31 August 1911
THE BATTLE GROUND
GLENROWAN AS IT IS TO-DAY STILL
THRONGED WITH RELICS OF THE TRAGEDY
A MEMORY THAT NEVER DIES
More than 30 years have rolled down the memories of the sanguinary and tragic encounter at Jones's Hotel, when the Kelly bushrangers were at last brought to bay and given their quiet us. But the remembrance of that thrilling encounter is still fresh in the neighborhood. No amount of trolling can obliterate it. Like lawn grass, the more it is cut the faster it grows. The whole township is clustered, thickly with grim relics of the battle of Jones's Hotel. Bullet marks are everywhere. And new relics-fresh pegs for the hanging on of lately invented incidents-are being found every day. There is no end of them. And neither is there any end to the lively interest that they continue to evoke. It is as though the whole tragedy were a thing of yesterday or last week. The very children whose parents were but children when the grim events actually happened are perfectly familiar with the details of the battle. They know where all the bullet-holes extant are to be found. And they are continually finding others.
The township of Glenrowan and the whole district are to-day as strongly permeated with living interest in the exciting history and final destruction of the bushrangers as they were 30 tears ago. It is an interest that never wanes- an interest that bids fairs to go on living for ever. Over the firesides, on winter evenings, people listen to the winds howling in the lofty ranges, and talk of the wild happenings there in "the days of the Kellys." Children play bushrangers as other youngsters amuse themselves at cricket, hide and seek, or marbles-and quarrel for the leading parts. The most commonplace conversation between friends induced by a casual passing of the time of day will probably, before it is finished drift into the constant subject of the great local tragedy. There is scarcely anything about the place that does not suggest it. On the occasion when driving outside Glenrowan our guide and John turned aside amidst a discussion on the hearing qualities of the soil, to point out a tree which he said had bullet marks on it. He was not sure whether the marks were caused by the rifle fire at Glenrowan on the night of the capture, or by the bushrangers practicing with their pistols. But the holes were there all right. So we went to see them.
NEW BULLET HOLES
The tree was a huge one, with clean barrel. And the holes were plainly to be seen. But as the tree was three miles from the site of Jones's Hotel, and as there was a weapon used there that was capable of carrying a bullet half the distance, that story was dismissed as unlikely. The suggestion of the holes being caused by pistol practice on the part of outlaws fell through as the result of close inspection. Because they were unmistakably grub holes, of cent boring. But the driver stoutly persisted that the outlaws had riddled most of the trees along that road-for practice as they rode along. Also he could not be persuaded to talk of aught but the Kellys and their exploits for the rest of the drive. That is the way it is down there. The subject holds such a fascinating interest that once a conversation wanders into it that conversation becomes absorbed with it.
The driver also pointed out various places of interest-places where stolen horses had been lost-or found-and where other gear, best left for the most part, had gone upon the march without orders.
"And mark my words," he remarked, as he pulled the pony up on the edge of a breakaway just this side of Kingdom Come, "there's more though here yet. This country's full of people, that thinks the other fellow's only belongs to him by accident. And most of the young fellows carries a gun. Out she comes, first thing, in a row. No; I don't know of anyone being shot lately. But there's likely to be."
"Then the people, in your opinion, can never forget the events that have made this place celebrated?"
"Never; nor those that come after them, either. The place itself'll disappear, first."
Glenrowan has made but small progress in the 30 years. It consists to-day of less than 30 dwellings. There are a couple of stores of a general character, but for the most part the necessities of the people are served from the larger towns along the railway. It is a very pretty place-even in the wet. The situation, with the towering heights of Morgan's look-out in the background, is an extremely attractive one. But the memory of the grim tragedy of that winter's night, so long ago, hangs over everything like a pall, making the sunshine appear less bright, the gloom of grey skies and mists more intense and depressing.
Most of the old landmarks are still above ground.
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