A happy accident of the trip was the discovery that I was on something of a Ned Kelly trail. I visited the site of his last stand in Glenrowan, Victoria (which has a 6m high statue of Ned), and also the site of his execution at Old Melbourne Gaol. Ned is something of an Australian icon really – it is interesting how we like to glamourise and perhaps idolise criminals – but then I guess those of us who go through life without putting a foot wrong are kind of dull to the general public.
On that note, I was cautioned by the police in Sydney for jaywalking. Thankfully I played the ignorant tourist card and avoided a fine but it does help to be alert to the rules of where you are going. Lesson learned. Hardly in Ned’s league though – here was a man who received stolen goods, committed assault, stole horses and cattle, robbed banks, took hostages, and was planning to murder the police who were in pursuit of the gang by luring them to their doom.
Their plan was foiled however. We were told at Melbourne Gaol that Ned was shot 28 times (despite wearing a thick suit of armour fashioned from parts of a plough) and suffered a major loss of blood. Other members of the gang were killed and Ned was nursed back to health with the intention of then executing him. He was hanged on 11th November 1880, aged 25. Below is a death mask taken of his shaven head after his execution which is on display at the Gaol. Well worth a visit in Melbourne.