I make this conclusion based on the fact that a drain depression around this hut indicates a level of care for the building, whereas the other hut location has no such feature. (Shingles are created by splitting straight grained logs into boards thicker on one edge and used in an overlapping fashion to cover the roof or walls).
We believe as reported, the huts were occupied by prospecting party, Reynolds, Bromfield and Lynch, who worked the creek for three months. My hypothesis suggest that Percy Bromfield had either built or re built a hut at this location or a ‘third’ nearby after one of the original two huts had caught fire during their occupancy. It is known Walter Lynch later set fire to Percy Bromfield’s new hut around July 1877.
This leaves only one original hut intact (and the remains of the other huts fireplace) either of which may have been of the shingle hut when the Kelly’s moved into the area at Bullock Ck. some eight months after Bromfield’s hut had been lost due to Lynch’s pyromania.
reference to ‘The shingle hut’ refers to a ‘place’ where ‘huts’ had
existed for many years and it is only reasonable to suggest that one of the
huts was ‘shingle’ built as referred to by Kelly.
Mrs. Sheila Hutchinson who grew up in the Stringybark Ck area, it was
she who informed me about the Bromfield and Lynch’s debacle. She does not recall any
locals ever making mention of the two huts or of their fireplaces, and she has researched
and collected information for most of her adult life about the Wombat Ranges and can
point to locations in the bush where dwellings once stood.
The hut fireplaces help to re-establish where the three police were killed by the Kellys’ in October 1878. The fireplaces are all that remain of the huts that were described as ruined at the time of the killings at Stringybark Ck. They have kept their secrets well and are difficult to find even if you know where to look. ( I say this because at the time of finding them the bush here was lush.
beware of snakes here and do not cross the creek except at a direct
crossing point near the Kelly tree.
Also beware of leeches.
Were these the fireplaces of the huts that marked the location of the police
G. Wilson Hall was the proprietor of the Mansfield Guardian. He circulated a pamphlet called ‘The Outlaws of the Wombat Ranges’ in 1879 and in this pamphlet he described the police camp as being near the ruins of two small huts. This pamphlet is rare with only three known to exist. It reads: (referring to the police camp),
“ The spot where they established their halt, was a small clearing on the rise alongside of the creek near the ruins of two small huts, one of which was burnt down and had been the temporary residence of three prospectors, Reynolds, Bromfield and Lynch who worked the creek for a short time with indifferent success” .
survey map of the area marks the position of a lone hut on the opposite bank
to the "scene of the police murders by the Kelly Gang".
Burman Photo showing a hut site by the two black posts I believe to be
Bromfield's hut. To support this, we know that Lynch had burnt down
Bromfield's hut some fifteen months before Burman took the photo. The above
sketch (right) of two huts on the western side of the creek shows them in
their relative position to each other.
Can we conclude that a shingle hut had taken more effort to build than
a bark hut and would have included a good fireplace. The fact that no
evidence of a fireplace has been found on the eastern bank of the creek
at the accepted site of the police camp ground suggests the shingle hut was
most likely one of the
fireplaces on the western bank.
A preliminary scan by a metal detector of the two hut sites revealed primitive ‘wire ties’ used to hold structural members together - consistent with the building of bush huts. Also found were an 1885 penny coin, remains of a muzzle-loading powder flask, ancient dark blue glass from bottles, hand forged spikes 6 inches long, horse stirrups and a horseshoe. All these items suggest that the huts date back to the appropriate period.
Items found at the fireplaces
with a metal detector.
There is a possibility most of the items were brought here after 1884 and that one of the huts had been rebuilt several times. The creek could have been worked right through the two economic depression periods before and after world war one. However most of the items are consistent with the earliest times.
Above. The penny is badly corroded and I believe some of the
surface detail has been rubbed off when being cleaned to facilitate date
reading-1885. It was found within the bounds of the hut floor under 8 cm of
sheet of tin to line the fireplace would have been a luxury. It would have
to have been brought in on pack horse and would have been unlikely to be
used unless a more permanent dwelling was required. The walls and roof were
‘shingles’ or split logs with the bark from larger trees logs flattened out
to overlap the gaps . The roof is held down with saplings thrown on top and
tied up with wire, as was the whole structure.
Using the 1884 survey map, Tom Bell decided to use the ‘hut plot' and scale from the map to locate the hut with a surveyors ‘chain’ measure, this brought him to near where the present day Kelly tree stands, but no evidence of a hut was found at this location.
Sketch of the huts in relationship to each
Detail of first map of the area 1884 survey. This was
These maps became the basis for parish plans of the district. Among the thousands of creeks explored where gold was found, was Stringybark Creek deep in the Wombat Ranges and only accessible by pack horse.
In reference to the map (above), historian Ian Jones writes in the Ned Kelly Seminar Papers 1993: ‘the map remained stored at the central plans office of the Lands Department until Melbourne solicitor Mr. Tom Bell located the original 1884 survey map in 1970 ’ . From the 1884 survey map, a Melbourne lawyer 'Tom Bell' decided to use the ‘hut plot and scale’ information to calculate the distance from the junction of Stringybark Ck and Ryan's Ck to locate the hut with a surveyors ‘chain’ measure, (a chain was the old standard land measure of 66 feet). Working back up Stringybark Ck to where the hut was supposed to be found, this brought him to near where the present day Kelly tree stands, but no evidence of a hut was found at this location.
To be sure about the importance of hut or huts at Stringybark Ck near the police camp, the following is a reference made about two huts in the area:
In 1884 the surveyor preparing the first map of the district marked ‘Hut’ on the western bank of Stringybark Ck. and opposite the hut, he noted, ‘Scene of the Police murders by the Kelly Gang’.
The ’Argus’ news paper article dated Monday, October 28th 1878, just two days after the Killings, reported that ' the police camped from Friday evening at Stringybark on an open space on a creek - the site of some old diggings - and they pitched the tent near the ruins of two huts'.
G. Wilson Hall
tells us that
The fact that
G. Wilson Hall reported two ruined huts in 1879, with one having
been burnt down, is consistent with the surveyor noting one hut by
1884, It also means that at the time Burman took the photographs in
1878, he too must have seen a hut. The two
huts are on the West bank.
In the intervening 5 years several historians have
questioned the viability of the east bank scenario. A group of five
Kelly historians have been working on Stringybark Creek investigation
initiated by Gary Dean and led by Bill Denheld with Linton Briggs, Kelvyn
Gill and Glen Standing. Follow this link
photos were taken as a record of the ‘murder’ scene.
the orientation of natural lighting on objects throughout the photo, I
observed that the main light comes from the right, indicating North. In our
Southern Hemisphere the Sun arcs through the Northern sky. Photographs in
1878 required long exposure times and we can guess the photographer chose
near midday to take the shots. In summary, from an analysis of natural
lighting we have been able to conclude that the camera was pointing South
A study of shadow details of natural light comes from the right hand side, indicating the midday sun arcing through our northern sky.
Above: Note, the light on the boots, the twigs in the foreground, his hat, the log, light and dark, all indicate light from the right. This is not so evident in the main photo overall.
Tracing of shadow details over Burman photo (right) shows the angle of the light leaning to the right of the picture. The enlarged detail, (above) clearly shows the light coming from the right. The man sitting on the log could very well be Mr Monk who lead the police back to the site a day later. He could be seen sitting where Constable McIntyre sat with Ned Kelly behind him. McIntyre survived the shootings and was not present during the reconstruction. Looking at the boots, the hat, the log and the faces, the light falls from the right. Although there was a clearing and a big hole in the tree canopy directing light in, even the figure with his arm raised has the light coming from the right. Look at his shoulder: He is in the middle of the clearing, yet the light comes from the right.
The man behind the log represented Ned Kelly at the time when Sgt. Kennedy arrived back (the one with his raised arm), but it is doubtful Kennedy actually did this because according to documented evidence he dismounted, firing his revolver across the horse’s rump. Sergeant Kennedy after firing his revolver ran for cover and fired repeatedly at the Kellys, and during this initial shoot-out was seriously wounded. As he tried to get away, more shots were exchanged and he was chased and killed by Ned Kelly at German Ck some considerable distance to the north west.
Ian Jones had concluded in his 1993 Ned Kelly seminar papers that the Burman photographs were taken looking south west . He had worked this out from studying the two slightly different views that allow a 3D perception of the background slope that seems to fall away to the left (south). I do not differ from the SWest orientation.
At the Stringybark Ck site Ian Jones matched up the Burman pictures with the actual area to tie in with a large flat area that fits with the pictures to complete the scene. However, while having no reason to doubt his conclusion, there was still no conclusive proof as to ‘from where’ the photographs were taken. I thought there may be some clues in the photos themselves that had been overlooked.
I thought there may be some clues in the photos themselves that had been overlooked. I noticed what looked like a fence, perhaps an indication of human activity- I thought.
The 1878 Burman photos of the police camp where the police were killed by the Kellys was used as evidence at Ned Kelly’s preliminary trial. Information gleaned from these photos led to the discovery of the two bush hut fireplaces.
Like others before me, I wanted to find the exact location of the police camp - after reading that it had eluded even the most serious of efforts to find. It had become a 65 year old mystery and I wondered if there was anything that had been overlooked. Referring to evidence in the photos, maps and written statements in books, Keith McMenomy’s ‘Ned Kelly, The Authentic Illustrated Story', and Ian Jones’s ‘Ned Kelly, A Short Life', and his story in the Ned Kelly seminar Papers, I wondered why the actual site could not be found considering that most of the jigsaw pieces were in place except one, a hut site.
that shortly after the shootings in 1878, the police department commissioned
Melbourne photographers ‘Burman and Madeley’** to take photographs of the
murder scene. Maybe ‘Burman and Madeley’ recognized a commercial
opportunity, as a series dozen postcard prints was later produced under
the title of ‘Kelly Country’.
he was prepared to show me this location and we arranged a meeting at
Stringybark Ck. I knew where his spot was and we would compare what we knew. Gary, my wife
Carla and myself crossed the creek, and together we walked to what we
believed was the true site of the
police camp on the east bank. Gary showed us where he considered the two blackened posts of a
hut in the Burman photo had stood. He
showed us some colour prints he had made of the exact scene as in the Burman photo
looking North East. I had a problem with this as I had previously sorted out the
orientation of the Burman photo via the shadows. I indicated to Gary that I thought his orientation was
incorrect as I considered that the Burman photo was looking South West.
To supplement this very scant information gleaned from photographs pointed out, we decided to immediately to take a closer look at the area of bush where I considered this activity may have taken place in the Burman photos. We had to cross over the swamp to the other side of the Creek and Gary went ahead as I had to carry some stuff back to the car.
By the time I could follow, he had disappeared into the bush well ahead when I called out to find him. He called back to say he had found it. I said what have you found. He replied “the fence”. As I approached in the direction of his voice (but I could not see him), I stumbled onto a pile of large moss covered rocks and said “Hey, Gary look at this”, Just then he came into view and we both looked at it and said: a fireplace. Gary then proceeded to show me where he had detected a fence which he said ran at an angle past the newly found fireplace, but I could not see this. On a return trip to the site a week later I found the second fireplace only 12 metres away.
Perhaps one of the most famous trees in Australia, it attracts a lot of visitors and is accompanied by a fitting memorial to the three policemen who were killed here.
As early as 1940, Kelly historians had problems visualizing the present day Kelly tree in its surroundings on the western bank of Stringybark Creek as the site of the shoot-out. The picture of the Kelly tree (below), is looking south east with the Creek on the left. The iconic amour motif is being swallowed up by the marked tree until one day the motif will disappear altogether. With the true location of the police camp being confirmed by the finding of the fireplaces, one now wonders whether other plans for future tourism need to be made considering the key markers are some 300 metres from where they should be ?
If you can add to the story please send in your thoughts to-
Side by side, the iconic symbols of tragedy.
Above right. The Memorial stone at Stringybark Ck, dedicated to the three policemen, two of whom left families behind, a point that often gets ignored.
The plaque reads ; In Memory of Sergeant Michael Kennedy No:2009. Constable Michael Scanlon No: 2118. Constable Thomas Lonigan No: 2423. Killed at Stringybark Creek on the 26th October, 1878 during the execution of their duty in a gunfight with a group of men later known as the “ Kelly Gang “ Respectfully remembered and never forgotten The Victorian Police Force Plaque unveiled by Michael and Mick Kennedy on the 26th of October, 2001.
following is an extract from
and History on My Doorstep’,
the Kelly tree.
Sheila, as a child lived nearby on an adjoining property to Stringybark Ck,
and her father Tim Brond had marked the existing Kelly tree during the
1930’s. In her book she writes,
In the Seminar papers, Ian Jones indicates the Kelly tree was lost during the 1939 fires, although Sheila Hutchinson says no fires actually went through here at that time, but believes maybe a small clearing fire caught the stump prior to 1939.
For quite some time, through the 1930's depression and the war, there was probably not much interest in the Kelly saga. Eventually, years later, there was a revived interest, but by then everything had changed. There was still timber being cut and the scars of gold workings at the creek left its mark. In 1947 the land of the Tolmie tablelands was being acquired by the State Water Board and many land owners were forced off their land including those around Stringybark Ck. Eventual re-growth would take over from where wheat fields and potato farms had once been, this is true of the land on the eastern side of Stringybark Ck)
Above right: Visiting Mr. Cuddon poses in front of a Kelly tree marked by land owner Charlie Beasley owner of the Stringybark Ck property. Photo looking North east, Courtesy C Engelke.
straight tree trunk directly behind him is inscribed 1878 ( text
Lonigan shot by the Kellys ).
The sign was facing the road so visitors did not have to venture onto
the private property. It was on the eastern side of the road looking to
the creek. I was informed by Charlie Engelke this tree was dead
and soon after rotted and fell over. The next and
present day Kelly tree can be seen in the background behind Mr. Cuddon to the left of the
picture. It is slightly obscured by a sapling. It is a forked tree later to become the present
day Kelly tree.
The ‘new’ Kelly tree was now the only link with the past. It provided the marker to curious visitors to indicate where the famous gun battle had occurred. The only problem was, it was on the wrong side of the Creek and hundreds of metres away from where it actually happened! With the original trees loss, and with the passing of generations of local knowledge, the actual location faded into obscurity.
Even though there are display amenities at Stringybark Ck, I wondered for
how many more years visitors would come here only to be faced with the
deception of a Kelly tree that was hundreds of metres away from where it
The magistrate was shown a ‘post card’ of the police murder scene, (not a photo, but a ‘post card’)
When we compare this sketch with the picture of the police camp, we can see they don’t exactly match. You would think that crucial information like this would have been well examined before it was submitted at a murder trial’ .
(The dot on
the left was Ned Kelly. They came from the south.)
This sketch drawn by Constable McIntyre, the only surviving witness to the shoot-out, was to show where Constable Lonigan was killed in relationship to the camp fire, the arrangement of large tree logs and the position from where the gang advanced. Apparently Constable McIntyre had made a written statement accompanied by this sketch.
When we compare this sketch and the photo by Burman of the police camp re-enactments, we can see they don’t exactly match.
In order to compare the sketch with the photo we need to turn the sketch around so both pictures are looking south. In the sketch south is up and the logs form a ‘Vee’ quite different than in the Burman photo.
With the sketch upside down, you will see the four dots representing the four men advancing ( the Kelly Gang) are now on the left hand - upper side. McIntyre said the men advanced from the South side which is from behind the seated figure on the left of the photo. The sketch is now aligned with the photo.
photo does not lie, but in the sketch, the logs lay the wrong way if they
represent the two main logs of the photo. Did McIntyre get his North and
South mixed up? Or was the sketch drawn from memory only? It is probably
unfair criticism to suggest McIntyre could not draw, however, you would
think that crucial information like this would have been well examined
before it was submitted at a murder trial.
"The entrance to the tent was facing east and also the
creek which was about 70 yards distant."
I believe this view is basically looking South West. The tents location
would have been to the Far Right of the tree right directly behind the man
with raised arm. The creek about 70 yards distant from the tent in this shot, it would
be to the very left of the seated figure.
McIntyre said, "
Standing at the tent entrance and facing the creek -
the tent was on the western bank of the creek looking east because he says
'facing the creek' ? The camp must have been on the western
bank of the creek.
For an east bank scenario, to read the above
orientation very carefully, one can conclude it is the exact opposite to our
orientation as depicted in this, Twohuts scenario.
If the above McIntyre description does not fit reality in the
field we may need to question if the Burman photos were flipped over?. There are three key exhibit pieces,
McIntyre's sketch which has readable text, so it is the right way around.
The other two are the Burman photos, a sketch by "Illustrated
Australian NEWS" front cover depicting the police camp of 28 Nov. 1878, and
the Australasian Sketcher which shows spear grasses to the right of the
Burman photo logs.
Notice the tent left, the gang shooting to the
north, the creek swamp foreground- all points to this view shows the west
bank looking westerly.
Shortly before his execution, Ned Kelly wrote a letter to the Governor of Victoria hoping to point out the injustices of his case. In it he asks the Governor to examine contradictions in McIntyre’s evidence, suggesting the governor would at once see the disparity between the two versions, and using the Burman photos and a 'postcard' Ned hopes to verify that they (the gang) were in a direct line when facing the two police at the camp - proving they did not ambush the returning police. In his defense he told the court the men advanced from the spear grasses behind the seated figure at the south side of the open ground.
trial, there must have been doubts as to the usefulness of the photos and
the sketch. McIntyre had already testified that his sketch supported his
written statements some 21 months before. It is hard to believe he would
have made such fundamental errors. Maybe he could not remember all the finer
details. The fact that the logs are lying at different angles could be the
result of possible guess work, but omissions from the sketch include a
remarkable number of vital bits of information. Such as: 1 - the
location of the police tent (which was burnt down by the Kellys), 2
- an indication of North, and 3 - the two blackened posts of a burnt
out hut. These omissions only help to confuse rather than inform. Thus, when
the Magistrate is shown the sketch and photos of the same place, it is no
wonder he writes a little note attached to the photograph as follows,
The statement suggests that there was some confusion in assessing the evidence. The magistrate was shown a ‘post card’ of the police murder scene, not a photo, but a ‘post card’. Secondly, the magistrate compared the sketch by Cnst. McIntyre with the ‘post card’, and as can be seen in the previous pictures, they are quite different.
This tracing taken from over the Burman photo help establish a grid on the ground. This reduced size image does not do the grid justice for what it reveals.
detailed information from the Burman photos,
a reasonable picture of the configuration of the logs can be reconstructed.
First, a grid was created on the ground using the two blackened posts and
the edges of where the hut had stood. The grid was calculated at about 10
foot or 3 metres and aligned with the corner of a burnt down hut. A tracing
over the photo allows the angles of the logs to be plotted on the grid.
Grid is based on distance between the two charred posts plus two feet = 10 feet. This was calculated from the figure (14 ) being of average height and projecting the perspectives on the ground to establish a scale.
birds eye view illustrates how the logs were laying from photographic
evidence. In conclusion, I believe McIntyre drew what he remembered. Maybe
he never did return to the site, otherwise he would have drawn a more
detailed map. However, compare his sketch again with my sketch and a
In my sketch ( above right) McIntyre’s logs could be No 4 and 11, whereas everybody considers them to be No 13 and 4.
This picture below (right) was published in Illustrated Australian NEWS on 28 Nov. 1878. It is an artists view looking back at the tent with the two small blackened posts in front. During intervening years since this research was first started we could not work out whether the artist got this view right. We now believe it is correct as the view is looking westerly with the creek directly behind us and the crouching figure.
Notes, In some publications the figure with raised arm was supposed to be Kennedy on his return to the camp after surrender (which he did not do), but in this picture the figure represents McIntyre. The illustration was drawn and published just one month after the event. The raised arm figure is in the exact same pose as in the Burman photo except flipped over by the artist, which suggests that he had a copy of Burman’s photo to go by.
drew two logs crossed as in McIntyre’s sketch indicating the artist also had a copy
of his McIntyre's sketch. Just in front of the tent are
two small posts of a burnt out hut seen in the Burman photo but these posts
were actually to the right of the horse. The
orientation of the published picture of1878 has the tent on the left of the
action, which is consistant with what McIntyre wrote, the tent was in the
North West cormer of the clearing.
A plausible explanation hinges on the above letter and map sent to the police dated 18th Oct. 1878, by a writer who asks to remain anonymous. The letter dated just 8 days before the police shoot-out with the Kellys, advised that a cave situated at Blue Range could be occupied by the Kellys.
To find this cave, the writer gave instructions to draw a straight line between Stringybark Ck on the east and Euroa in the west, and the cave would be found where the line intersected Blue Range. This means we now know more than likely where two of the police party went on that first and fatal day.
The letter and map sketch are quite possibly the reason why the police party used Stringybark Ck as a staging post for the pursuit of the Kellys.
The letter reads;
To, Inspector Nicolson, Police Department Melbourne Private
The fact that the police set up camp at Stringybark Ck on Friday 25 Oct. 1878 makes one believe the police took note of the letter, although the writer does not suggest making Stringybark Ck their base camp there. However, the police did receive the letter and it appears they acted upon it. ***( see notes)
Note that this supposition appears to be torpedoed by the transcript of the Royal Commission into the events relating to the uprising after Ned Kelly’s execution. In the transcript, letters from Supt. Sadleir to Sgt. Kennedy mention Stringybark Ck as a suitable place for the police camp, # (see notes). These letters predate the police expedition by some two months, and on the surface, are probably the prior initiation for their destination.
In any event on 21 October three days after the Blue Range letter was written, Superintendent John Sadleir issues instructions for the police party to prepare to set out. We cannot know whether the Blue Range letter was received in time. If it was, then it would have served to confirm their plans and provide the Blue Range destination for the Saturday search by Kennedy and Scanlan.
It is curious that the Blue Range letter was not included in the voluminous evidence assembled for the Royal Commission in 1881. In fact its existence was little known to Kelly historians until just recently when I came across it in the Ned on Line web site compiled by the Public Records Office PROV. this year 2002.
Whether the reference to Stringybark Ck in the Blue Range letter was coincidental to their (police) plans is unclear, however the Royal Commission did not come about until some two years later and it could be possible that in the earlier police letters, the mention of Stringybark Creek helped to protect the hopeful anonymous writer. (Hopeful because there was a reward posted for the capture of the Kellys).
With a reward of One Hundred Pounds for each of the Kelly brother’s capture, posted at the time ( April 1878 ), one wonders whether the Blue Range letter was shoved to the bottom of the drawer. My supposition is, they, Kennedy and Scanlon went to Blue Range in the hope of catching the Kellys there themselves, and if possible claim the reward. This may explain why the Blue Range letter seems not to have been noticed till just recently. *** (See notes)
Also, in the earlier letter, (Kennedy to Sadleir), Sgnt Kennedy had confidently suggested he and Cnst Scanlan could mount a successful arrest with the help of two additional officers. One chosen for his ability to identify the Kellys the other for his knowledge of the country. Neither were asked to take part on the first day excursion.
All the police were dressed in civilian clothes as if prospectors. Sgnt Kennedy and Cnst. Scanlan had benefited from a previous arrest ‘reward’ and were mates.
Exactly how the Kellys learned the presence of the police in the area remains unclear although the 'bush telegraph' worked very well throughout their time on the run. Ned wrote in his ‘Jerilderie letter’ in 1879, I came on Police tracks between Table Top and the bogs. I crossed them - .He was also aware of two police parties out looking for them. - as I knew the other party of police would soon join them and if they came on us at our camp they would shoot us down like dogs-.
Here is an extract from the ‘Jerilderie letter’ Ned Kelly’s words, it reads ;
I was not there long and on 25 October I came on Police tracks between Table Top and the bogs. I crossed them and returning in the evening I came on a different lot of tracks making for the shingle hut I went to our camp and told my brother and his two mates me and my brother went and found their camp at the shingle hut about a mile from my brothers house we saw they carried long fire arms and we knew our doom was sealed if we could not beat those before the others would come as I knew the other party of police would soon join them and if they came on us at our camp they would shoot us down like dogs at our work as we only had two guns. We thought it best to try and bail those two up take their firearms and ammunitions and horses and we could stand a chance with the rest.
Reproduced courtesy of The State Library of Victoria.
reasons offered why the police came to the area came from Ned Kelly himself. At his preliminary Beechworth trial, he blamed a boundary rider and 'wild dog' poisoner, John Martin*, who worked
for a local landowner Mr. Tolmie. Martin had blazed a trail and laid baits
close to the Kelly camp on Bullock Creek, and Dan Kelly had discovered the
evidence shortly before the police set out. After the gun fight at
Stringybark Creek, a Constable James and black trackers followed the blazed trail into the
Kelly camp, but this was about one month later.
At the Ned Kelly Seminar in Nov. 1993, Ian Jones was asked by a member of the audience (Glenn Davis) whether there was any substance to the suggestion of Sergeant Kennedy and Cnst. Scanlan having been tipped off about the Kellys being at Bullock Ck. In his reply, Ian Jones stated, ‘ it is totally illogical that Kennedy and Scanlan knew they were so close.’ *** (see notes)
In essence, ( as reported by Ian), ' when the police party arrived at Stringybark Ck on the 25th. Oct. 1878 they had their first meal (probably pre prepared): ham and sweet cakes. Everyone agreed it was an awful meal. and Sgnt Kennedy suggested McIntyre try shoot a kangaroo that night for their next meal. He was unsuccessful as no kangaroo was seen. The next day while the other two were out on patrol, McIntyre tried again without luck and apparently in frustration he did shoot at some parrots.
That shot was heard by the Kellys only one mile away and they had to investigate. One asks the poignant question, did their first lousy meal lead to the shootout with the Kelly gang ?
Another interesting consideration regarding the Blue Range letter. The letter, it appears may have brought the police to the area. Had it been written ‘that a line be drawn’ between Bullock Ck instead of Stringybark Ck in the East and Euroa in the West, for finding the ‘cave’, then the police would have hit the bulls-eye with the Kellys living at Bullock Ck, that would have surprised the police even more than the Kellys!
Bullock Creek (later renamed Kellys Creek) was the site where the two wanted Kelly brothers managed to evade police for 6 months for the so called 'attempted murder' of Constable Fitzpatrick in April 1878. Time was running out for them as a well armed police party had set up camp at Stringybark Ck. on 25th Oct. 1878.
The Kellys were confronted with a decision that would change their lives. The plain clothes police dressed as prospectors and possibly acting more in their own interests to claim a reward may not have realised how close they were when Constable McIntyre fired shots at some parrots. Those shots were heard at the Kelly camp. Ned Kelly knew the time had come, their hideout would be discovered, their weapons would be no match, and they were done for. To survive they would have to take the initiative - take the police camp by surprise and order them to bail up, capture their guns, horses and provisions and clear out.
Unfortunately things did not work out as Kelly had hoped, and the police (except McIntyre) didn't surrender. Instead they drew their weapons and engaged in a fatal gun fight. Questions as to whether the Kellys acted in self defense has been the subject of debate ever since.
The whole Kelly gang saga was remarkable as it captivated National newspaper readers who were fed headline editorials and illustrated pictorials. It was the age of the camera and photographers eagerly captured the action right to the end.
Killings or Murders
The terrible events at Stringybark Ck on 26th Oct.1878 began one of the most intense bush ranger hunts the colony had seen. The Kelly gang, as they became known, managed to evade all efforts by the authorities to capture them for 20 months. The hunt ended at Glenrowan on 28th June 1880, which saw three gang members dead and Edward Kelly tried and hanged on 11 Nov. 1880.
Even today, the intrigue and fascination of the Kelly Gang’s exploits so long ago still grows and is increasingly attracting world attention - while remaining baffling to some, however, one thing is for sure of Ned Kelly, of him it was said ;
‘ He is at present the only national hero who has
written in 1889
P. Trevelyan in his ‘ Letters from North America and the
Source, Brian McDonald’s Kellyana, A Bibliographical look at the Ned
The name Scanlan is often spelt Scanlon. Most official documents have Scanlan including, his grave headstone, monument Mansfield town centre, The Royal Commission of 1881, J.J. Kenneally' s book of 1929 and his records in court cases of the time. Scanlon is recorded on the memorial at the Stringybark Ck reserve, in books, by Ian Jones, Keith McMenomy, Max Brown, Gary Dean and G. Wilson Hall to name a few. In this website I chose Scanlan.
to Public Records Office of Vic (PROV) Burman and Madeley was the company of
photographers based on Bourke Street Melbourne. The Mansfield Guardian dated
28 Nov.1878 refers to Mr. Burman as selling the photos as advertised (
Sheila Hutchinson’s book, Heritage and History on My Doorstep)
Report of the Royal Commission on the Police Force of Victoria 1881,
To view questions 14319
-14414 click on the links to pages 522,
14344 Surprised to be at S/Bark Ck. 14348 No knowledge of being close to the Kellys. 14350 - No indication as to why Kennedy and Scanlan went to where they went ( possibly Blue Range) , 14357- No indication as to why the other two were leaving them (McIntyre and Lonigan). 14370- Kennedy was shown out to S/Bark Ck by local squatter( probably Mr. Tolmie after receiving the Blue range letter). 14373- It is considered Kennedy knew they were close to the Kellys.14375- Kennedy and Scanlan had previous knowledge of the Kellys but not told to McIntyre. 14376- Possibility of Kennedy and Scanlan * catching Kellys without McIntyre and Lonigan (so the reward would not have to be shared).14379- McIntyre thought it very strange they went to that part of the neighborhood. (although not mentioned, Blue Range ? ) * (No reflection on the police, rather to show the system was bad. It was always known that Sgnt. Kennedy was extremely highly regarded in the district.)
# From letters dated 16 th August 1878 , Sgnt. Kennedy to Supt. Sadleir presented at the Royal Commission
Many thanks to
locating a copy of the CAE Ned Kelly Seminar Papers 1993, and helping with
historical facts, and reading through various drafts.