Bushranging Gazette #6

Sunday, 1 August 2021

The Hobart Magazine

The July 2021 issue of The Hobart Magazine features an article by Sarah Aitkin about Rocky Whelan’s cave in Mount Wellington (Kunanyi). For the article, Aidan Phelan (A Guide to Australian Bushranging) was interviewed and provided contextual information about Whelan.

You can access the magazine digitally for free online.

Jingo Was Born in the Slum

Matthew J. J. Thorne, who was the photographer during production of Justin Kurzel’s True History of the Kelly Gang, has released a new book through Jane and Jeremy Publishing titled Jingo was born in the slum. The book is a collection of his photographs from the film with various writings and additional text from Peter Greenaway and George Mackay.

Ned Kelly in front of the Glenrowan Inn, photographed by Matthew J. J. Thorne.

Of the book, Thorne states:

The book is a collection of photos, essays and poems made during the filming of Justin Kurzel’s half-mythic, half-modern retelling of the iconic Australian Kelly myth.

Matthew J. J. Thorne, via Instagram

Though the first print run sold out in 24 hours, there are rumoured to be plans for future printings.

You can learn more about it on the Jane and Jeremy website.

Grantlee Kieza to Write Mrs. Kelly Sequel

Grantlee Kieza, author of the book Mrs. Kelly, which tells the story of the Kelly outbreak with particular emphasis on Ellen Kelly, has announced on social media that he is writing a follow-up book about the police hunt for the gang.

Kieza reached out to Kelly buffs on Facebook to announce his intention to write a book about the police hunt for the Kellys, and was looking for stories to include.

Though there are already books about the police pursuit, most of these are memoirs, so to compile a book about the police will provide a unique perspective. Leo Kennedy’s book Black Snake mainly concentrated on his ancestor Sergeant Michael Kennedy, who was murdered at Stringybark Creek. Dean Mayes is a descendant of one of the police involved in the pursuit, Joseph Ladd Mayes, and has been researching his life story and publishing it on a blog titled The Victorian Trooper. It remains to be seen what insights Kieza is to get about the pursuit from reaching out to the Kelly enthusiasts.

Ned Kelly Coming to Hobart

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery have announced that they have secured Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly series for October 2021. The paintings are part of the National Gallery of Australia’s collection and travel around Australia to most major galleries.

The exhibition is scheduled to launch 29/10/2021 and remain until 20/02/2022.

Find out more here.


Henry Maple

On 12 July, the Herald Sun published a feature that covers the life and career of boy bushranger Henry Maple.

Henry Maple (left) and Robert Banks enjoyed fleeting careers as bushrangers.

As with all Herald Sun pieces, access to the article requires a subscription to the publication. Readers with an existing subscription will be fine, but new users will have to choose between buying a subscription or missing out.

Maple was a juvenile delinquent that was in and out of reformatory around the time of the first world war. He had a fascination with shooting guns and idolised Ned Kelly. In 1920, he and another boy named Robert Banks absconded from their reformatory and went on a brief bushranging career.

The career was short, Banks turning himself in after Maple wounded a man during one of their escapades, and Maple being tracked down to a patch of forest at Neerim where he engaged in a shootout with a posse. Maple was fatally shot, and the death initially ruled a suicide before a forensic examination proved the injury was not self-inflicted.

Ned Kelly in Jacobin Magazine

A feature about Ned Kelly and his Jerilderie letter by Daniel Lopez was published this month for Jacobin Magazine, an American publication that promotes socialist perspectives on political and social issues.

The article examines Kelly from a socialist angle, looking at his rumoured republicanism, the socio-economic context of Kelly’s life, how he is viewed by commentators with a decidedly conservative perspective such as Doug Morrissey, and the rise of Kelly mythology.

To this day, conservatives, police, and centrists affect righteous indignation over Ned Kelly’s challenge to their monopoly on violence. […] Their denunciation of his violence was always an entrée to celebrating the more violent reimposition of law and order.

Daniel Lopez

This month’s features on A Guide to Australian Bushranging

* The Bluestone College: Bushrangers at Pentridge — A look at some of the bushrangers who did time at Pentridge Prison and what led them there. Includes Ned Kelly, Captain Moonlite, Harry Power, Frank Gardiner, James Nesbitt and Owen Suffolk.

* Spotlight Series: Tasmanian History; Matthew Brady by J. E. Calder — This series of articles by colonial historian James Calder provides some of the most accurate and detailed information about Matthew Brady and his gang ever published.

Mini-Spotlight

Gilbert and O’Meally at Demondril

John Windeyer Edmonds, on oath, stated: I am superintendent to S. K. Salting, and reside at Demondril, about two and a half miles from the prisoner’s residence; on last Saturday evening about seven o’clock, as I was taking tea, two men walked in, presented pistols at my head, and said “Bail up;” I believe them to be Gilbert and O’Meally; Gilbert said “Bail up;” they ordered me to stand up, and hold up my arms; they took from the house two saddles and bridles, a halter, a revolver, and many other articles; I see the articles as produced; the macintosh is mine; the valise was in my care; the trousers I borrowed from Mr. Macanah; the coat is mine; the two newspapers I had, all these articles were taken by the bushrangers; the bullet mould produced is mine, and many of the other articles are similar to those stolen; the goods I identify are of the value of £5; I have impounded some of the prisoner’s stock; the bushrangers said I had a bad name for impounding cattle; I saw the greater portion of the property found at Toodles.

[Source: Empire (Sydney, NSW : 1850 – 1875), Thursday 10 September 1863, page 8]

John O’Meally by Aidan Phelan

Jerilderie by Norman Lindsay

An illustration of the Kelly Gang in disguise as police at Jerilderie by Norman Lindsay, which appeared in an early edition of Douglas Stewart’s play Ned Kelly.

Jerilderie by Norman Lindsay

Lindsay captures a sense of frivolity and farce with the outlaws, dressed as police, grinning while riding the police horses. The horses appear both distressed and humiliated to have been made to carry the outlaws, reflecting the humiliation the police force at large felt at the gang’s actions. Byrne’s mount strains at the bit, defiantly, while Ned’s and Dan’s are visibly distressed.

Norman Lindsay contributed illustrations for the book version of the play, as well as costume designs for the characters. In another iteration of the play, the costume designs were by Sidney Nolan, who based the costumes on his acclaimed series of paintings.

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