Monthly Archives: October 2019
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.
Jerilderie and the end is nigh
We have spent three nights in Jerilderie, this is one more than Ned Kelly and his gang spent here in February 1879. In a little over 20 months, in November 1880, he would be hanged in the Old Melbourne Gaol. At the age of 25.
We are now, sort of in Kelly country. Jerilderie is in NSW just across the Murray River and a little removed from North East Victoria where Kelly was born and spent most of his 25 years. We are here out of convenience because it is the first Kelly Trail spot you encounter on the drive down the Newell Highway. So our adventure is starting out when Ned’s was not long off ending!
The camping ground we are based in is first rate. Grounds and facilities are immaculate and a short distance from the sixteen Kelly sites in or near the town. After 140 years some of the sites are no longer what they were back then. Some are just bare earth and grass, buildings have been reinvented as something else and in a couple of cases we couldn’t find the site at all.
Dear readers, do not be concerned that you are going to get a blow by blow history of the Kelly gang. A few words here and there and some photos will do.
The Kelly Gang had been emboldened after a successful hold up of the bank at Euroa, two months earlier back in Victoria, and had now set their sights on the Bank of NSW in Jerilderie. The raid on the town took place over two full nights and days.
They arrived in town and locked the local police in their own cell, dressed as police and checked the layout of the town, helped the wife of one of the officers prepare the courthouse for Sunday mass, robbed the bank of NSW of 2140 pounds and held more than 30 hostages in the Royal Mail Hotel.
They then proceeded to cut the telegraph wires as Ned sought out the editor of the newspaper to have him publish what is now known as the Jerilderie Letter. This was a lengthy manifesto, attempting to justify what he had done over the years in ‘fighting’ the harassment and oppression of the ‘little people’, including his family, by the establishment. He was unsuccessful in getting it published. The document was then ‘lost’ but reappeared ninety years later. So much for the story, to be continued at our next stop.
We have had a good time wandering around the sights. The local bakery is excellent, some good pies and Ned memorabilia.
The Royal Mail Hotel and Bank of NSW are not what they were in Ned’s time. It was substantially remodeled in 1927(9) with another storey being added and the bank premises folded into the structure. It now only opens a few hours a day for lunch and dinner time, it seems to struggle. We had an excellent steak sandwich in Kelly’s Bistro’. The lady publican told us she goes off to Cobram to buy slabs of beer at their BWS to sell, as the delivery charges from the breweries make them uneconomic suppliers! Such is life in Jerilderie!
Jerilderie has another famous face from our past. General Sir John Monash, Australia’s WWI army general, lived here as a child between 1874 and 1877 and it has been thought that he was back in Jerilderie in 1879 on school holidays when Kelly was in town. The rumour is that he held a horse for Ned, Monash never denied or confirmed it. Some locals want to erect a bronze near the Monash home commemorating the possible event. Some historians think it was actually Monash’s former teacher who held the horse. Fact or fiction it remains a mystery.
As a short aside, the comic pictures included here are from a comic book history of the Kelly Gang by the famous comic writer Monty Wedd. It was published over many weeks in the Sunday Mirror, between 1974 and 1977. It is a great read and reputedly a very sound historical record. I trust no one will mind my short excerpts here and there through this blog.
So, while Ned leaves town we head for Seymour to see more of the early years of his life!
On the Road Again
‘On the road again
Goin places that I’ve never been
Seein’ things that I may never see again
And I can’t wait to get on the road again’
With the words of Willie Nelson echoing from a day ago we are now charging down the highway headed for Jerilderie, just this side of the NSW/ Victorian border. It is going to take 3 nights, so we are just rolling along and not charging! Great song anyway!
After departing Inglewood we first stropped at the bakery on the way out of town for some bread rolls. Allthego likes bread rolls. But, they are of varying quality. So, on this trip he is going to focus on ‘what has been the best bread roll so far’! Rather than the best sausage or meat pie.
Also, Allthego and Homealone have become students of silo and water tank art. It seems rural Australia has in recent years exploded in creativity and expressionism and art is flourishing on these great old structures from our agricultural past, albeit some are still in use by our grain growers. Yelarbon, midway between Inglewood and Goondiwindi, has recently added to the collection. There are a number of silos, side by side, along the highway into the town that have been adorned with artwork depicting the wetlands near the town. A young boy sits in the water floating off paper boats made from old newspapers found in the town gaol. It is supposed to represent today’s youth remembering the lessons of the past, but using their energy and creativity to drive the future. The painting is half finished and will be extended across the other silos when funding is achieved. A little further along the road at Goondiwindi is a water tank that has been painted with some local river scenes. Goondiwindi in indigenous thinking means ‘resting place of birds’. Brolgas and emus feature in the work as significant birds in aboriginal life.
Leaving art behind we are now head in earnest down the Newell Highway. After a night stopover in Coonabarabran we aim for Forbes. Going through Dubbo we stopped for lunch and picked up some buns. Like the Inglewood buns we have some corn beef and salad. But you know they were not quite there. A bit flat and airy. The Inglewood ones had a little crunch and then the bread was munched on. Inglewood buns so far!
We made it into Forbes. Despite a dust storm blowing in from the west. It is very dry out in these parts. Rain is needed. We stopped over in a free camp just out of town beside the river. There were a few vans here and it is was quite civilised. Marie, wife of Stuart, a Homealone sibling, was on tour in Forbes visiting her family. Stuart was off in Orange trying to play in a long weekend golf tournament. We do not know his progress. She called by our camp site to say hello. Earlier in the day her dad had welcomed Allthego and Homealone to Forbes on the local FM radio station, where he is a volunteer announcer. He had played a Neil Diamond song maybe “Sweet Caroline” a Homealone standard, not “On the Road Again” or “It’s great to be back home again” (another Homealone standard).
It was NRL Grand Final night and Allthego decided to listen in on the radio. It would have been nice for Canberra to win! But they didn’t. But you know, there is always someone who takes umbrage at you having the radio on at 10 pm with commentators reliving why Canberra lost. So a gentlemen from a van across the way suggested we should TURN IT OFF. Probably a sore loser, but he was very polite. Maybe AFL. So we turned it down, amidst the turmoil of our hot water system blowing a tube and shedding water everywhere. With the hot water sort of fixed it was off the next morning to Jerilderie.
Going through Narrandera it was another painted water tower up on the hill overlooking the town. These works of art had not been long finished and they were quite remarkable. Overlooking the town, great statements of presence.
Further along we diverted off the Newell Highway into the town of Lockhart. This little town has a simply wonderfully painted water tower, smack bang in the middle of town. A lot of other street art and eateries. Great spot for a Hayes family Christmas get together!
We are now in Jerilderie. Ned Kelly awaits.
Such is Life
Here we go again. This time off down to north east Victoria.
Why does one go to north east Victoria? You may well ask. One of the attractions down there is nearby the town of Glenrowan, the famous Bailey’s vineyards. They produce some big red wines and also a great old vintage port. Very tasty.
But, Glenrowan is also famous for the Ned Kelly siege. And that is why we are going to north east Victoria. It is the home district of the late 1800s bushranger Ned Kelly. Allthego thought it was worth a trip to delve into the story of his life. Homealone was enthusiastic too for this adventure. We are also dropping into Canberra to visit her siblings for the annual Christmas get together and the now traditional secret Santa ceremony, which has become like a version of pass the parcel. More on this at the time of the event which is ten days or so off.
We left Brisbane on time today at a little after 10am. There had been some enthusiasm to get away a bit earlier, but why rush. We have made our way to Inglewood, about 100 km west of Warwick and a similar distance east of Goondiwindi. There is a free camp here on the outskirts of town beside a creek which is very pleasant and it is a regular stopping place for us on journeys south. Bit of traffic passes but you get used to the noise.
Much has been written about Ned Kelly. He morphs between folk hero and villain, depending on the observer. Where does the truth lie is a constant question. Fact and fiction are blurred by the passing of time and rose coloured glasses. We are off to see the towns and sites he, his associates and adversaries have made part of history. Maybe we will learn something of this Australian icon!
When he was about to be hung in Old Melbourne Gaol in 1880 it has long been reported that he said the famous words “Such is Life”. There is actually some doubt about this. But who cares it’s a great line!
So our next stop south will be somewhere to the south of Coonabarabran.