Ned Kelly’s last stand?

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The remains of Australia’s most famous bush-ranger Ned Kelly may have been discovered with the excavation of a mass grave thought to contain Kelly’s remains on the grounds of Pentridge prison set to be excavated by archaeologists in Melbourne.

Kelly who has become an Australian icon usually depicted in the improvised armour he wore during the infamous gun-fight with police during which he was injured and captured, was hanged in 1880 for offences including the shooting deaths of two Victorian police constables has been the inspiration for numerous films, most recently portrayed by Heath Ledger in the eponymous tribute to Kelly’s life, also a series of paintings by Sydney Nolan (pictured above).

Executed by the state, and denied a funeral, it may be that Kelly was subject to a final indignity before he was interred, his skull may not be buried with the rest of his remains.

The remains obviously are subject to forensic testing before they can be confirmed as Kelly’s.

Update: Noted Kelly Historian, Beechworth’s Ian Jones has weighed into the debate, suggesting Melbourne’s RMIT building as the final resting place of the famous bushranger.

Mr Jones said archeologists “could not mistake Kelly’s coffin — it would be full of lead”.

“If his body has been undisturbed the coffin would be full of pellets,” he said.

“They certainly wouldn’t need DNA; he suffered horrendous gunshot wounds and many of the bullets were still in him when he was hanged.

“The extent of the injuries to his left arm, right foot, hand and side would be quite obvious to anyone that uncovered the body.

“I’d be very surprised if they were Ned’s bones.”

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Hi I'm Jack Stone (a pseudonym), I'm a long-time Albury resident and I think it's a great place to live and work. I have a strong interest in local events and media and I started this site because I think a different perspective is often needed when reporting local news. I take a keen interest in local politics, as well as what's going on at the state and federal level, I'm also a supporter of social justice issues, the envirionment and the need for people to have a say in the events that effect their lives. I'm a fan of the Border Bandits and I'd love to see both teams take the flag this year, and next year, and maybe the one after that too.
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4 Responses to Ned Kelly’s last stand?

  1. raydixon says:

    What surprises me is how nearby Beechworth with its historic jail where ned Kelly was held after he was arrested for the murders, doesn’t do more to promote its strong connection to the Kelly legend and lets Glenrowan steal all the thunder and the tourist buses.

    Interest in Ned Kelly is enormous and rather than see a fake replica of the Glenrowan site of his arrest plus that tasteless & tacky “Big Ned” statue, I’m sure visitors would much rather travel to Beechworth for a tour of the authentic, preserved and historic jail as well as the adjoining courtrooms, telegraph office and police station. They’re all side by side, practically in the centre of town.

    Beechworth has a strong gold history and another potential goldmine in its Kelly connections. But they seem reluctant to let the rest of the world know about it. They do conduct tours of the minor buildings but they are hardly promoting it.

    And unlike Glenrowan, Beechworth is a really beautiful town with its heritage streetscapes. It’s a massive opportunity for them that is going begging.

  2. Well the Kelly “homestead” is in Glenrowan and it is the scene of the famous “last stand”, but you are right, Beechworth needs to really stake it’s claim as part of the Kelly legend.
    Old Melbourne Gaol have a little going on, but of course it’s one of several attractions (they have a museum quality selection of death-masks, a midnight tour and other attractions).
    By comparison Beechworth has a poorly advertised holding cell which contained Kelly, the original courthouse (in which Kelly stood in the dock) is still there, and as you say the Beechworth Gaol is a magnificent example of the architercture of penal facilities of another era.
    Beechworth was the scene of some pivitol events in the saga, and it’s a shame it doesn’t embrace this important aspect of Australian history more fully.
    Euroa, Jerilderie and Benalla all have a stake too but they don’t seem to have capitalised on it either.
    Personally I think there is enough interest to sustain a festival, but just quietly there are some fairly conservative elements within the community even now that are threatened by the Kelly legend.
    They have a vested interest in portraying him as nothing but a rogue and a villain, a mindless thug rather than a colonial Robin Hood, rebel against social injustice and iconic inspiration for artistic expression that he in fact has proven to be.

  3. raydixon says:

    I can’t understand why anyone would feel threatened by the Kelly legend after all this time and want to denigrate his memory and reputation. It really matters not whether he WAS a murdering bastard or a fighter for the oppressed … he’s just an icon, fullstop.

    We should rejoice in his memory as most other countries do with their loveable rogues too. Christ, even Jack the Ripper gets better press than Ned, and he was a an absolute brutal son-of-a-bitch.

    Why can’t people “let it be” and celebrate our differences?

    As for Beechworth, truth be known the townsfolk there are more retrograde than even Bright and do not really want any more tourists than what they have. Pity for them. Their assets actually belong to Australia and should be shared.

  4. I couldn’t agree more Ray, I absolutely think Ned Kelly is an icon and an immensely positive one too, but I think if you went around the police for instance, even now, certain political persuasions of the “born to rule” mentality, monarchists and even non-Catholic church groups you’d likely find quite a different opinion of Old Ned.
    Personally I think he was an absolute Australian hero, the award for bravery he won in his early life signified his remarkable character and he was responding to the times and circumstances he lived in by embarking on what society of the day deemed “his crimes”.
    Had he lived in different times I’d say he’d have lived quite a different life, but he took a stand against injustice where and when he found it and you can expect no more than that of anyone.

    I think he was the absolute embodiment of that most cherished of all Australian ethos, that of standing up for yourself and the people you care about. Of demanding a fair go even when it is denied you.
    I have no doubt whatsoever that Ned Kelly and his family were the victims of harassment and unfair treatment at the hands of a corrupt Victorian police force. I also think if more Australians were prepared to stand up like Ned Kelly against corruption in the police force and say “no, a badge and a gun doesn’t put you above accountability” we wouldn’t need as many Royal Commissions, and the ones we had would be more far reaching and effective.
    Moreover I think Ned Kelly represents a personification of the Australian right to self determination, a resolve to not just lie back and take what’s thrown at you, but to stand up and give as good as you get.
    This concept is very threatening for people who hold a tenuous grip on the reigns of authority.

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