For some time I had been wanting to visit the site of Ned Kelly’s (the bush ranger) last stand at Glenrowan and I took the opportunity to call into this town when visiting Wangaratta earlier in my travels. However, I have to say, for a more low key and less “in your face” experience, Jerilderie is a better destination for the Kelly enthusiast.
Jerilderie was visited by Ned Kelly and his gang on 10 February 1879. The outlaws captured the town’s two policemen and imprisoned them in their own cell before dressing in the police uniforms. They then told the locals that they were reinforcements from Sydney sent to protect them from the notorious Kelly Gang. Of course, given this great disguise, the gang proceed to the local bank where they stole over than two thousand pounds. They then proceeded to the Telegraph Office (pictured above) and chopped down the telegraph poles.
The gang then held 30 people hostage overnight in the Royal Mail Hotel where Ned Kelly wrote what has become the famous Jerilderie Letter. This documents Kelly’s passionate pleas of innocence (despite just robbing the bank) and desires for justice for both his family and the poor Irish settlers of Victoria’s north-east.
Todays Jerilderia is a pleasant, sleepy kind of affair enjoying the tourist dollar and income from Tomatoes – the area around Jerilderie produces a quarter of all tomatoes grown in Australia and other crops.
Interestingly if Gulgong is known as the $10 Town, Jerilderie could have become known as the $100 town as it is the childhood home of Sir John Monash honoured military commander whose image adorns the Australian one hundred dollar note.