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Friday, September 21, 2012

Article Alert: Ned Kelly featured in Sept/Oct 2012 Archaeology magazine

Thanks to Greg Young for alerting me to this.

The September/October 2012 issue of "Archaeology" magazine has an article about Ned Kelly's remains being found. The article is called "Final Resting Place of an Outlaw." The cover of the magazine has the blurb "The Hunt for the Australia's Baddest Outlaw." Too bad (no pun intended!) that an image of Ned is not featured on the cover.

To read the article in full go to:

Thursday, September 20, 2012

New Book Alert: Australian Bushrangers, the Police, and God by Al Heffrin

Al Heffrin, the author of "Australian Bushrangers, the Police, and God" recently sent in a comment to this blog on a related post telling about his recently published book. I decided to use the comment there and am now giving him a whole new post to help get the news out.

He had written:

The book is factual story is about “Australian Bushrangers”, including Ned Kelly, who had the opportunity to trust in God, either before, during or after capture. The Australian bushranger may have committed what appear to be dreadful crimes, and as such they became outside of the law of the land. This story is about just a few of these bushrangers, who have had the opportunity to trust in God, either before, during or after capture. Most of these men committed the crime known as ‘Robbery Under Arms’ and as we have seen from the movie industry, the likes of the story ‘Robbery Under Arms’ is glamorised to the extent that we cannot but admire their exploits.

This very real and dangerous drama cannot be what it is, or what it was, without acknowledging the valiant and possibly more dangerous part played by the God consciousness, police and troopers, of the day. During a trial of a bushranger a magistrate stated: “Take the case of these constables, were they not brave men also? It is a strange thing that we hear little of the undoubted police bravery, yet, if there is the slightest courage shown by a bushranger, he is lauded as if he were a hero of romance”.

The book includes real faith facts of numerous Aussie Bushrangers including Bushranger Power.

The following link will give information on purchasing the book:


Copies of the book (70 pages in A5 size) can be obtained for AU$20.00 (post paid) from the author:-

Al Heffron
9 Hiscock Court
Benalla, VIC, Australia. 3672
Phone: +613 5762 6889

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Oh, Danny Boy [Sharon Hollingsworth]

Oh, Danny Boy

These days whenever I hear the popular Irish song "Danny Boy," I think of Dan Kelly. Seeing as how it was written in 1910 and the first recording of it was in 1915 I wonder if Mrs. Kelly or Jim ever heard it and thought of their Danny boy with lyrics like

"Oh Danny boy, the pipes, the pipes are calling
From glen to glen, and down the mountain side
The summer's gone, and all the flowers are dying
'Tis you, 'tis you must go and I must bide...."

So many of the descriptions of Dan Kelly during the short time he was outlawed are somewhat negative (I will just concentrate on the time he was part of the Kelly Gang and not on his pre-gang Greta Mob days). J.J. Kenneally in "The Inner History of the Kelly Gang" had it right when he said "All accounts of him [Dan Kelly] show that he was of a quieter and less forceful nature than his brother Ned, although the general public have been led, through the vicious misrepresentation by the police, to regard him as a treacherous and bloodthirsty scoundrel."

From Sadleir calling him a "ferocious little savage" to Hare extolling him as "a cunning, low, little sneak who prowled around half the night.." to McIntyre saying Dan was shouting "shoot that fellow! shoot that fellow!" as he was escaping at Stringybark Creek it would seem that Dan Kelly was gleefully painted as a blackguard.  There is even further anecdotal evidence against him. After Joe Byrne shot Aaron Sherritt it was said that Dan said a polite "good evening" to Aaron's widow and her mother as he entered the house and smiled as he looked at the corpse. Then there was the allegation that Dan wished to interfere with lady prisoners at Euroa, something that was sure to inflame the Victorian readers:

 "The prisoners in the storeroom, I may mention, were all men, the female cook and some other women employed at the station being allowed to remain in the house. None of the women were molested, as far as I learnt, in any way, though from some remarks dropped by Dan Kelly (who appeared the greatest ruffian of the lot, and a thorough type of the 'larrikin'), he did not desire to leave them untroubled. He said something about 'having a lark with the women,' but apparently he was restrained by his brother." 

J.J. Kenneally wrote that during the time Dan was outlawed "he killed no one, he shot no one, offered violence to no neighbour and insult to no woman."

I suppose that the wanting to have a lark with the women doesn't count as "insult to a woman" as Ned nipped that idea in the bud!

All of the above would make folks think twice about being in close quarters with Dan. The press and police surely did their job in that regard.

 McIntyre also had this to say: "Dan Kelly was nervously excited and was laughing with a short laugh almost hysterical; there was something grotesque about his appearance; all his clothing including his hat was much too large for him and when he turned his back to me to cover the tent there was very little of the inhabitant of the clothing visible."

That description is very telling as it is obvious that Dan Kelly was perpetually overshadowed and outsized by his elder brother(s).

Yet, Ellen Kelly, his mother, once said that Dan was "always a better general than Ned...." even though she also said that "My boy Ned would have been a great general in the big war - another Napoleon - whichever side he was on would have won."

That could be true, I suppose, because as far as strategy goes, there were times that Ned should have heeded Dan's advice, most notably when Dan wanted to handcuff McIntyre.

Mrs Kelly also told B.W. Cookson in 1910 when he asked about the rumours of Dan Kelly and Steve Hart still being alive:

"If Dan Kelly was alive all these years, wouldn't he have come to me? Would he let me want and go hungry,as I have done? Would he have seen me ending my life in this misery and done nothing to help me?..."

I choose to think that if Dan had survived he would have tried to contact his mother and helped in any way possible despite any so-called "statute of limitations." But we know that Dan did not survive beyond 1880.

At Glenrowan Dan was making sure that the prisoners were safe. Mrs. Reardon testified that Dan told her that if she got out of the inn safely to go to Hare and "tell him to keep his men from shooting till daylight, and to allow all these people to go out, and that we shall fight for ourselves." Dan had promised her that neither he nor any of the gang inside would shoot while the prisoners were trying to get out. (However, we know that some of the police fired on those prisoners!)

In the symposium paper entitled "The Trial of Ned Kelly: 'Mr Bindon Knows Nothing of my Case'" written by John H. Philips, he had this closing passage that shows a surprisingly softer side of Dan:

"...Kelly spoke to to his solicitor in the condemned cell. "How long have I got?" he asked.
"It can't be more than three or four weeks, " said David Gaunson.
"Three or four weeks, then I'll be joining Dan. You never met Dan, did you, Mr Gaunson." Gaunson shook his head. "He was a lovely man, my brother. Did you know Dan had a great gift, the gift of song? Oh, Mr Gaunson, if only you had heard Dan sing."

I have not sourced out where Philips found that passage but it is right in line with an 1889 reminiscence by a prisoner of the Inn (whom I have deduced to be Tom Cameron, also known as T.H. Cameron) who told the papers "Dan Kelly gave us a sample of his vocal abilities in the shape of a song about the Kelly Gang."

So, we have two different Dan Kellys presented, one by those prejudiced against him and another by those who were biased in his favour. He was either a vicious, cold blooded little thug intent on mayhem and mischief or was a tactically smart, artistically talented, solicitous, yet misguided, fatherless young man ( with "a fine pair of eyes" and "rather a pleasing look when smiling" according to a Jerilderie witness) held in total thrall by his towering elder brother. I think the real Dan Kelly lies somewhere between the two and closer to the latter...closer to sunshine than shadow.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Article Alert: Cave Link to Bushranger Ned Kelly

There is a new article in the September 17, 2012 Herald Sun entitled “Cave Link to Bushranger Ned Kelly.

It begins with:

“A Ned Kelly enthusiast believes he’s unearthed the cave the bushranger may have used as his hideout.
Steve Jager, 28, says Google Earth photos and historical documents led him into the Warburton Ranges national park, where he found an open-air cave behind a boulder that he thinks was the bushranger’s lair…”

To access/read you must sign up at:

Note that Steve Jager is one of the founders of where Brian and I (plus many more Kelly researchers and fans) are members. New members are always welcome!