Tuesday 26 August 2014

Site Review : Iron Icon

Iron Icon is Bill Denhelds personal Kelly website, and its mostly about a quest that Bill has been on for many years, to establish the exact place at which the Police Murders took place at Stringybark Creek. However there are many other discussions about related historical Kelly matters that are also fascinating.For example he supports a suggestion that arises from the mysteries of Ned Kellys actual birth - there are no official records of it to be found anywhere -  that Ned Kelly may have been adopted into the Kelly family! This remarkable possibility could be dismissed - or proven - by currently available DNA testing from Neds remains and from living Kelly descendants but I would imagine they would run a country mile from a test that could prove their claims to fame could be "illegitimate". Good luck with that one Bill! I think he's going to need a bit of luck with his idea that there are some yet to be unravelled connections between the Kellys and various other political leading lights in Australian history, some of whom certainly had connections with the same geographical regions of Victoria as the Kelly Gang.

Peter Fitzsimons, on his Ned Kelly book tour last year said this on ABC radio about Bill:
“I went to StringyBark Bark Creek with a guy called Bill Denheld who is a guy - he is a lovely man - but there is not enough hours in the day to go to SBC - think about SBC, read about SBC, draws maps of it, he is the SBC man, And so he showed - took me - to the site where the memorial is at SBC.”  -and in his acknowledgemts page he writes -"I learned early that , on a bad day Kelly experts can be flat out agreeing it is Tuesday, let alone having a concensus on where presicely the Stringybark Creek site is - but, in my search for accuracy, I have been every bit as exhaustive as I have been exhausted by it. ( And for the record, having visited Stringybark Creek with Bill Denheld and seen the evidence with my own eyes, I am confident that he has it right.)"

Officially,  the murders happened near the “Kelly Tree”, a site marked wrongly by council workers years ago who also created the nearby picnic ground. A different site was later identified by the so-called “doyen" of the Kelly world, the author Ian Jones, who concluded it was further up the creek on the east bank where the council authorities have recently directed all Kelly tourist trafic. Jones' deserved authority derives from his life long passion for things Kelly, he has unarguably produced the best biography of Ned Kelly, and so his opinion carries enormous weight, but nevertheless Bill, and many others have prepared a very convincing case that in this instance, Ian is wrong too. It upsets them to think the public are going to the trouble of driving out into the Wombat ranges, many of them making a sort of Pilgrimage and paying their solemn respects to the fallen Policemen at completely the wrong place. Imagine going to an ANZAC ceremony and then discovering later that for years the Beach everyone was visiting was the wrong one, they should have been at the one next door! Suppose you paid money to go on a Tour of a house that you were told a former Prime Minister had lived in and then later discovered he hadn’t?  You might feel cheated at the very least.

The question then becomes, well where DID these killings happen and where should the Memorials really be? Is it even possible to work it out after all this time? And this is where Bills site comes in, because Bill has taken up the challenge and created a quite remarkable website that in great detail explains how he found what he is certain is indeed the exact place. Its amateur detective work and archaeology but fascinating to read. 

My own encounters with Bill happened on my original now maliciously deleted Ned Kelly Truth Forum. I began a thread on the subject of Stringybark Creek, and Bill signed up and participated in a debate that became the most hotly debated subject in the entire Forum. Essentially everyone seemed to agree that the Jones site was wrong so the debate centered around which of two other proposed sites was the most likely one. The debate was for the most part fascinating and informative – I learned a lot about such things as species of spear grass, geological formations, photographic interpretations, and the history of the area.  Eventually the discussion was terminated after 25 pages because by then contributors were starting to repeat themselves, the arguments seemed to be creating more heat than light or descend into personal attacks and worse. Some posts attacking Bill rather than his arguments were obscene and I had to delete them. What impressed me was that throughout sustained vitriol and sarcastic abuse Bill remained calm and polite and attempted time and again to patiently explain with words and fascinating diagrams and photos his reasonings for picking what has become known as the Two Huts site. Occasionally, under severe provocation he lapsed into more colorful language but mostly his detailed posts were fascinating to read, as were many contributions from several other old amateur archaeologists who believed the correct site was not Bills one, but theirs, the CSI@SBC site.(The Crime Scene Invstigation at SBC) For $50 the publisher will sell you a copy of the report explaining their findings or you can read a free version of it on Bills site.

You can also read most of the SBC debate from my deleted site, as unknown to me, Bill had kept copies of it, knowing from previous experiences on other Kelly Internet spaces that my site was also at risk of being sabotaged – and so he was proved right when it disappeared one day along with hundreds of  interesting posts and debates many of them a result of careful thinking and research and writing. (Others, such as the ones from “Sarah”  one of the many pseudonyms used by the person who now publically claims to be responsible for this internet vandalism, were no great loss ) I am grateful to Bill for preserving and reposting them - its an enjoyable read of some wonderfully animated discussions - such a pity these core Kelly fanatics are so intolerant of diversity of opinion.

Bills site is not an easy read for the most part. It’s a place where Bills inventive and inquisitive mind is on display and his arguments are dense and detailed and require careful reading but it will reward a serious visitor who is prepared to follow the arguments closely. Enjoy!


  1. Dee,
    Your review of Iron-Icon sums it up pretty well.
    Just so people do not get the wrong idea, the notion that Ned Kelly was adopted came from a close family relative of the Kelly-Griffiths clan Mrs Edna Griffiths Cargill who grew up on the Kelly selection at Greta after Ellen Kelly had died.

    Anyone can read the source http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/06/20/1023864476127.html article by notable author and journalist John Lahey (deceased) of the Melbourne Age.

    In the article he wrote about Ned Kelly- The day Ned Kelly called a man out, and shot him.
    " Mrs Cargill said Jim Kelly told her the story of the murder. She has written the first volume of a series called Glenrowan, and the story will soon become public knowledge.
    Briefly, it is this. At some time in the late 1870s (Stringybark Creek was 1878), two thugs roamed the district terrorising the settlers. One of them -whose name she believes was Borrin - was apparently an ex-convict, for people used the expression "sent from chains" or "freed from chains" about him.
    One of Borrin's victims was a woman named Bridie Kelly who, Mrs Cargill says, may have been Ned's real mother. (This is a separate story altogether, based on a belief that Ned was adopted into the family.)"
    Having spoken to Mrs Cargill myself several years ago, she was very clear about her childhood past and stories passed down to her, so I am not making more of it.

    When Ned's bones and many other persons bones were being dug up at Pentridge, Heritage Victoria sent them all overseas for DNA testing. Journalist Laurie Nowell from the Herald Sun having read Iron Icon webpage contacted me asking my opinion and I told him one good DNA comparison would be Ned Kelly's leather boot cut from his left foot after his capture. The boot was saturated with his blood and some would have penetrated into the boot fabric lining and leather into the stitches of the boot. This DNA comparison could have proven two things, 1, Ned's bones and 2, whether Ned's DNA matched his mother's, sister's and descendants of the Kelly family.

    See the Herald Sun article,

    Irrespective of any DNA outcome, Ned would still have been Ellen Kelly's cherished son, brother to his sisters and decendants there of. Here was a chance ignored to find out who Ned Kelly really was.

    It seems very strange that during the making of the documentary identifying Ned's bones, they chose to use DNA from a male decendant of the King/Kelly-Quinn relationship rather than a daughter of Ned's sister's descendants DNA of which there are many ?

    During a Ned Kelly bones symposium at Beechworth a few years ago, at question time I stood up and asked the scientist speaker a few questions. I asked " if it was true that if DNA from a male decendant from the King/Kelly-Quinn line was used, then would it also be true that there would be millions of other people out there with the same DNA as Ned's bones making the whole DNA exercise a futile one", since they were able to tell Ned Kelly's bones from the gunshot damage to his leg bones, as well as his missing skull except for a small piece cut from the bottom back of his scull found amongst the skellital remains in a box.

    Bill Denheld

  2. Brickey Williamson claimed to be father of one of the later Kelly kids which, if true, complicates things further.A forthcoming CSIRO book about the bones investigation is due soon. Unfortunately, it has an Ian Jones flavour as he is included as a contributor.

  3. Bill and Carla Denheld have done the SBC hard yards. They have endured years of endless, foolish criticism from diviners, armchair 'experts' and poltroons in return. Bill wasn't faultless. He argued with them, when he should have let his findings speak for themselves. Now the arguments are about underwater springs, speargrass and a hundred other false leads. Bill proved his case, more than a decade ago. His supporters include scientists, authors and even a comedian. His detractors are few but noisy. They are not household names. They have vastly underestimated Bill and Carla's determination. My money is on Bill and Catla. They have already 'won'. No need for further discussion.


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.