Living in a landscape populated with giant fibreglass representations of fruit and animals is quite normal to many Aussies. Irrespective of whether or not such objects are in good taste!
Commemorating criminals by building statues and devoting whole tourism campaigns to the bushrangers who dominated the early days of colonialism is also an intrinsic part of Aussie-dom.
Irrespective of whether or not such objects are in good taste!
But I’d never seen a tourist attraction combining BOTH these Australian obsessions. Until we passed through tiny Victorian town, Glenrowan!
The giant statue of Ned Kelly dominates the main street in a town devoted to the man who is arguably Australia’s most notorious bushranger.
And in the crowded tourist market capitalising on Australia’s favourite anti-hero, Glenrowan stands apart. For it was here that Ned Kelly’s career came to an end. His legendary capture in the epic police shoot-out that killed three of his gang members, including brother Dan, is known as the ‘Last Stand’.
Bread-tin Ned, Jerilderie, New South Wales
The Kelly Gang’s only foray across the border to Jerilderie, commemorated with stylish sculpture ‘Bread Tin Ned’ at the local bakery (how do you think I found it?!), resulted in the famous ‘Jerilderie Letter’ written by Ned to defend his gang’s actions in the notorious Stringybark Creek shoot-out a few months earlier.
And although Ned was subsequently held and tried in nearby Beechworth Gaol before being taken to Melbourne for execution, it the Siege of Glenrowan and Last Stand that draw the crowds!
Beechworth Gaol, where Ned Kelly was tried, Beechworth, Victoria
Today, to be considered ‘as game as Ned Kelly’ – roughly translating as brave, determined and enterprising – is high praise for an Australian.
He really IS big! RED and NED!!
And his last words – ‘Such is Life’ – are part of the Aussie lingo.
Perhaps the first true Aussie larrikin, it may be why he’s the subject of many books, films, poems, songs and art. Why his distinctive home-made body armour is instantly recognisable.
And why a larger-than-life Ned Kelly towers above the landscape.