The Kennedy Tree is Dead

ABOVE : Ned Kelly Sympathisers lined up in front of the now officially debunked “Kennedy Tree”


In 2019, a group of four amateur historians calling themselves the Kennedy Tree Group announced in a media campaign that they believed they had found the actual tree beside which Ned Kelly murdered Sgt Michael Kennedy in 1878. They made their findings available in a couple of reports for download and invited the public to scrutinise and discuss them on their Facebook page. They asked for a formal investigation to be done, saying that they were working with the authorities to get this tree recognised by Heritage Victoria and protected for future generations. Leo Kennedy, great grandson of the murdered Sergeant called it a ‘sacred site’.


A few weeks ago, I wrote to DELWP to find out what, if any progress had been made in their investigation and this was their response:


Hi David, 

 I must once again apologise for the delay in getting back to you. I do however have an update. We have now considered the material provided by the Kennedy Tree Group and have decided not to take further action. From our perspective, there was not sufficient certainty about the identified tree being the location of Sergeant Kennedy’s body to alter Heritage Victoria’s existing registration of the Stringybark Creek Site (VHR H2205).

 We have written to the group to inform them of this decision.




Obviously for the KTG, after all the work they did in trying to find this tree and have it recognised as a place of historical significance, this will be disappointing news, which might be why they haven’t got around to making the news public.  However, after doing my own research and evaluation of their reports, I am not in the least bit surprised by this news –  it’s what I expected would happen. Their case looked very weak to me, and I tried to make this clear on their site and my own, but the KTG and none of their supporters were persuaded by any of my mumblings. So I, and everyone else just waited for the authorities to look at it. I’m hoping the KTG will now accept the decision of the independent umpire, thank everyone for their interest, pack up their site and move on.



I guessed that if they ever got around to making a public response to this official rejection of their claim, it will be to push back against it and insist that the DELWP experts also got it wrong. I say this because of the way the  Kennedy Tree Group responded to every single argument against their claims that I put to them. They rejected every item of the substantial historical documentary record that undermined their claim, they rejected the views of almost every single other amateur historian who had different views to their own on every and any aspect of the subject,  and in the end, they simply stopped answering questions on their page unless they were from supporters. About three months ago I asked them on their page about the claim Doug Morrissey made in his latest book that Burman wouldn’t have known where Kennedy was killed and so selected a random tree for his re-enactment. There was no response. A year before, they commented that several questions of mine that were unanswered WOULD be answered but at that time they were busy. They’ve still not answered any of them.


Particularly troubling to me at the time, and illustrative of the aggressive manner in which they and their supporters defended these claims was their response to an investigation that was done at their site by Bill Denheld. He posted a video of metal detecting near the tree, a process that involved raking aside superficial leaves and debris which were later replaced, and digging a bit deeper in the two or three spots where something was detected. In fact, nothing of significance was found. KTG members and supporters rounded on Bill like a pack of baying hounds, calling him a criminal and a vandal and posting all kinds of absurd hyperbolic and abusive claims such as that he had destroyed the place, desecrated sacred ground, behaved like a dog looking for a bone and offended all the police descendants. They ran off to complain ‘en masse’ to Heritage Victoria and to DELWP and to the mainstream media and made statements that resulted in a newspaper article targeting but not naming Bill entitled “No respect for History”, a headline that flies in the face of the fact that it was Bills nomination of the entire area that resulted in it being named a heritage protected area (VHR H2205).In getting that protection in place its unarguable that  NOBODY has shown greater respect for the history of the place, and done as much as Bill has to protect it.  In spite of  that , the KTG posted this disrespectful article to their page and encouraged the pile-on. Aidan Phelan posted a long rant on his Bushranger page that attacked Bill and me as well, a post that was so offensive that Facebook removed it, but undeterred Brad Web of Iron Outlaw shamefully reposted it on his site, where it remains. Eventually DELWP announced Bill hadn’t done anything wrong but there was no apology from his abusers and accusers.


The greatest irony of KTG members and supporter’s horrible over-reaction was that it backfired disastrously on them. Their confected outrage spurred DELWP to take their claims seriously and investigate them, but instead of backing the KTG claims as they expected, as we have now seen DELWP ultimately  dismissed them altogether.  Now, in the light of DELWPs decision, I can’t help wondering how all these people are feeling about the ill-mannered way they behaved in defence of a claim that has now been rejected.


The KTG also claimed to have located the site of the police camp where the police were bailed up and Lonigan and Scanlan murdered. Its location was determined by working backwards from the so-called Kennedy tree, but now that the Kennedy tree site has been rejected, presumably the police Camp site claim will have to go with it. The methodology that they employed to identify the Kennedy tree has now been proved unreliable by DELWP so it would make no sense to rely on it in making the case for the police campsite.


Wouldn’t it be great if the KTG humbly accepted DEWLPs decision, agreed that their well-intentioned amateur effort turned out not to have found a historical site, apologised to their supporters for leading them up the garden path – or is it the bush path? – thanked everyone for their interest and then went back to the drawing board? Maybe they will think again about why they are the only ones who said the tree where Kennedy was murdered was on the same side of the creek as the campsite, maybe they will think again about why they are the only ones who said the two sites were a minuscule 200 yards apart, maybe they will think again about why they are the only ones who said that the tree was  due north of the Campsite? Maybe they will withdraw their unsupported claim that local farmers perpetrated a mean hoax for generations, falsely labelling a tree as the Kelly tree so visitors wouldn’t walk on their land? Maybe they will stop trying to convince everyone that a double tree can be seen in the  Burman police camp photo, that a tree with an invisible trunk in 1878 is the tree they called the Starburst tree, that the slope everyone else can see in the background is an illusion, that saplings leaning over and lying on the slope are fences?


Maybe….but I dont think they will.

KTG supporters are almost entirely Ned Kelly Sympathisers – seen standing with KTG members in front of the ‘Kennedy tree’ in the photo at the top of the page – and more or less to a person, like Kelly followers in general they are people who reject the historical record, reason and logic  whenever it disagrees with anything they believe to be true about  the Kelly outbreak.How many of them have announced their opinion of Steele has changed in light of the  recent discussions about an Enquiry that nobody drew to their attention to till now? How many have changed their opinion of Fitzpatrick in light of all the careful re-analysis of the historical record and the publicity about the petition from Lancefield residents? How many of them have announced they no longer support the idea of a republic of NE Victoria in light of Dawsons devastating demolition of the arguments supposed to have supported that notion? Almost none is the answer. 


I have a feeling they will all do the same here : cling to their positions as if they were holy writ. The KTG  defence of this tree up till now has involved an almost complete dismissal of the historical record, a dismissal of common sense views of what is seen and not seen in the Burman photographs and a dismissal of everyone else’s opinion but their own about how it all fits together.  I predict they will also dismiss the Umpires decision about their tree and just add this claim to the long list of other claims they believe to be true about the Kelly Outbreak that are equally irrational and unsupported by  evidence.  Watch this space – I would love them to prove me wrong but I am not holding my breath. 



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36 Replies to “The Kennedy Tree is Dead”

  1. Hi David, my general view of the Kelly nuts as I affectionately call them is that they consist mostly of people who think Ned Kelly was a top bloke, a viewpoint that is only possible via a Kenneally/ Brown/ Jones view of Kelly that has been extensively exposed since 2012 as built on ignoring or rejecting vast amounts of the historical record that contradict it.

    They have for the most part fairly primitive research skills and don’t go much beyond the Royal Commission minutes (which was largely an enquiry into police deficiencies as to why it took so long to catch four lads in the bush) and Ian Jones’s text and sometimes reference notes, which are highly selective and often contain errors of interpretation or fact. Add to that selective newspaper reports of the day and you have something like a year 11 or 12 research project with as little weight or importance.

    The couple of exceptions are McMenomy, McQuilton and Moloney, all of whom wrote decades ago and none of whom had anything to say when Ian MacFarlane’s volcanic and meticulously documented “Kelly Gang Unmasked” blew much of the Jones narrative out of the water in 2012 and paved the way for a wholesale ongoing re-evaluation of earlier writings on the Kelly gang, most of which since the mid 1970s was written under Jones’s influence, and often with his direct input.

    As such they are by and large stuck in Jones’s narrative and don’t have enough independent critical and analytic research skills to see their way out. They can’t engage in academic style discussion so they get personal, but only succeed in making themselves look more stupid to anyone outside the nuthouse.

    There appear to be only two contenders with solid arguments for the SBC site; these are the CSI group and Bill Denheld who defected from that group for the reasons documented on his Iron Icon website. Of these, Bill is the only one who has put up a solid case against all other contenders. Anyone who disagrees with Bill’s case has to come up with a better one, and so far that hasn’t happened.

  2. You’re right, most Kelly nuts are unable to do the critical analysis of what they think is history, and jettison the bits that are wrong. Instead, like religious converts they defend what they accepted as true in whatever book they first read about Ned Kelly , and describe everything that challenges it as ‘anti-Kelly’ in exactly the same way as Mormon missionaries describe anything that challenges their crazy religion as “anti-mormon”.

    Its also interesting, to continue the analogy to religious belief, that so many of the prominent Kelly apologists and spokespeople describe their Kelly beliefs as having begun at a young age, such that the ned story becomes deeply embedded in their psyche and their memories of childhood and growing up, much as religious beliefs often are, and like religious belief they become hard to shake off later in life. Catholics for example struggle to deny they are Catholics later in life, so instead often just call themselves ‘lapsed’ once they’ve accepted they dont accept much of the basic teachings of their church.

    The Kelly people collect Kelly memorabilia like the religious collect icons that decorate their homes, they set aside cabinets and man-caves and wall and shelf space for all this kelly iconography that reminds them every day as they walk through the house, hop in the car with Ned plates and Ned key rings and ned junk dangling off the rear vision mirror, that ned is their hero and guiding light. I am amazed at how often I read on Facebook, Kelly nuts showing off kelly books they own but havent read! Just having the book is all thats important to them. Challenges to those beliefs feel like a personal attack to these people, whereas for people like me, who wasn’t raised a Neddite, looking at the claims objectively and accepting or rejecting them on the basis of a rational argument, evidence and logic is quite easy.

    But when you think about what a violent and unpleasant character Kelly actually was, a bully, a liar, a triple murderer and failed mass murderer with a gloss and a superficial charm that fooled so many, their reverence for the man seems quite revolting. The denial mechanisms operating inside the heads of these people must be in overdrive, day and night.

  3. Stuart says that two groups have come up with solid arguments for the stringybark creek murders the csi team and Bill Denheld then in a few words says that only Bill has put up a solid case. An examination of the extensive report of the csi shows how this claim by Stuart is bunkum they have given much wider prominence to the available evidence than Bill who has never debunked the wide amount of evidence in the csi report (I say because he cant).
    Stuart your bias is clearly evident and as you say you are an academic whiz then why not set about to dismantle each and all of the evidence that the csi team has provided which in my opinion when taken as a total forensic view makes Bills scant evidence pale into insignificance.
    MY money is on the csi by a mile to give the best most extensive analysis of the probable place at stringybark creek.

  4. Hi NEFC, I had a chuckle at your exercise in mind reading about me, where you claim I call myself an academic whiz! Never have, never will. And your pointless challenge that I should “set about to dismantle each and all of the evidence that the csi team has provide”. Why would I even consider bothering to do that when Bill has already tackled it with years of on the ground observations?

    You seem to agree that these are the two main contenders over the SBC location, which was my key point. If you have read David’s blog here for a while you will know that I have never claimed to supportup either position but have formed the opinion – which may be wrong – that Bill put up a better case.

    If you have nothing better to do, you could spend some time critiquing Bill’s position and rehashing the CSI case for why Bill is wrong in your opinion. Or just stick to your view based on what CSI have published, that they have the better case, and accept that Bill has at least put up a solid case even if you reject it. Both cases seem far better put together than any of the other contenders, but then again, who knows?

    At the end of the day it doesn’t matter where exactly the SBC murders took place. What matters is what happened and that can be known with a high degree of certainty. And Jones got it almost entirely wrong, as has been discussed in bit and pieces over time by several people on this very blog. I’ve attached a pic of my Kelly mug for your entertainment. (And as we all know, he never said ‘Such is life’.)


  5. Hi NEFC, thanks for your posts. Can I take it youre not convince by the KTG claims? What may I ask do you think are the flaws in their case? I think one place they really went wrong was in prematurely going to the press and making all those grand announcements and promoting themselves as clever local identities who discovered something significant. Its left them with no room to back down, except into humiliation and embarrassment for shooting their mouths off before the experts had a chance to look at it – for that matter even before they had let other interested amateurs like ourselves to critique it. I think if they had done it in reverse order they might have had second thoughts about going public once independent scrutiny had exposed their flimsy argument. Now I think they feel unable to let it go to back down and admit they got it wrong because to do so would be to lose face. Who wants to do that?

    As you know I’ve made a detailed analysis of the CSI claims and found them wanting. I accept the CSI team made a genuine and determined effort to find the site but it has some serious and in my view fatal weaknesses, not the least of which is their misorientation of the Burman photos. At least the KTG got that bit right.

    The other really very weak link in the CSI argument is the need to accept that the burl on one of the trees in the Burman photo ( KTG called that tree PC1) is the same burl seen on a tree in the Beautiful Mansfield photo, even though the two burls are entirely different shapes. These are very amateur non-scientific arguments which are vital for their case but I regard them as fatally weakening it.

    I still back Bill wholeheartedly but even he says if you can show he is wrong so be it!

    1. David, I note with interest that you wrote the following in your above header remarks:
      “Maybe they (KTG) will withdraw their unsupported claim that local farmers perpetrated a mean hoax for generations, falsely labelling a tree as the Kelly tree so visitors wouldn’t walk on their land?”
      Maybe you should ask the same of Bill as he also claims that the tree was falsely labelled so people would not have to clamber over private land.


      1. Thanks Glenn. I was not aware of that so I’ll check with Bill and see what he has to say.

        It would be helpful and interesting to hear what it is about the KTG proposal that you see as its flaws.

        1. David, for your reference:
          Adam Ford got it wrong : the Police Campsite is not at the picnic ground (Part Two)
          Bills Comments. November 26, 2019 at 10:27 am

          Where we read that Beasley grew tired of taking people to actual spot so (falsely) marked a dead tree not far from his house.

          1. Glenn is referring to my Blog post “Adam Ford got it wrong” and is pointing out that the KTG weren’t the first to claim a random tree had been selected and labelled as being at the site of the police camp, just so that visitors wouldn’t walk on private land. He points out that Bill mentioned it also, and if you go back to that Blog Post you can read this interesting comment by Bill, which is itself taken from the Age Oct 10 1995:

            “Mr Jones says that in 1960 he learnt there was once a local man who grew tired of people asking where the battle took place, so he randomly cut a legend into the Kelly tree to put an end to it. Everyone simply accepted that here was the true site. In time the site became formalized for parking. The tree now carries Ned’s metallic likeness. The same man who told Mr Jones about the tree said the real site was further south along the creek and described it. From that day, Mr Jones set out to find it.”

            Interesting to note that this informant told Jones that the real site was further SOUTH – which as well know is further away from the Picnic ground, the CSI site and the KTG Site and in the direction of Bill site!

          2. Anonymous says:

            David, what I’m pointing out is that it is unfair to only ask the KTG to withdraw their unsupported claim that local farmers perpetrated a mean hoax for generations by falsely labelling a tree.
            When they are not the only ones to claim that a random tree was selected as the area nearby the Kelly tree does not fit in with their own conclusions.
            From what I have read Ian Jones has been heavily criticised on this blog for being selective with his research and wrong about many things. His true site location being one of them.

          3. I understand where youre coming from Glenn but it was a discussion about the KTG not about Bills site. Next you’ll be criticising me for not mentioning the CSi view or the Ford view of every other point I make about the KTG. There is a difference though – Bill was citing actual oral history, not speculating as the KTG seemed to be doing, purely in order to make their theory seem plausible. Also, their speculation was that the site was moved further south whereas Healy/Jones and Bill were saying it was moved north.

            Maybe I should be asking why the KTG say the hoax site was created south of the true site whereas everyone else says it was made north of it?

  6. Peter Newman says: Reply

    It’s a pity this Kennedy tree thing is causing more divisions between those interested in the history at Stringybark Creek. I met Adrian Younger and Tony King once and they are good people with a passion for the area. They put a lot of work into their report and did not have to run it past anyone before submitting it to DELWP for review (although it is a pity perhaps that they didn’t). DELWP would have given their report serious consideration because if they are correct about this tree then the boundaries of the heritage overlay would need to be expanded.

    The purpose of this post though is not to express a view one way or the other about the KTG report. Rather it is to suggest that everyone with an interest in SBC should put aside their differences and look instead at what they can agree on. Obviously one thing everyone can agree on is that SBC (and Bullock / Kelly Creek) is a historically significant area even if we cannot agree about specific sites within the area.

    Three years ago I wrote to Mansfield Shire Council in response to the publication of the Ned Kelly Alive Concept and Business Case report. The report recommended various priority projects to leverage the Kelly story as part of the North East Region’s tourism offer. For Mansfield, the priority project was to develop the rather clumsily titled Mansfield Police Memorial and Tour Operator Hub (Priority Project 4), with the development of a Kelly Trail at Stringybark Creek (SBC) as a focus of this project.

    The Ned Kelly Alive report seemed to have been prepared without knowledge of the new signage the land manager at SBC (DELWP) was at that time about to implement. The signage is generalised and does not identify specific locations and I believe the reason for this is due to the disagreements between different people with an interest in the area. With at least four parties having identified different sites for the police camp (Denheld, CSI, Jones and now Adam Ford) and now with multiple Kennedy tree sites having been speculated upon, DELWP really had no choice but to run with a generalised signage theme.

    Anyway, the reason I wrote to Mansfield Shire Council was to suggest that the whole SBC – Bullock Creek area be developed and managed as a larger “Stringybark Creek Historic Site”. The Kelly history is of course the most interesting aspect of SBC and Bullock Creek, but past gold mining and timber getting activities also provide further interest. The old bridle trails that passed through SBC and which connected the settlements to the south (Mansfield) with those to the north are also interesting – evidence of those trails still exists under the overgrowth and weeds.

    Presently the whole area is very poorly managed, which is an indictment on DELWP. The very interesting Bullock Creek area is in a spectacular amphitheatre-like setting which can hardly be appreciated due to the overgrowth and blackberries which makes passage through this area almost impossible. If this area was incorporated into an enlarged historic area under separate management I think this would be a very good outcome.

    I never did receive a reply back from the Council to my letter, but perhaps a Stringybark Creek Historic Park is an idea that everybody with an interest in this area could get behind. The location of the police camp site and the Kennedy tree site need not be identified – perhaps the different viewpoints regarding the true location of these sites could be part of the reason for visiting the area, i.e. let visitors consider the different evidence and make up their own minds.

  7. Thanks Peter, the idea of interested groups setting aside differences about details and joining forces to promote a bigger concept for the entire area is a great one, though as you know in the Kelly world people tend to stake out territory and defend it against all comers. Mind you, it doesnt have to be one or the other – both projects are valid in their own right I would say. What I wish is that HV would do with the other proposals what they did with the KTG one, and subject them all to critical analysis using their experts and tell everyone what they think of all of them. I think one of the things that frustrates Bill is that nobody will take his proposal seriously and do the analysis. He has always said he is happy to be proven wrong but has assembled a formidable set of arguments and evidences for his site, and I think he is on the money. It would be marvellous for it to be recognised if thats what the expert analysis decided, not just for Bill but for all of us who would like to know.

    Ive never been to the Kelly camp area at Bullock creek but it sounds amazing.

  8. Bill Denheld says: Reply

    Hello David and Glenn, re your comment 4 May at 5:39 pm
    The K.T.Group are wrong if they claim the third Kelly tree was a hoax. The last Kelly tree was marked following a succession of events spanning 50 years starting with new settlers to the area. Maybe each new comer was just curious while others knew exactly where things had happened – but they were given little credence.
    As it turned out the police camp fell just outside the southern boundary fence line of McCrum’s then Beasley’s land of some ½ Sqr Mile. Although, the first Kelly tree where Scanlan was shot could have been on their land if the road is any guide to where the western fence boundary would end up.

    I could go on but this topic is about the rejection of the KTG reports by Heritage Victoria and DELWP historians.
    I understand the report HV were most impressed with was by Mr Kevin Tolhurst submitted back in April last year, and it’s a disgrace that you had to dig deep for it to become available.

    Is there a possibility the Tolhurst document is available online?
    This will allow all readers here understand his reasoning, while otherwise the K.T.Group can just stay silent.

  9. By all accounts lets make sure History is recorded correctly


  10. I would think that Heritage Vic & DELWP would have done their own independent research apart from studying the various other true site submissions offered for consideration, and are now satisfied that the site of the police camp was in the area nearby today’s Kelly tree. The exact spot may never be known, only that it is nearby.

    Perhaps they have learnt from the past mistakes in following the convictions of a high profile Kelly historian and moved the site further up and on the opposite side of Stringybark Creek.
    If proper research had been undertaken at that time the site would not have been moved in the first place.
    As for the Kennedy tree….. I’m fairly certain that mention is made on the signage at the current location that it was engraved with a K and later cut down for timber. I have also been told the same by knowledgeable researcher.
    I have spent days scouring through the bush and although there are a couple of old tree contenders that may look nice, the chances are that the actual tree has long since gone.


    1. Glenn youre saying if proper research had been done the site wouldn’t have been moved to Jones site. Where was the original site – near one of the Kelly trees?

      As to what HV has done recently I think all they did was investigate the KTG claims. Leo Kennedy says in his book that his father told him the tree had been cut down, but obviously changed his mind after becoming involved with the KTG. The fundamental problem with the KTG people is that they are so convinced by what they see with their own eyes as similarities between their tree and the one in the 1878 photo that no documentary or other evidence can persuade them otherwise. Visual impressions can be so powerful and hard to shake off.

  11. I like Peter’s suggestion to turn the whole of SBC and Bullock Ck area into a historic park to be cleaned up by volunteer history groups aided by DELWP so that key locations can be viewed as they might have been 140 years ago.

    While I respected Glenn’s attention to detail, he and Kelvyn Gill mainly followed Linton Briggs’s conviction even though overnight he did a 180 degree reverse in direction of the Burman photo when it was pointed out no Burman photo could be taken there. That also contradicted Ian Jones’s and local Jack Healy’s 1920s knowledge of site shown to Jones, but Jones did not believe him until 30 years later, and in his book Jones establishes his East bank site in preference to Healy’s west bank site.
    In his Seminar Papers Jones said “ if anyone can find the remains of a hut – that would Identify the true site of the police camp”
    How Linton Briggs came to believe in his west bank – west of road site we do not know but was very flawed in my opinion.

    See Woman’s Weekly interview with Jack Healy 1964 only a year after he showed Jones the site

    Picture -Jack Healy with pipe circa 1930s


    1. In the photo above the man bot left is Harry Engelke who lived top end of SBC road and also ran the sawmill that was built over the Kelly camp hut site. I communicated with his son Charlie back in 2005/6 and he gave me all the relative SBC and Kellys Ck photos to scan of which this one is No 55.
      One other important photo in the set was the Mr Cuddon photo where he stands in front of the 2nd Kelly tree. It was in this photo at the back left I identified the current Kelly tree which was forked, and the reason it was not cut down and still standing in the 1930s.
      I would say that any tree that was not forked but left standing might have been for a reason.
      It could be the tree that Leo and I identified on east bank in 2014 with a circumference of 5 metres may well be the original K tree as it has a straight trunk on easy accessible land.


      1. Below is a typed copy of a hand written letter from Charlie Engelke to Bill Denheld in 2003. Posted on the now defunct: Ned Kelly Truth Forum.

        “ I understand (was told by Dad) that the stump was pulled out by Mc Cashneys. He was working in the mill at the time. I understood it was in the way of a proposed tram line.
        There were no remains of a tram line there so it seems the plan was changed. Dad also used to say that Mc Cashneys had no sympathy for the Kellys or Kelly history.
        The stump was on the west side of the creek. Mc Cashneys mill went into the district in 1916 according to records. As I understand, Mc Cashneys cut into virgin forest and there had been no mill activity there previously.
        We were always told that Charlie Beasley put the sign on the nearest tree to the stump which was pulled out. This was said to be the site where Kelly’s shot the police. If evidence exists that the shootings were on the other side, well so be it.
        We were always told it was on the west side adjacent to the tree marked by Beasley. Dads photo of Mr Cuddow (or Cuddun) the Pivot sales manager, standing by the tree was taken in 1938.
        The sign would have been put up well before 1938 but I couldn’t say when. Somewhere in the early mid 1930’s.
        As to when Tim Brond marked the other tree, I don’t know when this was done. I’d have to take Sheila’s word for that. Locals always considered it to be the wrong place.
        The top broke off the tree signposted by Charlie Beasley and left 10 or 12ft standing which rotted and fell down very much later in the 1940s.
        I couldn’t say the precise year though but it stood for quite a long time. The photo of Beasleys tree is looking east with the creek in the background.
        The photo of Dad standing by the stump is taken looking west.
        This is indicated by the slope of the land and the fence and bush in the background. (Looking across the road) ”

        Sheila ( Forum post – 23/09/2010)
        “Charlie Engelke the owner of the Cuddon photograph and the one of the stump of the original Kelly tree is adamant that the photographs were both taken on the west side of the creek, not far south of the present Kelly tree.”

        Both Jack Healy and Charlie Engelke correctly said the current “Kelly Tree” was not the right tree, actual place of the shootings. As the actual place was close to the tree signposted by Beasley.

        Placing the site on or near the white hill. (Just up from the car park)


  12. Peter Newman says: Reply

    Bill, that is an interesting survey map you have attached to the article from the Woman’s weekly.
    What is the date of that map? The settlement history of this area is also a theme that could be explored as part of a Stringybark Creek Historic Park. However my idea of an historic park could only happen if everyone with an interest in this area could put aside their differences and work together to make it happen. I think such a park could be a significant attraction. I might put some ideas together – perhaps David would consider making it a separate blog?

    1. Hi Peter,
      I must admit to thinking your great idea could never work because there are so many animosities and old disputes that were never resolved, that the parties could never come together. But today I thought well it definitely wont happen if nobody tries to make it happen and because it does seem to be such a good idea I thought well why not at least try?

      So if you want to make something for the Blog I would be very happy to post it, and promote it on the Facebook pages as well.

      I wonder what Glenn thinks….

  13. Nice thought. But in reality you would have to have a medical emergency clinic on site.
    As it would probably end with fisticuffs. Glenn

  14. Peter’s proposal of a managed SBC Historical Site within which “The location of the police camp site and the Kennedy tree site need not be identified” but the broader area including mining history was recognised and promoted makes excellent sense. SBC was many things before the SBC murders, notably mining and bridle trails, stock theft routes and Bullock Creek he notes that all give context to the area. It is not just about the Kelly gang killings.

  15. Thanks Glenn for the Charlie Engelke letter. This gives the history of the trees and – in it he says that Dads photo of Mr Cuddow standing by the tree taken in 1938. He is referring to the second Kelly tree.
    Charlie Engelke also explains that the sign seen in the cuddon photo was put on the nearest tree to the stump by Charlie Beasley, which was pulled out and that this was the site where Kelly’s shot the police.
    Bill in his recent post now tells us that he has identified the current Kelly tree which was forked in the back left of this photo.
    If so then it would seem that BIll is now acknowledging that the local people who knew where the camp was has now accepted that the camp site was close to the current Kelly tree.
    The CSI paper has included photos of the first (a stump), second (cuddon ) and third (current) trees and identifies the current tree in the background of the Cuddon photograph and says that the angle of sunlight reflecting on the tree marked by the fingerboard indicates the camera was facing to the north east from a position on the western bank within the immediate vicinity of the camp site.
    So here we can read the descriptions provided by the residents of the area who unequivically describe the location of the police camp and the words of Bill who now acknowledges that he can identify the Kelly tree in the photo.
    So it seems Bill is in agreement with the CSI that the camp site is in the area of todays tree.

    1. Oh well here we go again CSI! I shouldn’t put words in Bills mouth but I would say yes he does agree that the camp site is in the “area” of todays Tree. As did Ian Jones. As did Adam Ford. Only the KTG say its NOT in the “area” of the current tree. Precisely WHERE in that general area is still up for discussion.

      But I’ll say again what Ive stated before : before you start arguing about the minutiae of the CSI claim you have to first accept that the two completely different looking ‘Burls’ are the same thing, and you have to accept their assertion that in taking his photos, Burman put everyone in completely the wrong place. For the life of me I cant see a good reason to accept either of those two necessary preliminary steps in the CSI argument, and for me it renders the rest of the CSI claim moot.

      At least we all agree the KTG claim is unsustainable.

  16. David, based on the photographs and the written evidence provided by locals that lived in the area the location of the original Kelly tree can be closely established. And removes any notions that a tree was just randomly selected out of convenience.
    From here it doesn’t really matter what anyone thinks or says……the locals have provided enough information for us all to agree on that with a high degree of certainty.
    On that basis I agree with you that the KTG campsite claim is unsustainable.

  17. I also wish to thank Glenn for the Engelke information which he put up on May 8.
    This letter should be considered as the most important document which surpasses the Burman photos as it very clearly tells explains where the police camp was by the way that the first and second trees which locals of the area used to mark the place of where the police camp was. Then by looking at the photograph of Mr Cuddon in front of the second tree and seeing in the left background a forked tree which is claimed to be the now existing tree (number 3) and which BOTH BILL AND THE CSI PEOPLE seem now to agree upon that the camp for the police was in the “area” near to todays tree.
    There is absolutely no way that this tree could be seen from Bills two huts site which from my recollection would be 300 or more metres from this tree.
    It seems Bill has unwittingly put the matter to rest with his acceptance that the Cuddon photo also shows todays tree in it as his claim for the hut site cannot be said to be in the “area”
    The DELWP now have the text of the Engleke letter (if they didnt already have it) and the Cuddon photograph (which is in the CSI report) and unless these two things are ignored (as it would seem from Davids recent post) there is no need for Peter Newmans idea of people working together to sort this all out as it is all clearly detailed by the CSI people in their CSI@SBC paper.
    I takes me hat off to the CSI people (now without Mr Linton Briggs who passed some months back).

  18. Bill Denheld says: Reply

    Please let’s not get carried away.
    The use by Glenn and NEFC of a letter sent to me by the son of Harry Engelke ‘Charlie’ who was just a child at the time when his father worked at the Toombullup and Kellys Crk sawmill during the 1930s.

    A scan of the 2003 letter was uploaded to the ‘Ned Kelly Truth Forum’ where much was debated in detail. – This forum consist of 22 pages and more than 500 comments.

    In the letter, Charlie Engelke tells me- ‘as far as he knows – ‘the 1878 Police camp site was near the second Beasley- marked Kelly tree’ because it was based on a photograph of his father standing near a rotten tree stump that was being removed to make way for a ‘sawmill tramway’ supposedly on Charlie Beasleys land. It would seem strange to place a tramway on private land? but Kellys Creek was riddled with tramway right near where the Kelly camp had been.
    In the photo, notice how far the fence is in the background. This is not Stringy Bark Creek.
    More to follow

    Photo of Harry Engelke- Kelly stump photo


    1. Re: Please let’s not get carried away.
      Bill. It is no easy task to make much sense at all with what you have written. If this was presented by the KTG or the CSI team I am sure that it would be critically ripped apart by yourself and David.

      First: You assert that photograph of Charlie’s father Harry shown with the stump of the Kelly Tree, was not taken near SBC and it was most likely photographed at the Kelly’s Creek sawmill site. As it was most likely one of the target trees near Kelly’s camp.
      That it was likely situated on the edge of an eroding embankment when the tree fell over in a storm pulling its root system out. Then go on to say that perhaps this stump was photographed in JJK’s book on page 56 or belonged to the tree page 58?

      *If the tree fell over and pulled the root system out then someone must have planted the stump back into the ground by the time JJK photographed it. Or perhaps the main part of the tree broke off leaving the stump in the ground which later fell over leaving all of the heavy roots exposed by the time of the Engelke photo of the stump. The rest of the tree having being cut up or removed from the site.

      JJK and his guide must have been completely mistaken as beneath the photo he writes: “Background shows the position of Sergeant Kennedy when shot by Ned Kelly from behind the stump in the foreground.”

      (For your reference you will find the post made by Sheila on the kellycountry2000 members only forum of which you have a copy.)

      Second: You state that “Charlie’s understanding of his fathers ‘Kelly-stump’ photo, it was taken at or near the police camp location was contradicted by Jack Healy in 1964.”
      I assume you are referring to what Jack Healy was quoted as saying in the Womans Day article 16th 1964. Which reads:
      In 1964, farmer Mr Jack Healy, of Archerton, led us into the bush to search for the spot where murder and tragedy happened. ……………..
      ”I’ll show you the spot, where the killing happened,” said Mr Healy. “It’s hard to find. But I came into this district in 1922 and can remember seeing the stump of the white gum where the shooting started. You could find bullets in the wood” “The Victorian Forrestry people marked that up,” said our guide, Mr Healy. “People would hack chips off it as souvenirs but it’s not the right tree.”
      Reporter: There is no stump there now – just a circular depression in the ground. Green growth of years has covered past horrors. Tourist who come to the district would never find the place. And a misleading signpost leads them to the “Kelly’s Tree” a huge white gum, near Stringybark Creek, blazed with the words, “1878 Kelly shot Lonegan.”

      Where does Jack Healy in 1964 contradict Charlie Engelke? He simply says that todays “Kelly Tree” is not the correct place as does Charlie Engelke.

      You state that again: “In 1963 Jack wrote that the current Kelly tree location was completely wrong…..”
      I assume you are referring to Ian Jones’s narratives that leads us to believe that Jack Healy actually showed him a site in 1960 which has since been proven incorrect.

      Jack would have had to have said that the stump of the Kelly Tree “where the shooting started” was no where near the tree signposted by Beasley and on the opposite side of the creek. Such an important feature would not have been overlooked by Ian.

      You have provided no evidence at all that Jack Healy wrote in 1963 that the current Kelly tree location was completely wrong. Unless you can I will call it what it is….fabricated nonsense.

  19. Bill Denheld says: Reply

    Continuation; Please let’s not get carried away.

    At the time (2003), after careful study of the photos regarding Charlie’s claim (to me) that this stump area was the site where the three police were shot CANNOT be RELIED upon because Charlie is only repeating what he was told as a child. When I spoke Charlie by phone, I explained to him that the Burman photo taken of the Police Camp* could not have been taken where his father stands by a ‘Kelly tree stump’, he said – “well that’s what I was told “
    * To my knowledge this image had not been readily made available in books until 1966. Only a limited number of postcards and the Police had these Burman photos.

    The point is, when Charlie’s mother and father ‘Harry’ and other settlers moving into the area early 1920s and 30s, they would only have learned of the SBC- Kelly locations some ‘50 years after the event’. My discussions with Charlie was 125 years after the event, so we cannot take anything he said with certainty regarding the ‘ Police Camp location’. Very few people knew exactly where, not even the surveyor of the first map, he could only guess, and a year later he changed the location according to further assumptions.

    Charlie’s understanding of his fathers ‘Kelly-stump’ photo, it was taken at or near the police camp location was contradicted by Jack Healy in 1964. In fact, I assert that Charlie’s father Harry as seen, was most likely photographed at the Kellys Creek sawmill site where they also had their house ( have photo), and at that time there were would have been several Kelly target tree remnants there when the sawmill was established at Kellys Creek around 1927.

    Image 36-Engelke and kids photo. At left is probably Charlie and sister as toddlers


  20. Continuation; Please let’s not get carried away.
    In 1985 a well known identity, Mr Bill Stewart showed me the remains of a large Kelly Target tree that had rolled down into the creek below where the sawmill had stood in 1985. ( now in possession of Sheila and Joe Hutchinson.

    However Charlie’s stump would not have been the same tree as it looked too too small.
    During my metal detecting of SBC area in 2002-5 (and later), I found no tramways along SBC but were easily detected along the track into the Kellys Ck sawmill area. The objective was always to drag felled trees by Bullock teams to a loading ramp- and onto tram wagons to the sawmill to be cut up.

    So with Glenn and NEFC pushing their CSI case to ‘conclude’ that the Harry- Kelly stump photo was taken at SBC, this is very unlikely as the Mr. Cuddon photo tree was close near the road, whereas that Harry stump photo appears to be about 20-30m or yards away from the fence line in background (if this was a road ?). However in their CSI@SBC report ‘Update July 2017’ they say the picture of Harry at the Kelly stump was ‘of the FIRST Kelly tree’ at SBC, this is contrary to the citation on the back of the photo. ( I would assert that they assumed they would get away with this as they also drag Sheila Hutchinson into the picture, and she may have made a statement on a forum, but she was also just a child when all this SBC became big news.)

    Having a good understanding of SBC, the first Kelly tree area was pointed out to me by (deceased) Bill Stewart who we met in 1985 and we took him up to Kellys Ck to show him where I had found the bullet lead. He told me in his youth, he worked at the Kellys Ck sawmill (helping build it) On the way back from our trip to Kellys Ck, he got me to drive way past the Current Kelly tree up to the red hill (which seemed odd to me at the time), but he pulled me up as he pointed to an area in the bush where the first Kelly tree had stood, and 17 years later following Ian Jones instructions to his site, I would find the two huts where the Police had Camped on the west bank, and now realised why Bill Stewart got me to drive way up the road past the current Kelly tree to where the first Kelly tree had stood.

    Now having more intimate knowledge of the area, I can see no reason to dig up an old stump up as suggested by Charlie, because the saw millers McCashney and Harper would not have wanted to spend any time digging it out the stump at all.
    It was just left to rot, and perhaps this stump was photographed in JJK’s book on page 56 or belonged to the tree page 58?

    What is more likely, this particular stump was part of a tree situated on the edge of an eroding embankment when the tree fell over in a storm pulling its root system out. So, if the photo inscription on the back (as recorded by me)- it simply reads “ Kelly stump Harry Engelke” not ‘the first Kelly tree stump’ as Glenn and Kelvyn want us to believe.

    Photo – Harry Engelke and –Mr Cuddon


  21. Continuation; Please let’s not get carried away.

    In 1963 Jack wrote that the current Kelly tree location was completely wrong- meaning – Harry and son Charlie would also have known their considered police camp site was questionable, and oblivious to the fact that a photographer Burman had taken photos of the police camp. They would then have seen the current Kelly tree locality was flawed. I say this because it is not possible to take a ‘like Burman photo’ there in any direction. I also doubt any people settling in the area would have seen the ‘Burman photos’ in the early 1900s even though the photo existed as a postcard in Ned Kellys time.

    Author J.J.Kennealy’s 1929 book ‘The Inner History of the Kelly Gang’ did not show the Burman photo, and nor did Max Brown’s, 1948 ‘Australian Son, nor Ian Jones’s 1993 Kelly book. If J.J.K or Brown had done so, there would not be this debating today. The location would have been settled with the arrival of James McCrum at SBC in 1884.

    The first book to show the Burman photo ‘police camp site’ seems to be ‘A Pictorial history of Bushrangers by Tom Prior, Bill Wannan and H.Nunn 1966, then Keith McMenomy’s book 1984 and Ian Jones’s 2003 edition of Ned Kelly- A short life.


  22. Of course the current Kelly tree is completely wrong but it is in the vicinity of the tree that mr Cuddon was at which is said to be the second tree used to mark the spot.
    Would Mr Denheld who has claimed the present day kelly tree is seen in this photo be kind enough to address this photo and its contribution to the endless debate of where the police were camped??

  23. Anonymous, please call me Bill, and tell me where I state the ‘present’ or current day Kelly tree is in the photo images that I provided ???? Readers will assume you refer to the images directly above, but no there is no Kelly tree in the images Then and Now
    Please better explain?

  24. Further to my earlier reply, I think Anonymous refers to my posting comment May 8 at 9;43
    Ref to a ‘K tree’ in my later statement was meant to be understood as a potential Kennedy tree- not a Kelly tree.

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