How Should the Kelly Gang Be Remembered

How should the Kelly Gang be remembered?

Ned Kelly has been described as a ‘hero’, “father of our nation’, and surprising as ‘one as the most romantic figures in Australian history’. Yet he was a criminal and a murderer. He shot and killed policemen, he kept innocent Australians hostage and was a thief. Why was he considered a hero and why is he still remembered today a legend more than a 100 years after his death? He was a controversial figure, one that will always be remembered in Australian history, but for the right or the wrong reasons?

His whole family wasn’t on the right side of the page, his parents were sent to Australia on a convict ship for committing petty crimes. Like father like son Ned’s criminal career began at a young age in country Victoria. In 1874 he was jailed for stealing a horse, the starting of his crimes and his mother, Ellen Kelly, was jailed for wounding a policemen.

Also in 1878 Ned and his younger brother Dan were falsely accused of attacking a wounded policeman. Both men fled to the bush where the 'Kelly Gang' was formed. For sixteen months they avoided police, committing petty crimes to survive. They killed three policemen, robbed a bank in Euroa and held the town of Jerilderie hostage.

In 1880 they seized the Glenrowan hotel and took many of the town's locals hostage. They made armour of thick steel to protect themselves from police bullets. Unfortunately the heavy armour made them clumsy. Ned was eventually captured and his brother Dan died in a fire when the Glenrowan hotel was burnt down.

He was a thief and a killer, so why was Ned Kelly widely loved? People admired his bravery and his defiance of the police. When it was declared that he was to be hung, 60,000 people signed a petition asking that he be spared. He was eventually hung at the Old Melbourne Jail on 11 November, 1880. Today we can still see a life size mask made immediately after his death. It is on display along with other Ned Kelly paraphernalia. He is...