Saturday 28 October 2017

Ned Kelly Documentary : the Good the Bad and the Ugly

I think that everyone with more than a passing interest in the Kelly story will have been watching Foxtel’s History Channel  last Tuesday night at 8.30 pm to see the heavily promoted first episode of their new series, Lawless: the real bushrangers. This one was about Ned Kelly.

In the promos, Kelly followers were all warned that the documentary would change Kelly history for ever and that not everyone would be happy with their conclusions. None of us were sure if the documentary was going to bolster the view that Kelly was  a hero, or the idea that he was a villain.  It purported to be ground breaking, research based and scientifically validated, backed up by “Experts” and to have found answers to questions that had been asked for nearly 140 years. However, it was clear the focus would be on Stringybark Creek, the place where the gang murdered three policemen. My interest was in how they would account for Lonigans death, and in where they might decide it all happened. I’ve now watched the entire documentary three times. I would encourage anyone who has seen it once to see it a few more times because there is an immense amount of detail and a lot of ground covered in a very short time.

In brief, as expected, the hour long documentary concentrated on Stringybark Creek. The archaeologist claimed to have identified the exact site of the police camp and the police murders using some whizz-bang drone based 3D technology , the forensic pathologist claimed to have shown that Lonigan was shot by at least two people and that Kennedys death was an execution rather than a mercy killing, and the historian claimed that Irish criminal  gangs called the White boys may have influenced Ned. She also set the social scene that prevailed at the time saying that it was a time of unique opportunity for the working poor, following years of land and class tension. She said the poor ‘were working bloody hard to try and turn it (their selection) into something, and to lead an honourable if humble life, but that existence wasn’t for everyone’ referring obviously to the Kelly brothers preference for the easier life and greater rewards of a criminal lifestyle and stock theft.

This was all rather clinical and academic, so to add a bit of touchy-feely  human emotion to the story they contrived a meeting between an angry descendant of one of the murdered police, Leo Kennedy and a relaxed and comfortable Kelly descendant, Anthony Griffiths. It was no surprise that he trotted out the well-worn favourite of Kelly apologists, that none of this would have happened if the police hadn’t gone to the Kelly home to arrest Dan. Put another way, the silliness of this argument is too obvious: yes,  if the Police hadn’t gone about their duty and attempted to arrest criminal suspects, none of this would have happened! Actually none of this would have happened if the Kelly’s weren’t big time criminal stock thieves but law abiding citizens, like the huge majority of selectors in the North East, as Doug Morrissey has pointed out with actual research. What a pity Anthony Griffiths was allowed to get away with this silly excuse unchallenged. For more human interest they also filmed a Kelly fancier getting a Ned Kelly tattoo – this was the guy who used to call himself a Kelly historian but was described here as a ‘Kelly fan’. Every so often he sends me abusive texts on Facebook, none of which I have ever replied to. Nice to see what he looks like close up! His last message to me ended “See you soon” which was supposed to be a threat, but that was months ago. Funny how I ended up seeing him but he still hasn’t seen me!

I was pleased that the overall impression created by the documentary is that Ned Kelly was a violent murderer, because that’s the historical truth about him. I wonder if the ‘Kelly Fan” is still happy that he got his 15 seconds of fame by assisting them get that message across, because Kelly fanciers universally hated the documentary,  and on the History channels Facebook page, vented their rage :

·      “Fake stories about real people. History being invented by media isn't real history. Pathetic series, poorly researched and very one sided.
·      “I watched the first few minutes and thought ..... “What a load of crap !!!!!” The pursecution of the Kelly Family started with his father. Just more garbage for the ignorant to regurgitate”
·      “I turned it off when the show began at Stringy Bark Creek ...... oppression of the Kelly Family began in Ireland.”
·      What an absolute load of rubbish glad i didn't watch this rubbish nothing but witch hunt
·      Could see by advertising, main pic.....'Ned, standing over the unarmed cop, with gun at cops head' . That set the picture for bullshit. Biased, lm not watching it. I cannot tolerate liars...and this 'doco' ....fantasy by sounds of not worth watching! Cunning barstards. Hope currupt cops grandson feels better .

(The spelling is all their own)

The Facebook Kelly devotees also trotted out all the usual myths about Kelly persecution, corrupt police, Fitzpatrick being drunk and raping Kate, and so on. The Kelly troll advanced a conspiracy theory about the Royal Commission that I hadn’t come across before, and confessed whats  long been suspected that he has only managed to read at most half of the book he has been attacking for four years or more. Half is probably a generous over-estimate, but one doesn’t expect rational behaviour or logical thought from people who think a violent police murderer and wannabe mass murderer is a hero.

However one does expect a much higher standard from people who promote themselves as ‘experts’ and professionals, but it wasn’t much better. The Lawless team produced a deeply flawed analysis that exposed their lack of a detailed knowledge of the subject matter, and sacrificed their professional integrity for the need to grandstand, to inflate their own egos and merely produce something that was entertaining and perhaps would be a commercial success. What anyone who is familiar with the subject would have known, but nobody else in Australia would have known, is that almost everything they claimed to have “discovered” had been well and truly ‘discovered’ and analysed and discussed and turned upside down and inside out long before these ‘experts’ appeared on the scene. This naked grandstanding and misrepresentation of the truth was truly sickening.

So, for example they claimed this was the first time since the murders that a Kelly descendant and a Kennedy descendant had met, face to face.  Here’s the facts : McIntyre, Kennedy, Hart, Kelly and Lloyd descendants met at SBC in 2001 at the unveiling there of the Police Memorial.(Ian Jones; A Short Life p 419)  I don’t blame Mike Munro for not knowing that, but perhaps if they had employed not just ‘experts’ but experts in the Kelly story they would have been spared making that embarrassing blunder.

They also created an impression that if she didn’t actually discover it, Keira Lindsey the historian was among the first to make use of the relatively recently discovered map of the area made by McIntyre: “Keira has something new to bring to the table” said Mike Munro breathlessly.  Here’s the facts:  this map has been widely published and used in many discussions about SBC for years. It’s in the first CSI Report from 2011, MacFarlanes 2012 book, and in Kelvyn Gills 2017 publication! Its nothing new at all to people who actually are familiar with the Kelly story. As for her ‘unique theory’ about the Whiteboy rebel gangs of Ireland – she was drawing a very long bow here indeed because as I discovered on Wikipedia the Whiteboys were a late 18th century phenomenon, a fact not mentioned in the documentary, and the only “link” she produced between them and Ned Kelly was an entirely contrived parallel between ‘threatening letters’ that they wrote, and the last few words of the Jerilderie Letter : “my orders must be obeyed” . This was an unconvincing performance but I wonder if we should  be keeping an eye out for Kiera Lindsays research publications on the topic? Somehow I think the whiteboys reference was just an opportunity for a few shots of the inside of the State Library of  Victoria, images that were expected to add gravitas and a hint of academic rigor to the documentary, and I suspect Dr Lindseys interest in the whiteboys finished once the filming was done.  I think I might email her to find out.

The documentary claims that ‘the Lidar technology has led Adam to an extraordinary find’ and Adam Ford announces triumphantly “the location of the Police camp hinged on us  finding archaeological remains of this hut – and we’ve done it” But here are the facts : firstly if I am not mistaken these hut remains had long ago been identified by the CSI team, and I suspect are the ones depicted in a photograph in their Updated Report, and identified in the map they drew in 2011. Bill Denheld has also seen these remains and discussed them on his web site.  There was never any need for a drone and Lidar technology to find these remains – that was just razzle-dazzle aimed at blinding the audience with “Science”. God only knows how many thousands they spent on the “Lidar” equipped drone but for fifty bucks they could have got a copy of the CSI report with a map that would take them straight to it!

As for whether or not they are  actually the remains of the hut depicted on the 1884 map – there is enormous well founded doubt that they are. The Lawless team should have known that a second surveyors Map produced the very next year, 1885, placed that hut in a very different position.  I noted in the documentary that at least one of the ‘stones’ had flat surfaces at right angles to each other, suggesting this fireplace, if that’s what it is, may well be of a much more modern era than 1884. Heritage Victoria are expecting to receive a full report of this archaeological dig, but as it has not yet been completed one wonders how Adam Ford, who calls himself an archaeologist, can be so confident. Frankly I doubt the report will ever appear anywhere.  Its apparent Ford was convinced of his find the moment the tiniest bit of a fireplace emerged from under the dirt : this looks so much like cowboy archaeology and tunnel vision rather than balanced careful scientific research, but they claimed that the SBC site “had never had a full scientific examination until now”. I will wait till I have read the report of their Dig, the one expected by Heritage Victoria to see how justified Fords confidence is, but to describe what they did there as a ‘full scientific examination’ was nowhere near accurate. It was hype. And if the report ever emerges I bet it wont be anywhere near as dogmatic about that site as Ford was on the documentary.

Given the very real uncertainty about the identification of the Hut, very real uncertainty remains about Adam Fords boast that ‘we can now assert for the first time ever that this location here ( pointing to the picnic area)  is the site of the shootout and the killing of police on the 26th October 1878” There are at least three fatal flaws in Adam Fords chosen site : firstly, in the Burman Photo that he is familiar with, you can see the posts of the ruined hut only a few yards away, just to the right of the logs that McIntyre and Lonigan were standing beside when bailed up. When Adam Ford strides across the grass pretending to be Lonigan retreating, counting the steps as he goes, he should be almost right on top of the ruined hut, but in fact from what I could determine from the documentary the Ford Hut is 15 or 20 or more yards away. Secondly,  from the Burman photos we know that if you were standing at the hut and looking at the camp site and the logs you would be facing south or south west, but as you will see in the graphic in the documentary, they have the camp site northeast from the Hut. 180 degrees out! The other obvious flaw is that as Ford himself pointed out when rejecting the traditional sites claim to be the correct one, there is no slope as seen in the Burman photo. If one place is rejected because there’s no slope, wouldn’t you have to reject every site that doesn’t have a slope?  Hoisted by his own petard one might say!

In the next part of the documentary they explore Ned Kellys accounts of the killing of Lonigan and Kennedy. Shooting the quartered bullet  from the rifle at the pig carcase was a great idea. It showed exactly what Ive been saying for a long time, that Lonigan was killed when Kelly fired a load of shot or some sort of multiple projectiles at him. They may have thought they were revealing something never before considered when they also fired a revolver into the carcase at point blank range, in an attempt to understand if the wound in Lonigans left thigh was self inflicted. They did indeed show that the injury and the powder burns didn't match what was described at Lonigans autopsy in 1878, and so discounted that theory, but all that information had been put together and the same conclusion reached by Ian MacFarlane in his book written in 2012 - yet another 'revelation' that was actually old news. 

However the forensic pathologist  blundered in saying that there must have been at least two 'shooters'. He said this because he didn't consider the real possibility that the Doctor who did the autopsy might have been mistaken when he said he removed an ordinary revolver bullet from Lonigans thigh. It quite easily could have been another one of the pieces of lead fired in that one devastating blast from Ned Kellys rifle. The trouble with saying there were at least two shooters is that you then have to go on and answer the next logical questions about them, namely who were they and when did they fire this revolver at Lonigan? This leads into an almost impossible mess of speculations and propositions, the only remotely possible solution being that whoever fired that revolver did it at EXACTLY the same time as Ned fired his rifle. It needs to be EXACTLY the same time because McIntyre only reported ever hearing ONE shot. The Lawless team couldn’t work it out, so  concluded with “Lonigans thigh wound remains a mystery”. I solved that mystery last year, and explained it again HERE with some great artwork created with a drone and a laser by Bill Denheld! ( well, actually he used paper and a pencil!)

I tried to explain all this to the Genepool producers of Lawless late last year, and they seem to have accepted most of what I said but unfortunately didn't think it all the way through.

This highlights what I think might prove to be a really serious problem with this series : the 'experts' are so taken with their own genius that they were not willing to listen to people who, when it came to Stringybark Creek, actually WERE experts. They should have consulted Ian MacFarlane and Bill Denheld and the CSI team, Doug Morrisey and Grantlee Kieza. These are people who have spent years and years up there, they know every stream and rock and mine shaft like the backs of their hands, they have thought about all the possible sites for the shoot out, and argued amongst themselves for years - but these Lawless 'experts' rocked up, did a two week tour, made a few clever props, launched their drone for a fly over, filmed a fireplace and shot through. What a shame they didn't have the decency to show respect to the actual SBC experts -  have the humility to let them speak, to listen to their arguments and their insights, to put aside their own need to be centre stage and thereby make a much better documentary. The only recognised Kelly authority mentioned in  the credits is the inevitable Ian Jones. As a result it seems what they've done is please almost nobody who knows anything at all about the place, and fool everyone else with their false claims to have made all sorts of sensational discoveries with their fancy gadgets.

These documentary makers have not identified the site of the Police murders. They didn't quite solve the mystery of Lonigans wounds. They did however graphically remind everyone who watched it that Ned Kelly was indeed "a clear eyed killer". That at least is a step in the right direction. 

Friday 20 October 2017

The CSI Team gets Lonigans murder all wrong too..

In last weeks post I discussed the announcement made by the CSI team that they were releasing an updated version of their 2012 Report which purported to have identified the site at which Ned Kelly murdered three policemen in October 1878. In their announcement they claimed their site “has now been examined by Heritage Victoria” and in the Updated Report itself there are photos that they say show an area of bush ‘cleared by Heritage Victoria’. In last week’s post I exposed these claims as untruthful, because in answer to my request for more information about these site visits, an archaeologist at Heritage Victoria said “There has been no formal inspection of this site undertaken by this office”.

I hoped that this updated 2017 version might contain their responses to the criticisms I and many others had made of their original Report but sadly it doesn’t. The “Updated” report is just the old report with the addition of the photographs of the place they wrongly claim was ‘cleared by Heritage Victoria’, and two more Appendices that like all the others, are irrelevant – one is about a bullet found in the area and another about the killing of Lonigan. 

I was drawn to their ‘analysis of the shooting of Constable Lonigan’, a contentious topic I’ve written about extensively on this Blog. The reason this murder is particularly contentious is because Ned Kelly claimed he killed Lonigan in self-defence, and should not have been found guilty of his murder. He claimed Lonigan should have ‘bailed up’ as ordered, like McIntyre did, but instead he ran behind ‘a battery of logs’ removed his revolver from its pouch and rose to take aim at Ned Kelly. Kelly claimed that he fired a single shot in self-defence, a shot which went through Lonigans right eye, into his brain and killed him almost immediately. However at the subsequent autopsy Neds claims were thrown into serious doubt because in addition to the expected gunshot wound to the right eye, Lonigan had at least three other wounds: one was a graze to the right temple, another bullet went through his LEFT arm and one went into his LEFT thigh. To add to the puzzle, Dr Reynolds found that all wounds had been created before death. Uncovering the truth about Lonigans death thus became a contentious and challenging puzzle. The pieces of the puzzle that have to be fitted together are the pattern of bullet wounds to Lonigans body, a single shot, no post-mortem bullet wounds, the conflicting accounts of McIntyre and Kelly, and Reynolds recollection, given at the Royal Commission two years later that the projectile he extracted from Lonigan’s left thigh was “an ordinary revolver bullet”.

There are a few things about the CSI analysis of Lonigan’s death that I like – that’s because they are observations, ideas  and suggestions that they have copied from this Blog in posts that I made about Lonigan’s murder over a year ago.  The first of these is their realisation that Ned Kelly didn’t tell the truth about what happened. They describe two commonly repeated descriptions of how Lonigan died, one of which is Ned Kelly’s version and say “The CSI team found that on the evidence, neither of the above reconstructs reflects with accuracy the actual circumstances”. They wouldn’t dare risk alienating their supporters by saying it plainly, but here they are agreeing with me that Ned Kelly’s version of what happened was lies. 

Secondly, their scenario has Lonigan being shot while out in the open, which is what I have been saying all along. This acknowledgement also implies they regard Ned’s claim that Lonigan rose up from behind ‘a battery of logs’ to be a lie.

Thirdly they write “For the wounds to have been inflicted by the single shot, the carbines charge would need to have consisted of multiple projectiles” This again is what I have been pointing out on this Blog for over a year, and in 2016, I posted a crude diagram of how the multiple projectiles, variously postulated to be a quartered bullet  or ‘swan drops’ might have spread out and impacted different parts of Lonigans body all at once. Subsequently Bill Denheld produced a much more artistic version of that diagram, and now, in 2017 the CSI team have produced their own version of this same diagram. Needless to say, the CSI team doesn’t acknowledge my insights, or admit they’ve borrowed my ideas anywhere but I think they ought to. 

The CSI teams Birdseye view of what they think happened to Lonigan :
shot from behind after he turned and ran.  Nice try but it doesn't explain how he ended up with a bullet in the LEFT thigh and was found on his back.
The rest of their scenario is wrong, and their ‘birds eye view’ of Lonigan being shot is a mess, as is illustrated in their image above. It shows Lonigan running away from the gang, his head turned to the right and a volley of projectiles arriving at Lonigan from behind and to his right. The bullet causing the ‘right temple graze’ is shown tracking across his forehead; the track of the bullet that according to Reynolds passed through ‘the bone of the orbit and drove portions of it into the brain’ is drawn in a trajectory that would completely miss the ‘bone of the orbit’ and the brain altogether. 

Notice also that there is no track for the bullet that went into the left thigh. This is because in their drawing the bullets approach Lonigan from his right side, but as everyone knows a bullet entered his left thigh from the left side. To explain this last fact the  CSI team are forced into recycling Ian Jones’ theory from years before, that the left thigh wound was created in a seperate incident an hour or more later, during the gunfight between the gang and Kennedy. Ian Jones and the CSI team propose that Kennedy, shooting back at the four Gang members as he fled, missed all of them every time but managed to hit his fallen comrade’s corpse collapsed in the grass! What are the odds? Buckley’s or none? The CSI team are going to have to dream up a better explanation than Jones ridiculous idea.

Actually, this suggestion by Jones and the CSI team, along with the one that the gang all fired a bullet into Lonigan’s dead body in some kind of gruesome bonding ritual can all be confidently rejected: Dr Samuel Reynolds autopsy showed that ALL the wounds were inflicted BEFORE death. If other bullets had hit him later on, long after he had died, Reynolds would have recognised them as having been fired into a dead body. He didn’t find any. There were none. 

The CSI teams obvious mistake is to have accepted McIntyre’s account of what he thought happened behind his back when Lonigan was shot. He guessed that Lonigan turned and ran, but was struck in the right eye when he looked back over his shoulder. By the time McIntyre turned to see what had happened Lonigan was on the ground, as good as dead. But McIntyre’s description wasn't a lie but a guess - he didn’t see exactly what happened. The key to realising that McIntyre guessed wrong is in the pattern of the bullets that hit Lonigan.

Here is the scenario that works the best, and fits the pieces of the puzzle together with the least need to accept ridiculous improbabilities. Its the one I described on this Blog over a year ago, and it has now been brilliantly illustrated in the drawing by Bill Denheld at the top of the post.  When you look at that drawing it all looks so obvious, it makes perfect sense.

This reconstruction requires first of all an understanding of exactly where everyone was when the gang emerged from the spear grass. When the gang appeared they were behind McIntyre and to Lonigans  front in a line going from right to left.  On the cry of “Bail up” McIntyre turned to face the gang, meaning that he could no longer see Lonigan who was now behind him to his left.  When Lonigan looked up he may have been almost facing the person at one end of the line but would have looked along the line of gang members and across to his left to see the man at the other end, Ned Kelly. Lonigan DIDN’T turn and run when ordered to bail up -  instead he kept his eye on the gang and took a few steps backwards. This is a much more natural response to such a threat, to back off and keep your eyes on the intruders, than turning your back on them and making a run for it. So, Lonigan took a few steps back, perhaps turning a little to his right looking for cover-  exposing even more of his left side to Kellys gun and his head turned to the left to see the line of four gang members emerging from the tall grass. Within a few seconds, Ned shot him with a charge of swan-drops or a quartered bullet: one went by his right eye on an angle and into his brain – as Reynolds described - one went through his left arm, another into his left thigh, and a fourth grazed his right temple. One shot. All wounds created simultaneously.  Lonigan was found where he fell, on his back which fits this scenario perfectly. If he had been running away and looking back when shot from behind as the CSI team  have illustrated, he would have fallen forward onto his face. 

Bill Denheld has kindly also drawn an alternative close-up ‘birds-eye’ view to illustrate the scenario that best fits the evidence: all bullets arrive at once, from off to Lonigan’s left, one in the left thigh, another through the left arm, one into the right eye and a graze to the right temple - and no need for ridiculous theories about the corpse being accidentally hit, or used for target practice by the Gang much later. 

One last minor difficulty remains. Reynolds said the bullet in Lonigan’s thigh was ‘an ordinary revolver bullet’, not a fragment of a 'quartered bullet' or a 'swan drop'.  How can this be explained? Well, because only one shot was fired, the wound in Lonigans thigh could only have happened at that time, along with the others, and therefore Reynolds description of the fragment as an 'ordinary revolver bullet' must have been an error.  In his original Autopsy report he described all Lonigans wounds as ‘bullet’ wounds, but made no special mention of extracting the ‘revolver bullet’ from Lonigans thigh.  It wasn't until two years later, at the Royal Commission that  Reynolds described that bullet as a revolver bullet. However he did specifically mention finding and extracting a ‘bullet’ in the report he wrote of the autopsy he performed on Scanlan. Its easy to imagine him mixing things up a couple of years later, or even wrongly identifying the projectile from the very beginning. He was a trained and experienced doctor not an arms dealer.

This scenario fits every known fact far more readily than any other reconstruction I’ve ever heard of. The CSI teams attempt to account for how Lonigan died is close only because they used the arguments advanced by me on this Blog a long time ago: they correctly recognised that Ned Kelly lied, that Lonigan had to have been hit by multiple projectiles all at once, and was shot out in the open. Where they went wrong was in accepting the guesswork of McIntyre about exactly what Lonigan did the moment he was ordered to ‘Bail up’, that he turned his back on the gang and made a run for it. The pattern of his wounds shows that’s not what he did - his left side was turned towards the gang, and with his head also turned to the left his right eye was exposed to Ned Kelly’s rifle out to Lonigan’s right. Look again at Bills great illustration of the ambush - it all makes sense at last!

Friday 13 October 2017

The Updated CSI@SBC Report : $50 wasted!

Five years ago, in 2012 , a team of four amateur historians issued a report describing how they tried to work out exactly where the Kelly gang murdered the Policemen at Stringybark Creek. The Report was called “CSI@SBC”, but the central arguments of their case were fatally flawed, as I showed in my review of the report HERE. 

The CSI team have recently released an updated version of this original Report. This is how they announced it on a Members Only Internet forum a few weeks ago:

An updated report (ISBN: 978-0-9873615-2-3) will be released August 20. This report has further information reviewed and evaluated since the release of the CSI team's 2012 report.
This updated report includes:
* determining the location of the body of Sergeant Kennedy in relation to the police camp site determined by the team.
* an analysis of the shooting of Constable Lonigan.
* The location of the remains of a hut near to the police camp site - described in paragraphs 5.13, and 7.17 of the 2012 report, to which the team ascribes the strong possibility that this is the shingle hut referred to by Ned has now been examined by Heritage Victoria representatives this year.
* Photographs taken by the team since that examination are included in this update report.
* The serendipitous finding of a Spencer rifle bullet to the south of the police camp site determined by the team is also discussed and its location analysed relative to the police camp site.

Since the release of the 2012 report the team has not engaged in debate with those who post their comments and often uninformed views in various sites on the internet.
The Team has allowed the appropriate authorities to undertake an examination of the team's work and the claim of having determined the correct location for the site of the police camp at Stringybark Creek.

The team's conclusions and recommendations made in the original report are as valid today as they were in 2012.

There are a number of thing about this announcement that are worth commenting on. Firstly their refusal to engage in debate ‘with those who post their comments and often uninformed views in various sites on the internet’ confirms what I’ve said before about these people, that they are pseudo-scientists. A hallmark of real scientists is that they welcome and participate in discussions about the validity or otherwise of their findings.  But my open critiques of their work went unchallenged – are they too afraid to defend them? Their silence speaks volumes.

Secondly, what happened to Lonigan and Kennedy are interesting but how and where they died has nothing to do with the aim of the CSI teams research which was supposed to be to ‘determine the true location of the camp site at Stringybark Creek’ (changed from ‘establish the authentic location’ in the 2012 Report). As I showed in my critiques of the first version of this Report, it already contains a lot of irrelevant material that has nothing to do with the stated aim of the investigation. I called it 'padding'. So the question has to be asked : what is the point of adding even more  irrelevant material to the Report?  Are they trying to promote themselves as authorities on everything to do with SBC, and thereby gain some sorely needed legitimacy for their original Report? Do they think that by bulking up the Report it looks more impressive because it has more pages? I think its time these amateurs explained what the purpose of all this padding is.

Thirdly, I thought it curious that they announced that what the CSI team believes is the remains of a hut “has now been examined by Heritage Victoria representatives this year” but they don’t say what Heritage Victoria concluded about it. This statement is repeated in the Report itself, accompanying some photos of 'two rock piles' and photos of an area 'cleared by Heritage Victoria' . Elsewhere they say somewhat cryptically that ‘The Team has allowed the appropriate authorities to undertake an examination of the team's work and the claim of having determined the correct location for the site of the police camp at Stringybark Creek’ but again, don’t say what these un-named ‘appropriate authorities’ concluded.  As for saying they 'allowed' these authorities to undertake an examination of their site - what the hell are they talking about? Its not THEIR site, they don't own Stringybark Creek, and they don't have any control over any part of it. They're delusional to think they 'allowed' anyone to examine their site, as if they could have refused them permission to do so if they had wanted to. Its all very silly, this cloak-and-dagger, secret-squirrel kind of stuff, exposing a near  paranoid desire to play their cards close to their chest, to hint at things rather than state them directly. Its clear however they want to create an impression that they ‘allowed’ the appropriate authorities to visit and examine their site, and by not saying anything else hope that people will draw the conclusion that in some way their site was legitimated by this visit. 

I decided to write to Heritage Victoria to see what they had to say about their visit and examination of the CSI site. This is what I wrote:

Dear Sir
I have before me a publication titled "CSI@SBC : Update July 2017"
It’s a privately published document that purports to have identified the site of the Police camp at Stringybark Creek in the Toombullup Ranges, the place were Ned Kelly murdered three policemen in 1878.

The authors state on page  94 "In 2017 the site of the remains of a hut described in paragraphs 5.13 and 7.17 of this Report has now been examined by Heritage Victoria representatives" I’ve not been able to find any reference to this site visit anywhere on your Web pages, but would like to know some detail about which of your representatives made the site visit and examination, and what their conclusions were. I expect a Report of some kind would be made of this inspection, so if it was available, I would be most interested in receiving a copy

Many thanks for our assistance

Their reply stunned me, and exposes the CSI teams claims to be false:

Good morning Dee,

There has been no formal inspection of this site undertaken by this office.
We have briefly visited the Stringybark Creek Site approximately twice this year, but did not undertake any archaeological survey. Both visits were opportunistic as we were in the area to visit other heritage properties.

This year there were some limited archaeological investigation within the area of registration.
The excavation was not undertaken by Heritage Victoria staff members. A report on the findings of this excavation will be made publically available when it is submitted. This report is not yet due and I am not aware of what the conclusions are, as the analysis is still ongoing.
I am happy to distribute a copy to you when it is submitted to us.

We did visit the site briefly during the excavation, but again this was not a formal inspection.

Kind regards,

(name withheld) 

Shall I spell it out? The CSI teams claim that their site ‘has now been examined by Heritage Victoria” is at best a deliberate misrepresentation of the truth, at worst an outright lie. It didn’t happen. Two ‘brief’ ‘opportunistic’ visits are a very far cry from the impression the CSI Team are trying to create with their tricky use of words. This is a disgraceful way to behave. Their credibility has sunk to a new desperate low.

The 'limited archaeological investigation' mentioned by Heritage Victoria in their letter to me, I suspect was something carried out by Adam Ford as part of the forthcoming "Lawless" documentary which lists him as the production teams archaeologist. We will all find out later this month when the episode about Ned Kelly goes to air on Foxtel. However if the Documentary mentions the CSI rock pile at all, except to say theres no possibility it marks the site of the Police camp I will be stunned. For one thing, in 1878 the fireplaces were so close to the campsite they can be seen in the 1878 Burman photos of the site, yet the CSI stones are over a hundred yards away from the CSI teams nominated campsite. At Bill Denhelds two huts site, the substantial remains of fireplaces and huts are  exactly where you would expect to find them - within a few yards of the place where the police pitched their tent, a place they said was 'near'  a ruined hut. A few yards is 'near' - over a hundred yards away, through the bush is NOT 'near'. This claim sits alongside the many other ridiculous claims made by the CSI team, such as that two irregular and dissimilar blobs on tree trunks seen in photos taken many years apart are the same blob, and that the professional photographer Burman, in recreating the scene for his photos got it all  completely wrong. The fact he had been advised by Monk, who saw the dead bodies and was told directly by McIntyre exactly what happened and where makes this possibility, that Burman completely messed up, exceedingly unlikely. A case that rests on so many ridiculously unlikely propositions is no case at all.  And now they are trying to boost it by misrepresenting Heritage Victoria. 

Somehow I doubt that even NOW the CSI team will condescend to engage in debate ‘with those who post their comments and often uninformed views in various sites on the internet’  but with Heritage Victoria’s  confirmation that their claim is nonsense, they owe everyone a very comprehensive explanation.