The Fitzpatrick Conspiracy : Part Two

Last week I described Alan Crichton’s Fitzpatrick Conspiracy theory, and pointed out what it would mean for the traditional Kelly mythology if it was accepted. Crichton’s theory is that the Fitzpatrick incident was a plot devised by Brooke-smith and Whelan with the aim of  getting at Mrs Kelly. According to Crichton, Ellen Kelly was the ‘heart and soul of the Clan’ and getting rid of her would have been a major strike at the troublesome selector family.



To make this happen Brook-smith and Whelan needed an incompetent and morally bankrupt policeman who could be manipulated into doing their will, and according to Crichton, Fitzpatrick fitted the bill! I noted last week that Crichton had written “I don’t like the guy” and guessed that was an understatement – well he’s more than confirmed it this week with this post to a Facebook page “This bloke was an arsehole the moment he popped out of the womb”.

The idea that Fitzpatrick was ‘an arsehole’ from birth is actually the fatal weakness in Crichton’s conspiracy theory. Ask Kelly sympathisers and Crichton to detail what facts they know to substantiate this claim and the only things they can offer are slander about his personal life – I will come back to that – and things that happened AFTER the ‘incident’. There is simply not one shred of evidence anywhere, including on his police record, that in his year in the police force BEFORE the ‘incident’, that Fitzpatrick was anything like the rotten character Crichton needs him to be to fit into his conspiracy theory, or for that matter the rotten character the Kelly sympathisers needed him to be to sustain their character assassination of him. Not one shred of evidence. The only evidence we have of Fitzpatrick’s character leading up to the ‘incident’ suggests he was an entirely satisfactory policeman. Here’s what Standish had to say about him to the Royal Commission:



Q182. “Were you aware before this man Fitzpatrick was sent there that he was a man of bad character ?”

Answer : “I was not ; he was strongly recommended to me by Mr. C. A. Smyth”



Smyth was a Crown prosecutor, and, according to his Obituary  ‘was for many years the leading man”.  Whelan had nothing to say to the Commission that was adverse about Fitzpatrick in respect of the nine months he worked at Benalla, and Constable Thomas McIntyre described him as “a decent young fellow”. An entry in Fitzpatrick’s Service Record, dated 22nd June 1878 says “An efficient constable”.



Against these facts, and no doubt greatly contributing to modern day hatred of Fitzpatrick like that exhibited by Crichton, we have Ian Jones baseless allegations in ‘A short Life’ that Fitzpatrick’s ‘first year in the force had been a chapter of unreliability, bad company, narrow scrapes and a fondness for liquor”. This is outrageous because there is simply not one fact to support this ‘verballing’ of Fitzpatrick – and several facts, already quoted, that directly contradict it.



Peter Fitzsimons, like Jones and just about every other Kelly author joined in this baseless character assassination writing of Fitzpatrick before the ‘incident’ that “He is neither dutiful nor diligent, neither honest nor humble, not courageous nor courteous. His key passions are pursuing the fairer sex and drinking, though usually in the reverse order…..Since joining the police force in April of the previous year his police record  has been a litany of louche laxity, ill-disciplined drinking, slovenliness and being placed on official reports” Again, this is an outrageous verballing of the man – there are ZERO facts – no evidence AT ALL to support this description of Fitzpatrick in the lead up to the ‘incident’.



Later of course, as every Kelly sympathiser knows off by heart, like a line in a Kelly Catechism, Fitzpatrick was described as a ‘liar and a larrikin’, and he was eventually dismissd from the force in disgrace. I will discuss all that in Part Three, but for now I am interested in what we actually know about Fitzpatrick’s character and service BEFORE the ‘incident’. Already we have established that before the incident his service record and reputation as a policeman were unremarkable.



What I now want to focus on are the facts about his private life which have been used to create the popular belief that Fitzpatrick was a sleazy womaniser, a morally bankrupt sexual predator. Crichton called him ‘a philandering drunkard’. The facts said to support these claims are that he was engaged to someone who was already pregnant, and he had previously fathered a child in an earlier relationship with a woman called Jessie McKay, from Meredith. There is also the claim that he was pursuing Kate Kelly.



The circumstances of the prior relationship that produced a child are not well known, but Fitzpatrick paid maintenance for the child, something even today many young men do their best to avoid doing if at all possible – so his example in that regard was a good one. We also know that Fitzpatrick married his pregnant fiancé and the marriage was apparently long lasting and successful, something which I think at the very least again speaks to something positive in his character.



As far as the interaction with Kate is concerned, Mrs Kelly only ever said that Fitzpatrick had tried to kiss her. Kate herself initially denied that Fitzpatrick was ever there, then later changed her story but curiously didn’t offer it in support of her mother’s defence at her trial. Why not, if it was true? Surely it would have helped her mother.  Some months later Kate was reported to have said that she was at home alone when Fitzpatrick arrived, and that he immediately began to behave ‘improperly’ toward her but then Ned Kelly burst in and drew his gun. That scenario if true would make a liar of Ned Kelly who said he wasn’t there, and a liar of all the other supposed witnesses who said it was Fitzpatrick who drew the gun and that Kate wasn’t home alone. Ned himself contradicted his sisters claim saying that “If he (Fitzpatrick) or any other policeman tried to take liberties with my sister, Victoria would not hold him”.



There are therefore many good reasons to have serious doubts about the truth of the claim that Kate was molested by Fitzpatrick, but if Mrs Kelly is to be believed it was no more than an attempt to kiss her. If Ned is to be believed nothing happened, and as for Kate, which of her three stories should be believed? These deep uncertainties demand caution in the formulation of narratives around this issue but they are ignored by the Kelly sympathisers in their determination to vilify Fitzpatrick, and they routinely claim he attempted to rape – or actually raped – Kate Kelly. This is an outrageous slur that should be challenged every time someone utters it but pro-Kelly Facebook Page moderators never do. Their interest is not in the true story but in perpetuation of whatever myths and lies support their hero-worship of Ned Kelly, and repetition of any anti-police lies and hate that anyone cares to voice. But lets be honest here : paying child support and having a pregnant fiancé – which is what we actually know about Fitzpatrick –  is hardly the stuff of moral depravity.



There’s one other thing about the Kelly supporters routine, holier-than-thou vilification of Fitzpatrick that requires comment : it is deeply hypocritical, and I am sick and tired of it. The apparent sense of moral superiority that motivates their ridicule and scorn of Fitzpatrick because he was paying child support and engaged to a woman already pregnant is accompanied by a very deep denial of the manifest moral failures of innumerable members of their own clan – the arsonist Jim Kelly, the sexual predator James Quinn, the serial fornicator Ellen who conceived to three different men out of wedlock, the unfaithfulness of Annie Kelly who bore a daughter to a policeman while her own husband was in prison, the prenuptial impregnation of Ellen Barry aged 15 by Aaron Sherritt, the drunkenness, the lying and stealing, the bashings and domestic violence suffered by Margaret Quinn, the horrific animal cruelty of John Lloyd ….the list is almost endless and the Kelly-lovers hate it ever being mentioned.  They don’t want anything to disturb their deep denial of Kelly clan depravity – but really, their extreme judgemental attitude to Fitzpatricks minor failings is just sickening hypocrisy. Its time for them to face reality : Fitzpatrick wasn’t  an arsehole from birth, he wasn’t the villain : the Kellys were.


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33 Replies to “The Fitzpatrick Conspiracy : Part Two”

  1. I am slinking off now to flog myself for getting it arse about. I may even remonstrate with myself for getting the facts incorrect. (Wink..)

  2. Oops. I made an error. It was Jess McKay from Meredith. Not Meredith Mackay. See? relying on memory is fraught with danger….

  3. Are you referring to getting the name wrong or getting it all wrong about Fitzpatricks character? That, I think is what ALL Kelly believers and writers should be flogging themselves for, for swallowing the Kelly family lies about Fitzpatrick, fake news they spun in order to try and get Ned off the hook.

  4. Dee, you say that Mr. Smyth had highly recommended Fitzpatrick to Standish. We have to ask ourselves, just how well did Smyth know him? Had he only met him once or twice briefly and found him to be a pleasant, well-formed man? Did he know him or his family intimately? It seems to me that the ones who had to be around FitzP a great deal of the time (like Mayes, etc) got the real essential essence of the man versus others who didn't get the slightest whiff of his real character (or lack of) in short encounters. Maybe it is that those like Mayes and others who were highly moral and disciplinarians and were totally by-the-book, found FitzP to be against their belief structure? And those who were more relaxed in their attitudes found him to be ok?
    Many keep forgetting (and I think we have discussed it here before) that he got into all kinds of trouble up in Sydney while on assignment, and a woman was yet again involved in part of it. Speaking of women, I do hope that Anna was happy in her marriage to him. Some women do like a bad boy. Others are stuck in bad marriages with little or no way out, especially in those days. Divorce laws were very different then and it was looked down on. Financial concerns kept many women along with their children tied to a less than optimal man and religious convictions kept the marriage intact in some cases. Even today some women are in bad situations with no easy way out.
    We can surmise all day long, but things are seldom as they seem on the surface at times.

    Mark, no worries about the slight flub. We all make mistakes but as long as we realize we have and brush ourselves off all will be well, rather than going on our merry way believing something wrong.

  5. Thanks Sharon, I will try to address those issues about what Fitzpatrick got up to in Sydney and later in life in my next post. This post was about what we know of him BEFORE the outbreak – Crichton claims he was an arsehole from birth – theres no evidence for that.

    However I am not going to argue, and never have that Fitzpatrick was the Model Policeman and that he never put a foot wrong but in relation to what was actually known about him BEFORE the outbreak, we cannot say anything other than what the evidence supports, and that is as I wrote in the post, that he appeared to be an entirely satisfactory policeman. I don't think we should be second guessing the basis of what Smyth based his recommendation on so that we can continue to hold on to a belief about Fitzpatrick that is not supported by any actual evidence.

    As for the opinion of people who spent a lot of time with him, didn't he spend a lot of time with Whelan at Benalla? As far as I know Whelan didnt express any particularly negative opinions of him.

    My other concern about Kelly treatment of Fitzpatrick is the APALLING double standard, not on the basis of facts but on speculation and allegations of a mob of proven liars, of actual sexual predators, of violent thieves and murderers, and yet the worst Mrs Kelly could allege later in life about him is that he tried to kiss Kate Kelly. In Kelly supporters eyes, Fitzpatrick is scum of the earth for his alleged rather minor failings, but not only do they overlook the many proven crimes of violence and moral failings of Kelly clan members, they go on to sing their praises as heroes and role models.

    The double standard, the sheer hypocrisy of kelly sympathy when it coms to Fitzpatrick is staggering.

  6. Anonymous says: Reply

    Alexander Fitzpatrick
    Victoria Police

    Fitzpatrick was a lazy, weak willed man, who, against orders, he had gone to the Kelly homestead alone to arrest Dan Kelly

    Alexander Fitzpatrick, a young police constable with a history of womanising. On 15 April 1878 Fitzpatrick, whilst drunk, paid a visit to the Kelly household, claiming he had a warrant for the arrest of Dan Kelly for horse stealing. He made some kind of pass at Kate, resulting in her family coming to her assistance. Exactly what this assistance constituted is unknown, and a point of debate amongst historians.

    Fitzpatrick returned to Benalla Police Station claiming that Ellen Kelly had struck him with a fire shovel, Dan Kelly had beaten him, and Ned Kelly had attempted to shoot him. William Williamson and William Skillion, neighbours of the Kellys, were also accused of violence. Ellen Kelly received a long sentence for her alleged crime, based purely on Fitzpatrick's claims. Ned and Dan Kelly fled into the Wombat Ranges to avoid gaol. On the 25 October 1878, at Stringybark Creek, they encountered four police officers who had been sent to arrest them. Three of the officers were killed. Ned, Dan, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart now turned to bank robbery.

    With their mother in prison and their brothers on the run, Kate Kelly and her sister Margaret looked after the younger children. Kate also acted as a decoy on horseback, leading the police astray when they tried to locate her brothers. She supplied the Kelly Gang with food, ammunition, and information.

    Fitzpatrick was the only witness for the prosecution and despite numerous witnesses countering his claims all three were found guilty and sentenced to hard labour. After Stringybark Creek, Fitzpatrick was transferred to Lancefield. He was there only nine months before his superior, Senior Constable Mayes, accused him of "not being fit to be in the police force; that he associated with the lowest persons in Lancefield; that he could not be trusted out of sight; and that he never did his duty".

    Needless to say these charges lead to Fitzpatrick's dismissal from the police force but by this stage it was too late for Ned Kelly and his clan. The 1881 Police Royal Commission heard evidence from Fitzpatrick that during his three years in the police force he had pleaded guilty to numerous other charges of neglect of duty and misconduct. After the Royal Commission William Williamson was pardoned, suggesting the court was wrong on one important fact. Evidence does show Ned was present at the homestead on that fateful day but as the doctor who tended Fitzpatricks wounds stated in court “of the two wounds present one definitely could not have been made by a bullet and both were only skin wounds yet the constable had the smell of brandy on him”. The question still remains today, did the Kelly outbreak arise due to one constable's battle with the bottle and his countless lies and half truths?

    7 April 2014

  7. The first sentence is wrong. Completely wrong. So is the second. And the third. All wrong – completely wrong – baseless repetitions of slander, posted four years ago to a police hate Facebook page. Whoever posted this rubbish is way behind the debate, which has moved on from all those nonsensical statements, the last of which is the stupidest of all:

    " The question still remains today, did the Kelly outbreak arise due to one constable's battle with the bottle and his countless lies and half truths?"

    The answer is an emphatic NO – the outbreak arose out of the criminal behaviour of the Kelly clan, specifically their horse stealing. If they hadn't been thieves, no warrants would have been issued and nobody would have needed to go to the Kelly hut to arrest Dan. And there is ZERO evidence that Fitzpatrick was having a 'battle with the bottle' or had been telling 'countless lis and half truths' I the ;lead up to the outbreak.

    But Anonymous, if you have evidence that I am wrong, please put it up. I am guessing you wont, which is the usual performance from Kelly fanatics – lots of big loudmouthed abuse and never anything to back it up.

  8. Anonymous says: Reply

    Disgrace of Constable Fitzpatrick,

    Melbourne, May 20.

    Constable Fitzpatrick, the original cause of the Kelly gang's outrages has been dismissed from the police force as a disgrace to it|||dateTo=1924-12-31#

  9. 'Constable Fitzpatrick the original cause of the Kelly Gangs outrages…' You believe that do you? I just hope nobody tells all the crims out there that if they violently resist arrest everyone will blame the police – next thing they'll all be doing it.

    I'll have all the answers to these stupid Kelly apologist claims next week.

  10. This blog needs a sense of humour…

  11. I'll tell you whats a real joke : the plan to spend millions of dollars on keeping alive the lies about one of Australias greatest police murderers, the criminal psychopath Ned Kelly. Did you see the paltry sum allocated to Mansfield and the memory of the three good policemen he killed?

  12. Who said the way it's presented wouldnt evolve??? It's keeping alive a piece of interesting history anyway. This is no time for bitterness but rather optimism..

  13. It will be very interesting to see if anything is changed at the Vault if/when it relocates to the Prison.

    Will Matt Shore take into account the new research that has brought the age of the Kelly Republic to an end, and get rid of the innumerable references to the Republic of NE Victoria ? Will the Beechworth Kelly Tour Guides stop referring to it as well? Will the wider context of Kelly criminality replace the fake news about Kelly clan persecution?

    I will get around to writing about the Kelly Alive project one of these days!

  14. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    It is interesting to see that there has been complete silence from the Kelly tourism promoters in response to my Kelly republic myth book, who have taken no action to date to update their misinformation about claims that Ned Kelly wanted to start a republic, or even to acknowledge that a free academic book disputing the claim has been released.

    As the book demonstrates, the claim stems from a joke spoof hoax article in the Bulletin Magazine in 1900, and rose to prominence in the 1940s in a popular "believe it or not" book tale directly traceable to that article, and took wing from there. I have provided extensive evidence to demonstrate that there is no historical documentation anywhere to support the republic claim. Heritage Victoria and other government agencies have likewise shown no interest to date in updating their web narratives, or to acknowledge that a solid case against the Kelly republic theory has been launched. Perhaps it is like a bad dream for them, that a Christmas grinch has landed and spoiled their Kelly party. Maybe they are semi-literate and can't read anything longer or more complicated than the Jerilderie letter. Such is life. To download the book from Trove, click this link and make up your own mind if you haven't already seen it. Then get on with the Kelly story but leave the republic myth out of it.

  15. Ashleigh Broad says: Reply

    I know someone who managed to get rid of a whole Victorian government department by writing to all parliamentarians about its deficiencies.

    I suggest that Stuart Dawson sends his masterful book about the fake Kelly Republic to the same audience.

    Far too much public money if being wasted on so-called consultants who provide stakeholders with what they want to hear.

    Ned is dead. Everyone here knows that. The big spending pollies and their departments don't.

    No genuine Kelly experts were involved in the Ned Kelly Alive muck-up.

  16. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    While I'm at it, my free little PDF book, "Ned Kelly and the myth of a republic of North-Eastern Victoria" continues to be downloadable from Bill's terrific Iron Icon website at where there is much other interesting material about the Kelly outbreak. Anyone who is interested in the Kelly story but doesn't know this site yet should go and have a look around there as well as grabbing my Ned Kelly republic myth book, which is free to redistribute.

  17. Horrie and Alf says: Reply

    Stuart, the NE tourism folk want the dosh not the headaches of having to respond to your complete demolition of theie non-existent Kelly Republic.

  18. Anonymous says: Reply

    Ashleigh it appears that the Ned Kelly Alive group mentioned were independent of all the so called Kelly experts, and that’s because bias would have been rampant otherwise.
    Looks like the group are experts in managing tourism, and they have determined that Ned Kelly is alive and kicking ‘butt’ with tourism interest throughout Australia and the world.

  19. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Horrie and Alf, I was amused to see in the media release for the Ned Kelly Alive report, the following point: "A new concept for a striking, architecturally designed tower in the centre of Glenrowan equipped with state-of-the-art virtual and augmented reality technologies. The tower would provide a much-needed focal point for viewing the town’s famous historic locations including the site of Ned and the Gang’s ‘last stand’ with police."

    Note that Ned Kelly has become simply Ned in this part of the media release, in that habitual first-person "one of my mates" language that infests Kelly enthusiast writings. Ned Kelly was known in his day as "Kelly" to authorities, "Edward Kelly" on official paperwork, and "Ned" to his family. Occasionally police called him "Ned", such as Sadleir speaking with him after his capture.

    Second, Kelly's "last stand" has been elevated to "Ned and the Gang’s ‘last stand’", which is ridiculous. Ned Kelly alone preformed Ned Kelly's last stand. Byrne was dead and the other two remained in the Inn in their steel suits taking occasional pot-shots at the time of Ned Kelly's capture. Ned Kelly himself called them cowards for not coming out at the time.

    Tourism North East and their consultants have failed to state anywhere in the report what the basis of their historical reconstruction narrative will be. In what is supposed to be a venture into historical cultural tourism, not one singe historian is mentioned. Not one word has been said about what perspectives will be used, or where they will be obtained, to progress this multi-million dollar tourist grab plan.

    I haven't had time to look at the report in any detail, but it seems most peculiar that the plan seems to turn Mansfield into a launching pad for Stringybark Creek expeditions, in which the only police to get any kind of favourable mention will be the three dead ones. Given that silence, I expect we will be treated to more mindless rubbish about how the rest of the outbreak was all the police's fault.

    The level of historical research that informs the vast bulk of the material written about the Kelly outbreak and the perspectives within it dates back conceptually to the 1920s. It is amateurish in the extreme, and has moved little from that which informed Nolan, who was busy painting Neds after he abandoned his wife and child to go shagging a friend's wife, Sunday Reed, while AWOL, leaving his mates to do the fighting in WW2 – the direct opposite of Kelly, if the Last Stand myth is to be believed.

    And these people seriously want to spend million of taxpayer dollars on a project that their own report says (on p. 102), can't guarantee any increase in tourism at all? It specifically says, "As noted previously, there is a high level of support among residents and businesses for the Ned Kelly Alive concept. This may not, however, translate into use by residents or visitors". Of course local businesses want to back anything that potentially increases tourist spending. That doesn't necessarily mean it is sensible to try to resuscitate Ned Kelly as a drawcard! If that's all NE Vic has to offer tourists it's in a pretty bad way. There is a vast number of things to do in NE Vic that don't involve thinking about Ned Kelly even once. Wake up, Tourism Noth-East.

  20. I wouldn't be counting my chickens just yet Anonymous. This egg has only just ben laid and it recommends Wangaratta Council spend ENORMOUS amounts of money which it doesn't have, on the basis of some heroic assumptions about how much additional tourist interest will be generated by Ned Kelly at the very time when Kelly himself is being exposed, not as a revolutionary hero but as the leading criminal that emerged out of a clan of criminals . The Kelly story glamour is being stripped away as we speak, with the Glenrowan movie NOT being about a republic, the Stringybark Creek movie NOT being about a hero but a sickening murderer, and two books about to be released that further expose the false narratives that have been masquerading as history for long enough. The new emphasis at Stringybark Creek on police and away from murderers is a positive step in the right direction. Let the true story be told by all means, but the heroic battler is 'history'

    There will of course always be interest in the Kelly story, as there always is interest in true crime, in violence, murder and drama, but expecting tourist interest in a violent lying police killer to somehow match interest in the feel-good story of the Hobbit in New Zealand is a big ask.

  21. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Anonymous, the Ned Kelly Alive project managers will have been briefed to report on how Ned Kelly can be capitalised upon to enhance tourism, not on whether that is a good idea or not. The impression I get is that they have met that brief by presenting a number of promotional strategies, all of which jump the gun by assuming there is a market for a particular type of Ned Kelly storey telling – one which presents him as an iconic and significant Australian figure. Anyone not from the small but noisy circle of Kelly adorers might question that.

    Ned Kelly is "iconic" in very limited ways, most notably through Nolan's work and wanna-be-a-rebel T-shirt sales. Outside of that

    Glenrowan has done its best to exploit Kelly memories, but it looks more derelict every year. Kelly businesses are up for sale. nothing has happened at Ann Jones' Inn site due to internal local antagonisms. The fact is that most of those impacted by the Kelly outbreak hated the Kelly gang and were forced into silence. That continues to this day, as I was told by one of the workers at one of the Glenrowan shops.

    The Weekly Times of 9 November 2017 reported that Bob Hempel, who runs Ned Kelly’s Last Stand theme park at the Glenrowan Tourist Centre, said he doubted the film [of Peter Carey’s True Story of the Kelly Gang] would boost the town’s fortunes. “We used to get 70,000 people through our doors a year, now it’s down to 20,000. Good luck to them, but I think some people are a bit sick of Ned.”

    The proposed Glenrowan viewing tower assumes that something heroic happened at Glenrowan, specifically, that it was the heroic last stand of a wrongly persecuted bushranger. Tied in with that are unhistorical republican fantasies, now exposed in plain English such that even a Year 9 student can understand that it's nonsense. But Glenrowan was about 4 criminals in bulletproof armour attempting to derail a train and planning to stand on top of a culvert and massacre anyone who survived the crash, including the train crew and any civilians, as Ned Kelly himself stated after capture. They don't tell you that on the visitor information boards. People back then celebrated when the gang was exterminated. The papers of the day express their overwhelming relief. After that plan failed, Kelly got away into the bush, collapsed, then came back at dawn to try and rally his gang for a last attempt at slaughter. That failed when they didn't come out of the Inn. The whole thing was a criminal debacle that has been turned into an unhistorical fantasy.

    Starting with Keith Holden's paper in the "Man and Myth" book, then over 40 years later with Ian Macfarlane's "Kelly Gang Unmasked" book – a long drought between critical analyses – the gloss has increasingly rapidly fallen off the Kelly mythology. Doug Morrissey's "Selectors, Squatters and Stock Thieves" will further demolish the unhistorical "class war" selector vs squatter myth still purveyed by numerous persons; the Kelly republic theory always was totally crazy and undocumented, and is now systematically demolished… So what's to celebrate about Glenrowan exactly?

  22. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Further to my comment of 6 August immediately above, the link to Bill's Iron Icon website did not work due to an HTML problem. Please use this this one which is working properly –

  23. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi again Anonymous, further clarification of the above is in the Wangaratta Chronicle, that the Glenrowan tower is one of several concepts in the Ned Kelly Alive report "probing into 'the tourism potential of the life and times of Ned Kelly'. The report … was funded by Regional Development Victoria and jointly commissioned by the rural city [of Wangaratta], Indigo Shire, Mansfield Shire, and the Benalla Rural City",

    So it is not the case that the NKA group was independent to avoid bias, as the report recognises on p. 6 that "previous attempts to use the Kelly story as a tourism experience have created division between the families and between consumer groups". It therefore become a contentious statement or opinion that the report "determined that Ned Kelly is alive and kicking ‘butt’ with tourism interest throughout Australia and the world". In fact, the report has not said that at all; rather it says p. 6 that Kelly tourism "is losing relevance with the next generation of travellers". The proposed actions are intended to change that by "reimagining" Kelly as a tourist drawcard. As they themselves say on p. 102, it is anyone's guess if it will work.

    What is certain is that the report envisages the spending of a minimum of $21M of public money on construction costs – $6M on its medium investment scenario and another $15M on a Ned Kelly Interpretive Centre at Glenrowan tucked away as a separate funding proposal on p. 62, with further ongoing running costs – the Ned Kelly Interpretive Centre alone requiring $3M of public money per year to keep it running visitors or no.

    There's a lot of cheek here in such massive government spending proposals, given the disclaimer about any of them any drawing tourists at all. Must be an election year.

  24. That sheila you refer from kates cottage is full of it Dawson. You believe anything your told. Wake up Dawson, Bob SILLY Hempel is a myth maker, liar, and bends the truth to suit himself. One minute he'll tell you the siege never happened and then he'll tell someone else something different again. Strike Hempal from the record. Trade has declined I grant you that. Grow up the two of you and accept the kelly gang are coming back and so will the trade.
    This is all I have say to say

  25. I'm holding my breath, Anonymous! Don't make me suffocate!

  26. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Anonymous, not Kate's Cottage. And Hempel is quoted from the newspaper about visitor numbers, not about his views about the siege. I would like to see Glenrowan prosper, including from about the Kelly story – you have got me all wrong there. I'm also happy to see the Kelly story continue but without the false historical myths. You haven't got a clue about my perspective or you wouldn't be saying that. I see you don't put your name to your comments, and I won't respond to any more unless you do. "Wake up Dawson" from some Anonymous is why discussion on these sort of blogs is often so limited. You haven't made any points about the issues raised at all. By the way I enjoyed the Hempel Animatron show despite a couple of tacky elements – good humoured fun and creatively done.

    The issue is why are the Kelly attractions in decline. I'm asking whether they have reached the end of their commercially viable run or not, and what happens to them in this brand new vision, because there seems to be nothing in it to help those who have been entrepreneurially backing the Kelly story for years. They have put in the time, effort and spadework to promote the story for decades now. Is that going to be forgotten too?

  27. The problem of getting visitors up the Hume from Melbourne also stems from the average family doing it tough these days. Glenrowan is 2.5 hours+ from Melbourne. That's a petrol cost. Many families just cannot afford to spend this fuel money on weekends as an extra. Let alone paying for food, attractions when they are there.

    I really want to see Glenrowan prosper again. But it needs a good reno of the main street as well as new, decent signs on the freeway to draw people off the hume. Personally, I am really looking forward to this new tower being a major drawcard and will benefit the rest of the town too I would suggest, thus assisting the old guard of the Gerretts, Bob Hempel, Gary Dean..

  28. I'm all for small towns thriving and people getting a return on their investments. Glenrowan is about as run down and neglected as it could be, and obviously needs some cash. Even the famous Glenrowan Inn sign which fell down in January still hasn't been replaced!

    And I am all for information about historical events being recognised and displayed in as interesting a way as anyone can devise, but it has to be HONEST and it has to be ACCURATE. There seems to be an idea about that what should be done is for there to be the Kelly version and the Police version, that the two 'sides' should have equal time and that therefore this provides a kind of balance and is fair to everyone.

    But this would allow Kelly apologists to slander Police, to promote lies about Kelly history and to continue the deceptive little trick of pretending its too complex for anyone to know if Ned Kelly was a villain or a hero, so "You decide!" Do Nazis get equal time in our War Museums? Do the terrorists get equal time at the 9/11 Memorial? Do the Japanese get equal time at the Pearl Harbour Memorial or the Turks at Anzac Day? The idea that when it comes to criminality, the villains get equal time is rubbish.

    If Wangaratta council ends up spending millions on the Kelly story they had better make sure they tell the true story, and not waste it telling a story which eventually everyone will be ashamed and embarrassed to realise is based on the lies of a criminal family and its psychopath figurehead. The Northeast could end up looking real dumb.

  29. Stuart Dawson says: Reply

    Hi Sharon, thanks for your note on this blog last week about your article "Superintendent Sadleir Trolls the Telegraph Workers", on your Eleven Mile Creek blog. The link
    is here,

    It is great to have more detailed information about what went on during the siege. Everyone carries on about the massive news coverage that happened "live" by telegraph at the event, but not many seem very interested in how that remarkable coverage happened! It's a really remarkable story, with nearly 100,000 words being sent using Morse code characters transmitted by telegraph key, an astonishing effort for which Australian historians are forever indebted. Great researching and fascinating stuff, especially him transmitting away with Joe Byrne's body almost at his feet. Not a word anywhere about a sympathiser army of course, nor even the slightest suggestion of any republican sentiment from anyone whatsoever. If anyone wants to know why not, google my free book, "Ned Kelly and the myth of a republic of North-Eastern Victoria".

  30. Thanks, Stuart. It seemed to have gotten lost in the shuffle due to all of this other breaking news in the Kelly world, but no worries, because when Brian Stevenson and I write articles it is usually with the long end game in mind. They may not generate much of a splash initially, but, hopefully, someone in the future will use our writings for research for their own articles and books and they can be sure we did our "homework." I hope a future book or article gives this telegraph information, because no one has up to now. I also like to be in the know just for myself, so I can better understand the Kelly story. Once you dig deeper your understanding deepens, too.

    Also, just think, if there was only the railway or a man on horseback to carry the news to the nearest telegraph station (as it was early on in the siege) it would have taken precious time for a reply to get back to the officer in charge concerning police matters. And think of the public excitement as the news came in they thronged around the newspaper offices to buy copies of the latest edition. It is all rather exciting.

    I have some thoughts on the Kelly Tower for Glenrowan, but will hold off until Dee does the write up on it.

  31. Horrie and Alf says: Reply

    The Glenrowan forthcoming movie suggests: 'Go behind the scenes with Director Matthew Holmes and Production Designer Das Patterson on the location for their full-scale 'Glenrowan' set'. The full Glenrowan recreation for the Heath Ledger Ned movie already exists south of Bacchus Marsh. It might have saved them a quid or two by fixing it up!

    D U H !

  32. A year or two back Mark Perry recommended I read a book called "Bent : Australia's Crooked Cops" – and I haven't mentioned till now but I hunted down a copy and have indeed read it.

    Its poorly referenced and full of all manner of slurs and allegations about police, and of course details all their genuine transgressions, making the obvious point that policemen – like every other kind of human being thats ever lived anywhere on the planet – are fallible, corruptible, prone to vanity, self deception, and all manner of human vice.

    But – and if you're wondering where I am gong with this – in relation to the topic of the Telegraph line and communication – this book claims that Standish introduced a couple of important reforms to the Police service – he promoted police use of the telegraph and of the railway. No reference is provided for this claim but if true, maybe we have Standish to thank for making Glenrowan the 'live' sensation that it turns out to be.

  33. Dee, that information regarding Standish is probably somewhere in the PROV. I found an interesting anecdote in Alex Castles' "Ned Kelly's Last Days." It talked about a reporter visiting Standish's Benalla hotel room who "noted that he had a telegraph extension specially installed there. The journalist wryly observed that in addition to being used for official business, it was linked to a nearby card room and was being used to obtain 'the latest sporting intelligence.'"

    The telegraph was a useful tool in the Kelly hunt, but imagine how much more so the use of the telephone might have been. The first telephone exchange in Victoria was not until around September of 1880, so a little late for the hunt. I suppose they would have chopped down the telephone poles and cut those wires, too, if they were in use then. I get the feeling that Standish would have loved to have a phone to conduct his "business" and knowing him he would have been tapping a few wires, too.

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