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It now seems impossible to keep track of every time Ned Kelly is in the news, but if it is important we will cover it here. Just as importantly we are interested in your views on the Kelly Outbreak so please have your say.

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Kelly Exhibitions

08/02/03 The Legend of Ned Kelly exhibition

A spectacular, interactive re-creation of Ned Kelly's life and times - and beyond - will be launched by Hon. Justice J. H. Phillips A. C., the Chief Justice of Victoria, and Ian Jones, the foremost authority on Ned, at Southgate on February 24. The Legend of Ned Kelly, at 'The Beacon' at Southgate, (the site of the current Dali exhibition,) will run for a year and is expected to attract more than 300,000 visitors.

The biggest and most comprehensive retrospective on the life of any Australian, The Legend of Ned Kelly will feature:-

  • An inter-active depiction of the Kelly Gang's Last Stand at Glenrowan;
  • An 1870s banking chamber and police station of the type the Kelly Gang knew well;
  • Bray's photographic studio at Beechworth where members of the Kelly Gang, as well as other key characters in the story were captured on film;
  • A hi-tech and startlingly real audio visual of Ned walking into the studio in his green silk boxing shorts and conversing with the man behind the camera as he takes up his fighting pose;
  • Footage, stills and other memorabilia from a range of Kelly films: from the first, in 1906, to this year's international blockbuster starring Heath Ledger;
  • Exact reproductions of the Gang's armour;
  • A comprehensive collection of Kelly literature, including the rarest of all: 'Outlaws Of The Wombat Ranges', published while the gang were still at large; and
  • Remarkable audio recordings of Joe Byrne's little sister, Elly, and a man who saw the Gang hold up the town of Jerilderie.

'This is by far the biggest and most wide ranging focus on the life of an Australian,' says Brendan Pearse, co-organiser with Matt Shore of The Legend of Ned Kelly. 'Ned Kelly is our most famous historic figure, a man become a myth: our only true legendary figure.'
Brendan Pearse and Matt Shore mounted NED: The Exhibition, seen last year by more than 120,000 at the National Trust's Old Melbourne Gaol. Stephen Hare, the Trust's Victorian head, said 'The response was beyond all our expectations and it was wonderful to see the public entertained and excited about Australia's history.'


18/01/03

The State Library of Victoria's exhibition 'Kelly Culture: Reconstructing Ned Kelly'
will be held from 28 February to 25 May, 2003.

Updated 4/10/02* 29/09/02 'Wanted:More Kelly artefacts' (Derek Ballantine)
According to the Sunday Herald Sun

Bushranger Ned Kelly would be a publicist if he came back to life this year. So goes the joke at the State Library of Victoria, where Kelly's death mask and armour are tangible reminders of the folk hero's impact on the 19th century. The light-hearted assessment is based on Kelly's skill in promoting himself and his cause. He was theatrical, he was tuned to public opinion and he had a great capacity for cloaking his crimes in the more respectable guise or social revolution. He would have made a good "spin doctor" in a modern setting.

The State Library's director of collections and services, historian Shane Carmody, says the ram-paging Kelly successfully portrayed himself as a freedom fighter. He represented himself as a friend of the oppressed and was highly thought of by the poor, particularly in northeast Victoria, where his lain-fly had been harassed by police troopers.
Melbourne's elite, on the other hand, saw him as a killer, bank robber and threat to civil order. He would have been described as a terrorist to-day, partcularly for his plan to massacre police. Such sharply opposing views of Kelly, who was hanged in 1880, fascinate Mr Carmody. So does the Kelly industry, which was in full swing even before the death sentence was passed by Justice Sir Redmond Barry, coincidentally the earliest patron of the State Library.

Victoria's first post-cards featured images of Kelly and his gang. Entrepreneurs fabricated Kelly suits of armour based on photographs taken alter the famous last stand at Glenrowan, where Kelly was captured and his comrades wiped out. In one showman's macabre tilt at making money from the myth, Kelly's sister Kate was persuaded to appear on stage at the Apollo Theatre on the evening of the bushranger's execution.
"Kelly souvenirs were in great demand. There was a frenzy to it," Mr Carmody says.

More than a century later, Kelly artefacts, scattered through public institutions and private collections, are being brought together in one exhIbition to be mounted at the State library in the New Year. The Jerliderie Letter, in which Kelly proclalined his intention to create a republic, will be on display with relics from public and private collections, some on show for the first time.

Curator Clare Wifliamson is looking for more. Of special interest are items created between 1880 and 1920, including coniic books produced by publishers cashing in on the Kelly story. "The mythologising of Ned began when he was still alive and continues to the present in the visual arts, music and literature," Ms Williamson says.

*The Sunday Herald Sun is supporting the search for Kelly artefacts.
Contact Derek Ballantine on 9292 2570 or ballantined@heraldsun .com.au

23/09/02 Plan for Ned Kelly artefacts to tour Vic
According to ABC News Online

The Victorian Government wants to bring together Ned Kelly artefacts and memorabilia for a travelling exhibition next year.
A committee, chaired by Arts Minister Mary Delahunty, is coordinating memorabilia in public and private ownership for the exhibition.
Mrs Delahunty says the age of the Ned Kelly artefacts will determine where the exhibition will tour in the state. "We'll explore where the items are, how fragile they are and particularly the letters Ned wrote - they are very, very fragile and need to be carefully protected," she said. "But it would be a marvellous thing to have a touring Ned Kelly exhibition right around Victoria."

19/05/02 The Sunday Age 'Ned on Tour' (John Elder)

John Elder's article about the first of the tours of Kelly sites organised by Ned: The Exhibition, was an enoyable read. The tour apparently covered all of the major Kelly sites and some of the lesser known ones. By bus the tour started at the Old Melbourne Gaol, headed north up the Hume to Beveridge, Avenel, Benalla, Glenrowan, Kelly's Gap and Greta Cemetery. Unfortunately the article does not describe the rest of the tour. The tour sites Elder did describe, seemed predominantly to be paddocks, power poles, fruit trees, holes in the ground, vandalised homestead remains and 'keep out' signs.
Reading his description of the sites shown on the tour, one gets a full sense of Australian history neglected and opportunities for meaningful restoration of historical sites lost. Instead we are left with paddocks and crumbling homesteads, while our imaginations are required to do all the work.
Anyone wishing to show their support for the restoration of the Kelly homestead at Beveridge should contact the
national trust.

13/05/02 Jon Faine interview on 3LO with Brendan Pearse, (with guest Marina Prior).

'Ned: The Exhibition' extended.
Brendan Pearse is co-organizer (with Matt Shore) of Ned: The Exhibition, which has been held at The Old Melbourne Gaol (OMG) since October 2001. According to Brendan statistics have shown that normal attendance at the OMG is up approximately 66% since the opening of the exhibition, and so due to its popularity it is being extended until July. Brendan claims that Ned Kelly has become 'public property' and widespread interest in his story is the main reason for the exhibition's success.
He personally was captured by the legend of Ned Kelly as a young boy. His mother worked across the road from the OMG and so he spent much time playing there, from this his interest in Ned grew, along with his familiarity of the gaol itself.
After fielding some difficult questions from Marina Prior (such as; why Ned is popular when he is a killer? and, why are people still so interested in this story?), he openly declared his position as a 'Kelly Sympathiser'. Brendan shared with listener's his fascination with the Kelly story and how he sees the legend of Ned Kelly.
Kelly Tour
Brendan explained that he had just returned from one of the tours of Kelly 'sites' he helped organise. Three tours of sites relevant to the story of Ned Kelly's life were organised as part of the exhibition. He talked about how, for anyone interested in the Kelly story, it was valuable to see these sites and soak up the atmosphere. The first tour was seemingly enjoyed by all those who went including himself and a number of like-minded people, (such as 15-year-old Webmaster Mike Lawson). Brendan said that the emotion of being at the Kelly homestead site with other sympathiser's moved some of the tour visitors to tears.
Hidden Chest
Brendan explained that a number of interesting Kelly artefacts may possibly be surfacing over the coming weeks. One such article is a chest, which Kelly enthusiast Ian Jones is purported to be close to locating. It is believed to be secreted somewhere in the North East of Victoria and contains various important Kelly items.
Ned Married?
Part of the content of the chest is allegedly 'proof' that Ned married his second cousin Kate Lloyd. (The theory of Ned marrying young Kate is one long held by Ian Jones).
Bailup look forward to seeing the alleged marriage document!

Hideout
Brendan also predicted the soon to be made public fascinating discovery of a Kelly gang hideout, which apparently was an old mineshaft.
For updates on the forthcoming 'discoveries' keep an eye out here on the news page...

August 2004 still waiting...

 

Grave Tampering

16/06/02 Kelly grave robber fury - Further investigation

Our sources have indicated that the story reported in the Herald Sun (2/6/02) is no more than an unexplained retelling of an old story. The impression given in the article was that the disturbing of gravesites was a recent event, however our investigations indicate that it refers to alleged events of some years ago. Why this story was published so recently is still unknown.
The alleged incidents do not appear to have been publicly reported at the time, however they have been widely discussed in 'Kelly circles' for some time. Apparently no eyewitnesses have come forward and no one has been charged with any related offence.

A number of our sources believe they knew who allegedly disturbed the graves, but are unwilling to say 'on record', as the information they have is only hearsay. It has been suspected that 2 men are involved in the grave tampering. Our sources explained that they live in the Northeast of Victoria along with the alleged perpetrators, and are therefore understandably unwilling to say anything that may cause problems or alienate them. One of the graves alleged to have been tampered with was Joe Byrne's in Benalla cemetery. The recent Herald Sun article stated that the men were searching for a policeman's ring however this seems unlikely, as logic decrees that stolen valuables would not have been buried with a bushranger's body. One of our sources said that those involved, under the cover of night, were simply seeking anything that could be souvenired from the graves, such as and including, bones.

It is curious, that if there is apparently enough evidence to print an article and insinuate a culprit - why no one has yet been legally charged for a crime? If there has been a recurrence, then a proper police investigation would surely be a better option than a newspaper article providing little to no evidence?
At this stage it is unfortunately very difficult to determine what specifically occurred, the identity of the culprits, or indeed even how much of the stories are true. It is therefore inappropriate to infer an accusation against a suspect, without evidence. (Particularly as anyone with knowledge of the Kelly story would likely know whom the Kelly 'buff' in the article referred to.)
Regardless of the reason for the article, it is unfortunate that the newspaper has chosen to publish this story, as surely it must be an unpleasant and unnecessary reminder of the events for the living relatives of those buried in the gravesites allegedly disturbed. Our sources indicate this is just a regurgitation of an old story, so for the sake of the relatives involved let us hope this issue is not dwelled upon any further.

2/06/02 'Kelly grave robber fury' (Derek Ballantine)
According to the Herald Sun

Grave robbers have disturbed the remains of up to six Ned Kelly relatives and associates in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. They are believed to have dug up one body and probed other graves in a bizarre quest for bushranger artifacts.
According to Brendan Pearse, organiser of Ned: The Exhibition, the worst outrage was almost six years ago, when the Benalla grave of Joseph Byrne was plundered. Since then the graves of Ellen King (nee Kelly), Dan Kelly and Stephen Hart, all in the Great cemetery, have been tampered with. It is believed that two or more men may be involved in grave tampering, however the focus of the allegations in the article were seemingly on one Kelly 'buff' in particular. In an exhibition newsletter, Mr Pearse and partner Matt Shore wrote: "If it weren't for the fear of having our backsides dragged through court, we would name the monster responsible." The Sunday Herald Sun was unable to talk to a man Mr Pearse accused of grave tampering.
Kelly descendants in northeast Victoria are renowned for guarding their privacy. But a cousin, who did not want to be named, confirmed she had taken legal advice in 1997 after learning that a researcher wanted to sink probes into graves at Greta in a bid to prove Hart and Dan Kelly were not in plots allotted to them. She directed a solicitor to write a letter warning him off.
* Messrs Pearse and Shore have plans for a temporary exhibition in Beechworth, followed by a permanent information centre in Kelly country.
This article referred to the tampering of gravesites over 5 years ago, but unfortunately made no mention as to whether this upsetting act has occurred again more recently. Bailup are therefore unsure whether this alludes to a recent occurrence, or is simply the re-telling of an old story by the newspaper?

 

Kelly's Beveridge Homestead

12/08/02

Sharon and David Consiglio told Dave White yesterday that despite knowing little about the house before buying it, they are nevertheless committed to its restoration, and are very keen to see the 'right thing' done with the Kelly house long term.
Not only is the generally dilapidated state of the house of concern, but due to it's constantly being further damaged by vandals and thieves, there is increasing urgency in seeing something done to protect and preserve the house. On a regular basis the house is still being subjected to souvenir hunters, who take bits and pieces of the building, along with senseless vandalism and theft. Despite the surrounding 3-meter high fence, a miner's couch (bed) was recently stolen from the front of the building. In another recent incident, four young men cut through the wire and entered the property in broad daylight. Such things continue to occur despite the fact that there is now nothing of any value left inside the house, and as parts of the building are unstable - it is quite dangerous to enter.
The Consiglios would like to see an analytical report done and subsequent proposal made on the future of the house. It is their understanding that the local shire is currently considering this option and they are hopeful that this will eventuate. They expressed their open intention to comply with such a report.
I believe that considering the conciliatory disposition of Sharon and David Consiglio, it would be difficult to accept that nothing further is done to preserve this important part of Australia's heritage. At the very least, a plan needs to be made and implemented to protect the Kelly house in the short term. N.Cowie

14/06/02 Stateline ABC TV
Extract from Heritage Council report

Victoria Heritage Council is the protector of 2000 registered buildings. The retiring chairperson Catherine Heggen, revealed to Stateline that the Council is in crisis and on the verge of closing its register due to the State Government providing insufficient funds. Among the 2000 buildings registered by the Council and requiring financial assistance is Ned Kelly's boyhood home at Beveridge Victoria.
David and Sharon Consiglio privately own the home. David was interviewed by Stateline and expressed his concern at the amount of vandalism and souvenir hunters that are gradually further destroying the house. He said he believed that the house would not withstand much more.
Catherine Heggen said she believes there is potential for the house to fall into such disrepair that it will be impossible to be rectified and reestablished. She also said at this stage the Council does not have the funds to do anything about it that, she added, was to her "enormous regret". She said that the Heritage Council for a number of years been allocated a very modest amount of money, in fact she said, "…we have been starved of funds".
Technically the Council have the ability to say what the owners of the buildings on their register can and can't do, but the Council have unfortunately not got the 'financial muscle' to save any of them.

The single-roomed frame that Red Kelly built is still there, however the timber shingle roof is now covered in tin and the split paling walls are now covered in weatherboards. Subsequent owners have extended the building extensively.
Stateline interviewed Kelly historian Ian Jones. He said that compared to the original the cottage was now unrecognisable. Gone is the dirt floor with a drain that separated the living and kitchen areas. He said that when Ned lived in there it was a "very primitive Irish Cottage, built from Australian materials."

10 years ago the Heritage Council paid for a fence and some minor stabilization work. A year later $7,000.00 was provided for a conservation management plan that was never implemented.
Stateline said that money was not the only problem; another problem is how to handle the restoration works. The possibilities regarding restoration include: simply preserving what is currently there, preserving the original home and demolishing the additions, and stripping the house back completely and reproducing it as it was when the Kelly family lived in it. Ian Jones stressed the point that it is a problem that we may have no chance to deal with in the future, if something isn't done immediately to preserve the house as it is.

There is also the question of who benefits from public monies spent on the property. The Consiglio's are willing to negotiate a management plan and admit the public, but have no intention of parting with the property. Catherine Heggen said that funding was only part of the equation and that the future of the home should be considered. Along with determining some benefit to the tax payer for what would be the significant financial contribution that may be required. These things need to be equated and balanced up.

Planning minister Mary Delahunty declined an invitation to appear in Stateline's story, but a spokesperson said that the department would reassess budgetary issues when a new chair is appointed to the Council next month.
Stateline will be repeated on the ABC TV on Saturday the 22nd June and 12 noon
.

4/06/02 'Last stand for Ned's boyhood home' (Lawrie Francis)
According to The Age

Time is running out for an important piece of Australian popular history. The house John Kelly built in 1859 in Beveridge - and where Ned, born in 1855, was thought to have lived until the age of nine, is crumbling, and no one in authority seems to care.
There is no signage to indicate the houses history, just a 'keep out' sign that has not worked. Vandals are regular visitors.
The land and cottage, 40 kms from Melbourne, are privately owned. Bought 3 years ago by David and Sharon Consiglio. The owners have spent some money and effort on basic repair and maintenance, but any meaningful restoration would take far more money than they could afford to spend. The house in in a bad state of disrepair both inside and out. In 1996 Heritage Victoria reported that a cost estimate for "basic" restoration and conservation would be $200,000. Larger scale development could exceed $1 million.
The National Trust and Heritage Victoria say the house is historically significant.
Garry Cecil, CE of Mitchell Shire, has invited the Consiglios to contact the council about a future of the house. Two years ago author Peter Carey publicly called on the authorities to save the house, but nothing was done.
Sharon Consiglio was quoted as saying "We're happy to do anything within our means to help, but it needs more than we can provide ... I would hate to see the place disappear and another important part of the Kelly story simply pass into history."
I am delighted to see this topic receiving press attention. The house is certainly one of this country's most significant historical sites, and requires urgent attention. Thanks to the private owners Sharon and David
Consiglio for their commitment to preserving this important part of Kelly history. N. Cowie

My thanks to the various sources who brought to my attention many of the above articles and information, particularly D. White, A. Kent, L. Cowie and S. Hollingsworth.

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