Ned Kelly

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Photograph of Ned Kelly. Image courtesy of Ned Kelly: Australian Ironoutlaw
The bushranger Ned Kelly is one of Australia's greatest folk heroes. He has been memorialised by painters, writers, musicians, and film makers alike. More books, songs and websites have been written about Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang than any other group of Australian historical figures.
When people are asked what they think of Ned Kelly, the answers are usually fairly extreme. They either see him as a hero who fought for his family and friends, or a bushranger who robbed banks, stole livestock and murdered policemen.
A brief history of Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang
Edward 'Ned' Kelly was the first-born son of an Irish Catholic couple. His father was an ex-convict and his mother was a migrant. He was born in June 1855 and was executed in 1880 at 25 years of age.
In his teens he was a 'bush-worker' - ring-barking, breaking in horses, mustering cattle, and fencing. From this he graduated to cattle duffing and horse stealing.
During Ned's short life he was arrested for assault, horse stealing, bank robbery, and finally a reward for £100 was put out for Ned and Dan Kelly for attempted murder of a policeman. Later the reward was increased to £1000 for each of the Kelly Gang for the murder of three policemen at Stringybark Creek.
After more bank robberies, the Kelly Gang's had their 'last stand' in the small town of Glenrowan, Victoria, where they took 60 hostages in a hotel. In the battle with police three gang members - Dan Kelly, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart - were killed and a wounded Ned was arrested and charged with the murder of a policeman. Ned Kelly was tried and convicted of the murder of Constable Lonigan at Stringybark Creek and hanged at the Melbourne Gaol.
An extensive history of Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang can be seen at Ned Kelly: Australian Ironoutlaw. The Old Melbourne Gaol held a unique Kelly Exhibition in early 2002, and the Kelly gang featured in the National Museum of Australia's 2003/04 Outlawed! exhibition.
Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang - Filmsexternal image storyofkelly.jpg
1906 feature film The Story of the Kelly Gang
The Australian film industry produced what was probably the world's first full length feature film in 1906. The film was the Tait brothers production The Story of the Kelly Gang. It was a success in both Australian and British theatres, and it was also the beginning of a genre of bushranger stories.
In November 2006 the National Film and Sound Archive released a new digital restoration of The Story of the Kelly Gang. This restoration incorporated 11 minutes of material recently discovered in the United Kingdom. Prior to this discovery only a few minutes of footage was available. The Story of the Kelly Gang can be seen when visiting the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory.
While the Australian public took a liking to bushranger stories, the New South Wales police department did not. The production of films about bushrangers was banned in 1912. The Kelly story, however, outlasted the ban and has been refilmed a number of times since.
Other well known films about Ned Kelly include: Ned Kelly (1970) starring English rock singer Mick Jagger as Ned; the Trial of Ned Kelly (1977) starring John Waters and Gerard Kennedy; the 1980 mini-series The Last Outlaw starring John Jarratt, Steven Bisley and Sigrid Thornton; and most recently the 2003 Gregor Jordan directed Ned Kelly which starred Heath Ledger.
Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang - Books
Recently, the Australian author Peter Carey won the 2001 Booker Prize for his fictional novel True History of the Kelly Gang. Carey's inspiration, in part, came from the Sidney Nolan series of Kelly paintings, some of which can be seen at The Nolan Gallery's Foundation Collection. The novel's first person narrative style was crafted from Ned's own 'Jerilderie Letter' - an account of the dramatic events leading to his being outlawed in the 1870s.
Carey's book is not the first to be written about Ned and the Kelly Gang. There are many other books including Ned Kelly: A Short Life (1995), Ned Kelly: The Authentic Illustrated History (1984 and reprinted in 2001), I am Ned Kelly (1980) and the Inner History of the Kelly Gang (1929), a very brave move on behalf of the author, J. J. Kennealy, considering that some of the people being discussed were still alive.
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Hear are some people of Astralia.
The Aborigines, like the Christians, had their own stories that explained the origin of the world, themselves and all that make up the world that provided Aboriginal people with a strong and close association with the land for thousands of years. These stories gave unity and purpose to Aboriginal societies in the past and are important today in maintaining their identity. Michael's works of art are his interpretation of these lovely Dreaming stories and he is able to combine modern art materials and techniques with traditional patterns, styles and subject matter.