Bushranging Gazette #12

Tuesday, 1 February 2022

Georgina Stones launches new Joe Byrne book

Historian and author behind An Outlaw’s Journal, Georgina Stones, has written another book detailing an overlooked part of the outlaw’s life.

Ah Nam tells the story of an incident in Byrne’s adolescence when he accompanied a Chinese man, the titular Ah Nam, and became involved in a brawl. Stones has not only crafted a narrative from the available evidence, fully illustrated with original drawings by Aidan Phelan, but has included notes, historical imagery and essays detailing her research, which provided the basis for the narrative. She also incorporates the oft forgotten history of the old Spring Creek camp in Beechworth and its inhabitants – particularly the prostitutes who worked under the infamous madam, Sarah Payne.

Ah Nam will be published through Ingram Spark and Australian Bushranging, and will be available to purchase in a hardcover or eBook format from retailers such as Booktopia, Angus and Robertson, and Barnes and Noble. The book launches on 3 February 2022.

Ah Nam with a Chinese lion in Beechworth [Via Joseph Byrne: The Untold History on Facebook]

Grantlee Kieza returns to the Kelly story

On 30 March, 2022, Grantlee Kieza’s new book The Kelly Hunters will be released. The book, a follow-up to his popular 2018 release Mrs. Kelly, which nabs its title from a Frank Clune book, focuses on the police pursuit of the Kelly Gang.

The publisher, Harper Collins, describes the book as:

…a fascinating and compelling account of the other side of the legendary Kelly story.

Via: Harper Collins

Kieza’s book will be in fierce competition with another book on the Kelly police pursuit, David Dufty’s Nabbing Ned Kelly, which Is also slated for a March release through Allen and Unwin. Both books look set to change the way the Kelly story is discussed for the foreseeable future and provide a welcome counterpoint to the oversaturated library of books that focus on Ned Kelly.

Mad Dog Morgan gets a new home release in UK and US

While Philippe Mora’s 1976 bushranger epic, Mad Dog Morgan, has had multiple DVD and Blu-ray releases here in Australia, international film buffs and fans of the movie have missed out. Now, thanks to Indicator, the movie is getting a new limited edition release for the US and UK markets.

Starring legendary American actor Dennis Hopper and the late David Dalaithngu, Mad Dog Morgan tells the story of the infamous bushranger from his time on the Victorian goldfields to his gruesome demise. Despite superficially veering from the history in some aspects, it remains one of the most authentic bushranger films to date and is well-loved outside of Australia as a slice of “ozploitation” cinema.

The Indicator release features a restored 4K version of the film by Powerhouse Films, both the shorter UK release version of the film as well as the director’s cut, a poster, and an 80 page book, and is packaged in individually numbered casing. Special features include audio commentaries, an option to listen to the original mono audio, image galleries, original theatrical trailer, documentaries Hopping Mad, That’s Our Mad Dog, Mad Country, and To Shoot a Mad Dog, as well as excerpts from Not Quite Hollywood. Australian fans will recognise many of these special features are already present on the locally produced Umbrella Entertainment release.

The Indicator edition of Mad Dog Morgan is currently available on some websites for pre-order, with an expected release date of 22 March 2022, and will cost approximately $27.99USD.

Kelly at La Mama

From 29 March to 3 April at Melbourne’s famous La Mama theatre, a rendition of Matthew Ryan’s popular play Kelly is set to perform.

The play, which has been performed in a variety of locations with a mix of interpretations, depicts Ned Kelly awaiting his trial and ruminating on what got him there.

Promotional art for Kelly

What sets this interpretation apart is that the role of Ned Kelly is being performed by an actor far removed from the historical Kelly’s ethnic background, which is sure to start much lively conversation.

For more information about the season follow the link: https://www.artshub.com.au/event/kelly-2521311/

Moondyne Joe

Joseph Bolitho Johns was the subject recently of a feature on 9 News. The article focused on his renowned escape from Fremantle Prison, which is undoubtedly his most iconic feat.

You can read the article here: https://www.9news.com.au/national/moondyne-joe-joseph-johns-prison-escape-bushranger-wa-western-australia/3c906343-e438-4932-bc41-5aeb8c0d4df7

The Birdman of Coorong

Once again, the mythical ostrich-riding bushranger of South Australia’s Coorong is the focus of a news piece. This time it is for Farm Online National, written by Chris McLennan.

The article covers the story of the “Birdman” and features relevant quotes from The Meningie Progress Association president. Whether it is true or false is left to the reader’s imagination.

Book Review: The Story of Ned Kelly

A case of “absolutely judge a book by it’s cover”.

In a market so oversaturated with similar (and superior) content, it’s hard to fathom how a book like ‘The Story of Ned Kelly’ by Marie-Ève de Grave can get past the goal keepers of the publishing industry. It is the epitome of style over substance, with a wildly inaccurate and over-simplified “poetic” retelling of the Ned Kelly legend that has less historical accuracy than a Wikipedia entry. The words are accompanied by linocuts that were loosely inspired by Peter Carey’s novel ‘True History of the Kelly Gang’, though I don’t recall any part of that book describing Ned dressed in a bucket and waffle iron as demonstrated by the cover art. It’s nice to flick through and look at the pictures, and Five Mile Press have done a superb job with the printing and materials, but the product is wasted on such a sub-par text when so many better written, better illustrated, and better researched options are available.

I picked this up at Kmart for $12, and I wouldn’t pay any more than that for it. This is the kind of book you’ll find in an opp-shop in 20 years for $2 with a birthday message written on the inside cover.

My recommendation: If you’re looking for a kid’s book on Ned Kelly, leave this one on the shelf and fork out an extra few bucks and get Mark Greenwood’s far better offering, Ned Kelly and the Green Sash, or Janeen Brian’s quirky Meet… Ned Kelly. — AP

This month on A Guide to Australian Bushranging

A Bushranger’s Autobiography

Straight from the archives, this serialised account of the life of William Westwood, alias Jackey Jackey, is taken from the horse’s mouth.

As he awaited his appointment with the hangman, Westwood dictated his life story to a fellow convict, preserving his own perspectives on his lawless career.

Westwood’s autobiography is a frank and revealing account of a life gone astray, and the brutality of life in Her Majesty’s penal colonies.

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