What bettter a place for a peaceful family picnic than the site of the capture and arrest of Ned Kelly (known as the siege of Glenrowan in 1880)…which is just a few hundred clicks from Melbourne on the Hume Highway.
The era of Ned Kelly and his gang is one of the most remarkable in Australia’s history. Spanning just two short years between 1878 and 1880, the ‘Kelly outbreak’ has assumed epic proportions in the Australian psyche, and Ned Kelly is arguably Australia’s best known historical character.
His short and violent life has been continuing inspiration for poets, writers, artists and filmmakers.
Everything our Little Squid knows about Ned Kelly, she learnt from Mr Peterkin, her primary school art teacher.
Evidently Mr Peterkin wove a fine tale, in an effort to help his class interpret the noted Sydney Nolan artistic depiction of Ned Kelly on horseback.
I suspect there has been some embellishment from his eager art pupil as she shares her recollections while strolling the shop-lined streets of Glenrowan.
Not to let the facts get in the way of a good saga, her impressionable account goes something like this:-
“Ned Kelly was born in a little hut. It was smelly, and they were poor. He didn’t really like his dad, but loved his mum. He took his dad’s gun.
He blew up his house, but first he asked his mum to leave the house because he loved her. Then he died (sic) the sheep with a gun.
After that he shooted (sic) some police and burnt down a pub. He wore a steel suit so HE didn’t die. And you could see his eyeballs through his steel helmet.
Then he got some handcuff thingies put on his hands. Then he went to jail and wrote a really long letter. Now he is a skull.”
And that, my friends, is the almost-accurate account of the life and times of Australia’s most infamous bushranger, Ned Kelly, according to an opinionated 6 year old while standing in Glenrowan under a giant cement replica of the bloke.
Like her subject, Squid 2 exhibits in her story-telling some of the traits we have come to recount fondly as being ‘As game as Ned Kelly” – resolute and independent. I really can’t top that!
If you are more partial to the facts however, you may wish to check out the Ned Kelly Touring Route site or read more about the man behind the myth. You can also check out many of Ned Kelly’s artefacts including his suit of armour and pages from the “really long letter”, his manifesto, the Jerilderee Letter here.
(Apologies to Mr Peterkin… I am sure you told a most accurate account!)