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Ned Kelly

Ned Kelly was the eldest of eight children, was born to Irish parents in Victoria, Australia, in 1854. He was just 12 when his ex-convict father died and his family settled near relatives at Greta, 240 kilometres northeast of Melbourne. In Ned's time it was wild, rugged country and life was hard. Ned's family was very poor. 

Ned was just 16 when he was convicted of receiving a stolen horse and served three years in gaol before being released in 1874. Then, in April 1878 a police officer called Fitzpatrick accused Ned's mother of attacking him and Ned of shooting him in the wrist. Mrs. Kelly was sent to prison for three years and a 100 pound reward was offered for the capture of Ned.

From that time on Ned and his brother Dan kept to the bush. On the 26th October 1878, together with friends, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart, they came across police camped at Stringy Bark Creek. Ned believed the police intended to kill him and Dan so he called on them to surrender. But three of the officers resisted, and in the fight which followed Kelly shot them dead.

The reward for Kelly and his gang rose to two thousand pounds and would later rise to an amazing eight thousand pounds, the equivalent, today, of nearly two millions dollars. But Ned had many supporters and for almost two years they helped the gang dodge police. During this time the Kelly gang robbed two banks. The robberies were important in the making of the Kelly legend. In defying authority, robbing the rich and by not taking any more lives the gang fitted the popular image of brave and bold bushrangers. At each robbery he gave one of his hostages a letter in which he explained to the government how he'd been persecuted by police. He called Constable Fitzpatrick a liar and explained his killing of police at Stringy Bark as self defence.

In June 1880 Ned made his last stand. The Kelly gang was at the Glenrowan Hotel when they were surrounded by police. Prepared to fight, the four bushrangers wore suits of armour made from steel. During the battle, Ned escaped through the police lines. But rather than fleeing into the bush, he returned a number of times to fight police. He was trying to rescue his brother and friends.

Eventually, he collapsed with more than 28 bullet wounds to his arms, legs, feet, groin and hands. Beneath his armour a green sash he wore was stained with blood. It was a sash he'd been given many years earlier for saving a drowning boy.

Ned was the only survivor of the siege. Joe Byrne had been shot early on and after Ned's capture police set fire to the Inn and the charred remains of Dan Kelly and Steve Hart were removed. After Ned recovered he was convicted of the murder of one of the police officers at Stringy Bark, and despite protests by thousands of supporters, was sentenced to death.

In Melbourne gaol, on the 11th November 1880 Ned Kelly was hanged. He was 25 years old.