Updated October 21, 2005
Apart from presenting my historical research and analyses in the history sections, I occassionally like to offer the odd editorial, which you can read in this section..
Ned Kelly's armour - Enduring Aussie Icon
Almost immediately after Glenrowan there was demand that the armour be displayed for the general public. It instantly captured Australia's imagination and held it. Its rough and amateurish appearance shows, at a glance, that the wealthy authorities did not make this instrument of battle. It is presumably this characteristic that first engages us and makes us curious to learn more. Even at its newest, the armour was 'old-fashioned' in design and idea. Personal body armour had been used for centuries, but had long ago been discarded as obsolete. Therefore at the time it was made, it was a modern day innovation that had been entirely drawn from the past. Perhaps in this incongruity it has managed a timeless quality and appeal.
Yet the Australia of today
is vastly different to the Australia of colonial times, so why then has
the armour's unique appeal endured? In modern times it would be fair to
claim that the vast majority of Australians would instantly recognize
the symbol of the armour. However it would also be fair to claim that
the majority of those that do, would perhaps not know that it was made
from plough mouldboards. They most likely would also be unfamiliar with
the circumstances that lead to its conception. Therefore the reason for
its enduring fascination must surely lie elsewhere. It is not uncommon
to hear an Australian say that Ned must surely have been "a little
bit mad" to don such armour and go in fighting against the odds,
but instead of denouncing him for it, this concept seems to inspire awe.
In fact Ned Kelly is widely considered by modern society as the archetypical
Australian hero, i.e. the anti-hero. Ned perceived injustice against his
family and fought it. He was the proverbial underdog who would not lie
down. It is conceivably this that the armour symbolizes - the fighting
spirit that is so admired in Australians of all generations.
Ned Kelly and Horse-
Ned was an Australian "native" who conceivably typified what Australians admire most in one of their own. Ned wore the armour while making a courageous 'last stand'. The armour is possibly the best insight we have into Ned Kelly's character - implacable and strong, carefully deliberate, yet impulsive, defiant and fearless. He wore it walking into a battle that he knew he could not win, and in doing so inspired the tributary phrase 'as game as Ned Kelly'. Thus to many Australian's the armour seemingly represents rebelliousness and bravery. It also perhaps manages to encapsulate that very Australian tendency of fighting for a cause even when it is already lost - just in case.
First published March 6th, 2002
For historical information on the Kelly armour go to ARMOUR