Friday 26 May 2017

The Story to be told at Stringybark Creek

Last week I received a newsletter from DELWP (attached below) supplying details of their plans to upgrade the Stringybark Creek Historic Reserve, and inviting anyone interested to participate in the process of selecting source documents from which to derive new signage for the area. I am inviting readers of this Blog to post suggestions and to engage in a discussion about what documents and which bits of them would we recommend. I don’t believe the Jerilderie letter should be regarded as an appropriate source document in this regard – it contains many lies about what happened there, and elsewhere, but even if it didn’t , using quotes from the killer who created the victims being remembered seems inappropriate to me. 

I was pleased that DELWP seem to be wanting to use historical documents to get an accurate description of what happened there, rather than books and oral history, but I was especially pleased that they seem to be focused on the Police who were murdered there, and the significance of that place for their families. 

Its interesting that they have decided to draw everyone’s attention to the murder of Sargent Kennedy by having  a walkway in the vicinity of where he was killed. I am not sure how they are going to locate the place where Sergeant Kennedy was murdered, but when visitors discover it was almost a kilometre from where the police camp was, I think they will be forced to rethink any Kelly mythology that they may have arrived with. The image of this decent man being pursued through the bush by up to four gang members would dispel any notions that they may have had about it being a fair fight, and murder in self-defence. 

They’ve said they wont be attempting to locate the exact site of the Police camp, which means firstly that they’ve realised the currently nominated site is not the right place. It’s a shame they aren’t yet prepared to acknowledge that Bill Denhelds research has uncovered the exact site, but it is at least an improvement on what the CSI@SBC team had been crowing about for a couple of years, that the Department had accepted the CSI teams nominated site and were drawing up the signposting. They’ve taken a step back from that, and are now sitting on the fence. In time, as the CSI@SBC teams pseudo-scientific report is more widely exposed, and Bills work better explained, I can see the signage eventually pointing to Bills Two Huts site.

There have been suggestions that Kelly gang descendants ought to be involved in this  process of rejuvenation and rededication. Certainly, it was the Kelly Gang that turned that tranquil bush glade into a killing field, into a place that because of the innocent blood that was spilled there has now become almost sacred ground. DELWP seem to have already recognised that this is a place of particular significance to Police, and to the descendants and families of Kennedy, Scanlan and Lonigan, and it is to their memories that this place must continue to be dedicated. The Kelly Gang descendants already have many historical sites and other places that preserve the story of the Kelly Gang and the outbreak, but this rare place belongs to the police by virtue of the sacrifices they made there. In my view involving Kelly Gang descendants  in this project would be like consulting Martin Bryant about how the Port Arthur massacre victims should be remembered, or asking  Craig Minogue for his input into a memorial to Angela Taylor, like asking  al Qaeda to contribute to the 9-11 memorials. When you have a site dedicated to innocent victims of crime, people don’t go there to learn about the killer but to pay respects to the victims.  At SBC no attention should be given to the killer.

It would be an appalling insensitivity to their memory to involve Kelly Gang descendants or their story in the SBC historical site, except in the most minor way.

The Project

Stringybark Creek in the Toombullup (formerly Wombat) Ranges is the site where three policemen, Sergeant Michael Kennedy, and Constables Thomas Lonigan and Michael Scanlan were killed while on duty on October 26th 1878 by a group that became known as the Kelly Gang. 
DELWP manages the Stringybark Creek Historic Reserve within the Toombullup Historic Area and has commenced a project to better reflect the importance of Stingybark Creek from a historical perspective and for the families of the policemen killed there.  
The project includes a review and upgrade of the signage and facilities currently at the site.  As well as the addition of a new walking path in the general vicinity of where Constable McIntyre escaped and Sergeant Kennedy was killed by Ned Kelly. 
The project will not attempt to identify the exact site of the Police Camp on Stringybark Creek.
It is intended that improved interpretive signage based on primary source material will give visitors the opportunity to examine the recorded facts and reports from the actual time of the event, learn more about the individuals involved and have a greater understanding of the significance of what unfolded. 
DELWP will work closely with a range of stakeholders, including Victoria Police and Heritage Victoria to enhance the story that is told at Stringybark Creek.  DELWP will also be providing opportunities for those interested in the story and the site to have input into the project.  

Work so far
DELWP recognises the importance of the site for a range of people and effort to date has been directed towards identifying stakeholders and informing them of the  project.  A media release outlining the project, distributed in early March, assisted in identifying a number of interested stakeholders and creating awareness in the community. 
We have also been working closely with Heritage Victoria as the Stringybark Creek Site is on the Victorian Heritage Register, and with Victoria Police. 

The next steps
Currently the focus of the project is on:
  • Collating relevant primary source documentation and historical records for utilising on signage. 
  • Identification and marking of an appropriately aligned walking track to show an indicative path taken, initially by McIntyre and also by Sergeant Kennedy. 
  • Selection of a sign designer to assist in the development of a signage plan.

Following is an estimated project timeline:
May 2017
Receive ideas from stakeholders regarding source documents for use on signs.
Select sign designer and commence work on sign concept plan.
Review current site and develop draft site plan.
August 2017
Distribute draft signs and site plan for comment.
Receive feedback on draft signs and site plan.
Redraft signs and site plan.
November 2017
Site visit to present site plan and signage and receive final feedback.

Opportunity for input
To help draft signage we are interested in your ideas on information that could be presented at the site and appropriate source documents to consider. Please phone Catherine on 03 5733 1230 to discuss your ideas on which documents could be used. 

Saturday 20 May 2017

Survival of the fittest in the Kelly Jungle

When I launched my Blog, “Ned Kelly : Death of the Legend”: exactly three years ago I wasn’t at all certain it would last very long. That wasn’t because I thought I might quickly run out of ideas to write about, but because I had recently discovered that people who had a different view of Ned Kelly from  me, people who as recently as last week claimed on Facebook to be “all for free speech” were actually very hostile to the right of free speech if it involved views  contrary to their own.  I knew they were going to do their best to shut me up. This will surprise anyone attempting to engage with the on-line Kelly community for the first time, because early on one inevitably encounters a variation of the oft repeated line “Ned Kelly – hero or villain? You decide “ 

The impression is given that this fascinating story is a puzzle that’s so complex , that there are so many almost impenetrable layers to the truth, that Ned Kelly was such an enigmatic personality that its almost impossible to be dogmatic about any conclusion, and nobody can be sure if Ned Kelly was a villain or a hero. And so the invitation is made to join in the discussion and add your thoughts and ideas to the mix. This is what you find on two Kelly Facebook pages:

'Ned Kelly Central' is a public Facebook site which allows people a platform to be part of diverse discussion and document sharing sessions related to the notorious Australian bushranger and outlaw, 'Edward (Ned) Kelly' and his family.

‘Ned Kelly Centre Limited aims to inspire, educate and promote a better understanding of the story of Edward 'Ned' Kelly and the history of 'Kelly Country'.

“Read the evidence. Immerse yourself in the story. See the sites. Make up your own mind.” (Ned Kelly Adventure Tours Promo)

What you’ll rapidly discover is that everything will be sweet as long as you decide he was a hero. If you ever go on a walking tour in the Beechworth historic precinct, express the notion that Ned might have been a criminal and not a hero at your peril! You’ll probably be singled out for some not always gentle rubbishing. But go on-line and the rubbishing will be much less gentle.  I found this out firstly by being relentlessly attacked on those and other now abandoned internet forums, for suggesting maybe Ned Kelly WASNT a hero. Eventually places ostensibly created to enable open discussion of anything to do with the story of Ned Kelly expelled me. They actually only want to discuss one side of the debate.

So I started my own Forum, called the Ned Kelly Truth Forum, as a vehicle for my own ideas about the Kelly story. The platform was provided by ‘Proboards’ and the basic one is free. It was a lot of fun setting it up and getting it started, all were welcome, and  a variety of discussions under various headings established themselves and it quickly became quite popular. However the people who campaigned against me previously continued to harass and attack me there and eventually, by prolonged harassment of the Proboards administrators, one of them persuaded Proboards to delete my Forum without  explanation, other than a stock response to emails seeking an explanation, that certain regulations had been violated.

This victory by the pro-Kelly forces only intensified my resolve to NOT be silenced, so I created a second near identical Proboards forum, again it became very popular and yet again, Proboards administrators removed it after prolonged harassment by the same person who sabotaged  the first one, a person wo has repeatedly boasted of this achievement,  the same person who still claims to be “all for free speech”. In fact now he had shot himself  in the foot twice, intensifying my resolve even further to never be silenced by internet trolls and bullies. Other Kelly ‘sympathisers’ recognised the damage he was doing to their cause and asked him to stop, but he hasn’t, and he never will.

So I gave up on the Proboards platform, declining to buy a site from them which may have  provided better security, but I didn’t fancy paying $600 per annum to protect myself from internet trolls, bullies and hypocrites.

And so I found Blogger, another free platform, and began my ‘Ned Kelly :Death of the Legend’ Blog with a certain trepidation. I had no doubt the trolls would again try to eliminate my voice from cyberspace and I wondered how long I would last. After two months there had been less than 500 views,  and in three months I made 20 posts, but nobody commented on 16 of them. Ominously Google had removed one of those 20  Posts after a complaint was lodged about it by the owners of the Ned Kelly Forum (Steve Jager and Trent Cupid):


 : Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Post Unavailable
In response to a legal request submitted to Google, we have removed this post. If you wish, you may read more about the request at

I nervously continued on, but as time went by it became clear that Blogger was NOT going to cave in to harassment by the Kelly bullies, as no more pages were removed and my blog visitor numbers and then comments continued to grow.  Ironically, it was the Ned Kelly Forum that went into decline, people left because they were bullied by the person who destroyed my two Forums, visitor numbers plummeted, posts by members reduced to almost nothing and then dramatically last year the entire thing disappeared after a major dispute erupted between the two ‘Key Masters’. Jager also sabotaged their Facebook page and Trent Cupid seems to have disappeared altogether from the Kelly scene.

So now three years later, I think its fair to say the Death of the Legend Blog is here to stay. In the last month, there have been over 13,000 views and 114 comments posted, and the Facebook page that I started as a way of directing more people to the Blog has developed a busy life of its own.

The attacks and the abuse have of course continued. Given they could not silence me, they banned me from interacting with them on their sites, and changed their focus to the fact that I use a pseudonym. I do this to protect myself and my family from a small group of extremists within the pro-Kelly community who make threats and direct vitriolic abuse at me and others in the Kelly world who don’t agree with them. Recently when the identity of another anonymous commentator was inadvertently revealed, their attacks on this individual became even more grotesque, personal, hateful and slanderous. Nobody has a right to demand to know anyone elses personal details, which should always be accorded the utmost respect.

But rather than address the arguments I and others  advance about Kelly history, or else find something else to do with their time, this group of Kelly supporters prefers instead to waste their time abusing me for protecting my privacy, accusing various people of being me and making abusive direct personal attacks. Here’s a Facebook message I received from one of them last year : Oh and by the way Dee, or whoever you are, I am very very close to unmasking you and when I do I will make sure you are dealt with appropriately. And when I say close, I can smell your vile stench. You disgust me you faceless bastard.”

Here is a list of the abuse directed at me in 72 hours on a Facebook page last week :
*f@&king hypocrite
*it and I mean it is an old balding bloke FFS
*such a lowlife
*oxygen thief
*Dee had to rely on faking posts and still does
*I am all for free speech but put your name to it and be held accountable when you slander others

*Someone hiding behind a fake name has something to hide. Theyre not entitled to an opinion
*Gutless nobody
*We are sick and tired of dees shit
*Campaign of slander against real people with lies and slander
*Deranged state of mind
*Dee has committed criminal offences
*Vile false accusations
*The Lowliest of cowards
*Stalking me and my friends
*Joined the NKF under a false name
*Grub of a human being
*Scum of the earth (two mentions)
*Filthy worm
*Vile blog
*Piece of work (two mentions)
*Mentally unstable, no ifs whats or buts about it
*A skitzo, and a miserable one at that
*This THING is seriously mentally disturbed
*Nameless brainless git
*Brian Tate is not Dee
*Brian Tate and Dee are one and the same
*Disgrace and a lowlife
*Bully that stalks and harasses people
*Sad and twisted individual

I post them to expose the charming nature of a significant proportion of the Kelly sympathisers one encounters in Cyberspace. Who would want to encounter them in the real world? This sort of abuse has been continuing since the Blog began and eventually I was forced to introduce Moderation to Blog comments. My intention had been to allow anyone who wanted to participate  to freely do so – and that still is my intention - but trolls abused that privilege to such an extent that it became necessary to screen comments to reduce the amount of abuse that was being posted. I eventually had to ban 4 individuals who repeatedly posted abuse and irrelevant trolling to the Facebook page as well. At last I think I have silenced the trolls.

But where to from here?

Reading the first few posts that I ever made to this Blog I realise I have learned an awful lot in three years, and I can see why at first nobody was all that interested in reading them. But three years ago when I was quite new to the Kelly story, I found much of it confusing and it wasn’t easy to visualise the overarching narrative. Luckily, during that same three years there have been several notable publications that have provided new and valuable insights into the Kelly legends, - the works of MacFarlane, Morrissey, Dawson and  Kieza in particular. But even on the Blog so much ground has been covered, so many topics have been discussed in detail, so many ideas and facts and references and sources and opinions have been explored , that the real Kelly story is now very much clearer. We now KNOW many of the parts of the legend that are unhistorical myth, which are the lies told by Ned Kelly, which are the imaginative creations of early and later writers, and the true story is emerging from the veil of Legend.

I think exposing as a myth the idea that the Kellys were victims of Police persecution, what I called the greatest of the Kelly myths has been the most important contribution the blog has made to the Kelly story so far, quite apart from being a vehicle for the distribution of the facts about the whole story. The Blog enthusiastically promoted “Redeeming Fitzpatrick’ which was a massive blow to a central Kelly legend, as was the deconstruction of the ‘Republic’ mythology. Solving the Stringybark creek mystery was also ground-breaking. But many lesser myths have also been exposed along the way : the ‘body straps’ story, the idea that Kelly  was Australia’s Robin Hood, the idea that Ned was devoted to his mother….

I also stated as an objective of the Blog, exposure of “the vicious campaign waged by modern day Kelly fanatics against anyone who dares to oppose them.”  Ive certainly exposed it but also demonstrated by the survival of Death of the Legend Blog for three years that their vicious campaigns have not been successful, even though theyre still continuing. The reality is the Blog numbers increase every month that passes, but interest in the sympathiser view of Ned Kelly is falling :their websites are disappearing or failing, their Facebook pages survive only by recycling news stories or else by attacking me, and the once wildly popular Ned Kelly weekend has passed into history.

‘Yesterday however, I received notice that money and resources are about to spent on greatly enhancing the memory of Ned Kellys victims, the three good Irish police murdered by him at Stringybark Creek. The pendulum is at last on the move.

Keep watching this space, I’ve got plenty more to tell.