Monthly Archives: October 2019
The seige at Glenrowan
We have been to Glenrowan before and have had a short wander around the siege sites. Previously we have been more interested in Bailey’s Vineyards! This time we have done the siege sites in a little more detail and taken a bit longer. Glenrowan is a short diversion off the Hume Highway and there is a great little camping ground to enjoy. So we have spent three nights here. Most people only seem to spend one! They head off the next morning. Maybe we drove them off! On the way down from Mansfield we enjoyed some buns from the local Mansfield Artisan bakery. Not bad but on the small side, we had some nice ham and salad on them. We are tempted to think that the Glenrowan rolls have been the best so far, closely followed by Inglewood and Homealone’s brother Stuart’s effort!
Anyway the interesting thing about Glenrowan and the surrounding Kelly sites at Greta and in the Woolshed Valley is that there is little if anything left of the actual buildings and locations. They have all been swallowed up in the passing parade! So one can wander around the siege site, guided by the information boards and actually have to imagine what it looked and felt like 140 years ago.
We had a more or less full day driving up the Woolshed Valley from Eldorado to Beechworth. We had previously seen the Woolshed Falls, which are at the top of the Valley, when we stayed at Beechworth earlier in the journey. The Woolshed Valley broadly follows the course of Reid’s Creek, cant really remember but it is something like a 40 km drive along a gravel road. In this area something like 6-7,000 people lived during the mid 1800s, searching for gold. It was one of the richest alluvial gold fields in Victoria. Today, people still pan for gold in the creek bed and don’t waste their time!
Maybe, Allthego will come back here and try it. Homealone is not greatly interested in this idea! The physical evidence of all this human activity has gone, swallowed up by the regenerating bush and more recent human endeavours on the land. It is in the Woolshed Valley that the other non Kelly members of the Gang, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart, grew up. It is also where Joe Byrne shot a life long friend Aaron Sherritt who had turned into a protected police informant. Where he was shot in the Woolshed Valley is not far from Beechworth.
The shooting of Sherritt was the genesis of the Glenrowan siege. He was shot by Byrne and Ned’s brother Dan to create an event that was designed to enrage the authorities and cause them to send a train load of police and aboriginal police trackers from Melbourne to Beechworth to chase down the Gang. Beechworth is north of Glenrowan and Ned pulled up a section of the rail track north of the Glenrowan station to derail the train and cause numerous casualties. Ned had a dream of then demanding a separate state in NE Victoria for the oppressed population.
The plan didn’t work for all sorts of reasons. My readers can pursue the detail elsewhere if they like! What did happen though was that the train was flagged down before reaching Glenrowan, the police alerted to the plot and the hotel where Ned and the boys, together with lots of hostages where holed up, was laid siege. The shootout went on all night. In the end Joe Byrne, Steve Hart and Dan Kelly were killed. Ned survived and, as we have already heard, was ultimately taken to Old Melbourne Gaol tried, sentenced and hung on 11 November 1880.
To finish off our Kelly journey we took the short drive out to Greta to the cemetery where various members of the wider Kelly family, including his mother Ellen, Dan and some sisters are buried in unmarked graves. Steve Hart is also buried in an unmarked grave. Ned was reburied here, also in an unmarked grave, in 2013 after having been exhumed from his grave in the Old Melbourne Gaol. HIs mother Ellen died in 1923 at the age of 93, a long hard life. Needless to say you can’t find them! Unless you have inside knowledge! There is a memorial headstone at the cemetery entrance acknowledging their presence.
Back at Glenrowan we prepared for some time at Baileys for lunch and for the start of the trip back to Brisbane the next day.
Stringybark Creek and Mansfield
Moving on from Powers Lookout we made it into Mansfield and set up camp. The weather forecast for the coming days was not great so we decided to head off for Stringybark Creek the next day. It is not far from Mansfield and it was there in October 1878 that the Kelly gang really got into the thick of it. The gang had gone bush some time earlier to escape the attention of the police who had commenced an intensive operation to bring them to justice after the ‘murder attempt’ on Constable Fitzpatrick at the Kelly Homestead.
They had established themselves in the Wombat ranges up behind Greta. It was a secluded spot and they had cleared 20 acres to grow ‘stuff’, particularly beet and barley to make whiskey. They also indulged in some gold mining in the creeks. How the police couldn’t find them is a mystery to us today. Anyway, the police set up a camp at Stringybark Creek about a mile away from the unbeknown secluded Kelly camp. The Gang investigated this ‘intrusion’ and confronted the police at their campsite. The result was the murder of three policemen, one escaped to report the incident. Ned was later to claim that it was self defense, the police had come to ‘get’ the gang, no survivors. The murders resulted in a public outrage and the Victorian government changed the law to declare the gang outlaws, meaning that they could be shot at sight, no questions asked!
From this time on the Gang engaged in a running battle with the police and authorities. In December of 1878 they staged the robbery of the National Bank at Euroa, near Benalla. This was designed to try to draw sympathy for the perceived injustices of their treatment for the Stringybark murders, based around the idea it was self defence. From Euroa, the Gang moved on to the robbery at Jerilderie, where we started our journey a few weeks back.
At the site at Stringybark Creek, where the shootout is generally considered to have taken place is a memorial area to the policemen. There is some conjecture whether this is the actual site and we encountered a group from Beechworth (the volunteers at the various sites there) on a bus tour with a guide who said the site was actually further up the creek, and he had the evidence to prove it! And he was going to reveal and publish it in the next day or so. Talk about being on the spot! The site though is very tastefully done and reflective of both the Police and the Kelly Gang’s positions.
Back in Mansfield we had a quick look at the cemetery to see the graves of the police and the big monument in the main street that was erected to commemorate their deaths. Mansfield is an odd sort of place. It seems to be a little soulless, everything is focussed on the snow ski industry. It is the gateway to the Mt Buller ski resort, about 45 km away. A post card of the town could not be bought anywhere, plenty of Mt Buller and the snow. Being out of season we had the camping ground almost to ourselves. Our last day was holed up in the van as the weather was a bit inclement. Homealone enjoyed the time to catch up on some craft!
We have now headed off to Glenrowan and the siege!
Heading to Mansfield
We left Beechworth, but first stopped by the Beechworth Bakery to pick up some bread rolls for our next taste test along the road to Mansfield. We chose to head back towards Wangaratta and then, when almost there headed south across country to Milawa. Milawa is at the bottom of the King Valley. It’s favourite son is the Brown Bros Vineyards. No relation. Second comes the Milawa Cheese Factory where we stopped off to pick up some local product for happy hour. Some rather tasty soft bries and blues. There were also some goat cheese specialities which Allthego thought were pretty good. Homealone is not though a devotee, so we abstained on this occasion.
Moving on up the valley we were amazed at how green the countryside was, sheep up to their armpits in the grass. At the end of the valley is Whitfield a small village surrounded by grape vines. Dal Zotto sounded like a particularly interesting vineyard. Old style Italian varieties and an onsite traditional trattoria open for lunch, unfortunately not when we were passing by. Homealone suggested we could have actually stopped and stayed overnight at Whitfield if the trattoria had been open (it was early in the week). A place to come back to it seems.
Leaving Whitfield the road heads up into the High Country with views of the Australian Alps to the east. The road twists and turns ever upwards. We are passed by streams of motor bikes weaving their way through the corners. It is a favourite biker’s route over the mountains down into Mansfield and then on to Melbourne. The numerous bikes encountered were explained by it being a few days before the annual Phillip Island motor bike races.
Before reaching Mansfield we come to Power’s Lookout. This is a short diversion from the main road out to a point that overlooks the King Valley. Clear views up and down the valley. It was here that the bushranger Harry Power holed up in caves and could observe movements up and down the valley, particularly police out searching for him. He had been transported from England in 1840 for stealing a bridle and saddle. Harry was a ‘gentlemen’ bushranger who never harmed his victims, just relieved them of valuables and normally their horses so that he could not be pursued.
Harry spent 30 years of his life in various prisons. He fits into our Kelly story though because young Ned at the age of about 15 was ‘apprenticed’ to Harry, who taught him the tricks of the trade, minding the horses during the robberies. Ned assisted Harry in a number of his robberies. Harry was eventually captured by the police in a hideout not far from the lookout. Harry thought that Ned had ‘dobbed’ on him, but he hadn’t. It was one of Ned’s uncles. He was released from prison in 1885 and died in 1891 at the age of 72, seemingly from drowning in the Murray River while fishing.
Allthego wandered out to the lookout, a slightly involved climb up and down some steel ladders to reach the KIng Valley overlook. Spectacular views. Homealone prepared that bread roll lunch!
After devouring the rolls, which were quite firm and tasty (ham always helps) we headed back to the main road and on into Mansfield. It is getting quite difficult to distinguish each new lot of rolls from ones we have had before, but we will continue the effort.
Beechworth and the Kellys
Beechworth is where a number of the incidents involving Ned and his family played out in the local courthouse and in the resulting gaol sentences. It is also where there was a turning point in Ned’s life where he was no longer committing somewhat minor offences and then being hounded by the police. He made what seems to be a conscious decision to ‘take the attack up to the police’ and seek retribution for the oppression of his family and the common folk by what he saw as the local ‘aristocracy’ and authorities.
In 1871 when Ned was 16 years old he was sentenced to three years gaol for receiving a stolen house, the character who actually stole it only got 18 months. Ned served this time in Pentridge Gaol in Melbourne. He had earlier served 5 months in Beechworth Gaol for assaulting and later ‘insulting’ a travelling hawker and his wife by giving them some bull’s testicles as part of a prank.
Ned’s brothers served time in Beechworth for various offences, Jim got 5 years for stealing cattle. His mother Ellen was also sentenced to three years hard labour for the ‘attempted’ murder of Alexander Fitzpatrick, a police officer, in 1878. She had hit him on the head with a pan when Fitzpatrick attempted to arrest Dan Kelly for horse stealing at their house without a warrant. Fitzpatrick alleged that Ned had shot him. After being held at Beechworth she served out the sentence at the Old Melbourne Gaol. She was in that gaol when Ned was hung there in November 1880 after the Glenrowan siege. It was reported that she was allowed to visit him and told him to ‘die like a Kelly’. It was in the two years between 1878 and 1880 that Ned set about seeking retribution and revenge for all the injustices that he felt he and his family had suffered. More to follow.
We went on a tour of the 1864 Beechworth Gaol. Quite an eye opener. It only closed in 2004. Very basic place indeed. Prisoner’s cells were only fitted with flushing toilets in 1994. Saw Ned’s cell and also his mothers, who had a new born baby at the time. The cell his mother had was different to the others as it was for females who had young children and who chose to take them to gaol with them. It had a back door opening into a yard. There were 8 hangings at the gaol. Ned was taken to Beechworth after the Glenrowan siege for sentencing, if he had been sentenced there he would have been hung in Beechworth. Apparently, our guide told us, it was thought by the authorities that it would be unlikely a jury would convict Ned in Beechworth (because of his followers and general support of town folk) so he was sent to Melbourne for trial.
There are many mid 18 century stone buildings in the historic precinct of the town that have been faithfully restored. It is an interesting town, much to see which we have left for another time. Trees were starting to leaf up with the onset of spring, would look great in autumn! It is now off to Mansfield.
Back south to Beechworth
We headed back south down the Hume Hwy to Wodonga where we took the road into the foothills of the Great Dividing Range to Beechworth. Along the Hume we stopped for morning tea at a rest stop with a small painted water tank, these things are catching on! Some indigenous scenes of a camp fire and the surrounding countryside. It is very green down in these parts, at least compared to the country further north in NSW and Queensland where it is so dry.
In Beechworth we have located ourselves in a great camping ground just out of the town centre beside Lake Sambell. Excellent grassy sites, plenty of room and we are able to have a fire, albeit in a drum which spoils the ambience a bit. The days are warm and sunny but in the early hours of the morning it is chilly, getting down to around 4 or 5 dgs and a blanket is needed to supplement the doona and rug.
Beechworth is an old gold mining centre, gold having been found nearby in 1852. Much of the town is in a sort of physical time warp, the old buildings and street scape is well preserved. Some nice old time shops living beside more modern enterprises such as cafes and restaurants. The local cemetery has an interesting collection of historic graves, including some locals who emigrated to Victoria after fighting in the US-Mexican War and the Civil War. There is also the common occurrence of children, days and months old, who died of diseases in the 1800s that are today easily curable. The cemetery is also the final resting place of over 2000 Chinese who came to work on the goldfields, there is a partially restored temple with 2 chimneys that was used for the burial ceremonies, the burning of messages and other sacrificial items and the letting off of firecrackers to ward away devils.
In our meanderings through the gravestones we stumbled over one John Watt. He was the publican at Wooragee, not far from Beechworth. He had emigrated from Morayshire in Scotland. His claim to fame it seems is that he was shot by bushrangers who tried to rob the hotel on 15 October 1982. He was 39 and died 9 days (sic) later on 25 October 1982. Two of the bushrangers were later hung for the murder in the Beechworth Gaol, which we are going to visit later in our stay here at Beechworth. This John Watt would not be an unfortunate past member of the Watt clan in Brisbane?
The town has an excellent bakery, full of goodies. Have stopped in for lunch at Bilsons an old brewery that diversified into soft drinks and cordials years ago and has now also come back to making craft beers and gin. They have a gin that is golden in colour, it contains some honey and turmeric that gives the colour. It is supposed to be reflective of Beechworth’s golden past. A rather tasty refreshing drop with a dose of tonic and ice to wash down a slow cooked beef ragu pie and salad.
There is also a local honey shop with numerous honeys sourced from all sorts of different tree flowers. We tasted away for some time before selecting some samples to take home, we are getting to the end of our supplies in the cupboard. The Kellys were familiar faces around Beechworth, particularly in the courthouse and gaol! But more of that next time!
Why are we in Canberra? Well we have diverted from the Ned Kelly trail back to Canberra for the annual Hayes siblings’ Christmas get together. This year the event has been centralised at the Palmer Close free camp in Queanbeyan, managed by Homealone’s brother Stuart and his wife Maree. A pleasant establishment with plenty of hot water! The whole gang is present along with some children of the siblings and also a child of the children of the siblings. Or in other words a grand child. Apparently, a ‘meeting’ of siblings had been held to agree to this new development. It was to be hoped that opening the event to the new generation would revitalise the Secret Santa tradition. And it did! Just throwing the dice to decide the decision making in the pass the parcel ‘Secret Santa’ made the night. Everyone got something that they didn’t necessarily not want. The company, food and hospitality was great also and enjoyed by all.
Allthego was particularly stunned by the local artisan bread rolls designed and created by Stuart in the local oven. Allthego didn’t have an ‘artisan’ category in his bread roll contest. So Stuart’s buns, I mean his rolls, took first place in the artisan category! Very comparable also with the commercial rolls. A great crunchy crust and soft interior. Earlier, on the way to Canberra, we had some rolls from Glenrowan, very impressive in size and softness. On a par with Inglewood and will check back in on these on our return trip to Glenrowan in a few days.
Now, a trip to Canberra can’t be let slip by without going to the National Gallery! In our case it was to see Sydney Nolan’s sequence of 27 Ned Kelly paintings, painted Allthego thinks in 1947. They depict various stages and events in his bushranging activities and life. They are recognised internationally as an important contribution to national life. A must see if you are on the Kelly trail!
BUT DO YOU KNOW WHAT? THEY ARE ON TOUR!!!!!! FOILDED!!!! They are on the road to Darwin of all places! They will then head to Cairns! They will be back in Canberra mid 2020. The gallery guides didn’t sympathise that we had come all the way from Brisbane to see them. Thought we should just come back when they came back! So here are some of them anyway , photos of prints. Maybe we will come back. It was suggested we should check the website for dates! But we are nomads and rely on out of date printed tourist guides! Perhaps we should rely on the website in the future? So we saw that famous painting bought by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam way back in 1973. Blue Poles. Actually, it is quite impressive. Not bad at all!
So after these few days in Queanbeyan with relos we head back south to Beechworth to rejoin the Kelly trail.
Benalla Silo Art Trail
The rural area around Benalla is getting in on the Silo art movement. These old relics of our agricultural past are mostly sitting relatively idle or simply unused beside railway lines around the countryside. Towns trying to capitalise on tourism are having them painted in all sorts of ways. The ones below stretch along the road out of Benalla to Tocumwal on the Murray.
Goorambat a few kilometres out of Benalla has a couple on their silos and the local Uniting Church has had a mural inside the church on its front wall. An imposing representation of the feminine ‘form’ of the Holy Spirit, Sophia. ‘Sophia’ means “wisdom” in Hebrew. Very out there indeed! It attracts quite an audience.
All of the silos have been done over the last 3 years or so. All quite fresh and interesting. We had a hamburger lunch along the way at the old hotel at Devenish. The publican told us a tale about the old closed pub up the road a bit that claimed to have had Ned drink in its cellar on a number of occasions. Subsequently, it was revealed that the pub was not built until 3 or 4 years after his death!
We finished off by driving through the Winton Wetlands into Glenrowan on a back road and then out on to the Hume Hwy and down to the caravan park at Benalla. We are now heading to Canberra for the Hayes’ sibling annual Christmas get together. A visit is also on the cards to the National Gallery to see the Nolan sequence of Ned Kelly paintings.
Benalla was the major town closest to Ned’s home in Greta. It was in Greta that Ned started to have his run ins with the police. On one occasion he and a mate decided to ‘borrow’ a horse, this was one of his Uncle Jim’s tricks of the trade. Once ‘borrowed’ the horse would be hidden out in the bush. The owner believing it had run off would offer a reward to anyone who tracked it down and return it. Ned and the mate went out and ‘found’ the horse, returned it and and claimed the reward. The owner caught on and Ned was charged with horse stealing, but nothing came of it. On another occasion a Chinese peddler claimed Ned had robbed him, which was not the case. The charges were fabricated and Ned was able to escape conviction. Members of the extended Kelly family made frequent appearances in the court during this time.
The bootmaker’s shop were Kelly had a fight with police still stands today opposite the old courthouse, now part of the Anglican Church complex. During the fight one of the police performed the famous ‘Christmas hold’ on Ned, this caused Ned some distress and he threatened that if he ever killed a policeman it would be him. In fact this was the case, the officer was shot by Kelly at the Stringybark Creek shoot out some months later in 1878 (but more of this is to come).
The local museum holds much memorabilia on the Kelly’s. Among them the portable cell in which Ned was held on one occasion. Pride of place is held by the green blood stained sash worn by Ned at the Glenrowan siege. Over at the Art Gallery is Sidney Nolan’s big tapestry depicting the siege of Glenrowan. In the cemetery is the grave of Joe Byrne one of the Kelly gang members, every so often flowers mysteriously appear on the grave. The cemetery also hosts the graves of Ned’s grandmother and his Uncle Jim along with other Kelly family members.
As we found on our travels every town has another favourite son. Sir Edward ‘Weary’ Dunlop the famous leader of the POWs on the infamous Burma Railway during WWII was born and lived here. There is a significant memorial and documentary to him in the museum, the Botanic Gardens also has a bronze statue recognising him and his service.
We next head off on the relatively new silo art trail to the north west of Benalla and a visit to the Winton Wet Lands.
We are now in Benalla, not far up the road from Avenel. Greta, where the Kellys had moved, is a little bit off to the east. Glenrowan further up the road. It was in this general area that Ned would be particularly active in his teenage years. But we are going to leave Ned alone for awhile and have a wander around the township checking out the street art.
Benalla is famous for not only Ned, but also it’s street art. For the last five years it has run the ‘Wall to Wall’ festival. The festival attracts street artists from all over Australia and also from overseas. There is street art everywhere. All sorts of pieces on the building walls around the town, must be up around 100 at least. Here a few of them.
The one with the red skeleton on a blue background was particularly fascinating because they had a mobile filter stand and you could look at the art through red and blue filters which showed the painting up without the skeleton which revealed the girl with flowing hair and flesh covering the bones and swimmers underwater!
One of the things Allthego has now realised is that the art is meant to be viewed in its setting, not in isolation from all the parked cars, trees, assorted junk and rubbish bins around it. So instead of getting frustrated about not being able to get a clear photo of the art you just go with the flow and snap away!
We will get onto Ned again in the next post!
Ned’s early days
Our remaining time around Seymour was spent checking out Ned’s early days. Seymour lies between between Beverage (to the south) and Avenel (to the north). Beverage is where Ned is thought to have been born in December 1854, some think he was born around mid 1855; some think he may have been born in nearby Wallan. What we do know is that he was living in Beverage in the late 1850’s. The family house is still there today in a dilapidated state. It was extended by subsequent owners from its original form by the addition of more rooms. But the original construction can be still clearly seen. The local hotel has a sketch of what it might have looked like in better condition!
One of the things that hits you early in the search for Ned Kelly is the enormous range of statues that are erected everywhere. Steel, stone, wood and plastics. All look a bit different and show him in different poses. The following 3 are in Beverage.
And .………………………………………..an enterprising lot have put him on a can. Whisky and cola, there are 3 alcohol strengths of whisky and cola available in cans. But the Kellys were Irish and would not have liked the way whisky was spelt!
Ned’s father John (“Red”) was an Irish convict settler, originally transported to Tasmania for 7 years, subsequently moved to Victoria where he married Ellen Quinn. They were battlers and settled on land in Beverage where they eeked out a living of sorts. Red was a bit of a scoundrel as were other members of the extended family. They engaged in what we would class as petty theft, horse stealing and cattle duffing, abusive behaviour and getting a bit worse for wear at happy hour. But in those days these were ‘major’ crimes and the authorities started a relentless pursuit of the Kellys and their associates, which ultimately saw them leave Beverage and move further north and settle Avenel.
We had a light lunch in Avenel at the Bank Street Wood Fired Pizza café. Rather nice pizza on a thin crust. Bit of a wait though as there was a big Hen’s party in progress. A bus load of ladies of all ages (the groom we were told was 53 and the bride
, a bit painted up so not quite sure) from Shepperton were on a cruise around the district. The bus driver was the groom’s brother and could have been a wealth of stories but apparently what happens on the tour stays on the tour he said!
Also dropped into a woollens/antique shop where the owner told us that Kelly’s were really ‘just Irish law breaking thugs’. He much preferred the recognition of one Arthur Bailey who had made the first gold discovery at Coolgardie in WA and later moved to Avenel to settle. He died aged 31 and there is an imposing head stone on his grave in the cemetery. These little towns always seem to have a famous person lurking away in the background!
In Avenel it was much the same for the Kellys. By this time the family had grown to 7 children. Times were tough and drought conditions prevailed. They operated a small dairy herd. Red was gaoled for 6 months for stealing a calf from a neighbouring property to help feed the family. He died at the age of 45 shortly after his release. He is buried in the Avenel cemetery. At 11 years of age Ned took his fathers place on the farm.
Earlier Ned had saved a younger boy from drowning in a creek and had been declared a town hero. He was awarded a green silk sash by the child’s parents who ran a local hotel, The Royal Mail. Ned wore this sash at the Glenrowan siege under his armour. The blood stained sash is on display in Benalla in a glass case (more about this later in the story).
After Red’s death Ellen started to become a bit cranky, abusing people and generally being ‘unfriendly’. She ended up in court twice, with fines. Ned’s family were not good role models for the young Ned and he too started to take a dislike to authority. He had been accused of stealing a horse, but nothing came of it.
So, the Kelly’s moved further north to Greta to escape the continuing police harassment. Greta was also where Ellen’s family, the Quinns had moved and she wanted to be closer to her married sisters.
Back in Seymour we spent some time down at the Vietnam veterans’ Memorial Wall. The wall has 106 panels, 53 back to back stretching along a walk way. The names of every veteran from each of the services is listed on the panels which are backgrounded with scenes from the conflict. Separate panels remember those who died whilst on service and also those who were awarded VCs. Very impressive memorial.
We are now also moving north, not to Greta, but to Benalla.