Former Wangaratta mayor and Kelly descendant calls for respect to be at heart of any development at Glenrowan siege area

Historic block: No.1 Siege Street, which features a replica sign for the Glenrowan Inn where the Kelly Gang held townsfolk hostage in 1880.

Historic block: No.1 Siege Street, which features a replica sign for the Glenrowan Inn where the Kelly Gang held townsfolk hostage in 1880.

GLENROWAN’S siege base should not become a “kitsch, cheapo” tourist hub, a Kelly descendant and former Wangaratta mayor says.

Anthony Griffiths was reacting to the block of land, where the Kelly Gang met its demise in 1880, being put up for sale for the first time since 1952.

“I think both from a community perspective and certainly from a family perspective it needs to be treated with the respect it deserves,” Mr Griffiths said.

“It would be a real shame if it gets turned into a kitsch, cheapo tourist attraction and there is the potential for that.

“I’m quite happy with the way it’s treated at the moment, I think it would good if it was just left in situ and maybe with more information signage, so people can come and have a reflective moment.”

Wangaratta real estate agent Garry Nash, who is taking tenders for the former location of Ann Jones’ Glenrowan Inn, said he had recieved 15 to 20 inquiries.

“It’s creating a lot of interest,” Mr Nash said.

“The majority of people wish to enhance the site, people have talked of putting a memorial there and some sort of reasonable sculpture there.

“There’s been talk of commercial ventures and replicating Ann’s inn.”

Wangaratta lawyer and Ned Kelly buff John Suta, who will place an expression of interest, wants to uncover the inn’s foundation and allow visitors to walk over it on glass. 

Mr Griffiths said he saw value in that idea if it was “done sensitively”, although he would prefer the land to be not in private hands.

“I think there’s a lot of merit in it being in public ownership, whether that’s council or the state I’m not sure,” he said. 

Mr Suta said if his offer was accepted he would be seeking government funding.

Keep some dignity: Anthony Griffiths does not want the Kelly Gang's siege location to become tawdry after it is sold.

Keep some dignity: Anthony Griffiths does not want the Kelly Gang's siege location to become tawdry after it is sold.

The 1655 square-metre Siege Street block, which has been devoid of structures since 1976, is subject to state and federal heritage classification.

The national listing means work would be subject to the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999, while state classification necessitates permit approval from Heritage Victoria.

Mr Nash said every tender presented to him would be passed on to the siege site’s vendor Linton Briggs after expressions of interest close on July 4.

In his 40 years of working as a real estate agent, Mr Nash has never presented a similar offering.

“It’s certainly in the true sense of the word very unique because you can’t buy another Ann Jones inn site,” Mr Nash said.

“I see it as a very good investment, it’s like a rare piece of art, this is a rare piece of history in Australian real estate.” 

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