THE Ned Kelly story captures the imagination, even if it’s only for the opportunity to have the debate about the outlaw versus the folk hero.
In the North East, there are plenty of ways to explore the Kelly legend and so many sights and sites on the Kelly trail that to get to them all would take more than a day trip.
But the beauty is, you can tailor it to your own level of interest.
Here are a few suggestions. If you decide to include Stringybark Creek and Power’s Lookout, it’s probably a good idea to pack an Esky and picnic hamper for stops along the way.
KELLY'S FINAL STAND
From Albury-Wodonga, head 50 minutes on the Hume Highway to Glenrowan.
It’s a little back-to-front starting at the home of the Kelly Gang’s final stand but the giant-sized statue of Australia’s best known bushranger makes this an absolute must.
Glenrowan is home to the site of Ann Jones’ Glenrowan Inn, where the Kelly gang held several hostages while they waited for police who’d been sent on a special train from Melbourne to capture them.
That siege is said to have lasted 12½ hours before police set fire to the building to flush out any surviving members of the gang.
None of the original buildings from the time of the siege remains in Glenrowan but there are markers where the Glenrowan Inn once stood, the site where Kelly was shot and captured by police, the former station master’s house and the original railway station.
For an entrance fee, the Glenrowan Tourist Centre has a 40-minute presentation which brings the Kelly gang story to life through animation and computerised robots. The program features the siege at Glenrowan, the gunfight, the burning of the Glenrowan Inn and Kelly’s final fate.
KELLY ARTEFACTS, BUILDINGS AND ART
Jump back on the Hume Highway, head 20 minutes south to Benalla.
Benalla should be a stop on any Kelly tour as the city holds some of the best preserved artefacts associated with the bushranger as well as buildings of the era.
The Benalla Costume and Pioneer Museum holds a couple of stand-out pieces.
The first is a green and gold silk cummerbund presented to Ned at the age of 11 after he saved a boy from drowning and which he later wore under his armour in the 1880 Glenrowan siege.
The museum also holds the door from which Joe Byrne was strung when his body was taken taken by train to Benalla, as well as the portable cell in which Kelly was held following his capture at Glenrowan.
"It’s a poignant moment to find yourself at the very spot where the Kelly gang members became the nation’s most wanted outlaws — the spot where they shot and killed the unfortunate Constables Lonigan and Scanlan, and Sergeant Kennedy."
The keen Kelly fan will take the opportunity for a look at the old bootmakers shop in Arundel Street where Ned was reported to have broken free from police while being escorted from court in 1877.
The old court house across the road hosted appearances from several Kelly family on various charges and the cell where Ned was held is in its original state.
If your interest in Ned Kelly extends to art, then stop by the Benalla Art Gallery to see Sidney Nolan’s wool tapestry depicting the Glenrowan siege and Albert Tucker’s painting of Joe Byrne’s body, which bizarrely was tied up for the press to photograph after his death.
If you have the time, you might like to make a final stop at the Benalla cemetery where you can find the plot where they buried Joe Byrne.
THE KELLY TREE AND STRINGYBARK CAMPING RESERVE
From Benalla, jump on the Tatong Road and head 50km towards Tolmie. The road becomes gravel heading into the Toombullop State Forest and there's a day visitor spot on Stringybark Creek Road.
It’s a poignant moment to find yourself at the very spot where the Kelly gang members became the nation’s most wanted outlaws — the spot where they shot and killed the unfortunate Constables Lonigan and Scanlan, and Sergeant Kennedy
There is a plaque commemorating the fallen police officers and the Kelly Tree marks the spot where the gunfight between the Mansfield police and the Kelly gang was played out on October 25, 1878.
The reserve features a short walking track through forest and key points of interest. There is also a bush camping ground nearby off the Tatong-Tolmie Road which has a bush toilet, picnic shelter, tables and fire pits.
A FINE VIEW
Return to the Tatong-Tolmie Road and head south, towards Tolmie, to the intersection with the Mansfield-Whitfield Road, turn left and head north-east towards Whitfield for less than 20 kilometres to the Power’s Lookout Road, on your right.
Take a challenging 10-minute walk from the car park to the lookout that provides vistas of the Upper King Valley and the Alpine National Park.
It is believed the lookout was a vantage point for bushranger Harry Power to view approaching police during his period of notoriety in the 1860s.
Power was captured by police at the lookout on June 5, 1870. He was convinced it was his former protege, Ned Kelly, who had betrayed him, when in fact it was a Jack Lloyd who had an interest in the reward money.
Kelly had become Power’s apprentice after meeting the highwayman-style bushranger in 1869, when Ned was then 14. They had used the lookout as a base camp from where they had clear views of the King Valley, while Ned’s relatives, the Quinns, had a homestead at the base of the crag.
TURN TOWARDS HOME
From the lookout, go back to the Mansfield-Whitfield Road. Turn right towards Whitfield. Head along Wangaratta-Whitfield Road for about 23km. Turn left on to the Glenrowan-Moyhu Road, then 17km to Greta West.
Previously Greta had been known only as the place where the Kelly family had settled before Ned’s mother Ellen made her selection at nearby Eleven Mile Creek.
Only a couple of chimney stacks now remain at the Kelly home at Eleven Mile Creek and there is no public access to the site.
But at Greta West, there is the cemetery where Ellen Kelly is buried and since last year, where Ned himself is now interred.
Kelly’s grave is not marked but there is now a stone recording the two lie in unmarked graves here, while several of Ned’s sisters and brothers — Margaret, Grace, James, Daniel and Anne — are buried nearby.
From Greta West it’s a short drive back along the Glenrowan-Moyhu Road to Glenrowan to re-join the Hume Highway and head north back to Albury-Wodonga.
THE BEECHWORTH SIDE TRIP
Perhaps an option for another day is a trip to historic Beechworth, one of the better known stop-off points for the Kelly story thanks to the town’s designated festival in August and its fine and well preserved buildings.
The old Beechworth prison, court house and the town lockup are all in the town’s historical precinct and all have some tie to the Kelly story.
Beechworth offers a wide choice of accommodation, as well as outstanding food and wine tourism and is only a 40 minute drive from Albury-Wodonga, making it a good option for a short family day-trip that may even form the start of your Kelly discovery tour.
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