The final chapter in the life of Australia’s most famous bushranger began in the small town of Glenrowan where the Kelly gang, including Ned’s brother Dan, Steve Hart and Joseph Byrne, took 60 hostages at a hotel and prepared for a fight.
As police surrounded the Glenrowan Inn, the gang began firing their weapons. The group wore homemade suits of steel armour, fashioned from plough parts.
The armour was not as effective as the gang had hoped – Ned Kelly’s armour weighed 44 kilograms and his legs remained unprotected.
Ned Kelly’s rifle and parts of two suits of armour worn by the Kelly gang during the siege [Image: State Library of Victoria]
After a tense shootout, Dan Kelly, Joseph Byrne and Steve Hart were shot and the hotel was burned to the ground.
In the early hours of the morning of the 29 June, a wounded Ned Kelly emerged from behind the police, still in his armour, and began shooting. After a half hour battle, he was shot in his unarmoured legs, fell to the ground and was arrested.
The view from Glenrowan Railway Station, looking back to the remains of Ann Jones’ Hotel, the Glenrowan Inn, (left rear). Jones’ Hotel was where the final confrontation between Ned Kelly and the Victorian Police began [Image: State Library of Victoria]
After his conviction for the murder of Constable Lonigan at Stringybark Creek in 1878, Kelly was hanged on 11 November 1880 at the Melbourne Gaol.
It’s been said that bushranging ended with the shooting of the Kelly gang, which was made possible by the newly introduced Felons Apprehension Act 1865 (NSW) that allowed outlaws to be shot, rather than arrested.
Even before his execution, there were signs that Ned Kelly would become a pivotal figure in Australian history, with a massive public petition demanding a reprieve.
In the years since his death, Ned Kelly has captured the imagination of directors, authors and the general public, becoming a flawed hero and Robin Hood-esque figure.