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Ned Kelly passed through on the way to Jerilderie (NSW)

Kelly Gang in JerilderieNed Kelly portait

Kelly’s period as an outlaw was largely concurrent with the American outlaws Billy the Kid and Jessie James. Like them Kelly became famous in his own lifetime and his legend has grown to even larger proportions over the years. To some Ned Kelly was, and still is, a hero who showed up injustice, to others he was a common criminal, but whatever the viewpoint he commands a place in Australian folklore and legend.


Edward (Ned) Kelly was born at Beveridge, Victoria in June 1855 the first child to John and Ellen Kelly. The family later lived in a bush shack at Eleven Mile Creek near Greta in northern Victoria. Known as a ‘flash’ in his early teens, Ned was recognised as an excellent horseman, and could hold his own in a pub brawl.


After a few clashes with the law, Ned was first jailed in 1870 for 3 months with hard labour when 15 years old, for assault and indecent behaviour. After release further unsubstantiated charges were laid by police ranging from horse stealing to robbery. For three years he stayed out of trouble working as a timber-cutter and station hand in the Wombat Ranges region.


In 1877 Kelly was arrested in Benalla for drunkenness by Constable Fitzpatrick, but the charges were reduced. Fitzpatrick then set out to arrest Ned and Dan and ‘fix the Greta mob’. The result was the arrest of Mrs Kelly, along with two others. They were sentenced to 6 years jail for the attempted murder of Fitzpatrick. Ned swore retaliation.


On 26 October 1878 at Stringybark Creek Ned shot dead three police out of a party of four, who were sent to capture him and Dan. Killed were Sergeant Michael Kennedy and Constables Thomas Lonigan and Michael Scanlon. The sole survivor was Constable Thomas McIntyre. Once news reached Melbourne huge rewards were posted for the capture of the Kelly gang.

On 9 December 1878 the gang held up a sheep station near Euroa, on 10 December they held up the Euroa National Bank then took flight towards the Murray River.


During January 1879 the Kellys were seen in the Rutherglen-Corowa region. They crossed the Murray River into New South Wales to escape the Victorian Police. New South Wales was considered a safe haven. Ned knew the river crossings well as he had previously worked at Fairfield Vineyard, danced at Forty’s Pub in Wahgunyah, and drank in Corowa.

The Kelly gang then surfaced on 8 February 1879 at Jerilderie (see map of their route), a small town on the eastern fringe of the Riverina in New South Wales. There they bailed up the local police and locked them in their own cells.

On 10 February the gang held up the local Bank of New South Wales. It was this robbery that finally forced the New South Wales government to evoke the ‘Felon’s Apprehension Act’ which added to the reward on the outlaws’ heads.

After the raids on Euroa and Jerilderie the Kellys became local heroes. Dozens of songs were written and postcards sold, but rewards for their capture increased to £8000.

As reported by the interpretive signage at the Barmah Punt, Mr. J. Maloney's ownership of the punt was not without some excitement. Local legend has it that, in early February 1879, Ned Kelly and his gang crossed the Murray River into New South Wales at Barmah on the punt captained by Enoch Trickey. Trickey reported that the gang had a leisurley game of cards at the Barmah Hotel before Ned Kelly bought a horse for £50 and then the outlaws headed north to Jerilderie.

Through February 1879, the Riverine Herald ran a column called "The Bushrangers" which entertained readers with multiple sighting reports of the Kelly gang throughout the local district.

Note: There is conflicting information on about the Kelly gang during this period.

March 1879 - Riverine Herald

Reliable intelligence lias come to hand, from which it is certain that the gang has not crossed into Victoria. For the last three weeks the outlaws have been proceeding towards the Darling River, and keeping the mallee scrub along the Murray. It appears that this route is well-known to Ned Kelly; who has been in the habit of annually visiting the Gannawarra Station at shearing time. From this station it is alleged they will make Moulamein and finally cross the Murrumbidgee River near Balranald. The thick mallee scrub would prevent a successful pursuit of the outlaws by the police, unless aided by first-class blacktracker.
The above information has been supplied to a justice of the peace, and by this time has, no doubt, been communicated to the police authorities of both colonies.
Miss Kelly, the sister of the outlawed Kelly brothers, arrived at Albury on Friday night, and has secured apartments at the Rose Hotel, with the evident intention of remaining for some time. This is believed to indicate that the gang cannot be far from the neighborhood, and probably maintain communication with her.

1880 June

The 26 June 1880 the gang was back in Victoria, at The Woolshed near Beechworth, when Joe Byrne ‘executed’ a local man, Aaron Sherritt, for being a police informer.

On 27 June 1880 Ned and Dan, Steve Hart and Joe Byrne captured the town of Glenrowan. The Sunday afternoon of the capture took on a festive atmosphere at the Glenrowan Inn as the gang and some of the sixty prisoners (many of them were Kelly sympathisers) joined in the singing and dancing. News reached the police and they laid seige to the Inn, a building of bush construction with flimsy timber walls and bark roof.

Ned Kelly Wanted posterThe Kelly gang lined up on the verandah to meet the police attack. Ned was dressed in an knee-length coat over his armour which consisted of a head-piece, chest and back-plate and a stomach/groin plate. It was fashioned out of 1/4" iron and weighed over 98lbs. During the ensuing battle Ned circled behind the police and drew their fire towards himself with the words ‘Come on, I’m Ned Kelly and I’m made of iron’...‘Fire away’...‘you can’t hurt me’.   

Ned Kelly was finally brought down with a shotgun blast to the upper thighs from a distance of 3 metres. During the shootout he had received five serious bullet wounds, one had passed through his foot from the toe to heel; 25 minor shotgun blasts on his hands and legs, and his face, head and eyes and groin were extensively bruised.

Meanwhile the seige at the Inn continued into the Monday afternoon with persistent shooting by the police. Later that day Joe Byrne lay dead on the floor, killed by a stray bullet. Dan Kelly and Steve Hart also lay dead when the police set fire to the building. Joe Byrne was dragged out but the other gang members were left to the flames.

1880 October

Ned Kelly was taken to Melbourne, nursed back to health, then tried and convicted of murder. Some of Kelly’s last words in court addressed to Judge Barry were ‘A day will come in a bigger Court than this when we’ll see which is right and which is wrong’.

1880 November

Kelly was hung at the Old Melbourne Gaol on 11 November 1880.

Ned Kelly Touring Route

Kelly Gangs route to Jerilderie

Follow the Ned Kelly Touring Route

Kelly Gang and the Murray River

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