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22 February 2015

The Aussie alphabet: N is for Ned Kelly

Moving on with the Aussie alphabet - I hate to leave projects unfinished! - -

Ned Kelly is the Jesse James of Australia, I guess you could say. He's known as the last of the bushrangers, defined as bandits of the Australian outback ( = bush) who harassed, robbed, annoyed, and sometimes killed the more law-abiding folk around them.

This is Ned, aged about 25, shortly before his death.

Ned was born in 1855 in Victoria, the eldest of 8 children of John and Ellen (Quinn) Kelly. John had been transported from Ireland for pig theft, and married Ellen in 1850 after serving his sentence of 7 years. 

By the time he was 14, Ned had already been in trouble with the authorities, and his chief occupation seems to have been horse theft until he graduated to killing police officers who were trying to apprehend him, and robbing banks. He was declared outlaw in 1878, complete with a price on his head, and finally captured in 1880 in a shootout with police. At this last shootout, he was wearing this suit of homemade armour, now iconic in Australia:

Image from

He was tried for murder, found guilty, and sentenced to death; he was hanged on 11 November 1880. As has happened with other so-called outlaws, there are those who yet view him as a hero struggling against the oppression of the ruling class and their agents, the police. His exploits are now the stuff of legend.

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