Meet the people of the KellyGang story
In late 1876 Ned Kelly left the sawmill with Saunders and Rule and went bush with his brother Dan and his father in law George King. Other members of the Greta Mob such as the Lloyd boys and Joe Byrne and Aaron Sherritt rode with with them. Horses were as irrestistable to young men as fast cars are today. This group took matters further and they seemed to live on cattle and horse stealing. During this time they had a run in with the influential squatter James Whitty. They stole some of his best animals.
At about this time they tried to get Joe Byrne's friend Aaron
Sherritt to join but he declined the invitation (RC13157)
By April 1878 the police had had some successes against the locals and many of the Kellly's friends were already in goal.
In a real way the story of the KellyGang
started at about 6 pm on the 15/4/1878 when Constable Fitzpatrick
came to the Kelly home to
arrest Dan Kelly on a charge
of stealing horses from a squatter called Whitty.
Dan agreed to be arrested by Fitzpatrick but wanted dinner first. Fitzpatrick
alleged that Ned Kelly came
in and shot him in the wrist.
Mrs Kelly Skillion and Williamson were charged with the attempted murder of Fitzpatrick and sent to goal. It is thought that Joe Byrne was at the Kelly home and that Skillion was wrongly identified by Fitzpatrick.
The members of the KellyGang had individualy had run ins with the police before but they were enraged by the thought of Ned and Dan's mother, Mrs Kelly being imprisoned so soon after the birth of her last daughter Alice. The boys refused to be arrested and they started a life in the bush with the police in pursuit.
Soon after the attempted shooting of Fitzpatrick, the KellyGang took the same horses that they had used that morning and a pack horse, and went up towards the place where the murders were committed, having previously been there with other people who were evading justice. (RC15529)
Did we really want to take a lady'd horse (Argus3/6/78)
Did we try and leave Australia on the Storm Boy? (BWC).
After the Fitzpatrick incident the KellyGang went off to a place in the mountains at Bullocky Creek where some of them had been before. Soon Ned and Dan Kelly and Joe Byrne were joined by their cousin Tom Loyd and Steve Hart who had just left Beechworth Goal.
Graves told the Royal Commission, ' For a series of years from Power's time they had a regular well-beaten track from Mansfield to cross, which was only used by themselves. A week hardly elapsed that I did not find in my paddocks (at Emu) either one of my horses ridden, or one of theirs left there and one of mine taken. The KellyGang had always relays of horses at those back country places, as you are not allowed to impound horses if they belong to neighbors, and there they would remain till they would come for them. They were always on the beaten track backwards and forwards to Mansfield.' (RC15554)
The boys found some small quantities of alluvial on German's Creek. The panned and sluced and sunk shafts along the line of the local creek. To suppliment this income and raise money for the defence of Mrs Kelly and the others they also set up 2 whiskey stills and planted crops on 20 acres which they cleared. The boys also peppered the local trees as they practiced their shooting skills. Occasionally Joe Byrne would go off to Mansfield where he was not known and other friends would come up and help with the work around the camp.
On 25 October
Ned Kelly had been to Table Top and the Bogs and Emu
Swamp and on his way back to Bullock
Creek he came cross the tracks of a police party.
One of the police fired at some parrots during the afternoon of Saturday 26/10 so the KellyGang knew that other people were in the area. They were camped on Stringybark Creek less a mile and a half south east from our camp on Kellys Creek. This is what we had to say in the Cameron Letter:
'....found police camped at the Shingle Hut with long fire arms and we came to the conclusion our doom was sealed unless we could take their fire-arms, as we had nothing but a gun and a rifle if they came on us at our work or camp. We had no chance only to die like dogs as we thought the country was woven with police and we might have a chance of fighting them if we had firearms, as it generally takes 40 to one.'.
The rest of the story of this incident is really the story of what happened at Stringy Bark Creek.
Tom Lloyd met us in the
Wombat Ranges after the murders. We decided to make over the Murray into New
South Wales to rob the bank at Howlong.
We then went home to Greta for a short visit. On the Sunday 27/10/1878
we visited William Tanner
near Greta. He gave us a meal and a change of clothes. Then we travelled through
Oxley with 2 pack horses that
night. We then dropped into the Pioneer Bridge
Hotel on the Ovens River
were one of the boys bought a bottle of brandy before the night was over.
We also bought several boxes of sardines and some horse feed in Everton
on the other side of the Ovens River. We then rode off in the direction of
See also (JJK) (Argus6/11/78)
By the night of 29/10/1878 we had made the Murray Flats, west of Wodonga.
On 30/10/1878 Parliament
passed the Felons
Apprehension Act. That turned us into outlaws.
See text of the warrant they issued (CHC)
The police now had authority to shoot us on sight. They did not need an act of Parliament to do that. We spent the day looking for a good place to cross the River Murray and we travelled further and further west. It had been raining all the way from Stringybark Creek. The punt at Bungowannah was under water and it could not take us any where. We then visited William Baumgarten's family home and then spent the night in the nearby logoon in the rain. He was in goal. The River was in flood; instead of crossing we nearly drowned. The police were all around the place. (RC54) (CHC) (Argus4/11/78)
The morning of 31/10/1878 blurred into the previous day as we desperately fought to ellude capture and to just stay awake and together
At last we got of the swamps and by the 2/11/1878 we made our way to the
Sherritt's. We then headed
off for Wangaratta and were seen
by Mrs Delaney as we
went under the railway bridge in the early morning of 3/11/1878. (RC17310)
We then went into the Wombat Ranges. We stayed there for a while. We were helped by our cousin Joe Ryan.
On 6/11/1878 the police say we were cited near Sebastopol and this led to the police 'event' called the Sebastopol cavalcade. At the other end of our world, Const Johnson picked up our tracks from Joe Ryan's stockyards on 8/11/78 where we had been a day or so before. We dropped in there to see our friends and get some food. Const Johnson and his party followed us from Joe Ryan's to the Warby Ranges where they lost us. (RC12365) But on 9/11/1878 Const Johnson's search party followed our tracks to the summit of the Warby Range immediately over the orange grove at Brien's place, where we had camped a few nights before. (RC12399).
At about this time the police found the police pack horse we had taken from Stringy Bark Creek. (RC5756)
That night we might have been the three men who met the train at Glenrowan (RC12465) On 10/11/78 Const Johnson's search party followed our tracks for about 15 miles on Taminick Station (RC12460) (RC17283)
The last public sighting of us was as we crossed the railway lines in Glenrowan heading for Greta on 11/11/1878. (Argus14/11/78) (Argus15/11/78)
Under the Felons Apprehension Act the next day was the last day we had to give ourselves up. When the Governor Sir George Fergusion Bowen signed the proclamation on 15/11/1878 we could be shot on sight and anyone who helped us put in goal. We took up residence at Emu Station, just south from Mother's home.
Up to this time the police had only identified Ned Kelly and Dan Kelly. Some thought the the other two might be William King of Greta, and Charles Brown, of King River. Their names appeared on some wanted posters. (CHC)
After a month or so away from the police we decided to get some money. As we sat in our camp and looked at the country the local banks looked very good. Many of friends were in hock to the National Bank and other banks. These thoughts came together in a plan for Euroa. It took a lot of work to bring all the things together. Ned and Joe in particular loved planning these projects. Our plans were confirmed after Joe Byrne's visit to Euroa on 8/12
We headed off to Faithfull's Creek Station on the afternoon of 9/12/78. There we first met the Fitzgerald and Mrs Fitzgerald in stead of the manager Mr McCauley. They have given a good account of our first meeting. We then took all those who came to the station into custody including Mr Casement and his party and Mr Gloster, the hawker.
On the afternoon of 11/12/78 Ned and Dan Kelly and Steve Hart went into Euroa and robbed the bank. Mr Gloster's wagon and the new clothes provided good cover against detection from the good people of Euroa. We returned with Mr Scott and his family. Euroa and Mr Scott give a good account as to what happened and what we did. See also (Argus12/12/78) (JJK)
Soon after we arrived back at Faithfull's Creek Station we had the ladies
locked in the homestead and all the rest except Mr McCauley
locked in the out buildings. Ned Kelly then told Mr McCauley that he should
wait for at least 3 hours before he let the people out or sort any assistance.
Of course we had our friends amongst the captives.
See also (SMH12/12/78) (CHC)
We left in the direction of Violet Town at about 8pm. The police followed. They crossed the line and re crossed the line, and got on the road running to the Murchison road, to the Strathbogie side of Euroa. They then turned down towards Euroa. Then on to the spur that ran down from the Strathbogie range right down into the road, and the main road was a mile from it, and the paddock rail ran right into this part, leaving the face of the spur the boundary of the road. The tracks led to an open space on the right hand side, and then going towards the gate leading into a paddock alongside the railway. In the centre of the paddock these traces were lost. All this time the police were in sight of Euroa
We recieved some very bad press (Argus16/12/78)
On Wednesday 12/2/1879 Dan Kelly came to Mrs Byrne's place to see what had happened to the other members of the KellyGang . It seems that they had split up after Jerilderie and some of them had missed a meeting. Det Ward found out about this meeting. .(RC1276)
See also (Argus12/2/79)
In about mid April Sup Hare thought he was on to us in the Warby Ranges. What were we doing with the rocks on the top pf the hills?(RC1290)
The Royal Commission asked Standish, speaking of the period from the Euroa robbery until June 1879 while Standish and Hare were in command, "Did you ever come within sight of the Kellys?" Standish had to answer, "No." (RC15979)
Some chaps were working our gold in the Wombat Ranges, German Creek.(Argus8/4/79)
Where we in the Puzzel Ranges (Argus6/6/79)
During this period there was great speculation as to what we were doing. The banks were protected behind the Army and we were always subject to being found by the trackers. Some saw us as living the high life in some other part of Australia. The reality was less romantic. We were supported by our sisters, Maggie and Kate in the country near home. They did a lot of cooking and baked us great bread so that we did not need to light a fire. They also risked their lives and the future of our young brothers and sisters as they rode through the police who tried to follow. We stayed around the place. See also (Argus6/8/80)
Graves believed that the principal time that the we were out we kept in the immediate neighborhood between Greta and Moyhu. Either at Glenmore Station, or on the Hedi Station. There were always strange horses whenever he went up, or marks of strange horse in paddocks. It was his impression that they were in the district the whole time. (RC15507)
The KellyGang used a small two-roomed weatherboard building in the middle of the swamp.(BWC)
During a search party with Hare, Faulkiner Canny and Lawless, they found three or four saddles hanging up at a place near the Lloyd's home that had been recently used. Faulkiner noticed they had surcingles made by a saddler at Wangaratta. The person who occupied the place was a man with one hand, a bachelor.. When we were captured, and the horses and saddles brought to Benalla, Const Faulkiner identified those saddles as the ones he had seen.(RC5327)
Sympathizers left newspapers around the place for us to keep up to date (FH)
Joe's mother also gave us wonderful support. We had a way over the old gold workings to her place which meant that we could get there without being seen by the police.
While this support was great we could not live off our families all the time. There are reports that we had gone back to the old business of gold mining up in the area near the intersection of the roads linking Beechworth, Chiltern, Kiewa and Yackandandah. We were also reported to have visited people around Chiltern and at various other places.
We were apparently seen at Richardson's shanty, on the Chiltern
and Wodonga road in mid August.
At about that time there were reports that we decided not try the Oxley bank as there is too many police there- two troopers every morning when the bank opens; and another drawback, the ground is too soft. We were are not going to do anything until the ground gets harder; they are frightened of the 'black boys'. (RC14791)
By late 79 there was a lot of pressure on us. We read of the fate of the bank robbers at Lancefield (Argus16/8/79), the incident with Const Monks (Argus4/10/79), and the end of Captain Moonlite (Argus19/11/79). we read about these events and they all increased the pressure we were under. Money had been taken out of the counrty banks and sent to Melbourne and of course the trackers were a constant threat for us to deal with. See (Argus28/11/79)
We were in the north east (Argus12/11/79)
We were blamed for everything (Argus19/11/79)
The Royal Commission found that in the autumn of 1880 we were usually in the vicinity of the Greta Swamp, from which we moved back to the ranges, get across the Ovens River towards Sebastopol, and from thence to the Pilot Range, near Wodonga. They also said that we were obliged to travel on foot, and their immediate assistants were reduced to four. (RC2ndreportXIII) See also (BWC)
In early March Wilson
found some hobbles with some sort of a cloth that still had some provisions
in. in a high bank of ferns in Patterson's paddock on Kilfera
which is right next to Tom
Lloyd's place. There were also some newspapers and sadine tins. He thought
that he had found our camp. (RC4469)
There was a big bush of ferns in the side of the creek, and there were logs and very high ferns. (RC4513)
On 17/5/1880 Det Ward a report from Mrs. Sherritt? stating that Mrs. Byrne had written to - , a girl of about seventeen, a daughter of Mrs. -, who has been my agent right through the time of the cave party in communicating with Mrs.-, going to her house and bringing the news back to me. The letter from Mrs. Byrne said she wanted to see -, the business was to know if we (meaning Dan or Joe) would call, to be careful not to let us stay long, as she believed that Aaron was working for the police; that we called about a week previous, near Chiltern, at "Lord Byron's"; that we were miserable and ragged, and in want of food, and we took a lot of food from "Byron's" with us. (RC13858)
See how we moved about the country. (RC758)
Location of our camp site was in Wilson's paddock or in some gully between the Greta Swamp, Mrs. Skillian's, and Tom Lloyd's, or the Quarryhole (RC762)
We had a tent about four feet high with them to cover them in bad weather. (RC773)
One of Mrs Sherritt daughters saw us on one of their visits to Mrs Byrne's place to get some supplies about a month or so before Aaron's death. This is what Mrs Sherritt told the Royal Commission about what her daughter saw
'..and who should come up but Joe Byrne, leading a horse, and Dan Kelly. Each of them was leading one and riding another. Mrs. Byrne then came out-there was a whistle-it is a very thick scrubby place, and after a little bit Ned Kelly and Hart came on foot, from the back of the place like, and those two came up the front of the house like, so, and got their provisions. There was some bread and I think it was boiled bacon, and then Patsy Byrne went up the Woolshed and he brought down something in a bottle and gave it to them, and Patsy -Joe Byrne's brother-said, "Which way did you come?" and Joe says, "The way we always come. We came down the steepest part of Wall's Gully."'(RC13207)
Soon before he died Aaron Sherritt told one of the police that we were in the ranges between the Rose River and Gippsland, and there was a fifth man, unknown to the police, supplying us with provisions. We may come round near his place once in three months, or we may not come. He also said that he have seen or known nothing of us since we passed on the way to Jerilderie. He was talking to Joe Byrne and Steve Hart then. Did we ever trust him after he refused to with us go to Jerilderie. (RC12200)
By this time we had to decide whether we would just fade away or not (JJK)
The Big Plan
The Royal Commission summarised our plan and what happened. Their report opens with the following:-
"The murder of Aaron Sherritt was designed as the prelude to the terrible tragedy by means of which the outlaws intended, as they had previously boasted, to astonish not only the Australian colonies but the whole world. It seems manifest that they had carefully thought out and matured their plan of operations. They proposed in the first place to shoot Aaron Sherritt. By this they rightly conjectured that they would, not only have wreaked their vengeance upon one who had betrayed them to the police, but would induce the authorities to despatch on the following day - Sunday - when there was no ordinary traffic on the line, a special train to Beechworth with the Queensland trackers and a large body of police. Next, it was determined to wreck this special train, and shoot any constable who might escape the effects of the disaster. Finally, the coast having been thus cleared, the gang were to proceed at once to Benalla or one of the townships in the district, rob one of the banks, and with the spoil retrace their steps to their previous haunts in the ranges. By one of those unforeseen accidents which often defeat the best laid schemes, execution of the latter portion of their programme was frustrated, and their career suddenly brought to a close. " (RC2ndreport)
Death of Aaron Sherritt
Joe Byrne and Dan Kelly went to see Aaron Sherritt at about 6.30pm on 26/6/1880. Joe can perhaps best tell this story. See also (FH) (JJK)
How big was the KellyGang at this time? Extra members (RC12163)
Arrival at Glenrowan
Ned Kelly and Steve Hart arrived in Glenrowan at about 10pm on 26/6/1880. The first task was to break up the railway line.(Argus29/6/80) (JJK)
At about 3am on 27/6/1880 we, that is Ned Kelly and and Steve Hart woke up Mr Stanistreet the station master. We wanted to take up part of the railway line.
We started taking people into Mrs
Jone's Glenrowan Inn on the morning of 27/6/1880
Mrs Jones daughter had to cook breakfast for us (BWC)
Three of the KellyGang-Ned, Dan, and Byrne danced, and Mrs. Jones and her daughter, and three or four others. (RC7624)
Mrs Jones thinks we were drunk (BWC)
The siege in Jones's Inn
We started to put our armour on when we heard the train arrive. See also (BWC)
We were ready for the police on the verandah of Jones's Inn. Many say we fired the first shot. (RC11578)
"Come on, you dogs; you cannot hurt us."(RC8087) See also (Argus29/6/80) (Age) (RC10311) (FH)
Const Gascoigne said, 'I then saw the flash of a rifle. The man who fired the first shot was standing about 10 yards" from the corner of the hotel. The report of his rifle had not died away when I saw a row of flashes come from under the verandah of the hotel; the police quickly returned the fire. ... The moon at this time was shining from the back of the hotel, and full on the police, the outlaws being in the dark shade, under the verandah. (RC9674)
By about 6.30am the police knew that we had armour on. They also decided to shoot our horses to prevent any escape. (RC9428)
The capture of Ned Kelly
When Ned Kelly was captured we fired shots at the police. In fact the shots stripped the leaves off the bush close to where the police were assisting Ned over the railway fence. (RC10369)
From the Wangarratta side of Glenrowan our supporters fired a final salute at about 8am (DailyTelegraph29/6/80)
Occasionally people could see the flash of a gun from the hotel, and it was generally followed by two or three shots from the police. The police fired about three shots for every shot fired by us. We had taken up a position in a room at the back of the Inn, from the door of which we fired through the windows-that is some considerable distance from the windows. (RC10374)
Death and burning of Jones's Inn
See Steve Hart for details of the burning of Jones's Inn.
On 29/6/80 Det Ward discovered five of our horses stabled at McDonnell's Railway Hotel. The police found where all the horses came from and the owners were listed. (Argus30/6/80) (SMH30/6/80) (OMA24/7/1880)
Mr Stanistreet family found an oil can containing 45lb of blasting powder concealed behind a log in the vicinity of M'Donnell's Hotel. Previous to this a quantity of fuse was found in swags carried by the pack horses left by the gang at M’Donnell’s Hotel (Argus3/7/80) (Herald3/7/80)
They cast lots for our possessions; not the important things, just the bits and pieces (Argus11/9/80)
The Trial of Ned Kelly
The Committal and Trial of Ned Kelly was a sham, they wanted to hang him.
Find the hiding places and sites where the KellyGang found fame and fortune and where their friends indulged in horse stealing and tried to make a life against the challenges of the squatters and banks. Let the KellyGang show you the places where they found safety from the law in the bush.