This iconic image of Ned Kelly was first sketched by Thomas Carrington, a press artist, during the siege of Glenrowan. Carrington had been part of the press party on the police special train that had been sent from Melbourne to record the hunt for Aaron Sherritt’s murderers. Carrington’s account of the siege and Kelly’s capture were recorded in the newspapers at the time and later released as a book in 2003 titled Ned Kelly: The Last Stand.
Carrington’s vivid and imaginative description of the sight of Ned assaulting the police in an attempt to return to the besieged Glenrowan Inn helps to capture the excitement onlookers must have felt watching the scene:
“And now occurred the most sensational event of the day. Just about break of day, standing on the right hand side of the station, the Beechworth end, suddenly we noticed one or two of the men on the extreme right, with their backs turned to the hotel, firing at something in the bush. Presently we noticed a very tall figure in white, stalking slowly in the direction of the hotel. There was no head visible, and in the dim light of morning, with all the steam rising very heavily from the ground, it looked, for all the world, like the ghost of Hamlet’s father with no head, only a very long, thick neck.
Those who were standing with me did not see it for some time, and I was too intent on watching its movements to point it out to the others. The figure continued gradually to advance, stopping every now and then, and moving what looked like its headless neck slowly and mechanically round, and then raising one foot on a log and aiming and firing a revolver. Shot after shot was fired at it, but without effect, the figure generally replying by tapping the butt end of its revolver against its neck, the blows ringing out with the clearness and distinctness of a bell in the morning air. It was the most extraordinary sight I ever saw or read of in my life, and I felt fairly spell-bound with wonder, and I could not stir or speak.”
Carrington, Thomas. Ned Kelly: The Last Stand. South Melbourne: Lothian, 2003. Print.
“CATCHING THE KELLYS.” The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957) 5 July 1880: 6. Web. 27 Jun 2017 <http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article5983068>.