On our drive down to Mernda, we are passing through farmland and countryside that once was home to bushranger's running wild, causing mischief and mayhem.
Chiltern, Wangaratta, Beechworth, Glenrowan, Benalla were home to the likes of one of the most famous bushranger's (outlaw) of Australian history – Ned Kelly.
Whilst the first convict bushranger's were running around the countryside from as early as 1790's, outlawed bushranger's (yet to determine the difference) during 1860's to 1870's – and could be shot on sight, to the Kelly gang shooting in 1880.
John Caesar aka Black Caesar, Martin Cash, Jack Donohoe aka The Wild Colonial Boy, Black Douglas, Mad Dan Morgan, Captain Midnight and Ben Hall, to name but a few, but our Ned has been the one most portrayed in art and film over the years.
Edward 'Ned' Kelly was born in 1855 and was first arrested at age 14. Over the coming years he had other visits to the 'lock up' and gained notoriety as a boxer in the Beechworth area.
It looks like Ned really wound up his bush ranging when his mother was placed in gaol for a 3 year sentence for supposedly shooting one of the local constabulary. Well…that'll do it I guess. Must have loved his Mum!
By 1878, the Kelly gang were still eluding police and trackers. They surprised four police at a Stringybark Creek camp, killing two, wounding 1 and 1 surrendering. For around 2years Ned and his gang carried on in this manner, robbing banks along the way and before too long they had a bounty of 8000 placed on their heads, being raised to 12,000 by 1879.
Much more happened between the latter part of 1878 up until the fateful day in June 1880.
The Kelly gangs 'last stand' took place in Glenrowan, Victoria where they held 60 hostages in a hotel. All wearing their (famous) armour made the year before. The shootout took place, three of the gang were shot and killed, the hotel was burnt to the groundby the police. After a half hour battle with Ned shooting at police, having snuck up from behind, he ended up being shot in the unprotected legs. He was arrested and charged with the murder of a policeman.
Ned was already known for his penmanship with the Jerilderie letter and during his gaol time wrote a long letter to authorities in regards to discrimination to Irish settlers.
In November 1880 Ned was hung, his famous last words – such is life!
All bushranger's had their heads chopped off after hanging and death masks were then made and sent back to England.
So there you go, we had 'outlaws' here in Australia too.
Whilst in Glenrowan we visited Bob Hempel's, Ned Kelly's Last Stand. An anamatronic show filled with, well, anamatronics, computerised robots, lighting and sound. That's where some of these photos came from.
Below is Jack and I with Ned and Ned with the Eureka Flag (more on that later).
Such is Life,
P.S. My Dad calls me Ned, 'cause my middle name is Kelli 🙂