Australia’s most famous Bushranger Ned Kelly is considered ‘one of the most romantic figures in Australian history.’ Australians say he is ‘the father of our national courage.’ Numerous books, songs and paintings depict the life of this poor Irish Catholic who at an early age became the sole support of his widowed mother and sister. In fact, Ned Kelly is the most written about Australian Bushranger and has even been featured in 11 films. Born January, 1855 in Beveridge, he became a part of the infamous Kelly gang that robbed banks and rustled cattle. In spite of serious protests, Ned Kelly was hanged November 11, 1880.
The Aussies say their Ned lived “fearless, free and bold,” values dear to the hearts of Australians. Stories abound that he his life as a Bushranger or bandit who fought for freedom. Kelly was one of the first to draw a line in the sand for the native-born against injustices. His fight for ‘justice and liberty’ and ‘innocent people’ and his pleas to end discrimination against poor Irish settlers who were excluded from holding public office or government positions captured the imagination of his people. He stole from wealthy non-native Australian landowners who exploited those born in Australia. Native Ned, as he is affectionately known, represented native-born’ national heritage values. Today, the Kelly Gang’s Hideout, located in the Benalla region of Victoria, has been added to the Victorian Heritage Register. The campsite is significant to the cultural history of the state for its association with the nation’s most famous Bushranger and his fight for equality.
Photo: Omega Art Studio