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Australian Son the story of Ned Kelly by Max Brown
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History Of Australian Bushranging

> HISTORY OF THE FAMILY
> THE BUSHRANGER POWER
> HOW THE KELLY GANG WAS FORMED
> THE MURDERS IN THE WOMBAT RANGES
> THE SEARCH FOR THE MURDERERS
> THE RAID UPON EUROA
> THE RAID UPON JERILDERIE
> FRUITLESS SEARCHING
> THE MURDER OF AARON SHERRITT
> THE LAST EXPLOIT OF THE OUTLAWS
> HOW THE SPECIAL TRAIN WAS SAVED
> THE CONFLICT AT THE HOTEL
> PROCEEDINGS WITHIN THE HOTEL
> HOW HART AND DAN KELLY FELL
> NED KELLY'S TRIAL AND CONVICTION
> AGITATION FOR REPRIEVE
> THE EXECUTION
> THE BLACK-TRACKERS AND THEIR WORK

A brief reference to the Queensland blacktrackers, who were feared so greatly by the Kellys, and their work in this connection, will doubtless prove interesting to the reader. They were called “native troopers” in official circles, and they had been engaged by the Victorian Government for the purpose of tracking the bushrangers to their haunts. They were six in number, and were placed, as I have already stated, under the direction of Sub-Inspector Stanhope O'Connor, of the Queensland Native Mounted Police. Their names were: Hero, Johnny, Jimmy, Jack, Barney, and Sambo, the latter being a corporal in the corps to which he was attached. Each man was armed with a Snider and a revolver, and wore a blue uniform with red facings. They were members of various tribes located in the south and north of Queensland respectively, and were enlisted for five years when they were quite young by Mr. O'Connor. The oldest was only 24 years of age, and the youngest about 18, and some of them had been in the force seven or eight years, during which they had seen some very active service, and over and over again demonstrated their capabilities as trackers. They were, indeed, the best of the kind that could be selected, and had frequently followed horse-stealers and cattle-duffers to their haunts. Their bravery was undoubted, for it was proved by conflicts with Chinese rioters in the north of Queensland, and with mobs of predatory and murderous aboriginals, when these were attacked in their strongholds. It might seem an easy thing for troopers armed with rifles to attack and defeat a mob of aboriginals, but the spears of the blacks of tropical Queensland, with the aid of wommeras, were most terrible weapons, and carried almost certain death with them at a hundred yards. It required no small amount of courage to face a shower of them, or to chase through long grass or thick scrub those who were capable of hurling them with almost scientific precision.

The pay the troopers received was £3 a month each, with uniform and quarters, but out of the money they had to contribute something towards the cost of their rations. Those who were engaged in the Kelly campaign received £3 a month, and had everything necessary provided for them. These men could follow fresh tracks of men, horses, or cattle at a gallop, but unfortunately in Victoria their powers of discernment were not very frequently tested in the requisite direction. Notwithstanding this, their eagerness for pursuit remained unabated, and on one occasion they were instrumental in bringing two marauders to justice. They were dreadfully sea-sick on the voyage to Sydney, and during his journey to Victoria, Corporal Sambo contracted congestion of the lungs, from which he died. This poor fellow was kindly attended to by one of the police of Victoria, with whom he was a great favourite, and was buried at Benalla. It speaks well for all of them that no complaints were made against any of them in Victoria, but that, on the contrary, they were described as a credit to any force. They seemed to be favourites with everyone who knew them, except the Kellys.

After reaching Sydney, the troopers proceeded direct by way of Wagga Wagga to Benalla, where their headquarters were established. Captain Standish met them on their arrival there, and two days after Mr. O'Connor had been sworn in as a Sub-inspector of the Victorian police, they were set to work, as the place in which they were located was in the midst of the Kelly district and populated with Kelly sympathisers. It was thought on their arrival that the gang were moving about in the district, and what were confidently affirmed to be their tracks were followed for four days, when they ran into a hut in the King River Ranges. Rain then fell and obliterated the tracks, and the troopers returned to Benalla in consequence. Whether the tracks were those of the gang was not proved. The troopers were placed on numerous other tracks, which, however, all turned out to be those of ordinary travellers. Every mark that had a suspicion of the Kellys about it was scrutinised with the deepest interest, but it could not be stated with confidence that the men were ever in pursuit of the outlaws. If they were, they were set to work too late—when the tracks had become too weatherworn to be read distinctly. Unfortunately for the cause of justice they could not move out of their quarters without creating a sensation. Their movements were at once telegraphed to the Kellys, who were quickly off to the fastnesses. The value of their aid was promptly recognised by the Victorian authorities, and on one occasion they had a slice of luck which compensated them for many disappointments. It transpired in connection with the Lancefield bank robbery.

The troopers proceeded by special train to Kilmore, and then rode to Lancefield. Here it was stated that the two robbers had gone to a public house and bought some provisions. Their tracks were quickly picked up, and followed along highways and byways and through paddocks to where the robbers had made a meal, and then on until it was ascertained that the men had hired a spring-cart and been driven to Sandhurst. A telegram explaining this was sent to that town, and the robbers, on arrival, found themselves in the hands of expectant police, who took care of them until they were tried and convicted. The troopers returned to headquarters, and were again subjected to false alarms. In one instance they travelled to a spot where it was said that the Kelly gang were taking down the telegraph wires, but they found only a company of reapers, whose reaping machine had got foul of a telegraph pole.

Ned Kelly and his associates made no secret of the fact that they were in constant dread of the trackers, whom they designated "bloody black devils," and yet for some reason that has never been satisfactorily explained, Sub-Inspector O'Connor and his charges were in Melbourne and on their way home when the news of Sherritt's murder reached headquarters. Mr. O'Connor, however, was at once requested to proceed to Beechworth and thence to Sherritt's house, with the view of picking up tracks, and he obeyed, with the result already known. It was intended to make Beechworth the temporary headquarters of the troopers, and it was to that town the special train so fortunately stopped by Mr. Curnow was proceeding.

This accounts for the presence of Mrs. O'Connor and another lady in the train, and consequently their presence at the annihilation of the gang. The ladies intended staying at Beechworth until the labours of the trackers were completed; but the services of the latter were no longer required, the tragedy at Mrs. Jones' public house at once putting an end to the career of the Kellys, and opening the way for the return of the trackers to their headquarters in Queensland. When the reward money of £8,000 was divided, each of the trackers received £50, and Sub-Inspector O'Connor £237 15s.

TALKING SENSE
While not everyone wants to read about Ned Kelly or the ANZACs or even The Great Depression, we hope they want to learn something about Australian History. From the ex-Prime Minister John Howard to a confused ex-NSW Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt (see the ex-pattern here?) a number of politicians have jumped on the teaching history bandwagon. But at what cost? From Right Wing Liberals to the multitude of State Governments, seems everyone has an agenda. We'd like to let the readers decide what is worth learning. Here at IronOutlaw.com we present the facts, the fiction and everything in between. It all adds to the experience and hopefully makes History an exciting place to be while also proving it needn't always have to be written by the victors.
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Ned Kelly: A Pictorial History available on the iPad App Store
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Australian Son by Max Brown

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