Monday, September 12, 2011

Ned Kelly: Part 7



Although the government had brought in harsh laws to seek out the Kelly Gang and although the gang had been declared to be outlaws, able to be shot on sight with no fear of prosecution, the Kelly Gang remained at large.

Two hundred police were put into the area and black trackers were brought down from Queensland. It didn’t help.  Neither did the tough police approach.  Sympathy and support for the police began to give way to resentment as suspected sympathisers were held for weeks without charge.

To raise funds to assist sympathisers with ail money and pay debts, Ned and the gang decided to rob the bank at Euroa, a town of about 300 people.

On 10 December 1878, seven miles (11 kilometres) outside of the town they stopped at Younghusband’s Faithful’s Creek Station where station hands, staff and passers by were locked up in the storage building.

Some city businessmen on a shooting holiday came by and were locked up.

A touring hawker had his stock taken and he too was locked up.

By nightfall there were 22 locked up in the storage building.

In the morning there was a communal breakfast and women were allowed to come and go as they pleased.

The poles for the telegraph line to Euroa were cut down.  As they were being cut down, four fettlers who came by asked what was going on.  They were also locked up.

Leaving Joe Byrne to guard the prisoners, Ned, Dan and Steve Hart drove into Euroa with the commandeered hawker’s cart.

Artist’s depiction, Joe Byrne on guard at Faithful Station

At the local bank, the Colonial Bank, they relieved the bank of £2,260 in money and gold (about $100,000 in today’s values).  The bank’s manager, Mr Scott, produced a bottle of whisky and had a whisky with Ned.  He said later that this was only a delaying tactic on his part.

Euroa Colonial Bank

Ned said that it was a nice day and that he was taking all out on a ride to Faithful’s Creek Station.  Scott protested that he had a wife, seven children and two servant girls.

Kelly said that they would come too.

Scott insisted that Kelly treat Mrs Scott with respect.  He needn’t have worried.  Mrs Scott was so impressed with Kelly that she said to him “Surely, Mr Kelly, you don’t say you are the man who has been outlawed?”

A strange procession made its way to Faithful Station: 
    Steve Hart on horseback.
    Then Dan Kelly in a cart with the tellers, the servant girls and some of the children.
    Then Mrs Scott in Mr Scott’s buggy with the rest of the children.
    Then Ned in a wagon with Mr Scott and the money.

They arrived at the station abut 6.00pm.

Ned ordered the female staff of the station to prepare dinner for everybody. 

After dinner Dan Kelly and Steve hart entertained everybody with an exhibition of trick riding.

Kelly dictated a long letter to Mr Cameron, MLA, this becoming known(not unsurprisingly) as the Cameron letter.  Cameron had opposed the Felons’ Apprehension Act, which had been passed purely to get at Kelly sympathisers.  Whilst Cameron did not support the Kellys, he thought that the Act was an assault on the rights and freedoms of individuals.

Kelly and the gang then left, singing as they left.  Whilst the police had been scouring the area looking for him, Kelly had held up the bank and finished it with a picnic.

The reward on the head of each gang member was increased to £1,000 per member.

The police alienated support even further by holding suspected sympathisers in custody for three months without charging them.

If the police had been made to look silly by the Euroa affair, they were put in an even worse light by what was to happen at Jerilderie.

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