NED Kelly was 99 per cent good and has been subjected to an historical "blackwash", the author of a new book on the bushranger believes.
Ned – Knight in Aussie Armour, a 140-page work was launched at Glenrowan on Wednesday with its writer Eugenie Navarre saying it revealed Kelly Gang secrets.
She pointed to the Nolan family of Wangaratta who told her of relatives buying ammunition for the siege at Glenrowan.
“The Nolan family, even today, will get a backlash and I think they're brave, but they've gone there because they think it is time that history was told and truth came out,” Navarre said.
“It's just been a total blackwash of history, which I think we're all beginning to realise.”
Navarre, who hails from far north Queensland, spent 10 years on the book after initially planning to write about buildings, such as Rutherglen's Fairfield House, which had Kelly connections.
Not all who spoke to her ended up willing to go to print with one withdrawing his story near deadline.
“He said 'they'll say I'm making money out of the Kellys' and I said 'but you’re not' and he said 'I know, but I don't want to go there',” Navarre said.
Those telling of their Kelly links include former Victorian MP David Evans, Rutherglen winemaker Mick Morris and Ned's late great nephew Les Griffiths.
Navarre believes the Glenrowan showdown was aimed at launching a republic of North East Victoria and a secret pact covered up the siege survival of gang members Steve Hart and Dan Kelly.
“The accepted story Steve and Dan died at Glenrowan kept everyone happy, it stopped the innuendo, it stopped the danger,” Navarre said.
As for Ned, she rates him a “fantastic hell of a fellow”.
“I think he's 99 per cent good, because he was under such pressure constantly,” Navarre said.
“Most of the people that criticise Ned Kelly don't understand the landscape of the time and this larrikin movement was a bit like the wild boys of today revving up their motorbikes.
“They were revving up their horses and the authorities were really freaked out because this was society was breaking down.”
Navarre interviewed Kelly biographer Ian Jones and Glenrowan buff Gary Dean, who sang The Ballad of the Kelly Gang at the launch and tipped her book would be fascinating and controversial.
Kelly descendant Joanne Griffiths also addressed the gathering at Morrisons winery.
Ned Kelly – Knight in Aussie Armour is being sold at sites in Beechworth, Bright, Glenrowan and Wangaratta for $44.95.