Ned Kelly……the end
Here we are in the Old Melbourne Gaol. We had arrived in Seymour the day before with the plan to go to Melbourne the next day by train to check out the Old Melbourne Gaol and the State Library of Victoria. Along the way from Jerilderie we had stopped for lunch. A bread roll of course from the Jerilderie Bakery. It was a little smaller than the other rolls we have had and when you squeezed it between ones fingers it sort of collapsed, like a balloon with the air going out of it. Nonetheless, it was still fresh and tasty. But we still rate the Inglewood roll the best so far!
It is about an hour and half by train from Seymour to Southern Cross Station, a pleasant wander through the countryside without the hassles of negotiating Melbourne’s peak hour and finding parking. At the Seymour station we were cornered by a platform attendent wanting to help us struggle to work out the intricacies of the Victorian public transport Myki card system, it’s interplay with interstate Seniors cards and the special Victorian $1 a week travel concession for seniors. Being Queenslanders, it seemed we could get the actual Myki card ‘cheap’ for $3 but only Victorians got the $1 week travel concession special. Oh, to be a Victorian for a week! Only. After alighting at Southern Cross we hopped on a vintage City Circle tram which took us around to Russell St followed by a short walk to the Gaol. It was here where we were arrested and incarcerated behind bars whilst on the Gaol Experience tour.
Ned was executed here by hanging on 11th November, 1880. The date is by coincidence, what we now recognise as Remembrance Day marking the end of WW1. Ned’s execution is the most recalled of the more than 180 hangings in this gaol, Victoria’s oldest, that operated from 1842 to 1924. Those very gallows remain where Ned’s famous last words were spoken. A particular section of the Gaol is dedicated to telling the Kelly story and particularly his time in the Gaol prior to being hung. Some time earlier he had been shot and captured at the siege of Glenrowan during which the other members of the gang were killed. More about the Glenrowan siege later in the journey.
After he was hung his head was cut off and a face mask made from which a cast was made of his head. This was common practice at the time. The cast of the head was studied by phrenologists. This was a bit of accepted whacky science at the time that attempted to predict criminal behaviour from the various bumps on a head, they were thought to indicate particular personality traits. Kelly’s body was then buried in the gaol yard. Apart from the cast head there are other bits of memorabilia on display including one of Ned’s guns.
After wandering around the cells we left to have lunch down in nearby Lygon Street, had a rather nice pasta in an Italian joint. Time was starting to get away so we set off for the State Library. The Library houses the armour that Ned wore at Glenrowan, as well as one of his boots. There are also some pages from the Jerilderie letter. But! The Library has chosen to close the exhibition for some needed restoration work and upgrade. It wont reopen for some months. So maybe we will need to come back at some stage in the future.
So it was out to the tram stop and back to Southern Cross Station for the return train journey to Seymour. Arriving around 6pm we found the car was still there, parked in a backstreet. We each have a Myki card with about $7 on it for next time. On the finding Ned journey we are next time going back to where it all began in the early days.