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General News (Archives)

7/06/03 Kelly Gang souvenirs rounded up and back under lock and key (Geraldine O'Brien) Source:

Despite numerous films, histories and novels, the myth of the Kelly Gang still has steam, with the trade in memorabilia continuing unabated, often illegally, according to the guardians of Australia's archives. In NSW, State Records has just retrieved three telegrams and a letter relating to the hunt for the Kelly gang and the murder of Aaron Sherritt. They had been offered for auction and had a catalogue value of between $5000 and $10,000.

Alan Ventress of State Records said it had paid $3600 to secure the documents."Probably on the open market the value would have been around $10,000 but these are government documents which cannot be sold on the open market. "We give some compensation out of good will. But the message we want to get over is that no matter what jurisdiction they appear in, these documents are not for sale; they are government records and the trade in them is illegal." All four items "clearly have been hanging on someone's wall", he said.

They show police forces in NSW and Victoria reacting with panic to the gang's depredations The alarm was sufficient enough to raise the reward for their capture to the equivalent of $2 million in today's money, a sum raised by both governments and "certain banks operating in the colony". "Kelly's gang supposed to have crossed Murrumbidgee riding four bay horses leading two pack horses," reads one telegram. "Have informed all stations north."

Another, from Beechworth police dated June 27, 1880, reports that the "watch party stuck up by Kelly gang at six o'clock Saturday night. Aaron [Sherritt] shot dead in the hut he occupied by Joe Byrne . . . "

Mr Ventress said the richest collection of Kelly material was held in Victoria's Public Record Office and was available on its website. "We've got the NSW side of the story - the correspondence between the colonial secretaries of NSW and Victoria and the police as the gang went backwards and forwards across the border." He added: "Anything to do with Kelly is a constant source of fascination . . . and I think people of the time realised it would become significant, which is why so many of them souvenired documents like these, which had probably been held in local police stations."

22/05/03 'Ned' Movie reviewed by Alexa Moses from the Sydney Morning Herald
Source: (updated 26th)

Written and directed by Abe Forsythe, Rated MA

Abe Forsythe is an admirable man. The actor from television's Always Greener has a self-starter attitude and it's easy to applaud the two years he spent writing, directing and starring in Ned. It's natural to praise the punt he's taken on his sense of humour and to extol the virtues of a young person gutsy enough to make his own feature film on a low budget. It's no trouble bowing down to the man's moxie. But Australian reviewers tackling Australian cinema often want to be apologists for the industry, and so it was with heavy heart that I found Ned, the spoof of Ned Kelly's life, more loathsome and less funny than 1993's Reckless Kelly.
Forsythe plays the bumbling Ned, son of a rubber farmer (Jeremy Sims). Ned wants to be a travelling magician and, after a row with dad, leaves the house on his miniature horse, taking the letterbox with him. He auditions for the Kelly gang and joins them in their robberies of Glenrowan's only bank. Along the way, the gang tussles with the odiously genteel Governor Sinclair (Felix Williamson), who drinks Earl Grey tea and keeps a hamster for unmentionable leisure activities.
The romp is replete with fart gags, bestiality jokes, bodily fluids and tired gay innuendo. To be fair, there are a few funny moments - the best includes Nudge from Hey Dad - but they're as abundant as Simon Crean groupies.
The script needed a damn good editing. Someone should have told Forsythe that repeating a joke doesn't make it funnier. Someone should have explained the concept of character to him. And, while they were there, they should have told him about story, because the film hangs together like a series of sketches. Forsythe's characters wander around camp while waiting for the showdown in Glenrowan. Isn't there something interesting for them to do?
One glimmer in the darkness is Williamson's performance as Governor Sinclair. He makes the most of some shocking lines. But Forsythe's Ned is so slack-jawed he is painful to watch and it's a blessed relief when the outlaw is sent to be hanged.
At its worst, Ned is filled with gay jokes that are particularly repulsive because they are of the nudge-nudge-wink-wink variety. They involve transsexuals who speak in flutey voices, camp cowboys in chaps and men flicking each other coquettishly with towels. They're not even as funny as Benny Hill.
Good comedy has something to say. That's true regardless of whether it's absurdist like Monty Python, biting like The Chaser, or bleakly funny like The Office.
Ned does not provoke thought and, more criminally for a comedy, it produces little laughter.

6/05/03 'Dashing Ned back from dead' (Rosemary Sorensen)
Source: report

A chance finding of production stills from a 1934 film about Ned Kelly will preserve the image of the dashing actor Hay Simpson as the stand-and-deliver counter-hero. The National Screen and Sound Archive has received more than 60 production stills from the film, When the Kellys Rode, discovered under the floorboards of a house in Sydney.
Mr Simpson's niece, Margaret Titterton, found the photographs during renovations to her Vaucluse house. Mrs Titterton has given the stills, along with news clippings about the release of the film, to the National Screen and Sound Archive, which will preserve them along with the original nitrate film.
According to Screen Sound Australia, the film, directed and written by Harry Southwell, was released in 1934, but not in NSW until 1948 because the police department in that state had reinstated a ban on all bushranging films.
Hay Simpson's Ned Kelly was to be his only starring film role. In 1937, he was working on his second film, Mystery Island, shot near Lord Howe Island. After a month of production, Simpson and another member of the cast attempted to return to Sydney in a skiff and disappeared, lost at sea.

30/04/03 'Ned Kelly: villain or hero?' (John Kilner, The Age Education Unit)
Source: The Age newspaper, education section

Ned Kelly was an outlaw and a convicted police killer. Why does he loom so large in Australian history?
1. What makes Ned Kelly newsworthy?
Ned Kelly has hardly left the news. His life has inspired newspaper articles, biographies, plays, films, poems and novels. The latest effort is a movie starring Heath Ledger. In 2001, Peter Carey won a Booker prize for his novel The True History of the Kelly Gang.
Ned Kelly's story has many amazing elements. It can been seen as one of a poor boy of great skill, devoted to his family, wronged by the police and the legal system and - following a tragic series of events - executed at the age of 25.
But there are sharply differing views: the Ned Kelly story rests on different interpretations of ``facts".
Some feel it is a strongly Australian story with Kelly as the archetypal Australian challenging authority.
There are also broader questions raised by his life. Was he a freedom fighter? Was he attempting to spark an uprising? When do people have the right to resist the law?

2. Turning fact into fiction

According to some he was a murderer and a cattle thief elevated to hero status by a public looking for a hero. He was a police killer. He used the innocent for his own ends, taking hostages in shoot-outs. Four townspeople were killed in the Glenrowan shootout when he was captured.
The story of Ned Kelly has become a source of myth, and sometimes the narrative leaves out important facts. The stories and films that focus on his life build on the myth. In his book, Peter Carey imagines a daughter Kelly never had; the film featuring Heath Ledger invents a romantic interest.
Other interpretations use facts to paint a different picture. One view suggests there was sympathy for Kelly at the time of his trial and execution: a petition for clemency gained 32,000 signatures in Melbourne from a population of 300,000.
Some commentators say that we need to consider the Kelly story in a broader context. They claim that Ned Kelly was a victim of his circumstances. He lived in a society of inequality between rich and poor, country and city, Irish Catholics and English Protestants. In the Jerilderie Letter, Ned Kelly described himself as a defender of the oppressed and a ``widow's son outlawed".

3. Ned Kelly as an enduring cultural symbol

The story of Ned Kelly has inspired artists, writers, filmmakers and musicians. The first book on the Kelly gang, Outlaws of the Wombat Ranges, was printed in 1879. A radio play in 1942 was a hit. There was a ballet in the 1950s. Perhaps some of the best-known images are in the series of Ned Kelly abstract paintings by artist Sidney Nolan. Kelly was even portrayed in the 2000 Olympics ceremony in Sydney.
Why? Clare Williamson, the curator of the exhibition Kelly Culture: Reconstructing Ned Kelly, at the State Library of Victoria, feels the appeal was the subversiveness that Kelly stood for. ``The thing with Kelly is you have the man and you have the mask. And the mask . . . gives you the freedom to re-create." (The Age, February 27, 2003.)

4. Recent headlines

``The many histories of the Kelly Gang" The Age, March 29, 2003.
``Ned's legacy" The Age, February 27, 2003.
`New Ned Kelly find leaves theory on shootings up the creek" The Age, February 10, 2003.
``The bush bandit rides again" The Age, January 29, 2003.

5. What The Age said about Kelly in 1880

``Precisely those who plead that Kelly was the creature of circumstances, and that we are all moulded by our surroundings, ought to understand that society is bound to put the brand of failure upon crime. Other men as ignorant and as weak as Kelly must learn from him that it is wise to refrain from bloodshed; that the State is stronger than any one citizen; and that no fictitious romance, no maudlin sympathy will avail against the common sense of the governing majority."
Editorial Opinion, The Age, November 13, 1880.

6. What people say

``The evidence of his life leads inexorably to one conclusion: Ned Kelly is Australia's first yob."
Christopher Bantick, The Age, October 24, 2001.

``The `terrorist hostages' held at the Glenrowan Hotel in fact danced and sang. The fact that thousands of Victorians signed a petition to oppose the execution of Ned demonstrates this point. A stronger parallel can be made between Kelly and Peter Lalor, a generation earlier. Lalor's Eureka rebels took up arms, fought troopers and opposed the Crown in a desperate attempt to get a fair go. Ned Kelly deserves his rightful place in Australian folklore and history."
David Crawford, The Age, October 30, 2001.

``If my life teaches the public that men are made mad by bad treatment, and if the police are taught that they may not exasperate to madness men they persecute and ill treat, my life will not be entirely thrown away."
Interview with Ned Kelly in Beechworth Prison, The Age, August 9, 1880.

7. Your view

What's your opinion? What do you think of the Ned Kelly legend? Is the story of Ned Kelly portrayed in the latest movie more myth than fact? Why does the story of Ned Kelly have such great appeal? Did society turn Kelly into a criminal? What does he mean to you? Submit your view online or email

8. Web links

Ned Online
For more see bailup's link page

9. Curriculum links

CSF II Studies of Society & Environment: History 4.2, 6.2, 6.6

13/04/03 'Firestorm reveals Kelly link' (Adrian Tame)
Source: Sunday Herald Sun

The bushfires that raged through Victoria's Alpine region have uncovered a 120-year-old clue to the history of the Kelly gang.
Historians Brian and Margaret Cornish have discovered what appears to be a secret tunnel close to the site of the cottage of Kelly gang member, and later victim, Aaron Sherritt. The Cornishes believe the tunnel was intended as an escape route by Sherritt when he fell foul of the gang after they suspected him of becoming a police informer. About 1880, Sherritt, then aged 25, moved into an abandoned miner's hut In the Woolshed Valley near Beechworth with his pregnant bride, Ellen, 16.
Brian Cornish said Sherritt had ridden with the Kelly gang, and was a close friend of gang member Joe Byrne. By the time he moved into the hut, the gang suspected him of becoming an informer. "So he would have needed a bolt hole. But it wasn't a very successful one, because on the eve of the Glenrowan siege he was shot at the doorway of the hut by Byrne and Dan Kelly," said Mr Cornish. He said four policemen were hiding in the hut at the time, but failed to act to save Sherritt's life. They were later disciplined.
He said the site of the Sherritt hut in the Woolshed Valley had been worked out from contemporary descriptions. Mr Cornish and his wife visited the site in late January after the bushfires had swept through from Eldorado, near Beechworth, to see what damage, if any, had been done. Instead they found the 18m-long tunnel, starting at the bottom of a short mineshaft close to the hut site. They found evidence of the tunnel earlier, but dense undergrowth had prevented a full examination. "I was able to crawl 9m into the tunnel, taking photographs, measurements and compass readings, and found a small inner chamber large enough for one or two men. There was another shelf cut out, which could have been a sleeping platform," he said. After passing under a road the tunnel opens into a channel and joins a Chinese water race running along the valley.
This discovery is likely to reawaken public interest in the Kelly gang, already sparked by the release of the box office hit Ned Kelly, starring Heath Ledger.

30/03/03 'Truth takes back seat in new Aussie 'western' (Derek Ballantine)
Sunday Herald Sun

Well, Derek has been bandying his versions of Kelly 'facts' (using the term loosely) around yet again (perhaps at the behest of his editor Mr Howe?). Fortunately Bailup has been saved from having to address the numerous errors in the 'article' as Brad from ironoutlaw has done a top job already. Instead of reluctantly directing you to the original piece, we can now happily direct you to Brad's retort, which is far more accurate and educational (not to mention entertaining). Go to Ironoutlaw SoapBox.

28/03/03 The many histories of the Kelly Gang (Martin Flanagan)

From the outset, there were two versions of the Kelly story. One was carried in the newspapers and magazines of the day. While this was not always laudatory of the government or police, implicit in the press’s view were certain assumptions about the law that placed the Kellys firmly outside it, usually casting them as low thieves and murderers. The other version, in which the gang were heroes, was carried in song.
The controversy around Ned never went away for long. The film, The Story of the Kelly Gang, was shot in 1906 and is usually described as Australia’s first feature film. In an essay on the genre of bushranger films that it spawned, Melbourne writer William Routt quotes film exhibitor T.J.West announcing in March 1911 that "for the country’s good, West’s will not, in the future, show Australian bushranging films". In Routt’s view, West’s stand marked the beginning of the end for the genre.
But Ned kept re-appearing. During World War I, Sir John Monash, Australia’s most distinguished general, gained kudos among his troops from the story that, as a 14-year-old boy, he had been in Jerilderie the day it was stuck up by the Kelly gang. In journalistic terms, the major contribution of this period, little noticed at the time but now much prized by collectors, was the publication of The Inner History of the Kelly Gang in 1929.

Written with passionate eloquence by J.J.Kenneally, a teacher who had grown up in that part of north-eastern Victoria still sometimes called Kelly country, the book juxtaposed police statements at the time of the Kelly break-out, and during the events leading up to it, with the findings of the 1881 Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Victorian Police. It is a fact that many of the policemen involved in the saga were subsequently demoted and pensioned off or, in the case of Constable Fitzpatrick, with whom the outbreak can be said to have started, dismissed from the force on the grounds that he "could not be trusted out of sight". Kenneally’s book used previously unpublished information given to the author by Tom Lloyd, the so-called fifth member of the gang, and finished, volcanically, with a review by Ned’s sole surviving brother, Jim, then aged 70. Jim Kelly’s review is one long bellow of rage at the injustice visited upon his family by the police. No less intense is his dislike for "mercenary writers" and imposters seeking to profit from retellings of the story. Particularly offended by a novel of the day titled The Girl Who Helped Ned Kelly, Jim declared: "My brother Ned was so devoted to his mother he had no ‘girl’."

In the course of World War II, a writer named Max Brown thought he discerned an Australian character that was distinct and original. When he traced the character back to its archetype, he arrived at the figure of Ned. The foreword to his book, first published in 1948 as Australian Son, remains one of the most perceptive essays written on the Kelly phenomenon. Afire with idealism for the project, he had journeyed to north-eastern Victoria to immerse himself in the detail of the story. Three months later, by his own account "bitterly disappointed", he realised, "The hands of the dead had reached out to keep the silence. Already I knew there were gaps in the Kelly history I could not mend, as well as major issues concerning which accounts were opposed. Time, class interest and perversity had done their job, I realised, finally, that the truth I once regarded as absolute was largely relative."

Ned could not be known then, and he certainly cannot be known now. That is one source of his eerie power. At every vital turn in the saga there are at least two versions of what occurred. What remains vivid, however, are his symbols. In what was then, and is again now, a largely derivative culture, Ned’s was a bold native imagining and, while his story is deeply rooted in place, it asks universal questions. Was Ned a rebel or was he an outlaw? Was he a freedom fighter or - as was alleged in this newspaper shortly after September 11 - was he a terrorist?

Around the same time as Brown went looking for the real Ned and found himself grasping at shadows, a great artist with an eagle eye for Australian culture (and who happened to have read The Inner History of the Kelly Gang) was putting a similar perception to Brown’s to a spectacularly different end. No film or novel can match the power of Sidney Nolan’s Kelly paintings because, ultimately, any attempt at telling the Kelly story must settle on a certain version of the facts. Nolan understood the power of Ned’s ambiguity. We never meet his Ned face to face: he is the masked figure on the edge of the Australian psyche. But Nolan’s Kelly paintings were also wholly original landscapes that made no attempt to please the eye in any conventional way. Nolan’s Australia was bright and bare and hard; we may not feel we belonged in such a place, but the figure in the steel mask somehow did.

Around the same time, in north-western Australia, the Yarralin people were telling a story that said that Captain Cook took Ned back to England where his throat was cut. As recorded in Deborah Bird Rose’s Dingo Makes Us Human, the story continues: "They bury him. Leave him. Sun go down, little bit dark now, he left this world. BOOOOOMMMMM! Go longa top. This world shaking. All the white men been shaking. They all been frightened." Ned had entered the Dreamtime.
Ned’s critics, as intransigent today as ever, usually give vent to their feeling by describing him as a murderer and a cattle thief. In so far as this is meant to imply he was nothing but a common criminal, they are wrong. Ned took on the state. He plotted to abduct the Governor of Victoria, the Marquis of Normandy, and offer him in exchange for his imprisoned mother. The tactics the gang employed at Glenrowan were similar to those employed by the Boers 15 years later in South Africa and Ian Jones, commonly regarded as the leading Kelly historian of our day, is in no doubt that Glenrowan was intended to spark an uprising aimed at establishing a republic in north-east Victoria.

In 1974, Englishman Tony Richardson made a version of the story starring Mick Jagger as Ned. It’s a better film than its reputation would have you believe (one derisive story has is it that an aluminium helmet had to be made for Jagger as he was unable to keep the steel one aloft). Richardson understood that songs were basic to the Kelly tradition, even if he employed an American, Waylon Jennings, to sing them. Essentially, in Richardson’s view, the Kelly gang is Jumping Jack Flash and three young mates galloping through the bush, planning one big concert before it’s over.

More recently, there have been two major novels. It is from the first of these, Robert Drewe’s Our Sunshine, that the latest film has supposedly been made but what that means is hard to say. The novel’s appeal is the zest and flair of its language and Drewe’s Ned bears little resemblance to actor Heath Ledger’s finely judged portrayal of a sober young man poised between thought and action. Drewe’s Ned is a late-20th-century character viewing an improbable fate descend upon him with irony and humour. The author even has a circus present during the gang’s final climactic hours in the Glenrown Hotel. The most interesting character in Drewe’s book is Aaron Sherritt, the man who believes in nothing and trusts his smile and dancing feet can get him through anything.
The later novel, Peter Carey’s The True History of the Kelly Gang, has been rightly praised for the brilliant language the author has constructed from the manifesto written by Ned and/or Joe Byrne, known as the Jerilderie letter. Or is it any wonder that Carey’s book won acceptance in America. Carey’s Ned is Huckleberry Finn with no river to escape on, a man confronted at every turn by an impossible history who finally stands and rises to his full height, a pistol in each hand. In contrast to Drewe’s book, Carey’s Aaron Sherritt is an admirable character, a man prepared to risk his life to save his one true mate, Joe Byrne. Given Ned’s benigness, the character who differs most in Carey’s version from earlier retellings is Joe Byrne. Usually depicted as a bush Keats, half in love with easeful death, Carey’s Joe is an opium-addicted killer.
Drewe’s Ned has a wholly improbable fling with an English squatter’s wife. Carey goes one long step further, his book being written by Ned for his daughter by his de facto wife. The effect is to domesticate Ned and re-awaken the words of that incendiary literary critic, Jim Kelly: "My brother Ned was so devoted to his mother he had no ‘girl’." Ned became the man of the house at 13. Imagine Oedipus finding his mother not married to the King but oppressed by the Crown and you sense the wildness behind the final words of the Jerilderie letter: "I am a widow’s son outlawed and my orders must (underlined) be obeyed".

The effect of the two most recent films is to portray the Kelly myth as a case of the English versus the Irish. In each film, the Kellys, and those around them, speak with Irish accents. I am not persuaded they did. (There are people who would know. Jim Kelly lived until 1948. Ten years ago at Greta, I met a woman who had known him as a child.) In the new film, Irishness is also projected as a single identity but the subtext of the Kelly story is that the Irish in colonial Australia came in two colours, Orange and Green.
Ulster Protestants were then prominent in the Victoria Police while the leading Irish Protestant in Victorian society was Sir Redmond Barry, the judge who sent Ned’s mother Ellen Kelly to prison and two years later engaged in a famous verbal joust with Ned while sentencing him to be hanged. (Ned said he would see Sir Redmond in the place to which he was going; 12 days after Ned was hanged, Sir Redmond died of a poisoned carbuncle on his neck.)
Ned’s father was described by J.J.Kenneally as a true Irish patriot, but contemporary historians are not so sure. There’s a suggestion that when Red Kelly arrived as a convict in Van Diemen’s Land, he had the reputation of being a police informer - that is, a compromised man. Afterwards, in Melbourne, he met 18-year-old Ellen Quinn whose history was quite unlike his own. The Quinns were not convicts, they were not broken by the system. They were Irish Catholics from Ulster; there is reason to believe Ned Kelly would be better called Ned Quinn.

What the films miss are the Australianess of the story. Ned was born the year of the Eureka Stockade. His early years, the ones when his accent would have formed, were spent in that central corridor of Victoria that was awash with traffic to and from the goldfields. A spirit of optimism and revolt was in the air. No less than James Dean or the Beatles, Ned was of a generation. Ned said he and his friends would ride bold, fearless and free through the land. When the police moved against the Greta mob, it was specifically to take "the flashness out of them".
There was less than a fortnight between Ned being sentenced to death and executed, but in that period a petition for clemecy circulated in Melbourne, which then had a population of about 300,000, obtained 32,000 signatures. Ned’s appeal had already transcended ethnicity and religion. An Australian legend was being born.

28/03/03 'Ned Kelly'

1906 The Story Of The Kelly Gang
1920 The Kelly Gang
1923 When The Kellys Were Out
1934 When The Kellys Rode
1951 The Glenrowan Affair
1960 Stringybark Massacre
1960 Ned Kelly
1970 Ned Kelly
1993 Reckless Kelly
2003 Ned Kelly
Complete list

John Kinsella on Peter Carey’s True History of the Kelly Gang
Julian Burnside QC on the trial of Ned Kelly

Jerilderie Letter
Euroa Letter

Sidney Nolan’s Kelly series
Ned Kelly's armour

The Fatal Friendship by Ian Jones.
Ned Kelly: Australian Son by Max Brown.
Ned Kelly: A Short Life by Ian Jones.
Ned Kelly: The Authentic Illustrated History by Keith McMenomy.
I Am Ned Kelly by John Molony.
Ned Kelly: After a Century of Acrimony by John Meredith and Bill Scott.
The Inner History of the Kelly Gang by J J Kenneally.
Kelly Country Sketchbook by Brian Carroll & Jack Montgomery.
Kelly Country: A Photographic Journey by Brendon Kelson & John McQuilton.
Ned Kelly by Frank Clune.
The Kelly Hunters by Frank Clune.
Saint Ned by Keith Dunstan.
Ned Kelly: The Larrikin Years by Graham Jones.
Tell ’em I Died Game by Graham Seal.
Ned Kelly: Man and Myth by Colin Cave.
Ned Kelly by George Farwell.
Ned and the Others by Dagmar Balcarek & Gary Dean.
The Last of the Bushrangers by Francis Augustus Hare.
The Kelly Gang by Nancy Keesing.
Complete list

Whistle Man by Brian Ridden.
Black Snake: The Daring of Ned Kelly by Carole Wilkinson.
True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey.
Ned Kelly and the City of Bees by Thomas Keneally.
Kelly Country by A Bertram Chandler.
Our Sunshine by Robert Drewe.

27/03/03 'Police gather to honour a pioneering officer'

Several descendants of one of south-west Victoria's pioneering police officers yesterday gathered at the Camperdown cemetery for a remembrance service. Mounted Constable James Murdoch Arthur was born in Port Fairy and spent many years as officer-in-charge of police stations in Cobden and Camperdown, where he was buried in 1924. The service, also attended by many senior police officers, was held to honour Constable Arthur and to commemorate 150 years of Victoria Police.Constable Arthur's great, great nephew Arthur Clarke attended the service with cousins Fred Don, of Geelong, and Heather Rands, of Camperdown.Mr Clarke said his 99-year-old mother, who was unable to attend, could remember meeting Constable Arthur in Camperdown when she was three years old with her sister, Mr Don and Mrs Rand's mother, then five. "Our grandfather had never seen the cells so Constable Arthur showed him the cells and then he asked the girls if they wanted to go in," Mr Clarke said. "They said yes so he put them in and slammed the door on them. "My grandfather said they wailed and when he let them out, he said, `There you are. That's what it's like in prison, so don't get into prison'." Mr Don and Mr Clarke yesterday travelled to Camperdown after Mrs Rands told them of the ceremony.
Mr Don said the family had always heard of a relative who had been at the siege of Ned Kelly. "That was Constable Arthur. He was supposed to have shot Ned Kelly in the wrist and was there at the scene and that's about all we knew," Mr Don said. "It has always been a bit of an intrigue to us." Assistant Commissioner Leigh Gassner, in charge of the south-west, told the crowd Victoria Police had grown into a vibrant organisation since it was formed on January 8, 1853. He said it was important to reflect on the work of the state's pioneering police.

22/03/03 'Begorrah, Ned, or maybe g'day?' (Philip Derriman)

The latest movie about our most famous bushranger has sparked fresh argument about whether Kelly's accent was fair dinkum. Philip Derriman reports.

While the actor Heath Ledger has made it clear he has no regrets about giving Ned Kelly an Irish accent in the movie which has its world premiere in Melbourne tonight, the matter may yet prove to be the film's most serious historical issue. Did Kelly really speak that way? It's a touchy question. By making Australia's No.1 folk hero sound like an Irishman, has the movie stripped him of much of his Australian identity?

Expert opinion is divided. The theory that Kelly spoke with an Irish accent is supported by two Kelly biographers, but opposing them are leading linguists who argue it is inconceivable that someone who was born and raised in Australia in the mid-19th century, and mixed as widely as Kelly did, would have spoken with anything but an Australian accent.

So what is the historical truth? Contrary to the movie's production notes which suggest that Kelly lived in a time "too early for an [Australian] accent to have settled", linguists say an Australian accent was long established by the time Kelly was born in 1854.

David Blair, a Macquarie University linguist who has made a special study of the Australian accent's development, found that native-born Australians were speaking with their own accent by 1830. "We have a lot of printed evidence around the 1830s and earlier which says quite categorically that children born here didn't speak with any trace of dialects from Britain and Ireland," he says. Blair believes that Kelly's speech may, at most, have included a few Irishisms picked up from his Irish parents, but basically he would have spoken with the Australian accent common to all Australians of his generation. "It's conceivable but would be highly unusual that he had odd remnants of an Irish accent," Blair says. "It's not conceivable that he spoke with a brogue."

The opposing view is that Kelly grew up within an enclosed, mainly Irish community in north-eastern Victoria and he spoke the way people around him spoke. This view is advanced by Ian Jones, author of Ned Kelly: A Short Life and a recognised authority on the Kelly gang, who has evidence to support it. One is the testimony of a local man, Tom Lloyd, whose father knew Kelly well. Lloyd told Jones that, according to his father, Kelly spoke with a "clear, ringing brogue". He remembered his father also saying that Kelly spoke "like a priest", again implying he had an Irish accent. Jones also cites an English travel writer who visited north-eastern Victoria around 1870 and reported that local boys and girls had "voices singularly low and soft - their speech is characterised by a brogue decidedly Irish in its tone but softer and smoother than any brogue found in Ireland." There are other clues, Jones says. Kelly is reported on at least one occasion to have said "ye" instead of "you", and certain phrases and spellings in a letter he composed with a fellow gang member suggest an Irish accent.

Another Kelly biographer, John Molony, leans to the view that kelly spoke with an Irish-influenced accent although not a full-on brogue. While admitting there is no clear documentary evidence on the subject, he believes Kelly's heavy exposure to Irish speech in his formative years must have shaped his own speech thereafter.

The linguists disagree. Bruce Moore, of the Australian National Dictionary Centre at the ANU, whose own research points to an Australian accent as far back as the 1820s, says there have been only rare cases of dialects being preserved within enclosed immigrant communities - such as in the South Island of New Zealand, where recordings made in the early 1900s show older, locally born people speaking with a Scottish accent. But Moore does not believe that Kelly grew up in a community anything like that. On the contrary: from his early boyhood (he spent most of his brief schooling at an Anglican school) he would have mixed with children of various British backgrounds. "When you look at all the reliable 19th-century evidence, it all says that the distinctive feature of the children of migrants is that they speak with an accent which is unmarked by dialects. I would have expected Ned Kelly to speak with an Australian accent, which we know was well established by then."

In 1978, after Mick Jagger had given Kelly an Irish accent in an earlier movie, a great-niece of the Kellys, who still lived near Glenrowan, was asked about Ned's brother Jim, who lived there until 1946. She said that "Uncle Jim", just five years younger than Ned, had spoken with a broad Australian accent: "It beats me why that Mick Jagger gave Ned an Irish brogue."

9/03/03 Kelly's hero movie reopens old wounds in Australia (Mark Chipperfield) Source:

The words "Such is life" were the last to leave his lips as he hanged from the gallows. Now, more than 120 years after Ned Kelly’s death, it is the precise nature of the outlaw’s life that is once again polarising opinion in his native country. The imminent release of a new film about the legendary Australian bushranger has sparked a bitter debate about the real nature of a man variously regarded as a national hero and a psychopathic criminal by his fellow countrymen. The £11m film, Ned Kelly, which is due to be released in Australia later this month, paints a romantic picture. In it, Kelly, played by the Hollywood heartthrob Heath Ledger, is a courageous freedom fighter who stands up for the rights of Irish settlers against their British colonial oppressors.

Christopher Bantick, a Melbourne historian, condemned the portrayal as a total distortion of history. "Ned Kelly was a psychopathic killer," he said. "Kelly was an overbearing bully who used violence to impose his will. And instead of defending poor tenant farmers, Kelly and his gang subjected them to a reign of terror." Bantick has already infuriated the pro-Kelly lobby by comparing their quixotic hero to Osama bin Laden and the terrorists who planted the Bali bombs last October.

However, these charges are bitterly disputed by Ian Jones, a fellow Melbourne historian whose work on Ned Kelly inspired Peter Carey’s Booker Prize-winning novel The True History of the Kelly Gang, now an international bestseller. "The stuff about him being a terrorist is rubbish," he said. "Anyone who knows the real history and the facts can see this was not true."

Peter Carey, who claims his novel is almost entirely fictional, compares Kelly to a "kid from the projects [the American public housing estates]" - but one with a flair for words. "He was a member of the criminal underclass," he said. "It was a cruel, hard life; the police victimised them, but they weren’t angels either."

Certain facts are not in dispute. Edward Kelly, who was born in 1854, was of Irish stock. His father had been transported from Ireland after being convicted of stealing pigs. Kelly led a gang of outlaws that included his younger brother. The outlaws, who fashioned body armour and crude helmets from stolen ploughshares, roamed the outback for years, stealing horses, robbing banks and killing policemen. Kelly was captured in 1880 and convicted of the murder of three policemen. Aged 25, he was hanged at Old Melbourne Gaol.

Regardless of its merits or shortcomings, the new film, made by British company Working Title Films and co-starring Geoffrey Rush and Naomi Watts, has generated Kelly fever in Australia. Apart from re-runs of earlier Kelly films, including the 1970 version starring Mick Jagger, Melbourne is staging two exhibitions devoted to the dead bushranger. Nowhere is the debate more keenly felt than in "Kelly Country" - a sparsely populated farming area near the Great Dividing Range in Victoria - where the passing of the years has done little to quell old hatreds."In this part of Victoria, you grow up with Ned Kelly. I’m a Kelly man through and through," said one local. "But there’s plenty who are not for Kelly and will never forgive him." Glenrowan, a tiny hamlet where the Kelly Gang staged its infamous last stand, celebrates the ironclad outlaw with a giant concrete statue, with Ned defiantly brandishing a rifle at passing motorists. The nearby gift shop sells Ned Kelly T-shirts, tea towels, beer coasters and pots of Kelly jam. Bantick explains: "If you are connected with the Kennedys [the family of one of the policemen Kelly murdered] you cannot open a business in Kelly Country because people will not go to that business."

For the residents of Mansfield, some 50 miles down the road, Kelly remains a figure of infamy, an Irish ne’er-do-well who murdered three policemen stationed in the town in cold blood and well deserved the hangman’s noose. An imposing statue in the main street, paid for by public subscription by the people of Victoria, commemorates the heroic sacrifice of the officers cut down in the line of duty. Even though 125 years have passed since the killings, well-wishers still leave coins and flowers around its base. Ian Geer, Mansfield Shire Council’s tourism and economic development officer, says that the memories of Lonigan, Scanlon and Kennedy - the three policemen - are still cherished by the local townspeople. "They are mindful that three policemen left here to do their duty and were murdered," he said.

Whether the new cinematic versions of Ned Kelly’s life and crimes will inspire a more sober assessment of Australia’s most infamous bushranger remains to be seen, but few people are counting on it. "Unfortunately Australia still has a massive insecurity complex about its convict past, which is why we idolise people like Ned Kelly. Personally, I think it’s time we got over it," said Bantick.
Pro Kelly lobby? (Our thanks to Brian MacDonald for drawing our attention to this article.)
Note: re: the paragraph that claims that "certain facts are not in dispute" - In fact Ned Kelly's birth date is and always has been in dispute, (as no record of Ned's birth date has yet been found). Ned was convicted of killing only one policeman - not three, and it is somewhat misleading to say the gang "
roamed the outback for years, stealing horses, robbing banks and killing policemen".

18/02/03 ABC Radio interview with Ian Jones

Ian Jones was interviewed by Jon Faine on ABC radio to promote the release of his book The Fatal Friendship and the new Kelly Exhibition.
There was also some chat about the usual Ned Kelly topics and opinions, such as Ned the legend verses Ned the man, the Mick Jagger movie and the new Heath Ledger movie, Peter Carey's novel, Ken Oldis and his part in the sorting out of Ned's armour, Ned's trial re-enactment.
Ian called Bill Denheld's recent claim that the site of Stringybark Creek has been incorrectly identified to date "codswallop".
NB. Bill has an extensive document, along with physical evidence, to support his claims; anyone wishing to review his findings for themselves can contact him via email or read the recent Age newspaper article below (10/02/03). See Bill's response to Ian's comments in Feedback section.
More info from Bill re Stringybark site can be found on his site

10/02/03 'New find leaves theory on shootings up the creek' (Geoff Strong)
Source: The Age

Two piles of stones in a remote forest, a couple of drainage channels and some post holes could provide the latest twist in the story of Australia's most celebrated bushranger, Ned Kelly. In discovering these relics, Melbourne writer and Kelly researcher Bill Denheld is claiming that the accepted site of the Kelly gang's shootout with police on October 26, 1878, is wrong.

Last September Mr Denheld came across the stones piled in the shape of two fireplaces. They were nearly half a kilometre from the reserve and monument supposedly marking the site of the police shoot-out at Stringybark Creek, north-east of Mansfield. Since then he has found other artefacts that could date to the period, including an iron pot lid and the remains of a metal flask used for holding gunpowder. (Pictured right: The gunpowder flask discovered by Bill Denheld. Picture: Sandy Scheltema)

By killing the three police officers, the four-member gang were declared outlaws. Their exploits while on the run for the next 20 months wrote them into Australian folklore, ultimately leading to the siege of Glenrowan with Kelly's capture and the death of the other gang members.
The significance of the fireplaces is that they suggest the location of two miners' huts, known through contemporary accounts to be just across the narrow creek from the site of a police camp where constables Michael Scanlon and Thomas Lonigan were shot dead. The third member to die, Sergeant Michael Kennedy, was pursued and gunned down about 400 metres away.

Mr Denheld made the discovery when searching the area with Gary Dean, a Kelly expert from Glenrowan. Their interest in the site had been sparked by the work of another researcher, Ian Jones, who presented a paper 10 years ago suggesting that the area across the creek from where Mr Denheld found the fireplaces was the real site of the shootings. "At the time he was unable to provide physical evidence to support his theory," Mr Denheld said.

A signposted fenced area further down the creek proclaims the shoot-out site. A plaque was erected there 18 months ago by the descendants of Sergeant Kennedy. Mr Denheld said yesterday that the location of the site was lost after a large peppermint gum known as the Kelly tree was cut down by loggers in 1908. In searching for the correct site he had used a photograph taken as forensic evidence a week after the massacre by a Melbourne photographer named Burman. Mr Denheld claims the larger hearth indicated the site of a hut referred to by Kelly in his famous Jerilderie letter. In this letter, Kelly describes the shootings as having taken place at a location he describes as "the shingle hut". These huts would have been constructed about 15 years earlier by a group of gold miners who worked the area. Mr Denheld said the shingle hut would have been more elaborate than the normal bark huts built by miners and he points to drainage channels and post holes that can still be seen. "It tends to indicate that whoever built this hut took a certain amount of care."


29/01/03 Cinema's anti-hero rides again
According to The Age

26/01/03 Hero and Villain, Why the legacy of a murderous horse thief named Ned Kelly lives on (Derek Ballantine)
According to SundayHerald Sun

Worthy of general note are the considerable factual errors throughout this piece, particular when considering the expectation most of us have that journalists present facts accurately. However more obvious and notable was the unqualified bias of the article against Ned Kelly. It was full of little more than personal, one-sided opinions. The result was an article with an almost propaganda like quality. Leaving Bailup to wonder aloud 'what ever happened to journalistic integrity?'
Here are some quotes from the article, followed by more thoughts from Bailup:

"He murdered two policemen before they could go for their guns and a third, wounded and out of ammunition, was shot dead as he begged to be spared for the sake of his wife and children. So we made him a hero…"
"The remarkable Kelly Culture Exhibition opening at the State Library on February 28 marks a new chapter in a never- ending tale of a criminal family. It brings together papers and artefacts and images of a poor colonial boy who became an Australian legend… miserable life on the wrong side of the law."
"We will not make heroes of Bandali Debs and Jason Roberts, convicted this year of the 1998 murders of (two) detectives…so why do so many Australians have such a charitable opinion of police?killer Kelly?"
"'I have a dark view of the whole cult of Ned Kelly,' psychologist Ronald Conway says bluntly. …It is about time we found a new hero… It is time it lay down and died,' Conway says of the romantic version of the legend."
"If it is possible to argue justification for Kelly's crimes, in the light of the harshness of his era,
then it is also easy to find parallels with modern examples of criminal barbarity for which there is no justification. In the trial, of Debs and Roberts… Substitute the names and dates and you have Kelly and his gang."
"The author of the History of Australian Bushranging, Charles White… wrote … The Kellys lived in an atmosphere of crime and luxuriated in robbery and violence, he said, the family being "root and branch morally diseased". Ned was brought up to hate police, as were Debs and Roberts a century later…"
"… more cold-blooded killer than freedom fighter."
"… Because of Kelly's Irish Catholic heritage in a colony run largely by Protestants, the cult had religious overtones. Irish immigrants saw justification in Kelly's crime spree for real and imagined grievances… The cult that arose in those times, and which, persists even now, had more to do with the observer's agenda than the truth of Kelly's behaviour."
"US author Bill Bryson, soon to return to Australia for another writing project, was the bushranger's harshest critic after the research he did for Downunder, his book on Australia that became an international bestseller. 'Kelly was a murderous thug who deserved to be hanged and was,' Bryson concluded."
"In the exhibition, the four suits of armour… Perhaps more fascinating is the public display of the so?called Jerilderie Letter… It is an insight into the mind of a killer who thought himself to be morally superior to the common criminals of his time, for it is a declaration of Independence for the oppressed. The letter makes him an unusual criminal. But it hardly means his violence can be excused or even forgiven all these years later."
"Not only did he kill the three policemen in the Wombat Ranges, Kelly was willing for many more to die at Glenrowan siege. … Who, in the final analysis, did he kill or threaten or put at risk? Not the rich. Not the privileged. Just ordinary people, police and civilian volunteers…"
"Ronald Conway's contention that Ned Kelly is a false hero is as sound as the State Library's new exhibition is compelling for its portrayal of a legend that never ends."

One is availed by curiosity about why the article's content was in noticeable contradiction to its apparent purpose, i.e. to promote the State Library's Kelly Culture exhibition. Why on earth would any sponsor of an exhibition, chose to give such overtly negative publicity to the central figure of the exhibition they seek to publicise? While attempting to promote the exhibition it sponsors, the Sunday Herald Sun seems to have tried to persuade its readership that Ned Kelly should be rejected as an Australian icon. The obvious flow on to which, in pragmatic terms, would be the reduction of interest in the exhibition. One also wonders just how happy the exhibition organiser's, at the State Library of Victoria, are with this article from their sponsor. The only thing we see promoted successfully in this piece is Bill Bryson's next 'writing project'.

In trying to understand why the article does little to promote the exhibition, one reads further searching for a clue to an alternative agenda. A clue comes in the form of an obscure quote from Bill Bryson, author of the book Down Under, (a lighthearted impression of Australia by an American tourist). Given the large number of books on the subject of Ned Kelly, the choice of Bryson is a strange one.
Bryson doesn't profess to have any historical knowledge of Victoria in the late 19th century, nor is he, for that matter, an historian, or a sociologist. Nevertheless Mr Ballantine attempts to make a strong case for Ned Kelly's apparently evil nature, with the use of a quote from Bryson's tour book, which he claims is a conclusion Bryson reached after doing "research". The 'research', according to Bryson's book, was actually to have spent a few days with a friend, who gave him a very personal version of Kelly's history. The key to the mystery of this article seems to lie with the friend's identity. The source of Mr Bryson's 'research' and the information that lead him to the conclusion that Ned Kelly was "a murderous thug who deserved to be hanged", was none other than - Alan Howe, the editor of - the Sunday Herald Sun ! Mr Howe's low opinion of Ned Kelly is no secret. It appears to the reader as though the hand of the journalist Mr Ballantine was, in some manner, directed by his editor.

So while it is easy to get outraged, or frustrated, by the inaccuracies and blatant bias in this opinion piece, it may be more productive to remember just who printed the propaganda-like article and why. Consider too, that the legend of Ned Kelly has survived far worse than this small article, and that most Australians who read it will ultimately make up their own minds. So we believe it is better to simply disregard such sensationalistic journalism. Studying or arguing each error in the article would give it more credibility than it deserves.

Mr Ballantine struggles to understand Kelly's legendary status; perhaps this is because he has not looked beyond the Stringybark Creek incident. There is a considerable weight of research to suggest that the Kelly legend was founded on what he did after he became an outlaw, not for the unfortunate and regrettable incident that caused him to be outlawed.

24/01/03 Bushfires at Powers Lookout (Greg Naylor)
According to King Valley Community Profile Update

Fire broke out about 5.00 pm on Saturday, 18th January, down the Power's Lookout Road. It was attended by ten tankers coming from as far afield as Bonnie Doon. At a time when the North East bushfires are making increasing demands on fire fighting resources, this is an outstanding turnout.
There was some confusion early on when crews were directed to the Kelly Tree at Tatong to find no fire in that area. These crews were redirected to Powers Lookout which possibly accounts for so many units turning out.
Fortunately, the weather conditions were mild and the fire was able to be contained within a few hectares. Water bombing was also used to drop water from the sky. By 1.00 am, the fire crews had the fire under control and proceeded to put it out. Sunday was spent mopping up by the relief crews on the Whitfield, Edi Upper, Cheshunt and Myrrhee tankers. The cause of the
fire is to be investigated.

21/01/03 Kelly Exhibition at the State Library

Kelly Culture - Reconstructing Ned Kelly

Where: Keith Murdoch Gallery, State Library of Victoria, 328 Swanston Street, Melbourne.
When: Friday 28 February to Sunday 25 May 2003
Cost: FREE
Hours: Open daily from 10am - 5pm and until 9pm on Wednesday. Closed public holidays.
Inquiries: 03 8664 7000 or visit
Exhibition sponsors: Principal: AAMI, Supporting: BHP Billiton, Fujitsu, United International Pictures Media : Network Ten, Sunday Herald Sun, 3AW

The State Library of Victoria's free exhibition Kelly Culture: Reconstructing Ned Kelly explores the enduring presence of Ned Kelly within Australian culture.
Kelly Culture provides a unique insight into the impact of the Ned Kelly myth on Australian cinema, visual arts, literature, performing arts and music, as revealed through a rich array of posters, photographs, paintings, music and a film loop of extracts from the many Kelly movies.

One of Australia's greatest icons, Ned Kelly's armour is on public display in its most complete form, along with the other three suits worn by the Kelly Gang. For the first time, Ned's armour is displayed with shoulder plates as a result of the State Library of Victoria's acquisition of one shoulder plate at auction in 2001 and a generous loan of the other from Museum Victoria. An historic exchange of armour pieces in 2002 between the State Library and the Victoria Police also helped to reconstruct Ned Kelly's suit of armour.
The exhibition brings together, also for the first time, the State Library of Victoria's extensive collection of key original artefacts associated with Ned Kelly and his Gang, including the Jerilderie Letter, a death mask and a rifle that had belonged to Ned Kelly. The exhibition is further enriched with a broad range of major loans from public and private collections around Australia, including paintings by Sidney Nolan and Albert Tucker.

Ned Kelly is constantly being recreated in contemporary culture, such as in Peter Carey's novel, True History of the Kelly Gang, in the opening ceremony of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games and in Gregor Jordan's new film, Ned Kelly, starring Heath Ledger. Kelly Culture reflects Ned Kelly's universal appeal throughout the decades. Whether he's seen as 'larrikin' Kelly, 'mad-and-bad' Kelly, 'gentleman' Kelly or 'heroic' Kelly, he remains an enduring symbol of our Australian national identity.

7/01/03 Iron Helmets, Smoking Guns
The making of the Australian bushranger myth

Australian Centre for the Moving Image (Federation Square, Melbourne) is presenting a collection of films from Thursday 30 January - Monday 3 February 2003
Including a chance to win two double passes to the World Premiere of 'Ned Kelly', staring Heath Ledger, simply fill out an entry form when you purchase a ticket to any session of Iron Helmets, Smoking Guns (Session times below)

The most notorious figure in our historical landscape, the Australian Bushranger has been smoking up the screen from the silent films of the early 1900s to contemporary Australian shorts and features.
Iron Helmets, Smoking Guns explores the cultural significance of the bushranger genre and its role in mythologising the Australian bush bandit. Celluloid incarnations from doomed hero of the silent era to pop icon of the 21st century have charted Australia's relationship with this classic anti-hero.
The initial depiction of the bushranger as a victim of an oppressive and unjust authoritarian regime resulted in a censorship ban in 1912 - an act that impacted on the anti-authoritarian sensibilities and political subtext of later bushranger narratives. Throughout the 20th century a number of local and international films have been produced that continued to perpetuate the myth of this iconic Australian legend.


5/12/02 'Ned Kelly Rides again, New interpretations of a dubious hero' (Susan Owens)
According to The Australian Financial Review

Not every Australian can have a Sidney Nolan painting of Ned Kelly, but next March plenty of people will be able to indulge their fascination with the Irish outlaw and own a Margaret Olley, John Firth-Smith, Garry Shead or John Coban Ned Kelly. Arts for Heritage, a new committee, has recognised that Ned - the subject of a $31 million film which is projected to set box office records when it opens in the New Year - has come as close as any figure in Australian history to achieving true rock-star celebrity status. Now Ned moves closer and closer to becoming a fully-fledged industry, the heritage committee has seized on the Kelly mystique.
Looking for a clever way to raise funds for the not-for-profit National Trust, which is committed to restoring Norman Lindsay's house in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney and Government House Parramatta, the Arts for Heritage committee asked 20 artists to depict Kelly for a themed exhibition and sale of works entitled, Ned Kelly Framed.
Bell Poter Securities has come on board as the first sponsor and will co-host a dinner and auction at the SH Ervine Gallery (in The Rocks Sydney) next March, when the works are expected to raise up to $300,00. The date is exactly 123 years from the day Kelly was hanged at Old Melbourne Gaol, in March 1880.
Mambo artist Reg Mombassa identifies with Kelly as a contemporary figure: "My intrigue with Ned is the fact that he was an outsider, fighting the corrupt police and a harsh repressive government."
Elsa Atkin, executive director of The National Trust (NSW), says the elements fuelling the Kelly frenzy include "the international acclaim for Peter Carey's Booker Prize-winning True History of the Kelly Gang, the outlaw's famed appearance at the Olympic Games, and the film Ned Kelly, staring Heath Ledger..."(sic)
Mombassa is well acquainted with Kelly: "From his writing, the real Ned was politically motivated, a larrikin, a hooligan and a thug. Today he would have been an armed robber, with a shotgun drinking lots of beer, smoking bongs and listening to rock and roll. He's got some Robin Hood characteristics too."
Prime Minister Howard's desire for closer ties between business and the arts and the perceived view that fundraising is bogged down in a rash of charity dinners, inspired the Arts for Heritage committee to find a fresh fundraising formula.
"Choosing Ned Kelly, who means different things to different people, will result in a diverse collection of works from important artists," says Atkin. "To some people he is a victim of circumstances, a national hero, embodying the Australian spirit of egalitarianism, mateship, love of family and an understanding of the bush combined with a dash of recklessness and courage."
Note: Ned was not hung in March of 1880 as stated in this article; he was hung on the 11th of November 1880. He was also Australian born, not Irish.
While raising funds for The National Trust is an important pursuit, perhaps some of the money raised from art depicting Ned Kelly should be directed at helping to preserve and save his legacy, such as the restoration of the Kelly homestead in Beveridge.

28/10/02 'Union buries the hatchet' (Jason Frenkel)
According to The Herald Sun

Polo shirts, bomber jackets, a sexual harassment course and a ban on Ned Kelly are part of a peace plan to stabilise one of Australia's most powerful unions.

The deal, signed this month by warring factions of the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union, officially ends a bitter two year brawl between the union's Victorian branch and its national office.
It is a victory for national secretary Doug Cameron over the militant Workers First group, headed by former state secretary Craig Johnston.
Bushranger Ned Kelly's image, which adorned the Workers First logo as a symbol of its hardline stance, has been banned under the deal. Victorian officials will instead be given two polo shirts, a bomber jacket, and a denim shirt by the national office under the peace pact.
For full story go to,5478,5371073%255E662,00.html

3/10/02 hacked! (4/10/02 Brad has fixed the problem!)

Anyone wondering why Brad Webb has changed ironoutlaw's homepage, and is now being political about Islam? No he hasn't converted - he was hacked into. Yes thanks, he does know about it and is now retifiying the problem. In the mean time you can access any other part of ironoutlaw. Try instead.


10/09/02 'New light on Ned Kelly' (Geraldine O'Brien)
According to Fairfax

More than a year and about $16,000 later, a swag of documents relating to the Glenrowan siege and the capture of Ned Kelly has been returned to the State Records office after disappearing from its files.
State Records staff say the case highlights the frustrations of recovering estrays, items officially belonging to government archives that are lost, stolen or strayed and appear too often for the archivists' liking in auction catalogues and second-hand shops.

The Kelly items disappeared probably before 1935, when they were transferred from the Mitchell Library. They included telegrams between the offices of the NSW and Victorian colonial secretaries, which announced the capture of Ned Kelly.
Another gives a vivid update: "Dan Kelly and Hart covered with shot proof armour have thrown doors of hotel open and have let all civilians out and are now calling upon the police to come in. Bullets flying in all directions. The two remaining members of the gang cannot hold out much longer."
With four other items, including a letter and minute drafted by Sir Henry Parkes about the reward for the gang's capture, they were offered for sale by Lawsons auctioneers (now Lawson Menzies) in August last year.

According to Alan Ventress, associate director, city, of State Records, Lawsons was warned the items were estrays and should be withdrawn from sale. But the company claimed it had legal advice the sale could go ahead. After an exchange of correspondence, the items were withdrawn but Lawsons was reluctant to divulge the name of the would be vendor, who had been told the documents could fetch up to $40,000.
By January formal threats of legal action were made. In February solicitors for Lawsons replied, saying the company did "not wish to be obstructive in this matter but is most reluctant to hand out personal information about its customers". It was a lucky break for State Records when the vendor, incensed at the loss of his windfall, rang Mr Ventress. "He phoned and called me a bloody mongrel because he was expecting to get $40,000 from the sale."
"But these had obviously been gone from the archives for some time and ... we don't want to disadvantage people, so we got two independent valuations."
The vendor - who told Mr Ventress he had been given the papers by his father, who was now suffering from Alzheimer's disease - was paid $10,500.
It was, according to State Records staff, galling to have to pay for the recovery of their own material, including $6000 in legal fees. But Mr Ventress said his staff did spend "a fair amount of time tracking things down, and I hope the message will now get out to the second-hand dealers and the auctioneers".

21/08/02 Melbourne Fringe Festival 2002

Ned Kelly by Ashley Davies and Ian Jones
October 7, 8 and 9 at Chapel off Chapel For full details go to
(or phone (03) 9531 4046 or, email Ashley on

8/08/02 'Talking about Treasures, Ned Kelly - Man of Letters'
Source The Age

This talk examines the Jerilderie letter, as well as many other letters written by Ned Kelly in an attempt to argue his case before the Victorian public. Presented by Jock Murphy, Manuscripts Librarian, State Library of Victoria.
Talking about Treasures offers a unique opportunity for a close view of treasures from the Library collections, including rare books, maps, manuscripts, pictures and memorabilia.

When? Wednesday 14th August, 2-3pm.
Where? At the State Library. Conference Centre, Entry 3, La Trobe Street
Cost? $10/$8
Bookings: Phone: (03) 8664 7016

26/07/02 New Kelly website

Mike Lawson webmaster of www.kellyoutbreak has just launched a new site devoted to Ned's best friend, and trusted right-hand man, Joseph Byrne.
It can be found at

18/07/02 'Old courtroom sets scene for Ned's success'
According to The Border Mail

Ned Kelly's story is still generating a lot of interest in the North East with the popular re-enactment of The Trial of Ned Kelly to be staged again this weekend at Beechworth.
It is the fourth time Ned's trial has been re-enacted by the Beechworth Theatre Company at the Beechworth Court House and director Mr Ian Sinclair believes its recipe for success is the historic location. "The real draw card is the actor gets to stand exactly where Ned stood and the audience can be a part of the drama as jury members," he said.

Performances are on Saturday and Sunday at 2pm and 8pm. Tickets are available at the door. They cost $12 for adults and $8 for concession holders.

16/07/02 'Deep concern ... no bail'
According to The Midland Express

A movable billboard referring to Ned Kelly which raised a number of complaints, has been linked to a case before the Kyneton magistrates court on July 11. Magistrate Spillane turned down the second bail application by a Mr Dale O'Sullivan, saying in his decision, Mr O'Sullivan's behavior toward Kyneton policeman, Sgt. Graeme Jenner, was "almost a vendetta and causes me deep concern".

On March 28, 2002, a placard on a trailer, beside the Cadella Park property near Woodend, led to public complaints. It apparently had urged the public to 'declare war on Kyneton police' and another message said 'Ned Kelly started it, it's not over yet'. It was believed this referred to the Stringybark Creek murders of 1878. Then on June 4 a similar placard on a trailer outside the Supreme Court in Melbourne had led to further complaints.

Ned Kelly started in 1870
and it's not over yet
Sir Sidney Nolan "continued the rage"
with his Kelly paintings.
Today fearless civil righters
"continue rage" for police reforms
Join now (phone number) become aware.


11/07/02 Forthcoming book release...

Hyland House Publishing will soon be releasing a new Kelly book. The book by Dr Seal, will be titled 'Tell em I died game', and should be released in early August.

12/06/02 'Ned's head' (Domain)
According to The Age

An architect designed bush-setting weekender, 'evokes romantic thoughts of Ned Kelly and his gang of outlaws'. The designer and builder David Luck, compares the design and form of the house with Ned Kelly's helmet. He told The Age, "The living room is like Kelly's head. The other room is like his spine."
It seems there is no limit to what Ned's armour will inspire!?!

11/05/02 Herald Sun 'Author Peter Carey up for richest prize' (Shaunagh O'Connor)

Peter Carey could be $170,000 richer on Monday if he wins the world's most valuable literary prize. The Melbourne-born author's multi-award winning True History of the Kelly Gang is up for the prestigious International Impac Dublin Literary Award, worth 100,000 euros.
Carey, a dual Booker Prize winner now based in New York, is the only Australian in the shortlist of seven. (Those include The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood and The Years of Laura Diaz by Carlos Fuentes.)



17/01/03 Bushranger may hold key to Jerilderie prosperity (Anthony Bunn)
According to The Border Mail

Jerilderie is relying on bushranger Ned Kelly, who has been dead for 122 years, to help lead the towns recovery from drought and economic downturn. The town, population 1100, is staging its first Jerilderie Letter Day on February 6.
The 8000-word letter, which outlines Kellys actions, was dictated by the bushranger in 1879 and was intended to be published in the Jerilderie and Urana Gazette. It is now part of the collection of the State Library of Victoria.
Jerilderie Shire Councils general manager Mr Charles Gentner said the commemorative day would help trigger a tourist boom based on the Kelly connection. A highlight of the day will be the signing of an agreement between the Jerilderie Shire and the Rural City of Wangaratta, which encompasses Glenrowan, the site of the Kelly Gangs last stand. "In this current drought situation theres opportunities through this Ned Kelly arrangement to open up other businesses," Mr Gentner said. Mr Gentner said a 90-page document, which included a business plan, had been compiled to ensure the town properly capitalised on its Kelly connection. "We believe its a whole town, do-or-die situation," he said.
Mr Gentner said the town |had an advantage over Glenrowan because its buildings from the Kelly era were still standing. However, its estimated $450,000 would need to be spent to adequately restore the buildings and create suitable walkways and plaques to accompany them. Mr Gentner said the agreement with Wangaratta would allow the municipalities to integrate marketing campaigns and swap artefacts relating to the Kelly era. He said the Jerilderie Letter Day had been mooted following the success of the Glenrowan siege commemorative dinner held in June. And with the 125th anniversary of the letter in 2004, Mr Gentner said this years event would be a good opportunity to prepare for the milestone. He said by that stage Kelly fever would have risen to new heights with the release of the movie starring Heath Ledger and an Irish-Australian film documentary on the outlaw.

13/01/03 Kelly cell to unlock tourism (Anthony Bunn)
According to The Border Mail

Parish set to revamp historic site. A holding cell that once housed infamous bushranger Ned Kelly will be restored as a tourist attraction at Benalla.
The Federal Government has pledged $16,000 to Benallas Anglican parish which is responsible for the metal barred cell attached to the towns historic courthouse dating to 1865. The rectors warden for the parish, Ms Pauline Messenger, said the money would be spent on restoring the cell to its 19th century condition. It has been modified for modern use with a hot water supply and shelves that hold various church records. Ms Messenger said there had been initial reluctance towards the restoration by some parishioners concerned about highlighting the Kelly connection. "But they are now prepared to go along with it," Ms Messenger said. "It could earn a small amount of revenue which could help maintain the building." Ms Messenger also said photos and memorabilia were now being sought to form an exhibition to accompany the opening of the restored cell, which she hoped would occur later this year.
Kelly had been held in the cell before he appeared at the court on charges such as robbery, drunk and disorderly and riding a horse on a footpath. The parish has maintained the courthouse since 1960 and it forms part of its facility in Arundel St which also includes a church and surveyors building. "Were very fortunate to have them, but the upkeep of them is a tremendous drain," Ms Messenger said.
The member for Indi, Ms Sophie Panopoulos, said the Government had provided the grant after she was first approached by church members in the middle of last year. "Without doubt it is important for the people of Benalla and indeed our State, that this historic building be maintained as the buildings significant social and cultural associations provide evidence of the history of settlement in Victoria," Ms Panopoulos said.

27/11/02 Labor pledges $1.8 million to Glenrowan (Philip Nolan)
According to the Wangaratta Chronicle

A "World class” heritage precinct at Glenrowan will receive $1.8m in funding...if the State Labor Government is re-elected on Saturday.

Minister for State and Regional Development, John Brumby, made the announcement at the Glenrowan Railway Station yesterday. He said the money would come from the Community Support Fund and would establish a precinct in recognition of Ned Kelly's famous last stand at Glenrowan. "The site has got national and international significance and the trick is to have appropriate infrastructure in place. This grant is what that is all about.”

22/11/02 'Ned Kelly landmark to be added to heritage list'
According to ABC News Online

The site of Ned Kelly's legendary last stand will be added to the Victorian Heritage Register. The site at Glenrowan where the siege took place will be the 2,000th addition to the list.
Heritage Council chair Chris Gallagher says Ned Kelly is one of the most recognised names in Australian history. "I think increasingly there is a growing interest of people in their local history, particularly when they know it's made a major contribution on a national scale," he said.

22/11/02 Kelly's sites off limits (Larissa Dubecki)
According to The Age

The location of the Kelly Gang's last stand in Glenrowan has been declared a heritage site and will be protected from development. The area includes the railway line and platform near where the Kelly gang had planned to derail a train, and the site of Jones' Glenrowan Inn, where the gang took captives on June 28, 1880. The inn was razed by police during the siege in which gang members Dan Kelly, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart were trapped and killed. Surviving landmarks from the siege include the stationmaster's house, which has been relocated to the north of the site, and the railway platform, which has been remodelled.

The statement of cultural heritage significance prepared by Heritage Victoria describes the town of Glenrowan as central to the Kelly legend. "The members lived in the district and spent much time there among a population generally sympathetic to the outlaws," it says. "The siege, the police cordon, the capture of Ned and the burning of the Glenrowan Inn are firmly implanted in Australian folklore."
Heritage Council chairwoman Chris Gallagher said: "We will look to see if there is a story to tell through spent bullets in the soil and artefacts from the demolished pubs."
The listing means that any major development on the site will need a permit.
For full story go to

21/11/02 Trial

Dave White was in Beechworth on the weekend, for his review of the trial re-enactment take a look here...

6/11/02 Waking Ned Kelly
According to The Free Press Kilmore

The Beveridge Festival 'Waking Ned Kelly' is being held on Saturday 30th November 2002, at the Beveridge Reserve, from 10am to 4pm.
*Free entry *Kiki the clown *CHA & SES *Ned Kelly and Colonial costume competitions.
*Food & stalls *Jumping castle and more.
Come and join us for a day of family fun.
For more information, call Lisa on ph. 9745 2031

12/11/02 Trial re-enactment this weekend...

The Trial of Ned Kelly, will be re-enacted at the Beechworth Court House over the Celtic Festival weekend on November 16 and 17. For more info see below or for the festival website click here.

24/10/02 'A tale of twists and turns' (Karen Heinrich) Ned Kelly themed hedge maze
According to The Age

Hedge mazes first sprouted in English country gardens more than 400 years ago, yet these three-dimensional, giant walk-in puzzles have become more popular than ever in the technologically charged 21st century. And Australians, it seems, are enchanted.
One more was officially added to the list today. In 1992, when Jane and Hohn Starey inherited Boorara, Jane's parents 400-hectare farm near Avenel in the Strathbogie Ranges, neither of them knew quite what to do with it. "We looked into growing exotic trees, garlic, olives, grapes and keeping alpacas, worms and emus," John says. "Then jane read about Ashcrombe Maze on the Mornington Peninsula, mentioned it to me and my response was, 'What are you talking about?' …I had no real concept of that hedge mazes were all about."
Inspired by the more than a dozen mazes in the Garden State, Victoria, the Stareys bought 1368 tiny cypress macracarpa tress, and planted them in the shape of two boomerangs "to make a gesture towards the Aboriginal people who were here in quite some numbers in times past", John says.
That was six years ago, when the trees were a few centimeters high. They have bloomed to almost 1.8 meters. Fisher encouraged the couple to theme their maze around Ned Kelly, who, with his gang, once rode the rugged hills and ranges. "We wanted the maze to have something of that," Jane says. "We wanted it to have a resonance of those days, to be much more than just a place where you wander through high hedging, getting nowhere. We wanted Avenel Maze t be a puzzle, but… much more involving and more fun solving than traditional mazes."
The theme is fitting, giving that an 11-year-old Ned Kelly saved 7-year-old Dick Shelton from drowning at Avenel. To show their thanks, the Sheltons presented Kelly with a green silk sash, which 14 years later he was wearing beneath his armour when he was gunned down at the Glenrowan siege. And Kelly's father, Red, is buried in the Avenel Cemetery.
Kelly sculptures are dotted throughout the mazes, made out of plough metal by local artist Helen Brook. Fisher designed the Police Maze and the Bushranger Maze, a baffling stepping stone maze, and Ned's Knots, a rope maze that quickly entangles, and Red's Way, a meandering, kilometer-long labyrinth path of granite rock. But unlike most mazes, Red's path which, when walked, is amazingly therapeutic.

The enduring appeal of a hedge maze, Fisher says, is that they are "immensely sociable, anyone can join in the fun, and you proceed at your own pace. Mazes are one of the best things a whole family can do together, two and even three generations at once."
John says mazes are testaments to human ingenuity and to a love of puzzles as old as time. "Mazes are like life. You just never know where your next turn will take you."
Avenel Maze is open 10am to 5pm every Thursday through to Monday of the year, except Christmas Day and the month of August. Ph. (03) 5796 2300

23/10/02 'Trial re-enactment'
According to the North East Tourist News (Thanks to Libby Scullie for use of this article)

One of Australia's greatest ever court dramas, The Trial of Ned Kelly, will be re-enacted at the Beechworth Court House over the Celtic Festival weekend on November 16 and 17.
The trial has been staged by the Beechworth Theatre Company each year and is based on the actual court transcripts of both the committal hearing at the Beechworth Court House and the full trial held in Melbourne in 1880.
The production provides a great opportunity to experience history and learn more about the legend of Ned Kelly.
Matinee performances are held each day but make sure you book early as there is limited seating available. For some lucky men they also get the chance of sitting on the jury, but women are excluded as was the custom at the time.
The festival attracts thousands of visitors each year to Beechworth with an array of music, dancing, food and markets celebrating the Celtic influence of the region and this year will also see the return of the colorful parade of the Celts.
Enquiries: or

Updated 8/10/02* 23/09/02 Kelly gang may visit North East
According to The Border Mail

Historian seeks role for Glenrowan
A Ned Kelly memorabilia exhibition proposed by the Victorian Government should visit Glenrowan, a North East Kelly historian said yesterday. Mr Gary Dean, who also operates a Kelly-inspired tourism business at Glenrowan, said the town was a significant part of the Kelly gang history and it was appropriate for the exhibition to visit the scene of the final Kelly siege.
Mr Dean said he was aware of an enormous amount of Kelly-related material "lying around" but wondered whether some of the owners of the links to the notorious bushranger would display it. He said owners would be worried their memorabilia might be reclaimed by the Government, although this would require the Government declaring it to have been stolen. But he said a touring exhibition sounded like a great idea.
The Victorian Premier, Mr Steve Bracks, announced yesterday it was aiming to hold the "biggest single exhibition of Ned Kelly artefacts and memorabilia" next year. A Government committee, headed by Arts Minister Ms Mary Delahunty, has been formed to investigate bringing together artefacts held by various government agencies including the State Library and Public Record Office. "I have asked the committee to look at the option of touring the exhibition to regional Victoria," Mr Bracks said. "This is a story that all Victorians are interested in and we would like to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to experience it."
The exhibition could include rare memorabilia, artefacts and documents from government and non-government sources. Yesterday, a Government spokeswoman said it was possible the exhibition could become permanent. Mr Dean said in the event the exhibition became permanent it could be located at Glenrowan.
Interest in Kelly grew following the release of Peter Careys award-winning novel, The True History of the Kelly Gang, and is expected to increase further with the release next year of the film based on Kelly featuring Australian actor, Heath Ledger.

30/08/02 '$10m for Ned town' (Michelle Rose)
According to The Herald Sun

A $10 million tourism precinct has been planned for the site where Ned Kelly was captured in June 1880.

The site of the Kelly Gang's final siege has been recommended for heritage listing. The siege of June 26-28 happened after plans by the Kelly Gang to ambush and derail a police train at Glenrowan failed. Gang members Dan Kelly, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart died in the siege.

The Heritage Council will consider adding the 8ha Glenrowan site to the Victorian Heritage Register. Included would be the railway platform, the stationmaster's house, and trees that existed at the time of the siege. Also covered would be the site of Jones's Glenrowan Inn, where the bushrangers held out, and the former McConnell's hotel where Kelly sympathisers gathered.
Heritage Council spokeswoman Jane Thomas said it was rare for a whole precinct to be recommended for inclusion. The site also had significant archeological potential, she said. It is hoped remnants of the stump where Ned Kelly was captured, bullets and other buildings, which existed at the time, might be found underground.

A plan for a tourism heritage precinct at the site has been developed by the Rural City of Wangaratta, community group Glenrowan Improvers and Tourism Victoria. The plans include construction of a hi-tech interactive Ned Kelly visitors' centre. Mayor Irene Grant said it was hoped the precinct would attract 600,000 visitors a year.

A final decision on listing is expected after a Heritage Council committee hearing in October.,5478,4997856%255E2862,00.html

30/07/02 'Ned delivers tourism cash' (Phillip Nolan)
Winter edition of the North East Tourist News (Thanks to Libby Scullie for use of this article)

The ongoing development of Glenrowan as a major tourism icon has taken another step forward with the announcement of a $60,000 Federal Government funding package. The money will be used to assist in the development of a business plan to guide the development of the Glenrowan Tourism Precinct.
Sophie Panopoulos (MHR, Indi), announced the grant today under the Regional Assistance Program, which provides seed funding for projects which provide "local solutions to local issues". "This project provides a great opportunity to develop local employment and sustainable growth which will benefit the whole community," Ms Panopoulos said.

The news was welcomed by mayor of the Rural City of Wangaratta, Cr Irene Grant.
"It is very pleasing news, as it will allow us to move the whole project another step forward. The master plan, completed recently by Chris Dance and Associates, has identified just what can be done, and now the business plan will guide us in how we go about it," Cr Grant said. She said the business plan would focus on costs and priorities and would enable much fuller scoping of the project. "There is no doubt that the potential for Glenrowan is enormous. The town currently attracts over 250,000 visitors per year, and we will be looking to double that in a fairly short space of time. Obviously that will grow even further as the master plan takes shape," Cr Grant said, adding that Tourism Victoria, which is backing the development, has identified the potential increased visitation level to 750,000 per annum.
She praised the involvement of the Glenrowan community in the project to date. "They have been very supportive and their input into the development of the plan has been excellent," Cr Grant said.

The business plan will look at the viability of key elements of the Glenrowan Heritage Tourism Precinct and form the basis for attracting both public and private sector investments.

22/05/02 Update on Kelly Tourist Trail
(refer 'Capitalising on Ned Kelly' article)

Further to our report about Mitchell, Delatite, Strathbogie and Wangaratta councils plan for a joint Ned Kelly tourist trail, D. White spoke to Bronwyn Mumford from Mitchell Shire today (22/05/02).
Bronwyn told him that at present the four shires involved are examining the best way to approach the tourist trail. She said they are looking into such issues as information brochures and funding.

20/03/02 Source The Free Press (The Victorian Country Press Association)
'Capitalising on Ned Kelly'

A tourist trail to capitalise on the life of legendary Bushranger Ned Kelly may begin in the Mitchell Shire, and traverse through three other areas to the north where he made his presence felt. Mitchell representatives recently met with members of Strathbogie, Delatite and Wangaratta councils and Tourism Victoria to discuss the possibility of capitalising on a Ned Kelly theme that is shared between the representative geographic areas.
"It is felt there are opportunities to develop this thing in various ways - the most obvious being a trail that would cover his life," Mitchell's tourism and economic development manager Dean Rochfort said this week.
The concept would involve taking travelers through the four municipalities, visiting sites associated with Ned Kelly. "Mitchell shire's involvement would centre on Beveridge, his place of birth, and Kilmore - where his Uncle served his time at the Old Kilmore Gaol, "Mr Rochfort explained.
The meeting agreed that common design and presentation of signage should be one of the first areas where agreement is reached. Delatite shire council representatives are to draft a memorandum of understanding which reflects the desire to proceed with a joint approach. "A feasibility study would be the next step in this process. However, at this stage, ideas are still being developed," Mr Rochfort added.
Dean Rochfort recently told D. White, that at this point the concept is still only in the early stages. Namely, formulating a 'memorandum of understanding' between the shires involved. However he thinks he may have something further to report in a month or so.
Sign posting the Kelly trail has never been a popular idea with those descendants living in the North East. This project may therefore gain some resistance. Dave intends to monitor this situation and provide updates if, or when, there are any further developments.

12/03/02 Yahoo News 'Ned Kelly officially launches Easter Show'

Amid a volley of bullets and puffs of smoke, Ned Kelly stood resolute staring down the coach driver as he demanded all his money.
One hundred and twenty years on he was doing it again, this time under sunny skies at Sydney's Circular Quay as part of the official launch of the 2002 Royal Easter Show. In what was a far cry from his bush surroundings of yesteryear Ned once again donned his infamous metal helmet as he performed a mock hold-up of a stagecoach.
The centrepiece of the Show this year will be the nightly Main Arena production entitled NED - The Legend of Ned Kelly, complete with horse chases and a re-enactment of Kelly's last stand at Glenrowan Inn.
Ned Kelly officially launches Easter Show


Kelly Art/Literature

4/10/02 Australian Art Talk and Book Reading

Black Dog Books, an Australian independent publisher of books for children, has just released a book about Ned. 'Black Snake: the Daring of Ned Kelly', written by Clifton Hill based author Carole Wilkinson.
Geared towards upper primary/lower secondary aged kids/young adult, Black Snake is a blend of fact and fiction that puts people in Ned's shoes and explores his ongoing legend.

At the National Gallery in Canberra on Sunday 27th of October, at 2pm, author Carole Wilkinson will be discussing her new publication in front of Sidney Nolan's Ned Kelly series, this will be followed by a book signing.
Note: For areview of Black Snake - click here.

8/06/02 'Outlaw inspired art' (Mick Toal)
According to The Border Mail

Almost 122 years on from his abortive last stand at Glenrowan, two Albury tradesmen are cashing in on the Ned Kelly myth through a rustic range of products inspired by the infamous outlaw. Earlier this year boilermaker Gary Zienert (should be Gary Ziebell), 40, teamed up with his life-long mate, carpenter Peter Gibbs, 41, to form Brinc - Bushrangers Incorporated - and produce a range of Australiana outlaw items.
The venture had its genesis last year when Gary was working as a theatre technician at the Sydney Opera House. "I knocked-up a few Kelly masks for a stage production and people wanted to buy a few," he said. "To get some of the finer details I got in touch with historian Dave White and I ended up getting really interested in the Kelly legend."

What began as a few one-off creations and informal adornments for mate's bars has grown into an ever-expanding product range with artistic aspirations. Brinc products are now on sale at the Indigo Shire's Beechworth Visitors Centre and Gary and Peter have received enquiries about displaying their wares in Canberra's National Museum of Australia and a number of metropolitan galleries.
As part of his research Gary went to Ned Kelly: The Exhibition, which is still showing at the Old Melbourne Gaol. The exhibition - which has been extended due to popular demand - was the first time the suits of armour worn by Ned, his younger brother Dan, Steve Hart and Joe Byrne at the gang's last stand on June 28, 1880, have been displayed together. (Actually the suits had been displayed together before, such as at the 'Men of Iron Exhibition' in 1998-1999 at the O.M.G..)
"Once I did my research I found that each suit of armour was unique and each had very distinctive features," he said. "They were all made by different blacksmiths - whose identities were kept a secret - and the plate was cobbled together with rivets and bolts."
Gary soon started to become more creative with his armour-clad creations and the gang's distinctive helmets became rustic braziers and stout lampshades. After teaming-up with Mr Gibbs, who is a staunch enthusiast of working with recycled native Australian timbers, masks in varying scales began to adorn coat and wine racks. The pair have even taken up bushranging themselves, foraging materials for their project from farm clearing sales and scrap yards. Mr Gibbs' South Albury shed now contains stacks of worn timber, battered sheets of metal, strips of leather, railway sleepers and spikes and even expended .303 cartridge cases - all waiting to be transformed into outlaw-inspired art.
Stuck up on the wall of the workshop are pictures of the four sets of the original Kelly gang armour. Ned's battered helmet is the biggest single seller in an ever-growing range but some of the Brinc creations feature reproductions of all four helmets - accurate down to the rivet, bolt and bullet dent. Like the originals, the mild steel helmets are heated and hammered into shape and Mr Zienert blackens the finished products in a furnace before sealing them with a clear lacquer.
For full story go to:

My thanks to the various sources who brought to my attention many of the articles and information in this news section, particularly D. White.

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