Last week I watched the movie Ned Kelly with Heath Ledger. It was filmed in 2003. One of several made. Of course being an Australian I think I like this one the best. Mick Jagger from the Rolling Stones also played Ned Kelly but to me that was definitely a bad choice. Anyway it got me thinking of Glenrowan in the Victorian countryside. Its 236 kms from Melbourne and nearly 96 km from Albury. Its just off the National Highway M31. ( We call it the Hume Freeway) In 2016 the Census recorded 963 people lived in the area.
We often stop at Glenrowan for a cuppa and a gluten free scone with jan and cream at Dad & Dave’s Billy Tea Rooms. Or get a pie or sausage roll at one of the bakeries. Glenrowan is a great place to stretch the legs and catch up on a bit of history.
So where does the movie Ned Kelly and Glenrowan come into all of this. Glenrowan is where “The last Stand of the Kelly Gang”.
Ned was born in June in 1855 in a town called Beveridge, a small town North East of Melbourne. He was hanged at the Melbourne Gaol on November 11th 1880. He was 25 years old at the time of death. Ned Kelly became in his short life one of Australia’s best known folk hero. Ned and the Kelly gang wore suits of armour.
The Kelly gang consisted of Ned, his brother Dan, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart.
Ned was what would be called a petty criminal until one day a young constable by the name of Fitzpatrick would go to the farm to arrest Dan for stealing horses. Apparently Fitzpatrick stopped at a pub on the way so by the time he arrived at the Kelly Farm he was drunk. A fight broke out between Fitzpatrick and the Kelly family. On his police report Fitzpatrick stated that Mrs Kelly hit him over the head with a shovel and Ned shot him in the wrist. This in turn resulted in prison for 3 of the family members including Neds mum.
To be fair this police officer was only in the force for 3 years as he was a drunk and corrupt and brought the Victorian Police force into disrepute. This is what history say is the catalyst in the Kelly Gang going after the police. Ned and his brother Dan were wanted for attempted murder and went into the bush. Some reports say Ned wasn’t even at the farm house that day while others say his mother looked after the wound before Fitzpatrick left.
These 4 young men robbed two large banks to support themselves. A manhunt for the gang was organized and Ned and the gang, with no intention of murder, confronted a group of policemen at Stringybark Creek. Three policemen were shot dead and the price on Neds head went higher.
The siege or last stand on Monday June 28th 1880 was the result of a plan by the Kelly Gang to derail a Police Special Train carrying Indigenous trackers into a deep gully adjacent to the railway line. The Kelly Gang after Glenrowan derailment were planning to ride into Benalla and blow up the undermanned police station and rob some banks.
Unfortunately for Ned and his gang he miscalculated thinking the train would come from Benalla and not Melbourne.
He calculated that the train would take 12 hours to get to Glenrowan it actually took 31 hours. This resulted in 60 hostages at the Ann Jones Inn and the Kelly Gang were sleep deprived. A Thomas Curnow, a hostage, convinced Ned that he needed to take his sick wife home. Thomas Curnow was able to warn the Police Special train of the danger.
In the early hours of the morning of June 28th the police Special train pulled into the Glenrowan Railway station. The siege of the Inn was ended by the destruction by fire in the mid afternoon. Joe Byrne, Dan Kelly and Steve Hart were killed. In daylight on the 29th of June Ned was captured about 100 meters of the Inn.
You can visit Glenrowan and walk around the town and see where Ned was gunned down and wounded. The gaol where he was locked up until he was taken to Melbourne for trial.
There is a museum in Glenrowan and they also re-create the capture of Ned Kelly. Its quite loud (not that I have been to it) to the point of I have jumped out of skin when the guns go off.
This photo below is what is called a Thunder Box”, this one has a wooden seat and walls and roof. Inside is a bucket. Although some in the country have just a hole with tin surrounding the tin for privacy. When the hole fills up the seat and surrounds are moved to another spot (this usually happens in the country) and often a tree is planted in the hole. Great Manure. This one is in Glenrowan.
The dog in the photo is my Beth who passed away back in 2016.
You can read more about Ned Kelly and his Gang here
I hope you enjoyed this