Spotlight: “Mr. Speaker’s” Reminiscences (27/08/1907)

Punch (Melbourne, Vic. : 1900 – 1918; 1925), Tuesday 27 August 1907, page 27



Arrival In Melbourne.

Gifted with a splendid memory, endowed with a particularly alert and observant mind, and possessing the Irishman’s natural knack for telling a tale well, no one can gossip more interestingly about the early days of Melbourne than Mr. Frank Madden, Speaker of His Majesty’s Legislative Assembly of Victoria, whose activities exactly cover the span of “Punch’s” existence.

“We came to Melbourne in 1857,” he said, when asked to recall some early impressions. “I was then a very dedicate boy. I nearly died on shipboard. I have thrived in Victoria. My first recollection of Melbourne is that we could not land at Sandridge — why, I do not know. We came up the Yarra in a barge towed by a steamer. The wharf accommodation was very meagre, and the south side of the river was covered with a ti-tree swamp, gridironed with little, rivulets. When we got off the barge we went to the Yarra Hotel, which looked on an open space, since filled with the Customs House. We had hard work to find somewhere to stay. Not a single place would take us in — there were ten of us. For the first two nights we slept in Temple Court, where a relative gave up his chambers to us. Finally we had to choose between a little shop in Smith-street and a tiny cottage in Richmond, behind Wren’s Racecourse.

“Of course, we got very familiar with the Survey Paddock, which reminds me that not many of the present generation know how it came by its name. It was due to the fact that the pegs employed in surveying the whole of the colony were cut in this paddock. Near it was Sir James Palmer’s house. It still stands on the top of the hill, midway between the Hawthorn Railway Station and the Richmond Bridge. Meetings of the Legislative Council were held there, and he had specially substantial furniture made for it. The streets of the infant city were terribly low lying. There was no gas — just oil lamps here and there. The paths were only partly made, and it was no unusual thing to sink up to your knees in mud. The centres of the roadways were cut into deep channels, and there was a regular river in Elizabeth-street, after rain, which was spanned by a Bridge in Collins-street. When this hollow was filled in they covered up bridge and all, and years afterwards, when the tramway track was laid, I saw that bridge, which I crossed so many times when a lad, dug up from the excavations.

Iron Houses Imported.

“The Crimean war was just ended, and much of the materials which were made for the Crimea were purchased by long-headed Jews and brought out to Melbourne. The bridge across the Yarra at Church-street, with the high sides, was specially constructed for use in the Crimean War. It was to be thrown across a Russian river, and the high sides were to serve as a screen for troops marching across. Such a bridge could only be put where it was not exposed to the full force of the wind. If it were swept by a gale the sides would offer so much resistance that it would be smashed. Down where it is now it is protected from fierce winds. Officers’ quarters — there were British regiments in the Colony then — were built in Clarendon-street and Albert-street, and they have just recently been removed. They were constructed of iron, all the parts being made in England and then shipped to Melbourne. Several other houses of a similar class were put up. Mr. Francis’ (once Premier) original house in Albert-street was one of them, and that which Mr. James M’Kean lived in for so many years, and which still stands though hidden in modern improvements, was another.

A Practical Joke.

“Most of the buildings in the city were considerably above the level of the paths. The Bank of Australasia, for instance, was high up. M’Cracken’s Brewery stood back also, and in front of it was open land. I remember that about this time some wags in Temple Court collected some gold-bearing quartz and put them conspicuously on Flagstaff Hill, which was then a popular rendezvous because shipping was signalled from it, People found this quartz, and getting the gold fever pegged out the ground one Sunday morning, and promised to dig pits sufficient to give the hill the appearance of a man whose face is pock-marked. But the practical jokers relented in time, and let it be known how they had humbugged the amateur diggers.

Dare-devil Horsemen.

“Bourke-street was a very lively place, because there were four or five horse bazaars in it — Kirk’s Yard, at the corner of William street; Kirk’s Bazaar, where it stands to this day; M’Caw’s yard, where Morris and Meeks’ place is now, and a couple of others which I forget. It was the regular practice for horses to be brought in and sold unbroken, and it was most interesting to see these horses taken away afterwards, with an ordinary halter. John Abbott, a daredevil fellow, bought seven colts one morning — all raw. He ran one of them into the crush, got on him, and rode, him there and then. When it stopped bucking he got the lot together and drove them off to Heidelberg as if it were a most everyday feat.

The Coaching Days.

“The Albion Hotel was another fascinating place, for the coaches started from it for Bendigo, Ballarat, Mansfield, and other long journeys. They had grand horses then, the very type which we want to-day and can’t get, arched necked, round-barrelled, splendid shoulders, high-spirited, and with plenty of courage. You know, the roads were very rough and ready, but the teams pulled the heavy coaches over them long distances, and delivered their freight to time. The drivers were wonderful whips — Cabbage Tree Ned, John Peck and Billbow, to mention only three. In Bourke-street, too, were the big shops. Copper coins were unknown in those days. Big firms like Hyde and De Carle, grocers, issued tokens, which were accepted in circulation, and which were taken by the Post Office for stamps. They were a good advertisement for the shops and a considerable convenience to the public. Only when the Government Departments refused to honour them was the present copper coinage introduced.

Processions of Bullock Waggons.

“Of water supply as we know it to-day there was none. Water was drawn from the Yarra, and it cost 2/6 a barrel. Subsequently a pumping station was built at the foot of Spencer-street, and two huge tanks were constructed close to the Eye and Ear Hospital. Well do I recall when the water from the Yan Yean was first started flowing at the corner of Bourke-street and Elizabeth-street. The first results were not altogether pleasing. The reticulation pipes were not properly cleaned. Several people died, and inquiry revealed that they had been killed by lead poisoning. The pipes were then thoroughly overhauled. It was a picturesque period. The great rush of diggers had ceased, but there was still a steady stream of men to the great mining camps, and they mostly travelled in bullock drays, which all passed up Elizabeth-street.

“You would see dozens of these drays crawling and creaking along, carrying men and machinery, with twenty-four bullocks constituting a team. Then there were the coaches running between the distant suburbs and the city. In particular there was the Brighton Coach, which Jack Martin drove. Many people lived in Brighton just because they enjoyed the wit of Jack Martin. He was one of the wittiest Irishmen I ever met, and when he gave up the reins and became a horse clipper at Kirk’s Bazaar, he used to maintain a running fire of raillery and badinage, which hugely entertained a large crowd every day. Peter Hanslow — Collingwood to the city — was another noted driver, and he kept going until the cabs spoilt his business. The cost of living was very high, and prices varied most curiously. A grand big schnapper could be bought for a shilling, whilst eggs were priced sixpence a piece.

Riot Against Parliament.

“I shall never forget my first visit to a court. Convicts tried to murder Col. Price, father of Colonel Tom Price — who had charge of the convict hulks. They killed him with shovels, and the case was tried in the court which is still being used for the City and District Courts. And my first peep of Parliament was also pretty early, when a no-confidcnce motion had been tabled against the O’Shanassy Government. I was greatly impressed with the debate and the proceedings. Some time afterwards there was a great riot in Spring-street, intended as a demonstration against Parliament. Round Parliament House was a low fence, and behind this Captain Dana and about twenty troopers were stationed. Dr. Eades read the Riot Act to the crowd, and as this did not disperse them, the order to charge was given. The troopers smashed down the fence, and were soon amongst the rioters. They were told only to use the flat of their swords, but I saw many people carried out with blood streaming from their wounds.

Flemington Rabbits and Flash Squatters.

“In 1859 I made my first acquaintance with the Flemington course. Flying Buck, a three year-old gelding, ran away with the Champion Stakes. Yeend rode him, and he is still a hale and hearty man. Amongst others who I recollect were there were L. L. Smith, Herbert and Robert Power, Reginald Bright, J. Cleland, J. Carter (who was a jockey then, and is now one of the assistants employed on the course), and Squire Austin, (who died some little time back). Squire Austin used to dress in typical John Bull style, just as you see him in old prints.

He was a good patriot, and in his scheme of importing English ways and things to the new country he conceived the idea of bringing out rabbits. He thought they would be kept in check, as in England, and provide both sport and food. Charles Fisher knew them better, and the moment he heard of Austin’s intention he had Corangamite Station fenced with heavy pickets to save the property from the plague which he was certain would follow. Portions of that fence are still in position, and testify to his sound judgment. It was amusing to see some of the men who called themselves ‘squatters’ in those days. They were chiefly cattlemen from the Northern districts. They wore red shirts, riding pants, bushmen’s boots, and had coloured handkerchiefs round their necks, and wore cabbage-tree hats, with the string caught under their noses instead of their chins. We used to call them ‘flash squatters.’ Thinking of Flemington reminded me of them. The stand looked as if it were made of derelict gin-cases. People could go anywhere except on the course proper, and all sorts of amusements were provided, including Aunt Sally and Doodleumbuck. There was a rail round the course, and men with fast horses often followed the races in this smaller circle. The Champion in Flying Buck’s year was rendered notable by the wreck of the Admela. There were interstate entries as far back as 1859. Horses were being brought round from Adelaide for the race, and Hurtle Fisher asked the captain if he could not alter his course a little, to save the horses feeling the full strength of the sea. The captain complied with his request, and had cause to regret it, since the Admela was wrecked. One of the horses, The Barber, managed to swim thirteen miles to land, and actually took part in the race. Mr. Fisher was imprisoned on the wreck for a week, but was ultimately rescued after suffering fearful privations.

Sixpence to Cross Collins Street.

“There were great floods in the Yarra. I was not snagged. I remember a contractor erecting a bridge at the end of Victoria-street across to Studley Park. I asked him if it was high enough. He replied that it was higher than any flood had ever reached. When fishing in the river I had noticed debris caught in a corner just below, and I pointed it out as likely to mean trouble at some time. Within a week of the completion of the bridge there was a big flood; the water got penned up at this very spot, and the bridge was swept away. In the city bridges were just as dangerous. There were little, curved structures over the rivulets in Elizabeth-street. One day a woman fell into one of these streams. A policeman tried to fish her out, and fell in himself. He was swept under one of the bridges, and before he was rescued everything he had on, except the leather collar then worn by members of the force, was torn off. Things were so bad in Collins-street, too, that people wishing to cross from one side to the other paid sixpence to be driven, and thought it cheap at the money. When you walk down the Block to-day, think of that, and you will realise why Melbourne is marvellous.

A Popular Tenor’s Ill-luck.

“The theatres were good. At any rate, the principals were. I can remember Brooke, Jefferson, Squires, Lyster, and many others. And we got in the pit for a shilling, what you can’t get to-day, because neither in drama or opera is the standard as high as it used to be. Well do I recall one day that I was fishing on the Saltwater near the Flemington Racecourse. Some sportsmen were shooting quail on the other side. One of them — Lyster —- accidentally shot Armes Beaumont in the face. I got across as fast as I could when I saw that something was amiss, and found out what happened.

A Notable Surgeon’s First Chance.

“Returning to the city, the Cattle Market was at the top of Elizabeth-street, alongside the old cemetery. There were wild and savage beasts, and dangerous to any people on foot who might be walking along the stock route. This was realised by the powers that be, and retreats were made into which pedestrians could go for shelter. They were V-shaped pens, with the apex of the V outwards. Men could get in, but the cattle could not follow. It was a Cattle Market accident which gave Sir Thomas Fitzgerald his first big lift. A drover was rushed by a bullock at Newmarket, and its horn thrust into his neck severed the jugular vein. The man was taken to the Melbourne Hospital bloodless, and apparently lifeless. The other doctors would not give him a chance of living, but Sir Thomas Fitzgerald took the man in hand, attended him continuously for two days and two nights, and pulled him through. The drover lived for many years afterwards — a fine advertisement for the young surgeon’s resource and skill.

Priceless Wine for a Song.

“Curious things happened in those times. We had been hunting one day near Laverton, and when we got to Williamstown we determined to return by boat, and made ourselves comfortable at an hotel. I did not like the idea of drinking waterside public-house draught stuff, so I asked the landlord if he had any colonial wine. ‘I have some sour stuff in the cellar,’ he replied — ‘claret.’ He brought it up, and the minute the cork came out with a pop I smelt the aroma of a first-class wine. I found that he had ten cases of this claret, told him I was partial to that kind of wine, and offered him 15s a case for the lot delivered on board the steamer. He jumped at my offer, and I got the wine, than which I have never tasted better, though it had no label. Talking about this incident with Mr. Alston, of Alston and Brown, he told me that when things were booming in the early fifties wines and other commodities of great value were shipped to Victoria. When the steamers reached the bay the seamen deserted, and the ships were left without adequate protection. Those left on board, or thieves from the shore, used to get the fine wines, which were not to their taste, and exchange them for raw spirits which they enjoyed. The Williamstown publican did not know where the claret came from, and probably this was the explanation.

Power, the Bushranger.

“Bushrangers! Yes, I had to see Power, the notorious bushranger, on one occasion. There was a dispute, as to who captured him, and I represented Mr. Charles Hope Nicholson in the matter. I saw Power at Pentridge. When first he was pointed out to me I thought he was a small man, whereas I always understood he was very big. But when I got close to him I discovered my mistake, for he towered over me. His enormous breadth detracted from his height. He told me that Ned Kelly deserved to be taken, as he ‘peached’ on him, (Power). I said I knew how he (Power) was captured. He had a gunyah on the far side of a clearing, and was surprised when asleep. A man ran across the clearing and grappled with him before he could get his gun, which was slung within reach, and he was brought to justice. I asked, ‘Who was that man?’ and he replied, ‘Nicholson; and it was lucky for him I couldn’t get my gun, as I would have shot him to get away.’

Sir William Stawell’s Courage.

“Talking about his life he said that the bravest, man he ever knew was Sir William Stawell the Chief Justice of the Colony. The Chief Justice gave him a very heavy sentence at one time, and Power nursed a bitter resentment and swore to revenge himself. When Sir William Stawell was on Assizes in the country he had a police escort, but he was a man entirely without fear, and frequently went on ahead of his guard, despite the desperate men abroad. Power said, ‘I reckoned on his carelessness, and plotted to catch him unawares on a bit of the road where he would be at my mercy. On a lovely morning, deep in the heart of the Gippsland bush, I pulled my pistols out of the holsters cocked them, and held them in readiness. By and bye I heard a horse cantering quietly along, and a man singing merrily in the pure morning air. As he came round a bend I knew it was Sir William Stawell, and gripped my pistols tighter. As he neared me Sir William shot a swift glance at me from his eagle eyes, never moved a muscle, although he must have guessed my purpose, said “Good morning, Power,” and cantered on. I could not shoot.’

Ned Kelly’s Mistake.

“Power held that Ned Kelly made a fool of himself at the end. ‘Thank God!’ he exclaimed, as he rapidly sketched his life, ‘I never killed a man. Kelly ought to be hanged. If he had had any sense he would not have shot Sergeant Kennedy, but have bided his time, caught him, tied him up, and put all the troopers in the pub, and have left them until called for. That would have covered the force with ridicule, and have gained him great public sympathy.’

The Brave Man’s Silence.

“A brave, taciturn man was C. H. Nicholson. When he was a cadet he went to the Kilmore district with a warrant to arrest a noted Tasmanian bushranger. He lost one of his men in the first attempt, got assistance from the Kilmore police, picked up the bushranger’s tracks and went after him armed with one of the old pepper-box four-barrelled pistols. When he overtook the desperado, the latter, resting his pistol on the pummel of his saddle, fired at Nicholson. The bullet cut obliquely across his cheek, severing the nerve which connects with what we call the eye tooth. From this wound Nicholson suffered for many a year. But to continue, Nicholson fired and missed. The chase commenced again, and Nicholson fired two more shots without result. The bushranger, finding that he was still followed, lifted his jacket to show that his waist belt was studded with pistols. But Nicholson was not to be frightened away. He determined to get to close quarters before using his last barrel. Getting on the left-hand side of his quarry, so that he could not use his pistol-hand freely, he rode right up to him, pulled the trigger and it missed fire. Letting it drop, he threw his arm round the bushranger’s neck, and both rolled to the ground. After a struggle, Nicholson took him prisoner. Except to his family, who got it out in bits, Nicholson never told how he risked his life in this venture. I looked up the court trial in the papers to learn something about the adventure, and all that I read was — ‘Charles Hope Nicholson, a cadet in the police force, duly sworn, said, “I arrested accused on a warrant near Kilmore.”‘”

Old Government House, 1854

Ned Kelly’s Last Battle

While it is popularly considered that Ned Kelly’s lawless life came effectively to an end upon his capture at Glenrowan – his execution a foregone conclusion and his trial merely a formality – the last burst of Ned’s fighting spirit came forward when given the opportunity to speak after being found guilty by the jury at his the Melbourne Supreme Court. The transaction between Kelly and Sir Redmond Barry, his judge, has often been considered to be one of the most remarkable occurrences in a trial in Australian history. Ned’s unadulterated and unshakeable belief in his own abilities is displayed brazenly as he asserts that he could have single-handedly changed the result of the trial. Barry, meanwhile, takes the opportunity to bemoan that such lawlessness continues despite the consequence – death – being what a rational person might deem a deterrent. Such a remarkable exchange was this that it was published in full in the press. The following transcript of the argument comes from the Queanbeyan Age.

Queanbeyan Age (NSW : 1867 – 1904), Wednesday 3 November 1880, page 4


The trial of Kelly was resumed on Friday morning. The attendance on the part of the public was much smaller, and there was an absence of all excitement. Prisoner appeared listless at times, but generally paid great attention to the evidence. The witness examined were Frank Beecroft, draper’s assistant; Scott, bank manager at Euroa; Henry Richards, constable at Jerilderie; Edward Living, clerk in the bank of New South Wales, Jerilderie; J. W. Tarleton, senior-constable Kelly, and sergeant Steele. This closed the case for the Crown, and Mr. Bindon addressed the Court for prisoner. When he concluded his speech, Judge Barry summed up, only occupying a few minutes, and the jury brought in a verdict of guilty. The prisoner, having been asked in the usual way if he had any statement to make, said, “Well, it is rather too late for me to me to speak now. I thought of speaking this morning and all day, but there was little use. There is little use blaming anyone now. Nobody knew about my case except myself, and I wish I had insisted on being allowed to examine the witnesses myself. If I had examined them I am confident I would have thrown a different light on the case. It is not that I fear death; I fear it as little as to drink a cup of tea. On the evidence that has been given, no juryman could have given any other verdict that is my opinion. But, as I say, if I had examined the witnesses, I would have shown matters in a different light, because no man understood the case as I do myself. I do not blame anybody, neither Mr Bindon nor Mr Gaunson; but Mr Bindon knew nothing about my case. I lay blame. on myself that I did not get up yesterday and examine the witnesses; but I thought that if I did so it would look like bravado and flashness.”

THE KELLY TRIAL – THE SCENE IN COURT. [Source: Illustrated Australian news, November 6, 1880.]

The Court-crier having called upon all to observe a strict silence whilst the Judge pronounced the awful sentence of death, his Honor then said,— “Edward Kelly, the verdict pronounced by the jury is one which you must have fully expected.”

The prisoner: “Yes, under the circum- stances.”

His Honour: “No circumstances that I can conceive could have altered the result of your trial.”

The prisoner: “Perhaps not from what you now conceive, but if you had heard me examine the witnesses it would have been different.”

His Honor: “I will give you credit for all the skill you appear to desire to assume.”

The prisoner: “No, I don’t wish to assume anything. There is no flashness or bravado about me. It is not that I want to save my life but because I know I should have been capable of clearing myself of the charge, and I could have saved my life in spite of all against me.”

His Honour: “The facts are so numerous and so convincing, not only as regards the original offence with which you are charged, but with respect to a long series of transactions, covering a period of eighteen months, that no rational person would hesitate to arrive at any other conclusion but that the verdict of the jury is irresistable, and that it is right. I have no desire whatever to inflict upon you any personal remarks. It is not becoming that I should endeavor to aggravate the sufferings with which your mind must be sincerely agitated.”

The prisoner: “No; I don’t think that; my mind is as easy as the mind of any man in this world, as I am prepared to show before God and man.”

His Honour: “It is blasphemous for you to say that. You appear to revel in the idea of having put men to death.”

The prisoner: “More men than I have put men to death, but I am the last man in the world that would take a man’s life. Two years ago — even if my own life was at stake — and I am confident, if I thought a man would shoot me — I would give him a chance of keeping his life, and would part rather with my own; but if I knew that through him innocent persons’ lives were at stake, I certainly would have to shoot him if he forced me to do so, but I would want to know that he was really going to take innocent life.”

The Trial of Edward Kelly, the Bushranger [Source: The Australasian sketcher, November 6, 1880.]

His Honour: “Your statement involves a cruelly wicked charge of perjury against a phalanx of witnesses.”

The prisoner: “I dare say; but a day   will come, at a bigger Court than this, when we shall see which is right and which is wrong. No matter how a man lives he is bound to come to judgment somewhere, and as well here as anywhere. It will be different the next time there is a Kelly trial, for they are not all killed. It would have been for the good of the Crown had I examined the witnesses, and I would have stopped a lot of the reward, I can assure you, and I don’t know but I won’t do it yet if allowed.”

His Honour: “An offence of this kind   is of no ordinary character. Murders had been discovered which had been committed under circumstances of great atrocity. They proceeded from motives other than those which actuated you. They had their origin in many sources. Some have been committed from a sordid desire to take from others the property they had acquired; some from jealousy; some from a desire of revenge; but yours is a more aggravated crime, and one of larger proportions; for, with a party of men, you took arms against society, organised as it is for mutual protection and for respect of law.”

The prisoner: “That is how the evidence came out here. It appeared that I deliberately took up arms of my own accord, and induced the other three men to join me for the purpose of doing nothing but shooting down the police.”

His Honour: “In new communities, where the bonds of societies are not so well linked together as in older countries, there is unfortunately a class which disregards the evil consequences of crime. Foolish inconsiderate, ill-conducted, and unprincipled youths unfortunately abound, and unless they are made to consider the consequences of crime, they are led to imitate notorious felons whom they regard as self-made heroes. It is right therefore, that they should be asked to consider, and reflect upon what the life of a felon is. A felon who has cut himself off from all, and who declines all the affections, charities and all the obligations of society is as helpless and as degraded as a wild beast of the field; he has nowhere to lay his head; he has no one to prepare for him the comforts of life; he suspects his friends, and he dreads his enemies. He is in constant alarm lest his pursuers should reach him, and his only hope is that he might lose his life in what he considers a glorious struggle for existence. That is the life of an outlaw or felon; and it would be well for those young men who are so foolish as to consider that it is brave of a man to sacrifice the lives of his fellow-creatures in carrying out his own wild ideas, to see that it is a life to be avoided by every possible means, and to reflect that the unfortunate termination of the felon’s life is a miserable death. New South Wales joined with Victoria in providing ample inducement to persons to assist in having you and your companions apprehended; but by some spell, which I cannot understand — a spell which exists in all lawless communities more or less and which may be attributed either to a sympathy for the outlaws, or a dread of the consequences which would result from the performances of their duty — no persons were found who would be tempted by the reward, or love to country, or the love of order, to give you up. The love of obedience to the law has been set aside, for reasons difficult to explain, and there is something extremely wrong in a country where a lawless band of men are able to live for eighteen months disturbing society. During your short life, you have stolen, according to you own statements, over 200 horses.”

Sir Redmond Barry by John Henry Harvey [Source: SLV]

The prisoner: “Who proves that?”

His Honour: “More than one witness has testified that you made that statement on several occasions.”

The prisoner: “That charge has never   been proved against me and it is held in English law that a man is innocent until he is found guilty.”

His Honour: “You are self-accused. The statement was made voluntarily by yourself that you and your companions committed attacks on two banks, and appropriated therefrom large sums of money amounting to several thousands of pounds. Further, I cannot conceal from myself the fact that an expenditure of £50,000 has been rendered necessary in consequence of acts which you and your party have been connected in. We have had samples of felons, such as Bradley and O’Connor, Clarke, Gardiner, Melville, Morgan, Scott and Smith, all of whom have come to ignominious deaths. Still the effect expected from their punishment has not been produced. This is much to be deplored. When such examples as these are so often repeated society must be reorganised, or it must soon be seriously affected. Your unfortunate and miserable companions have died a death which probably you might rather envy, but you are not offered the opportunity.”

The prisoner: “I don’t think there is much proof they did die the death.”

His honour: “In your case the law will be carried out by its officers. The gentlemen of the jury have done their duty, and my duty will be to forward to the proper quarter the notes of your trial, and to lay before the Executive all the circumstances connected with your trial that may be required. I can hold out to you no hope, and I do not see that I can entertain the slightest reason for saying that you can expect anything. I desire to spare you any more pain, and I absolve myself from saying anything willingly in any of my utterances that may have unnecessarily increased the agitation of your mind. I have now to pronounce your sentence.” His Honour then sentenced the prisoner to death in the usual form, ending with the usual words, “May the Lord have mercy on your soul.”

The prisoner: “I will go a little further than that, and say I will see you there where I go.”

The court was cleared and the prisoner was removed to the Melbourne gaol. Everything was quiet, and nothing approaching to any scene occured, although some of Kelly’s relatives were in court.

Wild Colonial Boys exhibition: Review

This past weekend I went to the Old Treasury Building on Spring Street, Melbourne, and took a gander at the free exhibition: Wild Colonial Boys: Bushrangers in Victoria.

The Old Treasury Building, Melbourne

The exhibition is admittedly small when compared to, say, NED the exhibition from 2002, however it is apparent that a lot of thought went into assembling the exhibits in the context of the already quite packed Treasury Building. Most items are on loan from the Public Records Office and State Library of Victoria who have some very interesting items in their catalogues. The small size benefits the narrow scope of the exhibition that focuses mainly on Victorian bushrangers with, naturally, an emphasis on Ned Kelly. The information supplied is very interesting and if you stop to properly examine the items on display they offer up all sorts of things.

Dan Morgan’s death mask

Items on display include Dan Kelly’s armour, Dan Morgan’s death mask, a Cobb & Co. bullion box and the prison record of Jack Doolan. One of my favourite items was a log book that details the costs for building the gallows in Melbourne as it gives a rather unique insight into the way things were run back in the day. I also enjoyed the display detailing the events depicted in Bushrangers on the St. Kilda Road by William Strutt. Naturally most visitors go straight to the Ned Kelly stuff where you can drop a coin into a tube and cast your vote on whether you agree with the death penalty or where your opinion sits on the spectrum. Dan Kelly’s armour is kept in a rather awkwardly placed, super reflective glass case. This has the annoying qualities of being both inconvenient when more than one person is in that part of the exhibition and making it difficult to see the armour inside the case due to the reflections of the white walls on the glass. Despite the minor bother presented by this I definitely recommend checking it out.

Dan Kelly’s armour

While you are at the Old Treasury Building be sure to check out the other exhibitions on Aboriginal history in Victoria, the development of Melbourne as a city and the displays downstairs in the old vaults. It provides many informative and fascinating perspectives on various aspects of Victoria’s history.

Jack Doolan’s prison record

The Old Treasury Building is at 20 Spring Street, Melbourne, and is open from 10am until 4.00pm, Sunday to Friday. Entrance is free however gold coin donations are a great way to give a little something back to help keep things going.

Wild Colonial Boys: Bushrangers in Victoria is on display at the Old Treasury Building until August 13, 2017.

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