26 September 2017
Associate editor John Ferguson for the THE AUSTRALIAN, news
paper story, Such is life: quest for Kelly site is buried ! Lets
hope not for the sake of all those interested in true history.
With one foot on the fireplace rocks of one of the huts,
not the grave, we stand for justice denied.
From the authorities point of view, DELWP officer Nicci de Ryk is quoted
as saying "Significant research over many years by individuals and
groups has suggested a number of different sites as possible locations
where events unfolded. Much of this research continues and remains
contested" she said.
Well then, I ask, is it now not time that this contention is resolved?
Why isn't DELWP able to organize a proper on site meeting with all
proponents and professionals to cast their judgment and followed by a public
symposium event instead of spending tens of thousands on signage where
nothing ever happened. Bill
Click on above image to enlarge. For the record, the inset map image
in the hard paper copy has pointed the wrong Stringy Bark Creek near
28 August 2017,
Following my meeting at SBC with DELWP representatives, I was
emailed the document that Ian 'Charles, Walsh Nature Tourism' had
prepared as a DRAFT for me as a stakeholder to consider. Well what can I
Please click on the
image to open the
Draft proposal for the
of StringyBark Creek Historic Reserve
If you are wishing to make a comment to let DELWP and Charles
Walsh Nature Tourism know what you think then here is your
chance, but you only have until 11 September 2017
to have your say.
Naturally I think this is a very bad outcome if they can get
away with it.
They are proposing to white wash the whole SBC precinct so it
will be easy to manage and in the process pull the wool over the
eyes of every casual history tourist.
Please don't sit on your hands and ignore this travesty.
15 August 2017,
Representatives of Department of Environment, Land, Water and
Planning - DELWP invited me to show them the Stringybark Creek sites.
Following several country newspaper reports of pending upgrades at
Stringybark Creek, there is a concern by people with an interest in the
Kelly story and history tourism in general that the correct sites at SBC
will again be wrongly signposted by DELWP. In fact, as I was to find
out, the real issue is not that sites at SBC will be incorrectly
signposted, but rather that they will not be identified at all (with the
exception of the likely site of Sergeant Kennedy’s killing).
In undertaking this project, DELWP invited input by SBC “stakeholders”
and other interested parties. As a result of this invitation and given
my knowledge of SBC, I was invited to an on-site meeting with DELWP’s
Lucas Russell (District Manager - Goulburn) and Catherine Spencer.
At the meeting I was informed that the proposed plan is to replace the
current emphasis on Ned Kelly with a more respectful emphasis on the
murdered policemen. This is to be done by way of new signage which is
proposed to be erected around the existing circular signage shelter at
the SBC picnic ground. Concurrent with this, DELWP’s plan is to remove
the existing track which currently leads to the site on the east bank of
SBC that Ian Jones incorrectly identified as the site of the police camp
where Constables Lonigan and Scanlon were killed.
I was also advised there are no plans to identify the correct site of
the police camp (the “Two Huts site”) where these two men lost their
lives, or to extend a track to this site. Although the correctness of
this site can be easily proven, I understand this is partly because of
claims by another group (the CSI@SBC group) that the correct site is at
a different location. The following link is to a blog
“Ned Kelly - Death of the Legend” where host Dee debunks a report
prepared by the CSI@SBC team.
The only track that DELWP is proposing to construct is one which will
lead to the general location of the site where Sergeant Kennedy’s body
was found. This is presumably the site I identified with Leo Kennedy
back in 2014 (refer below to my previous News-update). It seems strange
to me that the site of Kennedy’s death would be acknowledged but not the
Two Huts site where Lonigan and Scanlon were killed, particularly given
the correctness of the Two Huts site can be proven beyond a doubt whilst
the Kennedy site is at this stage no more than the general location.
I was informed by the DELWP officers that the reason for having a track
leading to the general location where Kennedy was killed is to give
visitors an appreciation of the distance that Kelly chased Kennedy down
before killing him. However this will be misleading if the track is to
commence at the picnic ground site because the distance is some 350
metres short of the Police Camp (Two Huts) site where the chase
I believe most visitors to SBC would be most interested to see the
actual sites where the killings occurred rather than just be presented
with a generalized account of the events which occurred here so long
ago. SBC is not the kind of place that people are likely to visit
simply for a picnic. In fact, the DELWP officers indicated that the
existing picnic tables and seats are proposed to be removed. Most
visitors will therefore be keen to see the actual sites.
I support the proposed change of emphasis from the Kellys to the
murdered police. I think it would be appropriate for the sites at which
Lonigan, Scanlon and Kennedy were killed to be appropriately
acknowledged by way of a plaque or other form of monument. Not to
acknowledge these sites would be a disservice to these men. And to
acknowledge one of the men (Kennedy) but not the others would also be a
Several years ago I took one of Lonigan’s great grand-daughters out to
SBC to show her where he was killed. She was very emotional and
couldn’t believe that the site was unmarked, and that another site (the
Ian Jones site) had been incorrectly identified. The opportunity now
exists with this present upgrade to correct this situation.
Unfortunately the way DELWP is going it seems the upgrade is simply
going to be some new signage that simply tells the visitor that
something happened here some 139 years ago, without any guidance as to
exactly where. One has to wonder really what point there would be in
visiting SBC at all.
If you are not on the DELWP list as an interested SBC person get
yourself on the list and tell the authorities what you think. Send your
emails to either
For all those who are interested, here is a mud map of sites along SBC
that I have not previously publicly released. The map was produced for
Peter Fitzsimons to include in his 2013 Ned Kelly book, but was not used
in the end due to a lack of color pages.
Also as a matter of interest, here is a link to a story board I prepared
for a proposed documentary that was to be based on the Leo Kennedy / SBC
story. I prepared this following the Age article by Lisa Clausen that I
mentioned in my previous News Update. The draft script is copyright to
Bill Denheld, so I will be watching closely to see how the Gene-pool /
Foxtel Production series LAWLESS compares to this draft.
Click here for the Draft Story Board
Leo Kennedy asks Bill to help him locate Sergeant Kennedy's murder site.
In 2014, I was asked by Leo Kennedy if I could help locate the likely
spot where his great grandfather Michael Kennedy was killed by Ned
In 2002, I identified the correct site of the police camp known as the
Two Huts site.
This therefore was the only logical starting point in the search for the
After a careful reading of primary sources and analysis of the 1878
Burman photo taken at the site where Sergeant Kennedy’s body was found,
I set out with Leo along the east bank of Stringybark Creek in search of
(left) with Leo at SBC ready to explore every nook and cranny along the
After several days of bush bashing and measuring distances, we were able
to eliminate a dozen sites along the creek. Eventually we determined
that only one site was consistent with the Burman photograph and written
descriptions. The site is located some
away from the Police Camp site where Constables Lonigan and Scanlon were
killed. The photograph below shows Leo Kennedy at the site in front of
a tree that I consider is likely to be the same tree which features in
the Burman photo (see below).
Click on above image to enlarge.
We initially decided not to publicize our findings in the hope that a
proper archaeological investigation could be undertaken of the
identified area. In this regard, it is likely that the shot that passed
through the sergeant’s body would still be embedded in the ground and
that a proper archaeological investigation could pinpoint the exact
However in 2015 Leo and I accompanied journalist Lisa Clausen to the
site as part of Leo’s quest for proper acknowledgement to be given to
the three policemen killed at SBC. This resulted in a feature article
“The true history of the Kelly victims” being published as a feature
article in The Age newspaper on 11 April 2015. It was hoped as a result
of this article that this would lead to the site being properly
investigated and identified and ultimately signposted.
Following the publication of 'The Age' article, we were contacted by
Gene-pool, a film production company which was interested in taking on
the Kennedy /SBC story. Unfortunately as much as I would like to have
been involved in this documentary given my vast knowledge and experience
of SBC, Gene-pool wanted to use the TV archaeologist Adam Ford as the
SBC “expert” for the purpose of the documentary.
I understand, but hope I am wrong, that Gene-pool have also consulted
with and possibly been influenced by a group which calls itself CSI@SBC
(i.e. Crime Scene Investigation @ SBC) which claims to have identified
another site as the site where the police were camped and where Lonigan
and Scanlon were killed. The fact that this site is totally wrong can
be easily proven, because photos of the camp was taken looking Southerly
where as the CSI group requires the photo to be facing North East .
to my explanation - Two Hut site - PDF doc
It seems to me that the Gene-pool documentary may well identify the site
of Kennedy’s killing based on the work I undertook for Leo Kennedy.
Hopefully my work in identifying this site will be properly
acknowledged. It seems to me however that if the site of the Police
Camp is not correctly identified, then this will make the documentary
historically inaccurate. It would be unfortunate on the one hand to
correctly identify the site of Kennedy’s killing, whilst at the same
time incorrectly identifying the site at which Lonigan and Scanlon were
Below: Bill stands by a most likely
tree as in the Burman photo of 1878/9 as we believe this is the same area.
15 March 2009 Authorities hoodwinked.
The original Press release to Northern papers as follows -
New Kelly Gang up in arms over shoot
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 1878,
'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
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
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.
An accurate survey by Bill using GPS has proven the original first
surveyors map of 1884 has the hut incorrectly plotted in
with where the police had camped and shot .
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
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
fireplace of one of the two huts near the THEN accepted Jones site police camp
WHICH is proven to be WRONG.
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
Bill Denheld's aim was to always bring truth to the story as for years
the shoot out site at Stringybark was promoted as near the Kelly tree
picnic ground. In fact the true site is 350 metres further up
Good tourism must be underpinned by truth and fact.
After five years of lobbying, the authorities have little
option other than to show the true site and allow visitors be directed
to the true sites starting with the police camp site.
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 were shot by the Kelly gang.
Bill Denheld is 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 TRUE sites and not just the Kelly tree picnic area.
" My 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 DSE totally ignored the plans
in preference to what the authorities later drew up costing more than
ten times that amount.
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.
Also see KC2000 Forum
Stringybark Creek News-
The news paper articles (below) is how they reported on the story
10 April 2009 Wangaratta
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
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."
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
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
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.
Despite all efforts over many years right up to late 2016 to have the
two huts undergo
archaeological investigation, nothing has been done.
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.
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
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. Bill Denheld
Heritage Victoria Site
KELLYS CREEK AND STRINGYBARK CREEK near Toombullup to
VICTORIAN HERITAGE REGISTER.
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
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.
recently circulated community update May 2004
" 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 ,
- 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
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
we found them.
Remember, Stringybark Creek is sacred ground, when there - respect the
past for the future.
PS, Do you have a point of view on these matters? Please let me know.
27 January 2004
The stump of the Kelly
It 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.
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
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.
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, DSE, and Bells Earth Moving
of Mansfield for removal of the tree log.
Meeting called by D.S.E
May 2003 Bill
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.
interested parties are invited to be present including the
Invited to attend were,
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,
Each was asked to nominate invitees and advise on a
To put in place a protection plan for both S/Bark and Kellys Ck.
NRE needed to know where the historically important sites were
for proper management and to avoid burning those by mistake.
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.
Note: Those that did not attend the meeting were,
Matt Shore, Brad Web, Brendan Pearce, Dave
White, Ben Collins.
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