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at Stringybark Creek

two huts

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Bill Denheld,
 Kelly researcher .












Stringybark Creek Newsupdates  

15 March 2009  Authorities hoodwinked. 

The original Press release to Northern papers as follows - 

New Kelly Gang up in arms over shoot out site.


Kelly expert historian Ian Jones is wrong about where the police tried to shoot it out with the Kellys in October 1878.

In his latest book edition on Ned Kelly, Ian Jones states that the site of  two huts identified by Kelly researcher Bill Denheld in 2002 - are un related to the Kelly story. Bill's research shows one of the hut sites was the Shingle Hut that Ned Kelly himself wrote about in his Jerilderie Letter of 1879.   

Pictured Left, ascribed as the
'Bushrangers hut at Glenmore Ranges' meaning by the article featured in the The Australasian Sketcher  Nov 1887, 'Ned Kelly’s hut at Stringybark Creek'. The image also shows the body of one of the dead policemen being carried out on pack horse - from the remote location in the Wombat Ranges north of Mansfield. The hut drawing is a  montage of the tragic events featured in The illustrated newspaper  Australasian Sketcher.

Bill Denheld and Queensland Kelly researcher Greg Young,  have concluded the Hut is in fact ‘The Shingle Hut',  one of two huts as mentioned in the press at the time as where the police had camped, and we believe this is the only know image of the hut.

Ian Jones, in his new book claims a Hut marked on the first map of the area in 1884 is some hundreds of metres north ( from Bill's two huts fireplaces site) which marks where the police had camped. But Bill has shown Ian Jones to be incorrect. This site identified by Ian Jones is unable to support photographic evidence of the police camp.
See KC2000 Forum- New Jones Book Out

An accurate survey by Bill using GPS has proven the original first surveyors map of 1884 has the hut incorrectly plotted in conjunction with  where the police had camped .
See KC2000 Forum - SBC Upgrade Plans on Display Thru June3 

Bill Denheld who has studied the shoot out site at Stringybark Creek north of Mansfield for the past 24 years and believes Ian Jones has set out to mislead the authorities like DSE, Benalla and Mansfield Historical societies, to create uncertainty of the true site and leave Bill's research out in the cold when it comes to signage and recorded history.

Bill came across the true clue to the police camp site after studying shadow details for orientation of police forensic photos of the shootout site taken just after the police killings. At the time Two huts were reported as nearby, and during research by Bill in Sept 2002 with renown Kelly historian Gary Dean, Bill came across the ruins of one fireplace of one of the two huts near the accepted site of the police camp site.  

The Department of Sustainability and Environment  (DSE) in conjunction with the Ned Kelly Touring Route ( NKTR) steering committee uses Ian Jones as their Historical consultant to promote the Kelly related sites for commercial tourism through out NE Victoria and Southern NSW.

Bill Denheld's aim was always to bring truth to the story as for years the shoot out site at Stringybark was promoted as near the Kelly tree at the picnic ground. In fact the true site is 350 metres further up the creek. Good tourism must be underpinned by truth and fact.

Tourism pressures now threatens the pristine nature of the Kelly / police clash site.

A sizable group of Kelly researchers are protesting to DSE for the work being         carried out at Stringybark to stop. 

After five years of lobbying by Bill, the authorities have little option other than to show the true site and allow visitors be directed to the true site of the police camp, and the new works 'they say' are to cater for a new influx of tourist visitors to the site promoted by NKTR. This is OK if they leave the site in it natural state.

The DSE are in charge of the works under guidance of the NKTR plans to build / erect a viewing platform right in the middle of the police camp site where possibly two of the police troopers, Constable Lonigan and Scanlan died as a result of the shoot out with the Kelly gang. 

To all, this structure is unwanted and outrageous as the site should be left in its natural state as in October of 1878.

The unwanted works include new walking tracks paved with yellow gravels. Bruce Johnson who provides the KC2000 Kelly forum is ready to take the issue right to the top to have the works stopped.

Bill Denheld is also up in arms since he first provided DSE with plans for the area because he was determined to allow the casual visitor to Stringybark Ck see the real sites and not just the Kelly tree area. His plans were unobtrusive and were sidelined by DSE in preference to plans offered by Wangaratta NKTR promoters led by Ian Jones.

With Mansfield Historical Society members, we offered to create simple raked walking tracks to and fro and historically accurate signage for less than $5000, but they( DSE) totally ignored the plans in preference to what the authorities later drew up costing more than ten times that amount. 

People want to see these places as they are, not contrived paved tracks leading to a viewing platform.  Works protestor Bruce Johnson says " we are not even sure exactly where the police were killed at this site, - for all we know they are building the platform right over where one of the police constables actually died."  We know this is the area of the police camp but we need to do a fair bit of historical re enactment using the surviving policeman - Thomas McIntyre's notes.

Bill's plans were not used and he was not even invited to be part of a special Stakeholders Stringybark Reference Group led by Ian Jones.  Final plans for the works went on public display in April 2008 and according to those plans no stone structures for people to stand or sit on was part of the works at the police camp.  So they must have changed the plans without public notice or opinion regarding this historic site.

Bill says Ian Jones, the eminent Kelly historian has hoodwinked the authorities into believing the true site is somewhere else, north of the Kelly tree when clearly he is wrong. The works at the true site have to be stopped.

Protestors to stop the plans can do so at Bruce Johnson's -
We Must Stop the works at SBC Now, 

Also see  KC2000 Forum  Stringybark Creek News- 


The news paper articles (below)  is how they reported on the story above

10 April 2009  Wangaratta Chronicle

New battle at old Stringybark Creek -  Written by HARVEY DIKE.

PLANS by the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) to develop the Stringybark Creek site of the 1878 battle between the Kelly Gang and police have come under fire from a Kelly historian.

At the centre of the row are disputes about the exact location of the police camp and the places Sergeant Kennedy and Constables Scanlon and Lonigan were killed, and the nature of the tourist development, if any, that should occur.

Kelly researcher Bill Denheld claims that the DSE intends to pass on flawed advice to visitors to the site. "An 1884 surveyor’s map has the police hut incorrectly plotted, some hundreds of metres north of where I believe the correct site is, yet the incorrect site is the one tourists are being directed to," Mr Denheld said.

"Stringybark Creek history is part of Australian folklore, history must be underpinned by the truth, and Stringybark Creek is now the number one site on the Ned Kelly tourist route.
"The historian that the DSE is relying on is quite wrong about where the police tried to shoot it out with the Kellys."

Mr Denheld is also concerned that tourist pressure now threatens the pristine nature of the site. "The DSE is in charge of the works to build a viewing platform that may be on the very place two of the police officers died," he said.

"Its plans for the walking tracks are inappropriate, too. "This development is unwanted and outrageous, and the site should be left in its natural state."

Glenrowan resident and Kelly historian Gary Dean said that the controversy surrounding the precise location of the police camp and the slain policemen would not be ended until a proper scientific investigation of the area had taken place. "There needs to be a careful and thorough investigation of the site, and until there is, the DSE is wasting their money by setting up the tracks and the platform," Mr Dean said.

"All works at Stringybark Creek should be stopped.

"They won’t last long anyhow, as the area is particularly prone to bushfire and vandalism.

"What everyone can agree on is that the present Kelly Tree, marked as a memorial to the three murdered policemen, is the third tree to be so named, and is probably a significant distance from the first which was probably logged around the end of the nineteenth century."

The DSE’s Goulburn district planning manager, Kathy Gosby, said that Mr Denheld had not formally produced his evidence and had not become involved in the process of the site’s development. "However, we did consider Mr Denheld’s point of view," Ms Gosby said.


25 March 2009  Benalla Ensign
Battle at Kelly site
Another battle is being waged at the site of the infamous 1878 shoot -out between members of the Kelly Gang and police troopers. The Stringybark Creek site, about 50km east of Benalla, is being revamped to better cater for the growing number of visitors, while linking environmental and historical values.

The revamp is a joint project between the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) and Benalla Rural City, and is being partially funded by a $20 000 contribution from the latter and through the State Government's Living Regions, Living Suburbs program. But some people believe the revamp is obtrusive and destructive, and the site should be left in its natural state.

There is also some concern about exactly where the police troopers were killed and that a new viewing area might be desecrating the place where they died. Mansfield Historical Society member Bill Denheld said the development was unwanted and outrageous. "The unwanted works include new walking tracks paved with yellow gravel," he said. "People want to see these places as they are, not contrived paved tracks leading to a viewing platform."

Mr Denheld said it was not known exactly where the troopers were killed. "We know this is the area of the police camp, but we need to do a fair bit of historical re-enactment using the surviving policeman Thomas McIntyre's notes."  Mr Denheld said there were no stone structures for people to stand or sit on in the initial concept plans, which went on public display in May last year. "So they must have changed the plans without public notice or opinion regarding this historic site," he said.

DSE Goulburn district manager David Wells said a stakeholder reference group, made up of representatives of historical, community and indigenous groups, had input into developing the site plans. Professional input was also sought from the Victorian Police Historic Unit and DSE Heritage Branch, because it was considered such a historical and sensitive site.

DSE's Goulburn district planning manager Kathy Gosby said completed works included a new carpark, land-scaping and walking-track improvements. "Once gravelled, the newly aligned track to the Kelly Tree will provide greater access for people of all ages and now caters for wheelchair access," she said. "During the next few weeks we hope to complete construction of a new toilet facility and install upgraded footbridges over Stringybark Creek."

"Stringybark Creek Reserve is an extremely popular location and these works will both enhance the experience for visitors and protect the environment for the future generations," Ms Gosby said.


13 May 2008,
During a tour and visit of Stringybark Creek and Kellys creek, Heritage Victoria archeologist Jeremy Smith said the site nominations will be included in the Victorian Heritage inventory. This will ensure permanent protection of the sites. The old fireplaces of two huts built by the first lease holders Heap and Grice in 1848 will undergo archaeological investigation, as one of the fireplaces belonged to the Shingle Hut that Ned Kelly referred to in his Jerilderie Letter of 1879.

22 March 2008
Sheila Hutchinson reports-
Benalla Rural City Council have secured $50,000 from the State Fire Recovery Fund to upgrade the SBC Recreation Area. DSE and the Council will be working together to improve visitor facilities and upgrade the site. The project will also include rehabilitation work to repair the damage caused by the bush fires.
A Stakeholder Reference Group (SRG) made up of representatives of historical, indigenous, community groups and tour operators have also been invited to participate in this project.

November 2004
Kelly Ck track closure not good enough for elderly and disabled.

This was the entrance to the Kellys Creek sawmill track 1930s. Before that, circa 1890's it was the road that lead to Stokes's and Mc Crum's place. On this road track stood the Kelly hut and camp of 1878. This track entrance is just 300 metres north of Stringybark Creek road turnoff.

The bulldozed obstacles about 2 meters high are to stop vehicular access to the Kelly site camp site at the end of the track. A two foot diameter log sits on top for good measure. Three such mounds have been placed further up along the track suggesting permanent closure. Why would this be so? What is there at the end of the tracks that you are not to drive to? It is hoped the mounds will be removed  considering this track access allows many elderly and disabled people into the otherwise in-accessible Kelly sites. The closure is an appalling oversight on part of DSE management with Mansfield taking part in the Ned Kelly Touring Route trail. You could drive an ordinary sedan well past the halfway mark along the 1.2 km track. Now, only sure footed pedestrian traffic are able to get in, - the blackberries have taken over not only the track but the historic Kelly camp as well. This single track entrance also accessed German Creek site along a left fork to where Sergeant Kennedy was killed by the Kellys.
It would be good to have the track opened so all those interested can have access to our history. Bill Denheld

5 May
2004 Heritage Victoria

Heritage Victoria Site Protection Notice.


As of 5 May 2004, Bill Denheld has nominated these Kelly sites to Heritage Victoria for possible inclusion on the Victorian Heritage Register and / or on the Victorian Heritage Inventory.

Under the terms of the Heritage Act 1995 it is an offence to disturb an historical archaeological site unless consent has been obtained from the executive director of Heritage Victoria. Further archaeological work at these sites is planned under guidance of the Heritage Victoria.

Please be aware that the disturbance of an archaeological site, and the collection of artefacts, constitutes an offence under the act.

Stringybark and Kellys Creeks are managed by Parks Victoria, under guidance of the Dept of Sustainability and Environment D.SE formally known as Dept. Natural Resources and Environment D.NRE.

With high community ' Kelly' interest, it should be commended that six local government municipalities are currently developing the Ned Kelly Touring Route.
A recently circulated
 community update May 2004 ) states;

" The route will intrinsically link the key 'Kelly sites' in North Eastern Victoria and Southern Riverina with an appropriate brochure/map and to install high quality interpretive signage at relevant sites to allow visitors the opportunity to gain a greater insight into the Kelly legend." 

These tourist developments, will direct visitors to the very places where all visitors want to be, where it actually happened ,  including
- Kellys, Stringybark and German's Creek, for it was from here the gang evolved.

Given that we are faced with deciding how to protect the past and important historic places with many thousands of visitors coming to Stringybark Creek annually there is a need to plan for future generations. Just how this should be done requires much foresight and determination right now, not when its too late. Unfortunately as can be demonstrated, it was time to instigate Heritage nomination and recently the removal of the Kelly tree log for safe keeping. 

We are very fortunate that for the best part these actual terrains of the Kelly story are still much as they always have been, undeveloped, and hope it remains that way. We must all tread carefully to avoid destruction of what we came to see.
It is therefore the duty of each and every visitor to leave these places exactly as we found them.

Remember, Stringybark Creek is sacred ground, when there - respect the past for the future.

Bill Denheld

PS, Do you have a point of view on these matters? Please let me know.

27 January 2004 The stump of the Kelly target tree

t has been known for generations that a portion of a Kelly target tree lay in the creek rotting. Over a twenty year period it had become very fragile and the next bushfire would certainly have been the end of it. That would be very unfortunate and a great loss, but when visitors actually start sawing off pieces, we need to draw the line. I first saw the log when well known local historian ' Mr. Bill Stewart' pointed it out to me in 1985. Being the only tree log stump with a direct connection to the Kelly gang and at great risk of being lost forever, I initiated its removal for preservation.

Dec 2003

Pictured left, D.SE historian Daniel Catrice and myself at the Kelly target tree log. I had first seen the log as fully round  that you could stand high upon. It is now a mere shell, a giant peppermint gum scared by eons of time, shot at and chopped finally to be dropped for either firewood or curio.

18 January 2004

Left, At the depot we examine the remains of the Kelly target tree. The removal was the instigation of myself (at left ) seen here with Mansfield Historical Society historian Sheila Hutchinson, Kelly historian Dave White, Kelly researchers Nicole Jones, and Bruce Johnson at right. Photo, Joe Hutchinson.

Being the last Kelly relic with direct connections to the Kelly* gang's shooting practices prior to the shootout with the police at Stringybark Creek in 1878, the tree stood  within a stones throw from the Kelly hut and like other trees nearby were the brunt of thousands of rounds fired to improve their shooting accuracy.
The relic will eventually go on display at the new proposed 15 million dollar Ned Kelly Visitor Centre at Glenrowan when it gets built.

The tree was still standing up to 60 years after the police shootings while even a sawmill was operating there, they did not touch it. During the 1940's the tree was dropped and large parts were cut from the giant log. Chainsaw marks are testimony to that.

The tree relic is to be kept in a safe place till an interim public display place can be decided upon.

Note, * The Kelly Gang did not evolve till after the shoot out with the police at Stringybark Creek. Before that event the Kelly brothers were only wanted men. Ned and Dan Kelly with their friends practiced their shooting accuracy at the Kelly camp on Bullock Creek, and this tree fragment was one of their target trees. 

Bill Denheld 27 January 2004

Many thanks to Parks Victoria, D.SE, and Bells Earth Moving of Mansfield for removal of the tree log.  ________________________

May 2003 Meeting called by D.S.E
During May 2003 Bill Denheld was asked by the Dept of Sustainability and Environment to call a meeting regarding the status of the Stringybark Creek Police camp and Kellys camp site at Kellys creek.

All interested parties are invited to be present including the responsible authorities.
Invited to attend were
Sheila Hutchinson, Bob Bretherton, Gary Dean, Matt Shore, Brad Web, Brendan Pearce, Dave White, Ben Collins, Marian & Peter Matta, and from D.S.E, David Hurley, Terry Kingston, David Wells, and the historical officer for D.S.E, Daniel Catrice.
Each was asked to nominate invitees and advise on a management plan.

To put in place a protection plan for both S/Bark and Kellys Ck.
The NRE needed to know where the historically important sites were for proper management and to avoid burning those by mistake.
Meeting outcome. Undergrowth to be cleaned up by work parties. No marking of original sites to be done until after a proper archeological study has been carried out. The sites are to be recommended to Heritage Victoria as historical sites worthy of preservation under the Heritage Act.
Those that did not attend the meeting were,

Matt Shore,  Brad Web,  Brendan Pearce,  Dave White,  Ben Collins.