Saturday, 9 January 2016

The Rest of my Kelly Country Tour


For my money the Best experience in Beechworth is at the Courthouse. There, instead of just looking at things behind glass that relate to the Kelly story, in the Courthouse you can TOUCH the very timber that Neds hands would have touched, stand EXACTLY where he stood and see EXACTLY what he would have seen;you can sit on the very seat where Redmond Barry sat, not just look at it or read about it but sit on it and lift up the lid of the desk in front of you. Whats more, Kelly myths are not presented there as facts, and you know for sure that this place is the real thing.

The Gaol is just up the road and the outside is very impressive. The Tour is ‘self- guided’ meaning they give you an info sheet and you explore it at your leisure, following a line painted on the floor. Inside the lack of maintenance is obvious, you find empty coffee cups and odd bits of rubbish hidden away in corners and the atmosphere is one of neglect and abandonment. The Cells, including the one said to have held Ned had alterations such as modern looking toilets  and lighting which wouldn’t have been there in 1880 and so I didnt feel a sense of “Ned” in there at all. (But you DO get that sense at the Old Melbourne gaol where Ned was hanged and where things seem much closer to their original configuration.) 


I drove from there along narrow country roads and quite wonderful rural scenery to the Cemetry at Greta. I was completely on my own there, and it was a strange feeling to look among the gravestones of unremarkable people, and wonder which of the bare  patches in one corner, was the ‘unmarked’ grave of the remarkable Ned Kelly....Why I wondered, even in his home town is there nobody willing to mark his burial site and protect it? Instead they have this:



Glenrowan was the other place that I spent some time exploring. I was disappointed to get there too late to see the animated Theme Park Kelly story which I read lasts 40 minutes and ends with Neds resurrection! Maybe someone who has seen it could write a review for us! However , two other Kelly museums were open, and looked as if they were struggling to make ends meet by selling Ned souvenirs and modest entry fees to their collections of Kelly-era memorabilia. The displays are all dated and dusty, but still interesting, as was the bearded and garrulous host at one of them, a fellow who told me Dan and Steve survived the fire at the Inn by retreating to a Cellar, and one of them is buried in Queensland somewhere. He said the two unrecognisable bodies raked out of the burned ruins of the Glenrowan Inn were two innocent passersby who had passed out drunk in the Inn before the Gang took it over. He also said theres a couple of dozen other suits of armour hidden somewhere nearby, and the  Americans have a secret six story underground research Center next to a Nuclear Missile Silo in the Tanami Desert ....I bought a little tin of Outlaw Mints off him and headed for the Siege site over the railway bridge. 



Peering through the windows of the replica Station, you see a dusty uncared for room with junk lying around, and the life size wooden figures outside, representing some of the people there at the time of the siege are rotten, their paint is faded and they are falling apart. The priests head has disintegrated. The site of Ann Jones Inn is marked by that familiar Billboard, but the land itself is a horse paddock, fenced off.  Nearby, the site of Neds capture is marked by a jumble of tree trunks with a curious rusty helmeted Ned figure looking like an amputee 
collapsed between them. Theres a sense of  defeat and sadness about it.




Walking back across the bridge I realised that interest in Ned Kelly, so obvious in Beechworth is actually shrinking elsewhere in Kelly Country. At Glenrowan theres a huge statue of a gun-toting Ned outside the Post Office but all the other sites and tributes seem to be decaying, struggling to survive. Thinking about the difference between Beechworth and everywhere else I wondered if Neds apparent  popularity in Beechworth is  more to do with the popularity and beauty of Beechworth as an historic site in its own right, rather than Kelly himself. The Vault claims big numbers of visitors, but Glenrowan seemed deserted, disengaged and a  bit weird - Ned Kelly resurrection, Nuclear Silos, headless priest... Greta was also deserted and theres nothing much in Euroa.

Notwithstanding the success of the Vault - which strategically but in my view inaccurately - proclaims its neutrality about Ned, the reality on the  ground in Kelly Country seems to be that Ned Kelly mythology is in retreat. Its certainly true that Kelly Mythology is on the retreat in Cyberspace, with this blog about Ned but not about Mythology being THE most active Kelly Place on the internet by a country mile. Iron Outlaw and Kelly Forum web pages are dead with the record Lowest number of letters posted to IO (15) and on the NKF, five of its eight Forum places have had no activity at all for at least six months, and nobody has ventured into their two secret Members Only forums for over a year. Their respective Facebook pages are visited by lightweights interested in trivia. Theyre trying to stop their members interacting with this Blog, whilst visiting here secretly themselves, but as is apparent by Brian McDonlads behaviour, and the plunging participation rates all they're achieving is to drive people away. 

In the real world, even the  Ned Kelly Weekend in Beechworth  is under threat, with the group that organises it declaring on its Facebook Page that this year, if it happens at all, there will be less emphasis on Ned Kelly and more on the many other diverse facets of Beechworths colonial history. This will be a victory for the majority of us, who are sick and tired of Kelly Mythology and the ignorant people who promote it, and are excited by History,  the colourful Colonial past of Australia and the way Science and passion can continue to enlighten us. Ned Kelly and the outbreak will always be an extraordinary and tragic part of the history of that area, and nobody would want to try to expunge it from the collective memory or the history books, but I think I can see the day coming when Kelly will be remembered as a flawed, fascinating flamboyant but violent criminal and not an Icon to be set on a pedestal. He was not a hero - he was a villain who left behind a trail of many dead innocent victims  who must never be forgotten.

Kelly Country is a remarkable and throughly worthwhile place to Visit, and for Kelly buffs theres an even greater interest and fascination.Highly Recommended.


40 comments:

  1. I am surprised that the shopkeeper did not tell you that when Ned was captured he had a diamond ring in his pocket like he has allegedly told other tourists! Have mercy, I can't believe he is still pushing that old debunked cellar theory. It would be totally epic if I ever visited Glenrowan and he would try to give me a history lesson on the Kelly gang thinking I am just another foreign tourist. :)

    I wonder how many folks have rung the shop asking if a man or woman recently purchased only a tin of outlaw mints? ;)

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    1. [IMG]http://i67.tinypic.com/11uw5xy.jpg[/IMG]

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    2. Hi Sharon. You raise a curious point. For such a Kelly buff, you haven't been over to see where it all happened. Is this on the cards? Seeing where it all took place is vital isn't it? Or would coming to Kelly Country ruin what's in your minds eye?

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  2. Without going into too much, I will just say that my husband is not interested in going down under at all, nor is he very keen on me making the trip on my own. It would be great to meet face to face with the many good friends I have made there and to see Kelly country for myself, so I won't say I will never come because I have learned that you just don't know what twists and turns fate has in store for you.

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    1. It would be absurd if you, of all people never came to Kelly Country Sharon. I don’t wish to pry into why your husband isn’t keen to come, and I can understand why he wouldn’t want you to leave on your own, but in case its an issue of cost, and because theres no doubt in my mind that the Kelly world owes you big time, I would like to start the ball rolling with a personal offer of $1000 to help with expenses. Maybe if others indicated a willingness to add to that. at least one of the Barriers to a visit would be made a whole lot smaller.

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  3. There is already a standing offer of plane tickets and accommodation in someone's home (actually many homes) for us, so no need for any balls to start rolling, though I thank you for the kind thought and offer. :) Let's just say you never know what might happen or when and leave it at that. I want some folks to be surprised when I show up and others not to know I was even there until I am back home! ;)

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  4. While on the subject of Kelly country tourism, there is something I am very curious about. What was it like for those of you like Mark and others who have been visiting Kelly country for years compared to how it is now. I know that even when I started that there was no Ned Kelly Touring Route or any official where to go guide or maps or apps. I remember hearing others talk like you had to know someone in the know to find your way around. I have even read of some folks setting out back then and not being able to find some of the more obscure places. Back when I started there was nothing at SBC like there is now (not trying to open debate about which side of the creek is the right place there). You had to have someone take you in and show you. Did it all seem like the towns were less commercial tourism-wise back a few decades ago? Or have they always had some souvenirs (I recall that Glenrowan tourist center that the Tibbetts had in the Saint Ned book that looked really cool to me). What would it have been like for folks in the very early days of the 20th century or even late 19th who wanted to visit the sites but people in some of the towns just didn't want to have anything to do with them or their tourist dollars (imagine that!). Sorta like what happened in the 1940s when Sidney Nolan and Max Harris took a road trip to Glenrowan in the mid 1940s. They basically got handed their heads!

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  5. My first visit to Kelly Country was in May 1982. I was 13 years old. It was a drought year in the North East. Very dry but very cold. 12 hour drive from Adelaide and I recall getting more excited as we drew nearer. I had been nagging my parents for over a year. Keith Dunstans book "Saint Ned' was a huge catalyst which I still have a soft spot for. First stop was Ern Straughairs Kelly Museum on Bridge St. (Hume Highway) in Benalla. Then to the Court House and Barber shop in Arundel St after buying Ned badges, posters, postcards and Erns book with long saved pocket money. . I guess for this reason, Benalla is still my favoured spot in Kelly Country.

    To answer your question Sharon, The Glenrowan Tourist Centre was excellent. This was when the Gould family had it, after Don Tibbitts departure, but before Bob Hempel got his hands on it and introduced the art of tackiness to Glenrowan. The building was modest, neat and "fresh" if you know what i mean.. Inside was a revelation to a 13 year old just getting to grips with the Kelly story. There was a great display on the sort of recently aired "The Last Outlaw" mini series, there was the bar from McDonnells Railway Tavern (upon which it seemed every published Kelly book was for sale. ) Outside in the yard was the Last Stand diorama. It was all quite muted and respectful, not screaming out the Kelly name like some of the attractions do now. The Ned statue outside Billy Rea Rooms was the original that had been stolen prior\. (and it was stolen permanently in 1984..) Back then, the Freeway was yet to open so the Hume Highway went through Glenrowan..

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  6. This is great stuff Mark. Keep going....

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    1. I had just purchased Peter C. Smiths book "Tracking down the Bushrangers". Apart from a few incorrect directions for sites in the Woolshed Valley, it was a great guide to Kelly Country and how to get to the main historical areas. So finding the Eleven Mile ruins and Stringybark Creek was reasonably easy in '82. The rotted, obscured sign near Tolmie simply pointed to "The Kelly Tree." That was it. There was no picnic area or Police plaque or image of Armour in the trunk. It was so much easier to feel the ambush and subsequent gun battle(s).

      Beechworth was as stoic and neat and preserved and solid when I was 13 as it is now and how it was prior.. Not quite so alive to the lure of tourism dollars though.. The Courthouse was still in use, as was the Police Station next door. And up Ford St, the Gaol was still a Gaol.

      The Burke Museum back then was excellent, as I believe it still is.. The main gallery was very Kelly and O'Hara Burke centric. I remember Dad and I spent hours in there, to the annoyance of my Mum and Sister. I think it was here I became open to learning about the history of the North East in general, rather than just the Kelly Outbreak. It was also an opening to the Burke and Wills saga and Eureka for me.

      So this was the beginning. Dad and I were back in May 1983. And from '88 onwards, I was a regular in Benalla, Wang, Beechworth, in some ways a semi local. (in my young eyes anyway..) In '88 Kevin Passeys "In Search of Ned" book came along, an absolute Godsend. I remember gasping when I saw it for sale in Kates Cottage that hot December day in 1988. It got me deeper and into the more obscure sites. Many a day was spent in the Woolshed Valley, Wombat ranges and Milawa/Oxley region. (and sadly, Kevin Passey is no longer with us..)

      And I'm still visiting Kelly Country, the High Country as the region is now officially known. So I have seen lots of progress in tourism from '82 to now. When I was first in Glenrowan, Kates Cottage museum and shop was more modest (and owned by Nanette Green), Gary Deans Cobb and Co did not exist, the site of Ann Jones Inn was not marked, the Tourist Centre was still great, Dan Morgans Grave was simply an old piece of Iron by the now demolished, stinking toilet block in Wangaratta cemetery.

      Now we have the Vault, a "sound and Light" show at Glenrowan, Ned is in the local cemetery, the monster that is the Hume Freeway, a better than it used to be Pioneer Museum in Benalla, much better accomodation, McDonalds in Glenrowan and Benalla (unheard of back in early 80's..) And an official Kelly Touring Route.

      And my Kelly and North East History book shelves now groan under the weight. The Kellys have pretty much been with me all my life now. I tried to walk away once or twice, when I became what I perceived at the time to be cool, smoking, drinking, discovering girls... But like the lure of the sirens song, who among us could resist...it drew me back. And here I remain.

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    2. Wow, Mark, that is so interesting. You surely do have some great memories of a time gone by. Hard to believe that we can now call 1982 the good old days! I like this bit - "It was all quite muted and respectful, not screaming out the Kelly name like some of the attractions do now." Sometimes having to work at discovering things is half the fun. But can be frustrating when you can't actually find a certain place. I love that you did your homework by reading the books (like how Sidney and his mate read Kenneally and the Royal Commission as their tour guides) The freeway coming through surely added to things. Having a giggle that a McDonald's is a step up as I have not eaten at one in over 20 years though every time I go to town I drive past several!
      I wonder how it was even earlier than our lifetimes for tourists? Have read some bits about the "tourists" going to Glenrowan just after the siege and how some of the folks in town would sell them bullets they had cut out of trees, and afterwards when those got scarce one enterprising guy made his own he fired into trees and dug out to sell to gullible souls.

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    3. I found Cooksons work on Greta and Glenrowan interesting. His narrative on how it looked then was vivid. I think, from what he said, Ann Jones house where he conducted the interview with the by then asthmatic old lady, was in Gladstone St, near the site of where Kates Cottage is now.

      Speaking of Kates Cottage, before Nanette Green started this great little business, (and continued by Chris and Rod Gerrett) I believe there was a mechanics workshop in the building.

      Yes, the Freeway as it now is is very handy but it certainly killed off a bit of trade in Glenrowan when it opened. I remember Max Burgins Ampol Service Station on the Benalla end of town bit the dust as soon as the Glenrowan McDonalds/BP service centres opened on the Hume. It even made the news here in Adelaide. The small man against the titan was the in vogue theme.

      And having the Glenrowan railway station no longer designated a stop for passengers seemed to subdue the little place even more. Yet there are more eateries than ever. When I first visited in the early 80's, there was only Vin and Judy Drakes Billy Tea Rooms. (then taken over by the Jackson family, then enlarged by Linda. And now up for sale again I see..) Now we have Billy Tea Rooms, Kellys Cookhouse, the Bakery, McDonalds and several others in Gladstone St. .

      I guess there is money in Ned. But is there enough to go around though? The cost of petrol these days I reckon is prohibitive for lots of families to make the run up the Hume..

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    4. I am very extremely fond of B.W. Cookson's work. His historic visit to Kelly country makes for fascinating reading. Many authors in the later years owe a great debt to him.
      I remember when we did not even have the full on series of articles, just a few bits of it at Gary Dean's site. I loved the bits I had read so much that I emailed Gary and asked if he was going to add the rest at some point and he said he had laid them aside and could not access them at the time. So, I put out a request in comment's at the old glenrowan1880 site and a Cookson descendant was kind and generous enough to send me photocopies. Eventually, Brian McDonald did a reprint in book form from photocopies he had from the library, and now, trove has all the articles. I urge everyone who has not read this series ("The Kelly Gang From Within") to do so as soon as possible.

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  7. OK Dee, lets make this a campaign to get Sharon and Chuck over here.
    Carla and I will throw in $1000 as well. This is additional to you, and this will be on top of the airfares previously offered.

    Start with $2K spending money for Sharon and Chuck's expenses for coming over. It could go towards car hire and or accommodation on the way whatever.

    For additional donation pledges we will organise an event to meet the Sharon and Chuck. Lets not forget, author Peter Fitzsimons's of recent book Ned Kelly release interviews in which Peter describes Sharon as the world authority on Ned, and she is, full stop.

    Peter is chair person of the Australian Republican Movement ARM, and I am sure he will be proud to welcome and meet Sharon and Chuck when in Australia.

    OK you Kellyites, show us where your heart money is to get Sharon and Chuck out here.

    Please make your pledge right here and now ON THIS PAGE, no matter how small, it all helps.
    I reckon there will be at least 20 out there that could easily afford to throw in $200 or more. Come on, do it now make a pledge.

    This will ensure Sharon and Chuck can enjoy Australia for quite some time, and we personally invite Sharon and Chuck to stay with us at our house and show them around Melbourne and up north too, but we leave that up to them with no obligations and no strings attached.

    Of course Dee, at the time when Sharon comes out, so will you! Are you sure you can meet the press?

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    1. " Lets not forget, author Peter Fitzsimons's of recent book Ned Kelly release interviews in which Peter describes Sharon as the world authority on Ned, and she is, full stop. "


      Really Bill? The world authority? (Aside from the laughable notion of anyone listening to any opinion from the likes of Fitzsimon's) I am sure Ian Jones would have something to say about that,after all he did ALL the leg work re anything Sharon offers up,which is just a rehash of Jones' work and any other book she has been given.

      Anyone can regurgitate info from book references,google alerts and Trove.

      It is just like someone doing a 'cover' of another person's song,the music,words and beat have already been done,they (like Sharon) just put a twist on top.

      You can do better than that Bill.LOL!

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    2. I am the very first one to say that Peter Fitzsimons greatly exaggerated. Of course Ian Jones is the world's expert on Ned Kelly. We all know that! :) I might qualify for North America's most enthusiastic researcher, though. While Peter was flattering me, he sure did kick open a can o' worms for me to deal with with punters like this one and others.

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    3. The suggestion that Ian Jones ‘did ALL the legwork’ is rubbish. What about Molony, McQuilton, McMenomy and Max (Brown) ? ( And thats just the ‘M’s - just to get that nice alliteration out there) And if you would bother to read the Notes to Ian Jones works you would see much of his material is derived from book references, and newspaper reports which is what Trove is all about, but you wouldn’t call that “regurgitating” if it came from Ian Jones would you? I have frequently acknowledged the debt we all owe to Ian Jones work, and I am not here to disparage it in the least. However I find it rude and offensive for you to rubbish a person who has a greater command of the detail of the Kelly story than anyone else out there, and what more important is willing to share it with anyone anywhere in the world no matter what their take might be on Ned Kelly. That combination of knowledge and generosity is rare and not found in any other single person anywhere in the Kelly World. You, and the other anonymous who has sent the other misogynist Comments about Sharon that I sent straight to trash - or are they all from you? - you represent the lowest form of life in the Kelly World, prejudiced, sexist, jealous and deeply ignorant. Don't expect any more of your vile comments to appear on this Blog. You sicken me.

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    4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    5. The Anonymous who Posted the comment that I have deleted above, proved every point that I was making about said person. The comment accused me of being ‘the vile twisted one’ a ‘sick Nazi’ ‘a twisted pervert’ a ‘disgusting perverted c**t’ and claimed 'We know exactly who (and where) you are.You sick perverted old hypocritical c**t’. and ended with “ROFLMAO” which to anyone in the know, is an absolute deadset give-away to its author.

      This is why I laugh when people claim that when I criticise ideas and poor reasoning and logic I am no better than my opponents. There is really no need for me to attack my opponents - all I have to do is let them expose themselves as they have here, and every reasonable reader will see them for what they are. Repulsive.

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    6. It is probably very perplexing to our detractors how Dee and I are enjoying ourselves at this blog so much despite how they have talked total crap about us and they can't figure out why we keep at it with such cheerfulness despite their best efforts to deter us. Maybe the answer is that we feed off of their negativity and wear it like a badge of honor? So why don't they just stop feeding us, eh? The more they talk against us and about us the more they are making us the center of attention and making us stronger, don't they see that? Maybe these bullies should try to find someone weaker than they are to pick on and that they can shine brighter than, because they are only going to be put in the shade here.

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    7. wow, it amazes me how much you all blow each others horns!
      not perplexing at all Sharon, it makes you all look pathetic and Ned would be rolling in his grave to think that some of his most trusted modern day sympathizers have turned their back on him.

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    8. Turned their backs on Ned ? What, you mean like Neds Uncle did when he decided not to use some of the reward money he got for dobbing in Harry Power and keep Ned out of Gaol? Or maybe you mean like the Sympathisers who disappeared into the night when Ned was in strife at Glenrowan? Or maybe you’re referring to the thousands of Sympathisers in Melbourne who couldn’t scrape together anything to help Ned get a Lawyer? Actually your problem is not that we have turned our backs away from Ned, but instead we doing the very opposite and are looking at him and what he did very closely and in very fine detail. Thats something youre terrified of doing because the truth that stares back at you tells you you’re wrong. Its you whose back is turned.

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    9. Not to keep this whole ludicrous debate going, but I remain a full-fledged Kelly sympathiser despite this person's claims to the contrary. I have not turned my back on Ned. I started coming to this blog to answer questions that others might not have the answer for or to correct some facts about Ned and the gang that others had wrong or to weigh in on Ned's behalf. Was I supposed to let half truths or lies or incorrect things stay unfixed for others out there to be misled by?
      Please, everyone, let's talk about Ned and leave off bashing me and Dee. You can go on thinking it or talking privately among yourselves about what terrible, awful, wretched people we are but it is very bad form to put it on forums like this one and others. It certainly says more about your characters than it does about ours. If you don't like me or don't like Dee, or how we present ourselves, just stop looking in here to spare yourself any further aggro.

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  8. Dee and Biil & Carla, thank you for your kindness, generosity and enthusiasm, but let's please just put the campaign on the back burner for now. :) It may be years before the stars align for me or it may always be just out of grasp for many reasons. It makes me nervous even thinking about all this! My coming, if I do come, will be a low key affair, no major announcements or publicity stunts involved. However, I would like to have tea with Dee at a private and undisclosed location! ;) Oh, yes, it goes without saying that the Denheld house would be one of my stops, too! :)

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    1. OK as you wish Sharon but my offer remains. I think it would be great if you could come just like any ordinary tourist, do your own thing in your own time and not be ‘owned’ by anyone. Actually there have been a couple of Comments that I haven’t posted from people salivating at the prospect of Bills idea that I would have to ‘come out’ , reinforcing my decision to definitely NOT do that. I live a long way from Kelly Country so meeting in a secret location for a cup of tea might be tricky but if you decided to see a bit more of Australia than just North East Victoria - and theres a lot of it and its all amazing - then perhaps we will.

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    2. Get over yourself Dee,people are not 'salivating' at Bill's idea,we are simply calling you and Sharon out as the grand standers you are.

      She has no intention of ever coming here and you have no intention of ever paying for anything.Gee I could offer 1 billion dollars for something I know will never happen,lol just an empty offer from you Dee.

      And why are you moderating posts that contain no swearing,only different points of view.I thought you said you would post ANY point of view.Oh yeah that's right,just another empty offer from good ol' Dee.

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    3. Oh how fantastic - a Mind Reader has joined the Commentariat and told me that I have no intention of ever paying for anything - thats amazing because I REALLY thought I would! And I believe I said I would Post anything as long as it was polite, which in some peoples eyes obviously means no swear words, but theres a whole lot more to rudeness than just swearing. And now maybe you can use your mind reading skills to tell me what kind of person I am thinking
      you are.

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    4. Wow, look at that hit meter spin! The more these folks disparage us the higher the viewer count goes. I guess if Dee and I are grand standers (as opposed to bench warmers?) and show-boaters, we were influenced by one of the best grand-standing showboaters of all time - Ned Kelly! It is a case of MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO. Welcome to the zoo! :)

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  9. All OK Sharon, our offer still stands when you are ready. Dee wrote " " Glenrowan was the other place that I spent some time exploring. I was disappointed to get there too late to see the animated Theme Park Kelly story which I read lasts 40 minutes and ends with Neds resurrection! " Maybe someone who has seen it could write a review for us! " In around 1985 with the kids, I found the show quite amusing but definitely not worth the money.

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  10. Hi All,

    Feels somewhat strange that I'm actually making my very first post here - However, I'm happy to do so for shaz ;-)

    Dee - Damn nice gesture indeed. Well done for getting the ball rolling.

    Bill - You never cease to amaze me - well done for backing Dee up - a worthy cause indeed!!

    Shaz - Keep 7-10 days aside for VDL - Red Kelly awaits you ... on me! Upon confirmation I'll organise permission to access the sites.

    P.S... Other sites of interest - Port Arthur, Hobart & if time permits Sarah Island which I am yet to explore.



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  11. Hey, Joe!!!!!!!!! So good to see you here. Hope you don't catch too much heck from certain others for posting here. ;) I also hope you will add to other conversations here as you have so much enthusiasm for the gang and knowledge of Kelly country.
    Wow, that is a great offer. :) Will add to the proposed itinerary of Sydney, Cairns, Brisbane, Melbourne, and Kelly country. Even if I never make it there it is nice to know that at least a few people in Australia think kindly of me.

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    1. "too much heck"? How quaint.

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    2. I was going to say "flak" not the other word that could have been used, but decided on heck because some might not know what flak is. I have caught enough of it to know! :)

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  12. I have known Sharon for over 10 years when she answered one of my Ned Kelly questions that I could not discover the answer myself. She is a terrific researcher and has helped me with many queries that I have had about the Kelly Gang. My son when he was in the USA even stayed with her and confirmed what lovely people she and Chuck are. I cant believe some of the unfounded criticism of her that I have been reading. She remains a very loyal friend and I am privileged to have her as a friend. Keep up the good work Sharon and ignore the boofheads !!!

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  13. I too have nothing but admiration for the lady in the US of A who can run circles around even the best Kelly researchers in AU. Peter Fitzsimons whilst writing his book threw a whole lot of questions at me that his researchers could not answer. I did my best but for the rest I referred Peter direct contact with Sharon in the USA. He said WHAT ! are you kidding ? No I said. Sharon is the Kelly expert.

    That is why when he was on National and ABC radio doing promo interviews about his new book on Kelly, he actually mentions 'this woman in the USA' who is considered the 'world' expert on Kelly, and of the 25 odd questions Peter threw at Sharon she answered most almost immediately. Peter said later she is pure Gold and remarkable. So I know he owes you a few big ones Sharon.

    Peter is a really nice bloke and he asked me to spread the word for an Australian Republic - Movement, ARM.

    Now I know there is one place on the net where this has been discussed to a point, and its right here on Dee's Blog. So I then sent him a perfectly good new flag proposal for him and ARM to consider, and Dee, you will love this, its right up your alley and it is essentially Australian for which we should be all proud. I called this new flag- 'Vision not Division', and this is what Australia is all about isn't it ?

    In my next posting I will show you my new flag design for Australia. Vision not Division

    Good to see you on the page Santa.

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    1. Thanks, Santa, it is always a pleasure to hear from such a fine gentleman as yourself and we were more than happy to entertain your son and his girlfriend, who are also both very delightful people. Bill, I thank you for all of the praise, but let's not keep on repeating that particular quote from Peter F. too often as it stirs up the other possums way too much! :) If he would have only said "North American" rather than "World's"! ;)
      I am looking forward to seeing your flag design, Bill. Vision not Division might be what Australia is supposed to be all about, but it doesn't describe the Kelly world very much, does it. Just reverse the phrase.

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    2. Hi Bill. Hope you and family are all well. I am keen to see your flag visual but I must say I am not a fan of Australia becoming a republic, nor changing our flag from the Union and Southern Cross.

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  14. OK Bill, just so long as it hasn’t got a Kelly Helmet on it!

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  15. Dee, your Kelly Country tour was rather melancholy wasn’t it. Although I did have a bit of a laugh at your photo of that poor crumpled-up Ned Kelly resting against the tree, as having just returned to work this week after a short holiday I feel a bit like that myself just now.

    As with Mark Perry, it was in the 1980s that I became quite captivated with this part of Victoria. That book by Kevin Passey was an early guide for me too (and I’m sorry to hear he is no longer with us, I had several good telephone conversations with him). I know though that most visitors (my own family included) are generally pretty disinterested in the Kelly story. But for me and obviously the people who read your blog the Kelly history provides an added dimension of interest.

    In answer to Sharon’s question about what changes those of us who know this country have noticed over the years, my answer is that these days with the benefit of internet access to information (such as this blog) and with Google Earth and GPS and the like, I am finding the Kelly country is in some ways becoming smaller. It is a bit sad in a way, but this is the 21st C and that’s just how it is.

    However I have also been finding with the benefit of more frequent visits in recent years and by taking the time to explore various sites by foot that I am also developing a better understanding and appreciation of how this country was at the time of the Kelly outbreak. If you get off the main tourist routes and take the trouble to explore the topography and get to know the streams and valleys and the various ranges, you will begin to understand how the Kellys and others of this time would have travelled through this country. For instance, you can find evidence of the old bridle trails that were in use in those days. Likewise the old Parish maps show details of road reservations (some of which were, and still are, “back road” short cuts that ran between various properties and which would have been used as an alternative to the main roads, especially if you wished to avoid detection. So for me, the country is on the one hand becoming smaller in my mind’s eye due to the ready availability of information, but on the other hand there is still a wealth of information to be found by those who are willing to get out for a closer examination.

    I think therefore you do need to visit Sharon because you can only glean so much from the books.

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  16. One significant change in Kelly Country has been the recent draining for environmental reasons of Lake Mokoan and the creation in its place of the Winton Wetlands Reserve.

    Lake Mokoan was the large lake you always saw to the west of the Hume Highway as you headed towards Glenrowan (and at the south western edge of the Warby Ranges). It was a very shallow lake that was noteworthy on account of the masses of dead river red gums that sat amidst its waters. However back in the Kellys’ day this area supported a sizeable rural community (selectors like the Kellys). The wetlands at that time were known as the Winton and Green Swamps.

    As Lake Mokoan has receded, the old roads and fence lines and farm houses in this area have re-emerged. The area was well known to the Kellys of course, with stories of them evading detection on one occasion by hiding out in the swamp. Several of us were recently guided through the area by a local surveyor who pointed out the many features of interest from those times. I was very interested to see for instance an old farmhouse on a hill within this area which was owned by Joseph Ashmead, who wrote the book ‘The Thorns and Briars’.

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1. Moderation is back on. I haven’t got time to be constantly monitoring what comments are made and deleting the mindless rubbish that Kelly sympathisers have been posting lately. Please post polite sensible comments, avoid personal abuse and please use the same name whenever you Post, even if its a made-up name.


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