Wednesday 5 July 2017

The Vault is the only credible Kelly Museum, (and another one is not needed.)

The crumbling tourist attraction at Glenrowan

I had been giving Joanne Griffiths the benefit of the doubt because when she launched the Ned Kelly Center project in late 2015 she wrote “It doesn’t matter what you believe of Ned Kelly but it is important to understand that pivotal time in our history.” This is what all Kelly Facebook pages and websites say when they first get started, that all opinions are welcome but usually quite quickly it becomes apparent that all they really want to do is talk about Ned Kelly the hero.If you want to discuss anything else they expel you, which is why until a few days ago her Facebook page was the only place that hadn’t banned me. However, almost nothing was happening there until recently, so my comments there were few and far between. Even so, in spite of her statement that ‘it doesn’t matter what you believe of Ned Kelly’ many of my comments were deleted, not because they were offensive or rude but because they were perceived as “anti-kelly”. But at least until the other day I hadn’t been banned.

A few days ago on the NKCenter FB page someone asked if Buffalo Bill Cody was in some way related to Mary Cody who was Red Kellys mother. This question has been answered time and time again but still it gets asked – the answer is no they are not related. BBCs forbears originated from Guernsey, an island in the English channel quite close to France, and changed their name to Cody when they arrived in north America in the 17th century.  I posted this fact to her site, and was thanked by the person who asked the question. A little later I responded to a claim on the same thread that the term ‘hostage’ should not be used in reference to the people Ned Kelly imprisoned.  I merely pointed out that numerous prominent Kelly authors used the term – people such as Ian Jones, Brad Webb, Paul Terry and Grant-Lee Kieza - but  the Kelly troll protested yet again to Joanne who finally gave him what he wanted, caved in to his bullying and deleted all my contributions to that site and I was blocked!

So her true colours were exposed at last! Leigh Olver and his crew will no doubt be saying  “What took you so long?”

Here is a comment I made on this Blog in 2015 when she first announced the project:

“One has to ask the question of the Kelly descendants : What the hell is wrong with you all that in 135 years you never managed to agree amongst yourselves on doing something together for your famous relative ? I’ll say one thing for that woman though : at least she had the courage of her convictions and actually tried to make something happen! Sadly for her, all she has achieved is to expose the internal divisions within Kelly ranks, a fact which will destroy any public support for her project which is virtually stillborn. 

The other even bigger problem she was facing was the status of the Kelly Legend itself, which has taken some massive hits in recent years thanks to Ian MacFarlane, Morrissey and now Dawson. The reality is that the truth about Ned Kelly and the Outbreak is
finally being revealed and there is declining interest in the fairy stories spun about him, and growing understanding that he was not Australias Robin Hood but a notorious liar and a violent killer and psychopath camouflaged by flamboyant language, clever use of Public relations, gimmicky armour and acts of bravado. The heyday of the Jones-Kelly mythology has passed. The Kelly people missed their chance to capitalise on it, and they would be better to get used to it, and give their support to the Kelly Vault.”

All that’s happened since then is that the status of Kelly mythology has declined even further, and the Kelly factional divisions have become deeper. Does anyone remember she announced there was going to be a website about her project? Didn’t happen. Does anyone remember that Joanne launched a crowdfunding venture to raise $2 MILLION dollars? She said at the time it was to try to buy the Beechworth Gaol, because she said Beechworth would be the perfect place for her Kelly Center. She raised an abysmal $1100 from 3 donors– a disastrous flop even worse than the recent Kelly movie Kickstarter campaign failure. So that didn’t happen either.

So now we read on the Ned Kelly CENTRAL FB page, that having failed to gain any public support for her schemes in Beechworth she is now hoping to get public money - not 2 million but 4 million -  to fund a different and even more grandiose Project in Glenrowan. She wants  to gain control over several “Kelly” sites, such as the site of the siege and some of the local Kelly tourist ventures which are currently on a death watch.  Leigh Olver, who I suspect is the operator behind Ned Kelly Central, the Facebook page set up in opposition to Joannes Ned Kelly Center has posted a fascinating list of the attempts made over 17 years to establish a Kelly Interpretive Center in Glenrowan. The really horrible fact he reminds us of is that an enormous amount of money has been wasted by local authorities on studies and plans looking at ways to revitalise the area using Kelly history and a Kelly ‘interpretive centre as a focus and draw-card, but so far not a single step toward such a development has taken place.

Recently Joanne Griffiths made her pitch to Wangaratta Council for support for her ideas. They gave her ‘in principle’ support but deferred a final decision until they receive yet another horrendously expensive ($150,000) report from a Consultancy which is going to ‘re-imagine’ the Kelly story by “exploring and assessing the current tourism experience and (to) develop recommendations and concepts to revitalise the approach to a major national story”

This is what I think should happen. Someone needs to point out to Wangaratta Council that the age of Kelly mythology has ended and the public are no longer interested in the fairy tales of Ned Kelly. The demise of Kelly internet sites, the collapse of Glenrowan into ghost town status with Kelly attractions falling into disrepair and unable to be sold as going concerns, the abject failures of Joannes crowdfunding campaign and the Kelly movie Kickstarter campaigns – all these realities show that Kelly is  o longer the attraction he once was.  People mostly now see him as a criminal, an unattractive but still fascinating figure in the way major crime figures always have been. Someone should also remind Council that Glenrowan was intended to be the site of a massive police slaughter, an atrocity that was avoided because of the bravery of Thomas Curnow, the barely acknowledged true hero of Glenrowan.  Do they want to create a memorial to a triple police murderer? And do they realise there are massive and bitter divisions within the Kelly mob, and Joannes schemes are not supported by the majority of them? Is the Council going to take sides in the Kelly wars?

There is however one bright spot in Kelly country  that seems to be thriving : Beechworths Ned Kelly Vault. They actively promote themselves as a museum and not a shrine to Ned Kelly, and according to the Vault, they have huge numbers of visitors. However, the Old Treasury building that houses this collection is bursting at the seams – the vault needs bigger premises, and if the Council wants to spend money on Kelly history rather than Kelly idolatry and the personal dreams of one faction of the divided Kelly descendants then they ought to help the Vault.

I’ve visited the Vault twice and though I’ve been critical of certain relatively minor aspects of the place, its still a fascinating place to visit and its by far the best thing going for Kelly history in the North East.

Joanne should be dumped and the Council should turn its attention to helping the Vault.


  1. "Do they want to create a memorial to a triple police murderer?" Yes they do. Simple. They just quote from the Jerilderie letter and call it a legitimate war against police persecution.

    1. And when everyone else quotes the findings of the Royal Commsssion into the Kelly Outbreak, which was that there was no such Police persecution, they will no doubt have second thoughts. Ned Kellys complaint, the complaint of all crims since the dawn of time, that he was persecuted are lies. So a memorial to a triple police murderer, liar and wannabe mass murderer at Glenrowan? Yeah, right!

      Heres the quote from the RC just in case you've forgotten it:

      "It may also be mentioned that the charge of persecution of the family by the members of the police force has been frequently urged in extenuation of the crimes of the outlaws; but, after careful examination, your Commissioners have arrived at the conclusion that the police, in their dealings with the Kellys and their relations, were simply desirous of discharging their duty conscientiously; and that no evidence has been adduced to support the allegation that either the outlaws or their friends were subjected to persecution or unnecessary annoyance at the hands of the police."

  2. The vroom-vroom troll has been to the library and found out that according to the Society for the Study of Psychopathy, psychopath traits include:
    • Grandiose sense of self-worth (Narcissistic psychopath)
    • Lack of guilt/remorse
    • Callous lack of empathy
    • Pathological lying
    • Superficial charm
    • Conning-manipulative
    • Parasitic lifestyle
    • Impulsivity
    • Irresponsibility
    • Failure to accept responsibility
    • Need for stimulation (as in Internet Troll)
    • Lack of deep emotional attachments
    • Dishonesty
    • Manipulativeness
    • Poor behavior control
    • Reckless risk-taking
    Moreover, approximately 93% of psychopaths are in the criminal justice system. This is exactly like himself as well as his twisted hero Ned Kelly. He even identifies himself as an Internet Troll. What a loser.

    1. Phil Philander6 July 2017 at 19:55

      I think Vroom Vroom is studying to be a brain surgeon. He is an expert on peritonitis and psychopathy and had this to say in one of his replies to a poster:

      "Opium was also used in a lot of medicines around that period also".

      His psychopathy post is offbeam. He constantly misidentifies Dee.

      People can't View all 12 comments (there are only seven), the site doesn't allow it.

      For a Facebook page with so many likers, it is a surprise that only a small handful of them ever send posts.

      Vroom Vroom usually does his research on Trove in his armchair. He once went to Monash Uni library where he falsely claimed to have bought a copy of Doug Morrissey's 1980s PhD thesis. He couldn't have, it was never digitised. What a goof.

  3. I wish Wangaratta Council had given me the $150,000 consultancy gig - I could have sorted it out in a couple of weeks. Wangaratta does not appear on the Ned Kelly Touring Route, so that's a quick one. An old outlaw tale is hardly a "major national story" in tourism, more something that makes Australians a laughing stock to many overseas visitors. Even in Beechworth it's artificially inflated, as most of the story happened elsewhere. The vast bulk of Beechworth visitors do not go there for Kelly. Yes, there are quite a few keen Ned Kelly fans, and they are entitled to their views and their interests, but like everyone else, they need to pay their own way.

    1. I keep wondering about your idea Stuart that the Kelly story would be just as popular or perhaps even more poplar if the truth was told, that its a story of a criminal gang, their reign of terror and ultimate denouement at Glenrowan ( or the OMG?) Maybe telling the truth for a change will be the key to the revitalisation of the Kelly story.

      Wangaratta Council, are you listening?

    2. Put it this way: I spent some time in Beechworth late last year with a couple of uni friends, and Kelly wasn't mentioned at all, except when one of them asked me if I was still doing any Kelly research and I said not much. They had never been to any of the so-called Kelly attractions and had no interest whatsoever. Neither did any of their other friends. The whole Kelly thing is completely oversold. As I think I mentioned last year, I had barely heard of Kelly before around 2012, when some obvious rubbish about the Kelly gang turned up in one of my kid's school books. We never heard of him when I was growing up. No loss at all, considering the story is now mostly fiction.

    3. In London you can go on Jack -the-Ripper Tours, there's a great Gangster Museum in Las Vegas, and of course museums and historical sites related to the wars, Pearl Harbour, the holocaust and and sites of nuclear destruction in Japan. Why not drop the 'hero' bullshit about the Kelly's and the Outbreak and make it all about the Villain and psychopath cop killer that he actually was? This would be the honest history that ought to be told, and can be told without all the embarrassing and obvious whitewashing that currently goes on.

  4. Ashleigh Broad6 July 2017 at 23:14

    'A pathological liar and violent psychopath - and his last words weren't "such is life"': The experts' unsparing verdict on Australia's favourite folk hero Ned Kelly.

    Psychiatrist Russ Scott and historian Ian MacFarlane discredit the romantic legend in their Psychiatry, Psychology and Law journal article
    They claim Ned Kelly was a psychopath who had no empathy and repeatedly claimed to have been wronged.

    His famous last words, 'such is life', are also claimed to be a myth.

    Read more:

  5. The Kelly Troll has often complained that Ian MacFarlane author of The Kelly Gang Unmasked wouldn't reply to his emails. Why would he?

    The Kelly Troll is a CRACKPOT and a nobody.

    1. Someone should send the Wangaratta council a few pages from the Troll website so they could see what kind of lunatic is after their money.

  6. I've always thought councils were mate's junkets happy to splurge other people's money. What a pack of swine, spending $150K on a Ned Kelly consultant. Who got the job, another relative? It lends a new meaning to pork barrelling, money for pigs to blow on pig swill.

  7. We think Beechworth is great.
    From the wonderful walks, shops, cafes, the central pub with the open fireplaces (was operating as such in Winter 2015), the museum and things like-- being able to view a town map that shows where significant solicitors of the 1880s had their business located in the town.
    From our perspective- visiting the old court rooms where on 9.10.1878 or 10.10.1878 (approx. 2 weeks -24.9.1878-after a Mr Charles Hope Nicholson, himself, had personally inspected the newly built police residence in J.R’s home town), a 19-year-old past relative was summoned up by relatives to speak up on behalf of the family before His Honour Sir Redmond Barry
    To think that this past relative, again, was transported to these court rooms on 5th January 1879, related to matters under the fifth section of the Outlawry Act, and to view the old cells of the Beechworth gaol, and read about how there was one shared bath, and sparse meals provided and try and decide where these sympathisers were held during those hot February days (there appears to be no old records of which cells prisoners were held in, just their numbers- JR- no. 43), and how two petitions against this confinement of JR had been sent from citizens of his home town, and where was the hospital that JR was taken to when he was removed and discharged with broken leg on Tuesday 25th February.
    Which leads to the notion that some memories of Beechworth for family historians evolve around court rooms and gaols.
    There are many, many descendants of Sympathisers and other associated key persons (including to those that lived a very short life) that would have numerous views on such matters related to the best locations for perhaps more family orientated artefacts and stories.
    There is the un-restored Beveridge house, and the Vault for reasons that have been provided on this page already.. Even though it would be very hard to decided could there be one other, possible location- and could they be linked by a governing body, with a designated number of descendants from all sides on the Governing Board??
    Then, what about Jerilderie, Avenel and other locations???

    B. T. and T Ryan.

    P.S. Have some of you seen the number of signatures with overseas addresses recorded in the visitor book of the Greta Cemetery? Is this embarrassing??
    And that doesn’t include the ones who don’t sign and just make a donation to the box near the front gate.

  8. Glenrowan is a pleasant enough town for its residents. But aside from the Kelly siege site, there is not really a good reason to visit. To the extent the current consultancy requires the consultants to explore and assess the existing tourism experience, then that part of the job is easy. The tourism experience is dismal and you don’t need to pay anyone to tell you that.

    Glenrowan's problem is that it is on the way to somewhere better. At two and a half hour’s drive out of Melbourne all you want is to stop somewhere for a quick bite and a fill-up of petrol. And now that Glenrowan is by-passed by the Freeway, the service centre just up the road is the most convenient spot to do that. And from there, you just want to get to a proper destination like Bright or the King Valley wineries or Beechworth or the snowfields as quickly as possible. You wouldn’t want to waste time by stopping at Glenrowan.

    I work in planning consultancy and 150K is a big ticket study by any standard. I have to wonder what it is the Council is hoping to achieve by spending this kind of money. How many locals will be employed? How much expenditure are they hoping to capture and retain in Glenrowan? What kind of multiplier effect will this generate? And what are the implications elsewhere in the Shire where the money might otherwise have been spent?

    For Glenrowan to become an attraction, you are going to need a pretty big drawcard. About the only thing I can think of that might bring people in would be to have the four suits of armour on display at some kind of interpretative centre. That would put Glenrowan on the map for tour buses. But for everyone else, I think it might be a case of once you have seen them once then you wouldn’t need to see them again.

    I think that for the Kelly story to become a tourism focus, Tourism Victoria needs to provide some overall coordination, particularly since Kelly Country embraces at least four municipalities. At the present time, the municipalities are competing for the same tourism dollar. As Stuart says, Wangaratta is not even on the Kelly Touring Route. And look at what else is not on the Kelly Touring Route. The Kelly Homestead site is acknowledged as a Kelly site, but there is no clear direction on how to get to it and it is in private ownership so you can’t actually visit. Likewise the Byrne and Sherritt sites along Reedy Creek and the Police Caves and so on are acknowledged, but once again there is no real encouragement to go and visit them. And then you have the Stringybark Creek historical sites where everything is presently incorrectly signposted and where a new management plan is being developed by a land management agency (DELWP) which apparently doesn’t propose to correct this.

    There are many other important sites related to the Kelly story that could all be incorporated as part of a proper Kelly heritage trail. But apart from Beechworth which has so much going for it that the Kelly story is almost incidental (although the Vault is well worth a visit for anyone that is interested), I don’t think the Kelly story is something that is going to add much value as an attraction in its own right. Instead it is something that adds another layer of interest to an area which (Glenrowan aside) is already a focus of tourist activity.

  9. I know the businesses in Gladstone St are in dire need of a facelift... It's atrocious and depressing. A simple lick of bloody paint would do it.

    1. "bloody paint' for Glenrowan! Nice pun Mark, intended or not!


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.