For few very short years in the late 1870’s a red headed Irish bushranger, Edward ‘Ned’ Kelly (or O'Ceallaigh as his family would've been known in the ‘old’ country) & his gang of Dan Kelly, Steve Hart & Joe Byrne virtually controlled an area of Victoria from Euroa to the Murray River, from the west of the Victorian Alps & straddling the Hume Highway to Glenrowan was the area where Ned was known to ruled the roost.
It is also known as an area that is steeped in great natural beauty & fascinating local history. By basing yourself in the centrally located Wangaratta, it is a great way to access most of Kelly Country with just a short drive from your accommodation. The first stop is always Glenrowan.
Glenrowan is famously known as the spot where the Ned Kelly Gang made its last stand on the
24thJune 1880. After an attempt to ambush the contingent of Victorian police & trackers sent by the government to hunt the gang down failed dismally, Ned was captured & the rest of the gang of Dan Kelly, Steve Hart & Joe Byrne were killed inside the Glenrowan Inn. Also killed in the deadly crossfire were innocent civilians being held in the Glenrowan Inn, they were Martin Cherry (a 40 year old railway platelayer) & John 'Jack' Jones (the publicans 13 year old son). Two other innocents never recovered & died of their wounds, Jane Jones (the publicans 17year old daughter) & 34 year old George Metcalf.
There are numerous museums & sites to visit, including the must visit Glenrowan Tourist Centre, with its entertaining $6.5 million interactive theme park (go to www.glenrowantouristcentre.com.au/index.php for details) & an excellent self guided walking track, which covers the entire siege area.
If only Ned was as smart as me & done his shooting with a Canon 400D, instead of using 1850's American Colt flintlock pistols, he would’ve have had some great memories to share with his family, instead of being caught, tried, beheaded & buried in an unmarked grave in Old Melbourne Gaol.
The next ‘must see’ area is Beechworth. The town was founded on gold in1854 & quickly became the district ‘capital’ city, with its beautiful civic buildings, courthouse & its imposing gaol. The courthouse is steeped in Kelly history, with Ned first appearing in 1871 charged with Horse Receiving & then again in 1880 for his committal hearing for the murder of Constables Scanlon & Lonigan, after his capture at Glenrowan. Various other members of the family & his friends also stood in that famous dock, including Dan Kelly, Steve Hart, Joe Byrne, Ellen Kelly (Mum), Jim Kelly & various cousins.
My biggest disappointment was not having enough time available to really explore this unique area, an area that really can’t be covered in a couple of hours or even couple of days , but a week may get you to all the wonderful history, wineries, cafes & natural beauty of this amazing area.
Oh, if you are looking to buy a Post Office (LPO), Glenrowan LPO & newsagency is currently on the market, a steal at $425,000, a deal even Ned couldn't refuse!