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I was pleased that DELWP seem to be wanting to use historical documents to get an accurate description of what happened there, rather than books and oral history, but I was especially pleased that they seem to be focused on the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. 


  1. You are absolutely right, Dee. The Stringybark Creek police murders site cannot be turned into another Kelly monument.

    Bill Denheld's accurate police camp site at SBC is again being being wilfully ignored by DELWP although it is OBVIOUSLY the correct place. Many important people have said so. DELWP should acknowledge this and recognise Bill's decade long research at SBC.

    It is inappropriate to hear from pro-Kelly people, including Ian Jones, on SBC sites.

    Bill Denheld has not yet, I think, identified where Sergt Kennedy was killed. I would much rather listen to Bill than DELWP who have no credence as Ned experts.

    1. Seems that the DELWP are either in thrall of the Ian Jones theory, or don't have the intestinal fortitude to revisit research into the location of the police camp by way of a close examination of the evidence available. Not sure Horrie that Bill has formed a firm conclusion as to the site of Kennedy's death. Personally I can't see how that will ever be resolved.

  2. Ovens and Murray Advertiser, Saturday 25 May 1878 (page 4).
    Arrest of James Quin. — Information was received last night that Detective Ward and Mounted-Constable Flood had arrested on warrant, for grievous assault on Charles Askew, at Winton, the notorious James Quin. It appears that Quin, who is a mate of Ned Kelly, met Askew, and accused him of giving information to the police as to Kelly's whereabouts, and then knocked him down and kicked him, breaking some ribs. The charge will be heard at Benalla.

  3. I agree with Cam West that "Obviously Constable McIntyre's initial report of the police murders at Stringybark Creek should be included" at SBC. I also agree with him that the Burman photos are a must too. As well, the crime scene diagrams by Constable McIntyre (one at PROV and the other at Victoria Police) should be included (but would be better at Bill Denheld's police camp site at SBC - and maybe the Burman photo that clearly shows the background to Bill's site, still easily identifiable today).

  4. Brief newspaper reports of that week (providing they are accurate) would lend immediacy to DELWP's revamped SBC tourist attraction.

    In my opinion, the present SBC site is far too busy with walkways and info that leads nowhere. DELWP would be wise to simplify and heed real experts not the pro-Kelly rabble.

  5. The so-called "Kelly tree" with its embedded image of Ned Kelly in armour was not the real "Kelly tree" anyway. It should be cut down or its insulting metal image of the murderous killer near the place he committed his cowardly murders removed and destroyed.

  6. Frank Middleton30 May 2017 at 23:29

    The CSI@SBC's silly Kelly Tree is equally unbelievable. Its on the road towards Bill's site, but is a lamentable travesty of the evidence. Bill is right and all the others wrong.

  7. The only other things I can think of to further improve the DELWP site are Dr Samuel Reynolds's autopsy findings on the murdered police. Few people visiting the area would know each of the murdered police had at least four gunshot wounds--unless they have read "The Kelly Gang Unmasked".

    That disgraceful fact has deliberately always been omitted from pro-Kelly books for obvious reasons.

    It might be advisable not to signpost Bill's genuine police camp site until it has been properly forensically examined in case further evidence Bill could not retrieve has been missed. He already has collected significant artifacts from there.

    This is a cold case Vicpol and qualified archaeologists should re-examine at once.

    It is long overdue that this should happen.

  8. More sad imbecility on that FB hatepage against the book. Alan Crichton has written a massively flawed account of the Lonigan murder. Junk. But Brad Webb liked it a lot. His book is imminent. It will sink like his sites. It will be riddled - can't wait!

  9. Sadly the integrity of the site has been lost forever as Mr Denheld has illegally removed many artifacts from the site using a metal detector. I do hope he at least had the sense to make a grid and accurately identify the exact place each item was found. If not then even forensic examination would provide little further information.

    1. I think you will find that the SBC site was not listed on the heritage register until September 2009. My understanding is that Bill Denheld detected and recovered relics at the site long before it was listed.

  10. Maybe so but it has always been known as an historic site and thus the removal of relics and artifacts will have forever destroyed the integrity of the site. Unless the recovered items were listed and mapped accurately on a grid, then so much history has been lost in the pursuit of a fast buck.

    1. My point is that it wasn't 'illegal'.

    2. Anonymous, I don't think Bill Denheld has made a single fast buck in his entire life.

      Pull you anonymous Head In!

    3. Where is the proof of what you allege Anonymous?

  11. There should be no reproduction of any part of Nolan’s Kelly paintings in SBC signage. These are about himself and his own problems with authority, see Alastair Sooke, “Culture: Ned Kelly, Sidney Nolan and the story of Australian art”, BBC online, 26 September 2013; and citing Anne Gray (NGA), “to some extent he identified with Kelly, who was running away from the police. Nolan couldn’t cope with the discipline of being in the army, so the Kelly story appealed to him very much”. It would be very disrespectful to the memory of the murdered police to reference those paintings at the SBC site. Nolan also said, “When I painted the Kellys I thought of them as very angry, violent pictures, and so did everybody else”; “from 1945 to 1947 there were emotional and complicated events in my own life”; and “the paintings were at least as much about [my]self as the nineteenth-century bushranger”, Nolan quoted by Jane Clark, “Modern Myth: Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly”, unpaginated conference paper, Ned Kelly: Man & Myth Symposium, Beechworth, 13-14 November, 1993. – Stuart Dawson

  12. Thank's a new take on the Nolan frivolity - thanks Stuart!

    1. I have always been disgusted by Nolan's desertion during WW2. Leaving the fighting to others while he indulged his penchant for painting Traitor!

    2. You going to get into every one who has painted Ned Kelly? You are a sad case Brian Tate.

    3. So you think that Nolan did the right thing in deserting during the Second World War Mickey?

  13. Found tonight a previously unknown NZ review of "The Kelly Gang Unmasked" in Your Weekend (Dominion Post) 16 Feb 2013:


    by Ian MacFarlane Oxford University Press, $38

    Reviewed by Mike Crean

    Author Ian MacFarlane is no fan of outlaw Ned Kelly.

    Neither is he fond of earlier writers who have elevated the Australian bushranger and gang leader to legend status.

    This book is a polemic in which MacFarlane sets out to discredit what he calls "the pro-Kelly writers".

    The wonder is that such detailed research as he has carried out, such forensic examination as he describes and such comprehensive coverage as he provides can yield a book still so readable, even to one with minimal prior knowledge of the topic.

    At 250-odd pages, it is longer than a court prosecutor’s summing-up, but that is what it reads like, with added passion.

    It might be presumptuous to say MacFarlane has had the last word on Kelly, but it is difficult to see how future writers might find angles on the story that have not been thoroughly canvassed here.

    Kelly is portrayed as a worthless cad, an inveterate liar, a small-time crook who cut his criminal teeth in horse stealing from hard-up small farmers, an unfeeling brute.

    So, when MacFarlane "unmasks" him, he presents a figure more to be despised than pitied. Does the author go too far? Perhaps so. He gives the impression of having mounted a personal crusade, not just against Kelly, but against public memory of him, against the general trivialising of the Kelly gang’s killings, against the Australian tendency to idolise the antisocial, a trend still apparent in hero-worship of yobbo sports personalities.

    Some readers may see this book as strident and marred by MacFarlane’s subjectiveness.

    Whatever, it presents a compelling characterisation of Kelly, who lived and died by the singular code of self-justification.

    1. Nice to see that the Kiwis get it!

  14. I’ve been in WA for the past weeks and internet is intermittent.
    In reply to Anon 3 June 18:20
    The site of the two huts was detected with outmost care with permission from DSE historic site manager. All objects are in my care for when a proper dig can occur. The site was shown to Jeremy Smith of Heritage Victoria. Maps were drawn with the Gary Dean who also emptied a rubbish pit next to one of the huts, and there are five more pits to be dug out. Jeremy said those would be done in due course subject to a university archaeological investigation to be announced.

    1. Seems 'anonymous' has gone strangely silent.

    2. Not silent Brian, silenced. . A reply sent hours ago has not been posted by Dee.

    3. Anonymous your comment about probing graves was out of line and nothing to do with SBC. Time for you to withdraw your allegation and apologise to Bill for ignorantly alleging that he had illegally removed artefacts and ruined the integrity of the site trying to make a fast buck. Bill did everything correctly, and has added massively to our knowledge of that place.

    4. Probing graves? That's gotta be up there with posting beheading videos.

    5. Remove my comment or apologise? I don't think so!!! This also proves that "Dee" will only post comments that do not throw any doubts on her character. An unbiased blog. I don't think so. And for the record, do not agree with "Bill's" view on SBC. He is wrong which I tried to tell him but he wouldn't listen..

    6. Thats fine anonymous. We'll just point out that you're a person who thinks its OK to accuse someone of illegally removing artefacts and ruining the integrity of a site , and who when shown to be wrong sees no need to apologise. And as for not posting comments that attack my character, you need to go back and read a few more posts and their comments. I am constantly being referred to in all manner of unflattering terms. My character has been well and truly mauled by anonymous posters like yourself!

    7. No accusing, facts only from me. No apology, I am not wrong. For the record Dee, I have in none of my posts over the last 24 hours "mauled you". I have just asked questions and stated facts. Nothing more...or less.

  15. "It might be presumptuous to say MacFarlane has had the last word on Kelly, but it is difficult to see how future writers might find angles on the story that have not been thoroughly canvassed here".

    I doubt that the forthcoming Brad Webb Kelly legend book will reflect or address any of your criticisms Dee!

  16. Gosh, typically this internet troll Anon can throw a lot of bul s--t around.
    There seems a vendetta to sink anything but the Kelly tree site so its not hard to figure out who Anon is,So I will explain -

    At the time 2003, the fact remains the DSE man in charge was Terry Kingston and forest manager David Hurley who helped me put mesh over the two fireplaces, this was after a group were invited to conduct the surface metal detect prior to any archaeological work because to leave material on the ground , it would only get pinched by other collectors. When permission was granted further detecting and archaeology at the site (of the two huts), including Gary Dean, I was a member of the Mansfield Historical Society that, as far as I was concerned had sanctioned the work with Sheila Hutchinson. The team consisted of Dave White and Joe Hutchinson with own detectors like myself, also present was Bruce Johnson and Nicky Shore, (sorry maiden name escapes me as were two others present.

    Following the covering by mesh of the two fireplace structures, and at my instigation with MHS, a large tree log was recovered from Kellys Creek, this large target tree log the Kellys used for target practice. This log is currently stored at Joe and Sheila Hutchinsons place at Maindample. Sheila and Joe are guardians of the log just as I am guardian of the items detected at the site of--- what will be proven to be the Shingle Hut that Ned Kelly referred to in his Jerilderie letter, as the place where the police party had camped. The name StringyBark Creek was then not in use, the place was termed the ‘shingle hut’by Ned Kelly. It’s quite understandable this opposing group of amateur historians guided by old long held - false beliefs of where the shootout really was, was determined by written descriptions which can be misleading, and for the face saving sake and embarrassment of being determined at all cost to sink the true site.

    I note that Dave White is in possession of material from one of the huts fireplaces that he detected, and the agreement was that all items found should stay together for when a suitable museum could be set up to display these items. Incidentally, the SBC collection in my possession was offered to Matt Shore and the Ned the Exhibition, AND the Beechworth Vault, but was rejected as Ian Jones had said on ABC radio my findings were Codswallop, meaning no more worth than fish guts.!. Its no wonder we are still in the wilderness regarding final acceptance of primary source material that proves where the site where two police officers were murdered. By the Kelly gang. It is a national disgrace the authorities are still not able to make up their minds. It’s a no brainer.


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.