Glenrowan and Ned Kelly

Just before Glenrowan we passed a prickly pear farm. At least I think it was a farm. Either that or these people had REALLY let their cactus go. Well I love prickly pears, which I first had in Morocco. In Morocco they get the prickles off before they sell them in the markets though. There were plants growing outside the farmers fence and I though all these fruit will be “fair game” to pick. I only picked one and was very careful. The plan was to get enough for a few days. The prickles were too much in the end and I am silly not to have worn some work gloves. The fruit was delicious but I am still paying for the theft!!!I have no idea how the farmers could even walk in between the plants they were so thick. We did notice as we drove off that the farm was for sale. I bet they had had enough of the prickles! M

We couldn’t decide if we wanted to go to Glenrowan or not, but since we were having to go that way anyway we decided we would have a quick lunch stop there and check out the town. We didn’t know until we got there that there would be no town there, if not for the legend of Ned Kelly. It is ALL about Ned. It was a bit Disneyland like, especially paying to see the reenactment of the “last stand”. It was interesting and freaky all at the same time, but it did a good job of letting you see what happened on last last day and what led to it to a lesser degree. M

glenrowan sign
The town uses the Sidney Nolan painting as their town sign
steve being a goose
I was forced to take this photo against my will!

ned re 5ned re 4re enactmentned re 2Ned Kelly Reenactment

Ned Kelly Animatronics
Above photos are of the animated theatre of the Kelly Gang’s last stand in Glenrowan last century.


It didn’t explain to me how or why Ned went bad though or why/how Ned Kelly became such a household name in Australia. He was a criminal after all. It prompted me to do a bit of digging. This is what I found:

Ned was born in 1854 to a father John Kelly who was transported to Australia as a convict for stealing 2 pigs.

His Mother Ellen Quinn was the daughter of a farmer who John worked for as a carpenter for some time once he was a free man. John then tried his hand at gold mining making enough money to buy a little home for his family.

John Kelly is thrown in jail for 2 years for being in possession of meat that he could not explain, how he came to have. After release from Jail Ned’s father killed himself by drinking himself to death. Ned was around 13 yrs old.

Ellen and her 7 children (the 8th child died at 6 months of age) moved to Greta (near Glenrowan) Ned at 13 is the head of the family. He quickly begins to hang out with the wrong crowd (bush ranger Harry Power for example). Ned also makes a name for himself with the populace and the police.

While Ned is a young adult his Mother is sentenced to a harsh 3 yrs in Beechworth Prison for what Ned believes are trumped up charges. It was this plus police threats about his own capture that led Ned to conclude that these acts of police injustice and prejudice were justification for his war with the system and his only option.

Ned had many sympathisers at the time which is how he and his Kelly Gang were able to evade the law for 2 yrs on the run and he hoped that eventually there would be an uprising among the oppressed lower classes against the unjust social order.

Aspects of this conflict originated in the ancestral homelands of England and Ireland and followed to this “New Land” of Australia.

Ned’s murders of a number of police officers did little to help the image of Ned and the Kelly Gang. Ned was severely wounded but survived his “last stand”. He and his gang walked out into the open with bullets flying wearing their body armor made of plow plates. It was the biggest gun battle ever seen in Australia.

Ned recovered from his wounds and at his trial he said he believed he was the victim of wrongdoing by the police and a biased and corrupt legal system. There was some evidence of this at the time.

When he was sentenced to death more than 30,000 people signed a petition asking for a reprieve. He was hanged at the age of 25.

My conclusion was that Ned came from dodgy stock but this was made worse by not having a father figure from an early age and poor role models. The police in those times were not exactly squeeky clean either and it looks as though his family may have been targeted.

If Ned was born later and in Ireland he may have died fighting for the IRA. If he had been worn later and in the USA he may have died fighting in the gang wars in any US city or perhaps shot up a school! M

ned kelly last photo
The last photo of Ned Kelly taken in Jail at his request to give to friends and family after his hanging. He was 25 yrs old.



2 thoughts on “Glenrowan and Ned Kelly

  1. I think the Kellys were a bad lot, typical Aussie heros!
    Prickly pear! Another imported disaster. The cane toad of the desert. No wonder there are so many growing in Kelly country. Luckily none growing on our regeneration slope. Wasps are my latest problem in ‘no man’s land’. Aaaaagh the pain! I’m going to kill them today even though it’s against my no-kill principle. X travel safely. H


    1. Yes Helen, Can you imagine trying to farm the things and keep some control? Wasps! You poor thing. If they are paper wasps I was only attacked once but boy do they hurt. Did some research and found that you spray them at night and they wont swarm you. It worked. I sprayed them and ran but they didn’t seem to follow me anyway. Good luck.


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