|“There’s no record of Ned Kelly’s birth but
according to Kelly family tradition, he was born around the time of the
Eureka Stockade, December 3, 1854, so he was 25 years old when he died.
In this photo here he’s about nineteen, this was taken just
before his release from prison. And these are the other Kelly Gang
members, next to Ned is his younger brother Dan. He’s about
seventeen there, he was only nineteen when he died. You can see how his
clothes are too big for him, obvious hand-me-downs from his older
brothers… Below Ned there is Joe Byrne, who was Ned’s best
friend and right-hand man. He was said to be the best educated out of
the Gang, although Ned himself was by no means illiterate. The
Jerilderie Letter - which I will get to in a moment - is actually
written in Joe’s hand. Joe was a ladies’ man, it is said he
had a girlfriend in every pub in the Kelly Country. Looking at the
photo you can sort of see it, can’t you? Joe grew up in the
Woolshed valley just outside Beechworth; there was a sizable community
of Chinese miners there and apparently Joe learned to speak fluent
Cantonese. He also picked up an opium habit…”
Whoa, where did he come from?
Don’t get distracted lass. You were saying how I was the handsome one of the bunch…
Shut up, Joe. He’s gorgeous. Just look at those curls and those eyes, he’s a dead ringer for Orlando Bloom! And you can stop rolling your eyes.
Not him again…Really lass, I thought you were over him already.
“Oh hello, would you like to join in the tour? I’ve only just started so you haven’t really missed much… Yes? Great!”
You have just made my day. Thank you Universe! An Irish accent would have been the cherry on top but I’m certainly not complaining. Now where was I…
You were talking about how the girls were all crazy about me.
“And the fourth member of the Gang was Steve Hart, he’s there next to Joe. Steve was quite an accomplished jockey it seems; you can see he had the slim build for that. Rumour has it that during the time the Gang were on the run, Steve would sometimes dress in women’s clothes and ride side saddle to escape detection…”
Did he just brush his arm against mine? And just look at those eyelashes!
Honestly lass, what’s the big deal? I bet he’d be useless on a horse, not to mention in the bush…
“And here we have Ned’s manifesto, the Jerilderie Letter…”
You don’t really need those skills in the city, Joe. And he’s got one very big advantage over you.
I’m afraid that may just be wishful thinking on your part, lass!
Oh get your mind out of the gutter, Joe! I meant that he is here, in physical form, actual flesh and blood!
“Yes, Ned and Joe worked on the Letter together, although it was Joe who actually wrote it out. You wouldn’t believe that it was written in 1878-1879 looking at it, would you? It’s quite amazing that it survived.”
I’m sorry, lass. I guess I am not really helping you with that: being present in the here and now, hanging around the way I do.
Well it’s not really your fault Joe and I do appreciate that you’re there. It’s just bloody hard sometimes...
“And here of course is the most famous part of the Kelly story, Ned’s actual suit of armour. Would anyone like to hazard a guess how much it weighs?”
Bloody armour did bring us to grief, I told Ned it would. How ironic that it’s become the main thing we are remembered for. Iron outlaws.
“The other three suits of armour? Yes, they survived as well. Dan and Steve’s are in the Victoria Police Museum and Joe’s is privately owned.”
Can’t believe the coppers are still holding Dan and Steve hostage, after 129 years. It’s a bloody disgrace! We should do something about that, lass. And about that bloke who thinks he can hold on to Joe Byrne’s armour just because that cove Hare gave it to his family. As if he had any right!
“I totally agree with you, all the four suits of armour should be on display together. My dream is to see a Kelly museum one day where that will be a reality. I firmly believe it will happen.”
Hear that Joe, he’s on our side! Not just a pretty face then…
“This photo here was taken the day before Ned’s execution at Ned’s request, he wanted his family to have something to remember him by. On the other side is Sir Redmond Barry, the judge who sentenced Ned to hang, and who incidentally founded this place. You may have seen his statue out the front before you came in, all covered in pigeon droppings…”
Justice at last, eh Sir Redmond? Finally we are getting our fair hearing and you’re getting your just deserts!
“In March 1881 a Royal Commission was appointed into the Kelly Outbreak and it bore out what Ned had been saying all along about police behaviour…”
Did he just wink at you lass?
Good thing I’m leaning against the display case here… He’s really cute, just look at that smile!
“Thank you, totally my pleasure. You can leave the feedback forms at the foyer desk. Thank you so much for coming.”
He doesn’t seem to be in a hurry. Did he just put his hand on your shoulder, all casual-like? Very smooth…
Maybe I can ask him if he has time for a coffee, so we can talk more about Ned? He’s clearly interested.
“Oh, that’s nice of you to ask, I’d love to go for a coffee! No no, I’m not in a hurry at all.”
I thought you were supposed to be working this afternoon, lass?
Bugger that. They can manage without me for an hour or two. Thanks Joe, gotta go now.
“I just need to get my things, won’t be a sec…”
Bye lass. Make the most of your present moment. It’s all you’ll ever have and life is much too short. Trust me, I know.