promoting this photo in March but it wasn’t revealed until November, and in between produced a steady stream of postings related to it, to keep up the interest.
Nobody ever dares mention it in the Kelly world, or at the Vault but that charming young man with the winning looks at that very same time when the Photo was taken, was a seriously delinquent youth, a onetime member of the antisocial Greta Mob with a rap sheet as long as your arm. By the time that Photo was taken Ned had been lucky to be acquitted of various charges related to his involvement in numerous armed holdups whilst learning the Bushranger lifestyle from Harry Power, acquitted of charges relating to an assault on a chinaman, had been convicted and served time in prison for assault and indecency, and a second term in prison for receiving a stolen horse. I think if people were told the truth about him, that here in this photo is a violent young convicted criminal, a thief and mass murderer in the making, when they look at it they will feel a chill go down their spine, and maybe get an insight into how his charm, his looks and his personality were able to allow the  transformation of an appalling life of violent crime into the absurd modern legend. Instead the public is fed the utterly unhistoric line that Kelly was a victim, a poor put upon, and persecuted selector , a Police made ‘criminal’, and when they look at his smiling face they cant help but believe it. Well, he soon got sick of the hard slog of splitting timber and turned to a far more lucrative profession : stock theft, and not too long after that sealed his fate by wrecklessly confronting and killing Policemen doing their lawful duty.
The Vault extracted every last ounce of publicity possible for itself in promoting the imminent release of  this image, calling it the “forgotten image”  with radio interviews and newspaper promotions, but when it was finally made available to the Public, it was only possible to see it by paying money and by squinting, one person at a time into an absurd little “viewer’
Actually, to be correct, what the Vault has on display is NOT the Photo but a sort of slide show of a digitally enhanced copy of it, not much more than a very short video. .  Imagine how you might feel if you went to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa but all you got to see was a video image of it  viewed through a tiny hole in a wall!
They haven’t said where the actual Photo is except that it still belongs to unidentified “Kelly family” who by now probably have it secured in a different Vault altogether, a Bank Vault! I am sure the Kelly family will be delighted that by its publicity and by its attempts to have the photo authenticated the Vault has turned a Photo that couldn’t be sold at Auction in 2002  into an object of considerable worth today : $100,000 at Auction perhaps?
Matt Shore effectively admitted in his recent interview that he’s not happy with what the anonymous Kelly owners forced the Vault to do with this Photo. Frankly I think he’s been outmaneuvered by a cynical and manipulative Kelly faction, making use of his passionate interest in the subject to advance their side in the publicly obvious and damaging internecine Kelly war going on for control of the whole story. I think he has been bullied by the anonymous Kelly people, as I have also this year by one who isn’t anonymous. 
The Vault have now removed from their Facebook Page a statement that used to say the Vault was “a Museum not a shrine”. The pretence  at being a museum and not a shrine has been exposed : they haven’t altered any of the  unbalanced Kelly Republic Mythology, they have continued to display an article that science has shown is not what they claim it is, and now, they’re being told what to do by heavies in the Kelly family. On their Facebook Page, the only voice that offered alternative opinions regarding Kelly mythology has been banned : it was mine of course!
The Unforgotten Image saga was one of the few positive and interesting events in the Kelly world in 2016. Another positive was the release of two Kelly books this year. The first was the kelly story told in cartoon form, ‘Ned Kelly The Man Behind the Mask’ by Hugh Dolan, a Jacquie Lambie Network  senate candidate at the last election. I  quite liked it and  reviewed it HERE.  The other Kelly book released this year was ‘Ned Kelly: Knight in Aussie Armour’  by Eugenie Navarre which Peter Newman reviewed HEREand after I had a chance to read it added my own thoughts HERE. This book was a joke : it contained the predictable memories of old people in Kelly country who were handing down family oral history about their hero Ned Kelly, it made all manner of ridiculous claims about the Kelly Outbreak and recycled the stupid nonsense about Dan Kelly surviving the inferno at the Ann Jones Inn. I wrote about and completely debunked that possibility in the post I called “Well yes, actually you WERE burnt to a cinder” This title was a reference to a book called “Burnt to a cinder was I?” – which claimed Dan Kelly survived the inferno, a feat which is simply physically impossible as I showed in that Post in January 2016.
The other bit of good news that cheered up the Kelly sympathisers somewhat was the decision to spend a million dollars restoring a house that Neds father built at Beveridge in 1860. To placate people who might resist the idea of a million dollars of Public money being spent preserving the home of a mass killer, they are pretending the house is being saved because it has some unique architectural values relating to the way early Irish settlers built their homes.
Just about everything else that happened in the Kelly world in 2016 was bad news, as people seem to be losing interest in Kelly mythology. The big one was the abandonment of the annual Beechworth Ned Kelly Weekend. It seems a small group of enthusiasts had been organizing it year after year and were getting worn out, but there wasn’t anyone else willing to take it on. There were also disputes within the organization between the old hands who resented newcomers throwing their weight around, and this was the final straw.  They said they needed a break and would be back in 2017, but the signs are not encouraging – nothing has happened on their Facebook page for months. Its got to be a bad sign for Kelly believers if there weren’t enough of them in Beechworth, the beating heart of Kelly Country of all places, to keep a tradition going. 
The Ned Kelly Forum and its Facebook page have also disappeared, thanks again to infighting between members. This Forum had its best days back in 2012 when it first began, and many of the people whose names I see on Kelly related Facebook pages in 2016 signed up and were active contributors to all kinds of discussions back then, some of them worth reading. Sadly the Kelly troll Fitzsimons bullied so many of the contributors there that important members left, and hardly anyone else could be bothered posting. Finally it seems the ego of one of the two “Key Masters”, the wannabe movie star, got the better of him and because he couldn’t get his way he blew the whole thing up. This kind of puerile behavior must infuriate the many people who made thoughtful contributions to that Forum posting Photos and ideas in the belief they might be there for a long time to be used as a resource by other interested people . Instead they were destroyed by a disrespectful Kelly moron. That was a place peopled by some particularly virulent anti-Dee characters, so I am delighted to see their voices have been silenced but mine continues stronger than ever! 
Iron Outlaw, once the sort of online Mecca for Kelly enthusiasts has remained moribund all year, even its Facebook page barely changes from one month to the next, and they cant even be bothered attacking me any more. The only reason IO still exists is probably because its all run by one person so internal disputes are impossible. However, he has clearly run out of ideas and lost interest.
Ned Kelly Centre Facebook page, set up by Kelly family descendant Joanne Griffiths also is running out of ideas and the promised Web site hasn’t appeared. Her Crowd Funding attempt to raise $8million failed completely, an indicator of how little support there is for Kelly projects these days. Almost nothing happened on that Facebook Page this year.

Ned Kelly Central Facebook Page, set up in opposition to Joanne  Griffiths by an Anonymous person seems to be the private domain of  another Kelly descendant, Leigh Olver,  who is its most prolific contributor by a long way. Every so often he or one of his factions spokespersons announces they dont support Joanne or her endeavours, exposing the Kelly wars to all and sundry and weakening the prospect that anyone would want to support either side of these bickering Kelly descendants. NKCentral Facebook page began with high hopes of being a place where all points of view could be shared and discussed, at one point even encouraging me to post there, but they have ended the year firmly in the Kelly sympathizer camp, after choosing to ban me for trying to defend myself against bullies and liars who attacked everything I tried to post. My posts were of course challenges to Kelly myths and nonsense, but also to anti-Police hate, misogyny and sexist comments posted there, but in the end I was banned, my posts all deleted and the bullies, misogynists and Police haters remain, along with the Kelly sympathisers and their delusional uncorrectable beliefs about the Kelly story.  I wrote about it  here and here. In 2017 it will decline into irrelevance, getting a few Likes to news articles it reposts and nothing much else.

In retrospect then, the cause of the Kelly sympathiser went downhill in 2016 : the Ned Kelly Weekend disappeared, the Ned Kelly Forum disappeared, the two Kelly books published were a cartoon book and a joke, the Ned Kelly Centre stalled, and the Facebook Pages of the Vault and Ned Kelly Central have been dominated by interest in a photo of Ned Kelly. They have both also demonstrated a surprising readiness to censor and repress alternative viewpoints, preferring to ban a voice for balance, logic and historical truth and keep the company of police haters and misogynists, all of whom are free to continue to Post there as they wish.

In the next Post, in a few days time I will review the continuing remarkable rise of the Death of the Legend Blog in 2016, a place where there is amazing diversity, avid interest in the Kelly story and nobody is banned or censored.
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5 Replies to “2016 : The Kelly Year in Review. Part 1”

  1. Peter Feck says: Reply

    That just about says it all Dee. The Kelly freaks have done themselves in. Bye Bye Loons!

  2. Sadly Dee you are right. The demise of interest in the Kelly story is real, and mainly caused by infighting, vindictive posts, and spiteful, narrow minded individuals. No one is game to post anything anywhere because of fear of ridicule. No one wants to write books anymore for the same reason. No one wants to be part of any factionalism, or take a stance for or against the Kelly legend for fear of being attacked. No one wants to publish research, no one wants to deal with fictional people who hide their identities, no one wants to be part of any group associated with the Kelly story as there is always someone wanting to tear them down. There are some real nice people in Kelly circles, but they are all slowly withdrawing from the social media side of it.I think that in a generation from now it will be Ned who? Not because people aren't interested, but because a few people have destroyed what were a number of very good friendships between people with interest in all aspects of the Kelly story, both for and against. It's sad when it gets to this point. Merry Christmas.

  3. This is sad Darren but unfortunately you have a point. I ain't going anywhere but I can be pigheaded and arrogant so maybe that makes for a bit more staying power, Dunno… But yes, I have had my pain too. I will always do what I can to maintain discussion on this great, textured story. And what you guys have all achieved with the precinct and the vault this year is incredible. Really excellent. Merry Christmas to you, Laura, Patrick, Mick and all in Beechworth and Kelly Country. Cheers. Mark. Adelaide.

  4. Peter Newman says: Reply

    My interest in the Kelly story is only increasing over time. Easy on-line access to public records and newspaper archives and dedicated research by Dee and the likes of Stuart Dawson, Ian McFarlane, Doug Morrissey and Bill Denheld is bringing new information to light and slowly revealing the truth about Ned Kelly. As this truth comes to light it is for me adding a new dimension to the story, namely how the “Birth of the Legend” came about in the first place some 50 years after Kelly’s death. I find the making (and now the unmaking) of the legend as fascinating as Ned himself. Someone needs to write a book about this (c’mon Dee).

    As far as this forum itself is concerned, I believe it has facilitated discussion and seen some interesting contributions covering a wide range of topics relating to the Kelly story and myth. Well considered argument and debate has been promoted and the site has been relatively free of the vindictive posts and ridicule that characterise the other Kelly sites and Facebook pages I am familiar with (but would never contribute to for that very reason). To my mind, the vindictiveness and infighting and tearing down and trolling seems to be a characteristic of the pro-Kelly side.

  5. Peter, this blog is very different to Facebook, it is obviously filtered first by Dee and attracts some dedicated almost obsessive bloggers that's for sure. There is a delay when you send your comments while I assume Dee checks whether it fits into the theme of the post.

    I'm not sure why everyone on here though seems to be comparing Ned Kelly sites as if it's some sort of bravado competition or one-up-manship session. This blog offers a different experience and so do facebook sites it's like comparing an apple with an apple pie and then showing us the benefits of apple juice.
    I particularly like Facebook because it's a wider immediate audience of contacts and potential discussion, but I like this blog also as it is specialised and has some people that must enjoy self publishing, which I am also beginning to get into.

    I think your right, it is easier to access records more and more, but sadly not individuals like close Kelly descendants or witnesses of the time. As we often realise the records guide us – but real people embellish and bring the story alive.

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