2021: THE KELLY YEAR THAT WAS – AND THE ONE TO COME:

For me, the big event on the Kelly Calendar last year was the sudden and very sad and unexpected passing of Ian MacFarlane, author of ‘The Kelly Gang Unmasked’. His book, published by Oxford University Press in 2012 will stand as a landmark in the history of Kelly literature, being the first major break with the Ian-Jones-inspired mythology that had been masquerading as Kelly history for the previous forty or more years. Being an archivist with a history of having worked at the Public Records Office of Victoria for over twenty years, MacFarlanes research and analysis was second to none, and his remarkably concise and meticulously referenced re-examination of the Kelly story proved to be a devastating critique that the Kelly mythology won’t ever recover from. His book inspired the new wave of Kelly scholarship that is developing and deepening MacFarlanes work, exposing the fraud that much of Ian Jones Kelly mythology was, and now unstoppably replacing it with the true history.

 

Sadly, there was a knee-jerk reaction of unrelenting and vile personal abuse and vilification of MacFarlane led by a right-wing Kelly extremist who boasted that he never read MacFarlane’s book. To its eternal shame, as it wasn’t in their interests to say anything about it, the middle ground of Kelly sympathisers all noted the sickening behaviour of this man and his little band of fellow abusers, and stayed silent. However, when Ian passed last year many were suddenly and hypocritically issuing condolences, and claiming respect for his legacy, a stance they never openly adopted when he was alive and was being abused and insulted by their colleagues. They should have just kept their mouths shut, as they had for all the preceding years. This is a fragment of a Facebook post I made at the time: I am too sad and too angry to write any more about this for now, apart from one thing: Ian may have passed but his book remains and will always be a landmark standing as a marker at the beginning of the end of this sickening mistaken chapter of Australian history that elevated a violent thug and killer to false icon.

 


 

Apart from the passing of Ian MacFarlane, not much else happened in the Kelly world last year, and some of that might have been because of Covid. The Greta-Hansonville Hall Kelly weekend that had been organised for the two previous years didnt happen, there was no Glenrowan Siege Commemorative evening, and even the OMG was locked up and inaccessible on November 11th, so Kelly sympathisers were unable to place flowers on the Trapdoor as they usually did to commemorate Ned Kellys execution.

 

However, a new exhibition opened at the State Library of Victoria, of Ned Kellys tidied up armour with both shoulder plates attached, and his boot and rifle in a big empty room that had the entire Jerilderie letter on display around the edges. I visited it in December and haven’t written my review of it for the Blog yet, but theres plenty of time as the exhibition is going to remain open all year.

 


 

I can think of only three additions to the Kelly bookshelves from 2021; one was a weird translation of a wildly inaccurate French publication which was partly redeemed by some nice black and white lino-cut graphics,(reviewed HERE by Stuart Dawson) another was a work of fiction by a woman who gushed about her admiration of Ned Kelly, and the third, an attempt at non-fiction, was an error ridden shocker that even Kelly devotees panned, about Kate Kelly.(My review of these two books is HERE) This was the book that claimed that Alice Kelly’s parents were 14-year-old Kate Kelly and Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick. It was quite nauseating to see this author being interviewed on TV by a succession of wide-eyed gullible journalists who hadn’t done any background checking and simply swallowed all the nonsense she was promoting.

 

You could probably also add to that list of publications two other things : Stuart Dawsons illuminating article about the Felons Apprehension Act (Reviewed HERE) , and a report issued in April 2021 by Heritage Victoria which was an evaluation – and rejection after expert analysis – of the claim made in late 2019 by amateur historians of the Kennedy Tree Group to have located the tree beside which Ned Kelly murdered Sgt Michael Kennedy.(Read that report HERE)  

 

Kelly sympathisers make up the entire body of KTG supporters, and in true Kelly sympathiser fashion they all rejected the expert findings and all arguments and facts which undermined their claim, and continued to insist the tree was what they claimed it to be. They vowed to challenge the HV Report but ten months later they’ve produced nothing: their response is one of the events I will be watching out for in 2022 – if nothing is forthcoming then they need to go back to the mainstream media outlets they persuaded to publicise their claims in 2019 and ask them to publish a retraction.

 


 

On the social media front, two new pro-Kelly Facebook pages emerged : Dave Whites ‘Ned Kelly : The Facts’ and Joe Shoguns ‘John (Red) Kelly : His story’. After initial spikes of interest they have both struggled to attract support, and new material is not posted to them very often. Joe Shogun announced an imminent publication about Red Kelly, but it never emerged, and White banned me for having opinions that he didn’t agree with, and now weeks go by and nobody comments there. The Best Bloody Man page continues its preoccupation with nostalgia and longing for the good old days of Ian Jones, but is running out of old photos to show and is currently dominated by displays of Kelly handcraft that’s for sale. Yesterday a double Kelly revolver toilet roll holder could be ordered for $160.00. I am not kidding!

The numbers in the Members Only NK Sympathiser site have plateaued – and they still won’t let me join –  and a couple of other pages whose interest is in worshipful veneration of Ned Kelly and man-cave memorabilia, tattoos and the like continue to grow and have many more members than all the others combined. What I appreciate about these latter Pages is their refreshing honesty : they don’t pretend to be interested in ‘all sides’ – they’ve made up their minds and aren’t interested in looking at evidence or new ideas or the historical record: Kelly is their hero and that’s it! Post anything critical of Ned and youre out!  Most other Kelly Facebook pages claim to be interested in history and all sides of the debate, but expose their intolerance and duplicity when they expel people like me because of views they don’t like. I wish they would drop the pretence.

Oddly enough, even though they’ve expelled me Jack, Mick, Bob and a few others continue to fill their Facebook places with hate ridicule and abuse directed at me. Last year Mick Fitzsimons also blew the cover he had been hiding behind for years so that he could abuse and attack me anonymously pretending to be ‘Fred Brewster’ one week and ‘Owen MacLauchlan’  the next, but for most of the year he ignored his Hate Page and disappeared down the antivax  conspiracy rabbit hole, and frankly I hope he stays there.


 

There were three other events that are worth mentioning: the NK Alive Project announced the design of the ‘Tower’ thats yet to be built overlooking the Siege site at Glenrowan, work got underway on the restoration of the cottage Red Kelly built at Beveridge, and a contract was awarded for a complete redesign of the Ned Kelly Touring Route. Kelly sympathisers think all these things are aimed at preserving the unhistorical Kelly mythology they support, and think these endeavours show that the Kelly myth is still alive. In fact, they are all about bringing the Kelly story up-to-date, as has already been done at Stringybark Creek, where proper acknowledgement of the Police sacrifice has recently replaced glorification of a gang of murderers. The new Touring Route, the Tourist information shared at the Glenrowan Tower and at Red Kellies restored house will all reflect modern understandings of the Kelly story and not perpetuate the unhistorical myths whose exposures began with the Kelly Gang Unmasked in 2012.

 


Looking back, 2021 was further retreat for Kelly sympathisers, and already 2022 looks as if it will be another year of even more significant retreat for Kelly Myth with recent announcements about the imminent publication of two surprisingly similar new books on the Outbreak and I cant wait to read both of them.

 

The first announcement was of Grantlee Kiezas “The Kelly Hunters”, due for release on March 31st. Kelly sympathisers think Kieza is on their side because he posts to their Facebook pages – but clearly none of them read his book on Ellen Kelly very carefully –  at every turn in the book and in his book tour interviews he described their hero as a violent criminal a bully and a thug. I have no doubt he won’t sugar coat the police record from the Outbreak, but I know as well as he would that the historical record does not in any way support the Sympathiser narrative of police corruption and persecution as a cause of the Outbreak. Its going to be a fascinating read.

The second book, by David Dufty, “Nabbing Ned” is due for release before Kieza one, at the beginning of March. “Nabbing Ned” is described as ‘meticulously researched’ by Craig Cormick the Editor of the excellent ‘Ned Kelly Under the Microscope’ and Shane Patton, Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police says it “unmasks the Kelly myth” – which will terrify Kelly sympathisers I am sure. Dave White has already announced he won’t read it! OMG!

I of course, read everything, and will look forward to reviewing both books in due course. Incidentally, both these authors have posted an occasional comment on my pages as well, so both are aware of my work and my Blog and I am hoping they’ve made use of it!

This Blog is now in its eighth year, this is the 356th Post and there have been over 7700 comments. It came into existence after trolls sabotaged two earlier efforts of mine to expose the Kelly myths and they tried to sabotage this one too. Clearly, they failed. In 23 posts in 2021 we covered all sorts of interesting topics such as Sgt Steeles reputation, a claim Ned Kelly built a blue granite homestead near Winton, the  supposed perjury of Constable McIntyre, Chopper Read, the Felons Apprehension Act, there were book reviews and latterly, a series still to be completed on the Kelly book I would write if I had the time. I will complete that soon and look forward to writing many more Posts this year, a year which already looks good for anyone interested in seeing  the true story of the Kelly outbreak replace the mythology that a murderer was an Aussie hero.

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15 Replies to “2021: THE KELLY YEAR THAT WAS – AND THE ONE TO COME:”

  1. It is of interest to note that all seven of the councils involved in running The Ned Kelly Touring Route, have accepted that their website and other written material are full of Ned Kelly myths.
    The contract specifically states, that ALL myths are to be removed from their documentation.
    A result should be available in April 2022.
    All councils involved are in the heart of Kelly country, and the recognition that they are promoting myths. lies and fiction will hopefully be a catalyst that will, like a runaway train, sweep through all government and quasi government websites once their documentation is altered with the myths removed.
    We can expect the Kelly Nuts to go berserk, but it is more than time that the truth rose to prominence and the myths removed across the board.

    1. Yes Sam its going to be very interesting to see what information the new NK Touring Route will promote. If ALL myths are removed its going to look VERY different.

      As an exercise, I wonder what readers would say are the most important myths that will have to go?

      +Obviously all references to the Kelly republic will have to go….
      +I notice on their pamphlet Fitzpatrick is said to have arrived at the Kelly house ‘with a belly full of booze’ – that will have to go
      +it also mentions Fitzpatrick being interested in Kate Kelly – that will have to go
      +Will they still be able to describe what happened at SBC as a ‘shootout’?

      I guess the entire tone of the document will have to change from being about a hard-done-by Australian rebel and a hero to a violent criminal on the run from Justice.

  2. Noeleen Lloyd says: Reply

    Hi David

    To be crystal clear – the Greta Hansonville Hall Committee do not facilitate a ‘Ned Kelly Weekend’.

    For three years in a row we hosted a ‘Kelly themed forum’ – being variously a few hours or across one day.

    The event has been used a) to raise funds for the maintenance and sustainability of the Greta Hansonville Hall and b) to highlight themes, increase education, and promote bipartisan discussion .

    We had hoped that this type of fundraising event would be an annual one – and that did not always mean that it would be ‘Kelly themed’.

    We have run other events that have absolutely nothing to do with the Kelly Story – we have been unable to facilitate those either.

    The Hall sits on Victorian State Government Crown Land and is managed by an an elected Committee of Management. Like all Victorian Government facilities, we have had to follow the directions of the Chief Health Officer. No events have been allowed at all for over more than eighteen months across the Pandemic. In brief windows the density limit of 1:4 would have meant 30 people (including Committee). Not viable.

    No events have been held at the Hall in any form since Ned and the Law. Not even hiring the Hall for a local private gathering.

    Not holding an event has absolutely nothing to do with interest in the Kelly Story and everything to do with Covid regulations and Covid Safe planning.

    Our small, rural district and community has bunkered down to remain safe.

    When we can run at full capacity in a safe manner we will do so. There are several years worth of forums in the planning. Plenty of speakers who have agreed to attend.

    We just need to be able to facilitate an event at the standard we have in previous years.

    Noeleen Lloyd.

    1. Noeleen, as you have previously described Ned Kelly and his gang as being ‘naughty’, and the Kelly gang as ‘not being monster’s’, it will be interesting to see how you react when all the myths that you have previously promoted are gone, and the truth about his extensive criminality and stand over tactics come to the fore.
      You claimed that Ned Kelly stood up for ideals. Ned Kelly’s ideals related to stealing work horses from poor settlers, effectively sending them bankrupt. He had ideals, didn’t he?
      You also claimed that he was loyal to his mates. Very loyal to his mate Harry Power, that he gave him up to escape being sent to gaol. Harry Power knew who gave him up, and here is what he said.
      “The five hundred didn’t do them any good,” I said. “No, you’re right there. They thought
      they had squared themselves with the police, and I fully believe Ned Kelly got out of the charge, of being an associate and help of mine, through a promise to take the police to my camp. If you read the particulars of that case when he was before the court for being an accomplice of mine, you’ll remember that Ned was discharged because the police had no evidence to call. It’s as clear as daylight to me. The police evidence alone would have convicted Ned. But he had promised to give me away if they let him off, and accordingly he kept his word. I’m sure Nicholson and Hare never could have found me. What a fool I was to get drunk on gin with them the night before the dawn when Nicholson and Hare jumped upon me in my bunk.”
      Ned Kelly had no ideals and gave up his mates. Your previous comments display your inability to accept the truth about a very serious criminal

    2. Hi Noeleen,
      I am not sure if I am reading your mood correctly here or not but are you annoyed with me for using the phrase ‘The Greta-Hansonville Hall Kelly weekend’ ? I realise its never had an official title and I knew it was a fundraiser – but wasnt the original Beechworth NK Weekend also a fundraiser? I hadnt intended to disparage it in any way – in fact as you know Ive been quite complimentary about the material thats been presented at them! In future I will refer to that event as a “Kelly themed forum”. And yes, I stand corrected there were three such events – I could only remember the Armour and Ned and the Law.

      Actually, if I thought you were going to respond to anything in that post, it might have been about the KTG. Youve said when your response was done we would hear about it but its now nearly ten months….and the tree is dead. Heres a suggestion though : now the tree is dead couldnt a dating core could be drilled to settle its age once and for all? That might help settle at least part of the controversy. And please when is someone going to answer the questions I asked politely months and months ago?

      1. Noeleen Lloyd says: Reply

        Hi David

        My mood is fine- infact, it’s healthier than it has been for the better part of two years.

        I merely wanted to point out that the Greta Hansonville Hall event did not, and has never intended (or even tried) to take the place of the Beechworth Ned Kelly Weekend.

        I don’t know whether the Beechworth Weekend served as a fundraiser or not. I was not privy to the workings of their Committee or their finances.

        Our event raises funds that go directly back into the Hall – and no one is paid. Everyone donates their time.

        The vision is that the event takes the inspiration for a theme from the Kelly Story and expand on it. – looking at touch points, and it might be quite broad. As I said there are lots of ideas swirling.

        Even before Covid it would (and post Covid) only occur if the very small Volunteer Committee felt they were able to work it. We decided then (and continue) to decide, on a year to year basis if it would run.

        It would never get any bigger than what we did in 2020.

        No re-enactments.

        No dressing up.

        No bigger crowd than 70 paying patrons., a one day, one venue event – with a dinner on some of those occasions to relax and talk with each other.

        Lots of different people from both sides of the story at the last event. Many were actually serving police or police descendants.

        Now- to changing hats and talking about the work on the Kennedy Tree – I am more than comfortable in saying that as a team we work together. All the field work is done.

        The hold up in completing the required written work – has been me. Why? I’ve had some significant issues that have severely impacted on my input into my part of work for the team – not looking for any sympathies and I don’t need to go further. Suffice to say -all things are improved.

        Again, not looking for any type of reaction, just giving you and answer.

        As a team we work together and won’t do anything without all the team being on board. It’s a decision we made at the beginning.

        It will happen. We are working on it. Seriously.

        As to your question about the core sample – I don’t know. But I will actually ask it. My understanding is that even though a tree may be dead in a National Park, it is not allowed to be felled or ‘interfered’ with.

        I am hoping that 2022 is going to be the turning point for so many things-in our State, Country and World. It will allow us all to complete long outstanding tasks. Lift our spirits. Restore calm

        Happy New Year.

        Noeleen

  3. Noeleen Lloyd says: Reply

    Sam- or should I say Brad Williams
    – your comments above on the Ned Kelly Touring Route are almost identical to those written on the Police Blue Ribbon Facebook page and a number of others, that’s why I believe that you are the same person.

    Please refrain from telling me what you believe is – or is not – my ability. Especially my ability to think.

    I do come here to be personally attacked and, I do not attack others.

    You know very little about me, and I caution you about making personal observations about my belief systems, knowledge of this story or on my character based on a few lines in a documentary- a snapshot.

    You know nothing of my ability to think, reason or critically examine a problem – whether that be in my personal or professional life.

    The point is you don’t know me. You have never spoken, nor corresponded with me.

    This story is my family history – and I do not shy away from it, nor do I excuse it. It is violent in many places.

    It is not one dimensional and there are many experiences, influences and prejudices that were in play long before any of the Clan arrived in Australia.

    Irish History is complex – especially Catholic Irish history.

    This story is many layered and complex.

    However, given it is MY story, I, and other members of the extended Clan, have an understanding that is far deeper than those who look from the outside.

    If I can sit at the table with descendants of police officers from Stringybark Creek, searchers, siege hostages, and all other players in this story, and genuinely call them friend – and know that it is reciprocated, then it shows that we, the people who truly own the story, are in the best position to drive this narrative.

    I say again, politely and respectfully – please refrain from trying to read my mind and tell me how and what I think.

    Noeleen.

    1. Hi again Noeleen

      I am not going to apologise for Sam thats his responsibility.

      But I would like to ask you about something you wrote that Ive noticed you mention before, that this is YOUR/MY story. You seem to be suggesting by this that people like you who claim this as their own story are the only ones who could really know it and understand it and people like me are therefore at a disadvantage. I am not having a go at you but I think this is a serious question that needs discussion.

      There are at least three issues that occur to me about this stance – the first is that being in such an intimate relationship to the story can completely ruin objectivity and make you the WORST people people to expect fair and balanced understanding from ( I am not making this a personal thing, its a general point about objectivity) Secondly, the story has innumerable participants – Kelly/ Byrne/Lloyd descendants, police descendants, hostage descendants, bank worker descendants etc etc – and they can all equally claim it as their own story, so whose story then becomes the ‘real’ one? And the other point worth discussing is the idea that this story in some sense belongs to all of us because it’s one of those transcendent stories that has merged into the fabric of Australias cultural heritage.

      I would also add that you have chosen to make yourself some sort of public spokesperson for the story so I think its legitimator people to ask you for an explanation of things youve done and said about it ( but I agree, politely and respectfully?

      Interested in your thoughts of course..

    2. Noelene, I did not question your ability at all. I presented what you had previously said and asked a question about how you would react when all the myths are gone. Frankly, claiming that Ned Kelly was ‘naughty’, when in fact he was a very serious criminal, is a bit rich. To my way of thinking, that is a poor excuse on your part to dismiss his extensive criminality. Think what you like, but when you make public statements like that to diminish his extensive criminality, you can expect to wear some comments that disagree strongly with your views.
      The fact that the 7 local councils in Kelly country have recognised that their website and written material is full of fictitious rubbish is a giant step forward, so the children of this nation will learn the truth and not the fiction, myths and lies that presently dominate social media and books written by Kelly fans. Many more government and quasi government organisations are being requested to remove their myths now, and many are complying.
      The Kelly Touring Route is just the beginning. Watch this space.

  4. Noeleen Lloyd says: Reply

    David

    I am happy to answer your question -my view has always been that mine and every other family owns their family story and history – just as anyone such as yourself owns their family story and history.

    As to the Kelly Story – I do not, and never have believed that we have exclusive ‘ownership’, as this story is a unique part of Australian and indeed world history. We must, and can exist together. It does belong to everyone, but first and foremost it is still a family story. I say it, I write it. I believe it.

    I want people to remember that – that EVERYONE in this story was a living breathing person that had family and has descendants. I am in agreement- with many others that we strip away the myths and inaccuracies and just tell the story. Remembering that this is about REAL people.

    That’s all.

    I don’t want to consume, nor control it.

    I’m not actually the spokesperson- I am maybe just ‘outspoken’. There will be many who disagree with me and I must stress I do not speak on behalf of anyone except me.

    Each and every person who is a descendant from any participant in this story has their own experiences viewpoint and beliefs about this entire story. They won’t all compliment or be complimentary.

    They should all be listened to.

    Can we be too close and not objective – yes there is always that risk. Alternatively, nuances and context may be lost from outside the family.

    I certainly do not presume to speak for the KELLY family – I not a descendant.

    I do not speak for any of the other people involved either.

    Examining a family story from outside of the family is always going to look different- it has to.

    I am not saying that you must be a descendant to understand it – but the families do look at it differently from an historian, researcher, interested reader, or general public. Especially when it is not that long ago for some of our oldest family members. They don’t have memory of the time – but they have memory of people.

    In summary – is someone from outside the families able to understand the story – yes. However my point is, that it will be different the way descendants understand it – it will always be personal.

    It can be difficult to see one’s family continually referred to in a derogatory term – and before you say it, yes both on pro and anti sides. This puts all sides on edge. Everyone reacts to that in a different manner.

    Anyway – I think that’s enough for me to tonight

    Noeleen

  5. Hi David, thanks for your kind words in memory of Ian MacFarlane whom I was lucky enough to meet on person. A real gentleman in the old sense of polite, modest and generous with his knowledge and photocopies about such obscure things as the Alfred Graving Dock where Ned Kelly laboured for a few months (and not as a stonemason!) and the horses brutally killed by the Kelly gang and associates up on the Murray. It’s a pity he never finished writing that up as it would have turned a lot of people’s stomachs, who naively pander to the “nice Ned Kelly” myths. His Unmasked book was certainly a landmark achievement as the first objective myth-busting work in Kelly history in the same way that Frost’s work on the First Fleet completely overturned the old view of Australia as having been little more than a dumping ground for convicts, that dominated Australian history for decades.

    As you mention, it will be interesting to see how the updated Ned Kelly Touring Route turns out. The problem is that the fiction-laden Jones narrative has been dominant for so long that it keeps getting propped up despite gaping holes that were evident even before MacFarlane’s magnificent demolition. But we know a lot more now about what a true narrative should look like thanks to a lot oc work including and since MacFarlane, and the new NKTR can expect robust, well informed and well researched public criticism if it falls into any ongoing replication of Jones’s bizarre unhistorical and simple minded hero fantasies,

  6. Happy new year to you and your readers David. It is shaping up to be a memorable year for sure.

    The Ned Kelly Touring Route was launched around twenty years ago. To state the NKTR has been ‘fully funded and fully supported by many of the areas councils for many years’ misses the mark I’m afraid. Further, to claim the NKTR has been ‘an immensely influential resource’ is certainly not true. The ‘fully funded’ marketing collateral has basically amounted to some brochure reprinting, two website changes and some information panels in a couple of Kelly sites (Avenel and Glenrowan being the main sites with the impressive information panels throughout the Woolshed Valley/El Dorado vicinity being funded externally). The brochures have only gone through very minimal (if any) redesigns so for much of the time it has been ’set and forget’. This may have been the intention when the NKTR was launched.

    It is sad to report that at times several traders/attractions along the touring route didn’t even have most basic NKTR brochures to distribute and have had to beg to get new brochures printed. New NKTR signage on the Hume Freeway? Forget it, despite many requests from some traders. 

    I cannot think of one NKTR-led initiative/exhibition/event in twenty years. Unfortunately the NKTR has not lived up to initial expectations and has really been a bit of a fizzer for the better part of two decades. The NKTR has really been no more than an umbrella entity which has (by default) linked all the attractions, sites, etc across all market segments throughout Kelly Country.

    History tells us that community/non-profit organisations and private individuals have always been the champions of the NKTR and the ones who have consistently tried to breathe life into the concept and offer quality product to the punters – almost always unpaid. Early festivals in Avenel, the Beechworth Ned Kelly Weekends, the Kelly Vault at Beechworth, the Greta Hall Kelly events, Benalla Museum events and exhibitions, the Stringybark Creek memorial, etc – were all conceived and promoted by individuals and organisations outside the NKTR. This is apart from the early siege dinners which were beautifully staged by the Rural City of Wangaratta.

    2022 is indeed a watershed year. We will finally see massive investment in key product in Kelly Country (although not in the NKTR specifically). Over six million dollars is being collectively spent on key Kelly tourism assets including the Kelly house at Beveridge, the interactive viewing platform at Glenrowan and the Beechworth Courthouse Reactivation. It is the largest overall government investment in Kelly tourism across the board EVER. This is a wonderful outcome for Glenrowan most especially considering the debacle in the early 2000s when a $22M interpretive centre with a 700 space car park was mooted – a project which was instantly killed off by its ridiculous price tag and scope.

    Amongst an impressive line of successful product in the NKTR over the years (as previously mentioned, mostly privately conceived and created), it is important to mention this November will mark seven years since the multi-million dollar Ned Kelly Centre project was announced. It is significant that the NKC is the only private/non-government project within the NKTR which has not materialised. With the Glenrowan viewing platform due to start construction this year, it will be interesting to see if NKC keep asking for public donations and continue to seek their own grant funding for their multi-million dollar project or if they graciously concede they gave it a red-hot go but have failed. After so many false starts over twenty years, the viable project for Glenrowan has been assessed, funded, is fully supported by the Rural City of Wangaratta and other stakeholders, and is well and truly on the way. Surely, the embarrassing NKC distraction must end and Glenrowan should be allowed to fully embrace a new era of Kelly storytelling without any further nonsense.

    More than ever it is important that factual information is available to people travelling through the NKTR or accessing their information online. It is long overdue for an update and general re-write anyway. This was always going to happen.

    But the NKTR is only as good as the sum of its parts (and especially it’s people) across a vast geographical network and therefore will only ever truly become ‘an immensely influential resource’ if all those parts and extraordinary resources are linked correctly, well resourced, respected and work together to tell the story as well as it can be told. There is untold potential for an engaging, entertaining and highly educational cultural experience if we can get it right. Regardless of your individual view on Kelly, or whether you are a ‘sympathiser’ or not, there will be something for everybody along the NKTR.

    One thing is for sure. Ned Kelly tourism is finally gaining the significance and vital government investment it deserves. Ned rides again…and again….and again. 

    Stay safe everybody.

    1. Thanks for giving us your thoughts on the year ahead – we have no way that I know of to gauge how influential that NK Touring Route initiative has been but its easy to find links on a Google search and brochures in the Information Centers at various places around the North East. I think the NK Centre initiative failed years ago, and its a shame in my opinion that Councils didnt see how little support it got and take that as a signal to NOT spend millions of dollars on new NK projects. It sickens me to think that tax payer money is being used to provide something that tax payers indicated they didnt want, by their failure to back the NKC initiatve. Instead local Councils probably got done over by powerful but small interest groups who misrepresented the true situation.

      I just want to make it clear that I am all for Tourist ventures and using local history to attract money into the local economy and so on, so the NK Tower at Glenrowan and the money being spent on restoring the Kelly house at Beveridge are fine by me.

      The important question about them though, is what story are they going to be telling? If the revamp of the NK Touring Route meets the expectations of the councils who set out the conditions of the contract, a very different story is going to be told – it will be a story thats historically accurate for once, that doesnt incorporate the fanciful Republic myth and many other myths and legends that are currently being promoted as history. This I expect will make it much more difficult for the other attractions to continue to offer the outdated versions, and hopefully they also will develop a more ethical approach to the provision of public information, and only tell the truth.

      I keep saying that if only these promotors would fully embrace the reality, that the Outbreak was a scandalous violent and intriguing criminal chapter of the history of the north east, people are likely to be even MORE interested in it than at present where many visitors probably feel theres a Kelly con underway in the North East and the true story is not being told.

      So yes I feel the watershed we are approaching is in a dramatic shift away from Kelly mythology and unhistorical mythologies and towards openness honesty and full disclosure of the reality of the Outbreak, which was a murderous criminal endeavour centered around a violent psychopath. An historical footnote will refer to a brief time when he was mistakenly thought by some to be a rebel hero.

  7. The contract let by the Ned Kelly Touring Route group states that ALL myths are to be removed. In their website and promotional documentation, there is hardly one sentence that does not contain a myth. Realistically, we can expect the entire website and promotional material to be completely rewritten, and the truth finally presented to the public.
    Most of the public who visit Kelly historical sites have no idea of Ned Kelly’s criminality, and they are at this time presented with a load of utter garbage that distorts facts and presents a picture of Ned Kelly being some sort of hero. Historical proof, showing what Ned Kelly was really like, has been hidden from the public. Ian Jones, the disgraced author, had a great deal to do with the writing of the Touring Route material, and he is almost solely responsible for distorting the true picture and nature of Ned Kelly.
    The 7 councils that control the NKTR have shown great foresight in taking this action. I look forward to the truth finally appearing in their documentation, so the public can finally understand the true nature of Ned Kelly. Bring it on.

  8. Hi Sam, I hope you’re right that the councils are genuinely open to a true Kelly narrative being told, but I fear that Wangaratta Council in particular can’t see past the walls of the long entrenched Jones mythology. They were the main promoters and funders of the Ned Kelly Alive project which was designed to encourage regional tourism by spending up big on Kelly projects entirely under the perspective and outlook developed by Jones over the past several decades. As far as I can see from having read and critiqued that report a few years ago they are hapless captives of the Jones fictions and simply can’t see any other way of looking at the Kelly story. I have sent copies of my research articles Redeeming Fitzpatrick and the Republic myth busting book to all the Councils with no impact on their venue signage. All they do is go and consult their copies of Jones the guru and go back to sleep. Plus, they are panic-struck at the idea of treading on Kelly nut toes by even allowing anything critical of Kelly in their signage and handouts. They say things like “we have to tell all sides of the story” while only telling Jones’s version on endless repeat. My impression to date over the last seven years since I demolished Jones’s Fitzpatrick myths is that the North East tourism people are for the most part stuck in a permanent non-critical rut. I hope That may at last be changing but Jones’s historical fictions are extraordinarily well entrenched.

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