Statement of Significance - Why is this place important?
The Kelly homestead at Beveridge, Victoria, comprises a timber cottage built by Ned’s father John ‘Red’ Kelly in January 1859 when his son was approximately four years old. It was a typical Irish style of cottage with an earthen floor and drainage running between rooms. Internally there were only two rooms and there was no ceiling. The bluestone chimney dominated the house. The homestead is of cultural importance because it was the childhood home of Ned Kelly to 1863 (Criterion A & H) and illustrates the lifestyle of the Irish smallholders from whom he sprang (Criterion C). It also had features of minor architectural interest, including elegant iron grates and wood-grained ledged and braced doors.
The site is of National significance for its association with arguably Australia’s most well known historical figure since European settlement (in 2000 Ned Kelly was listed in the top 100 of the world’s most influential Irish). As the leader of the Kelly Gang, he has been immortalised in Australian art, literature, theatre, film and folklore (Criterion A, G & H). The Kelly homestead at Beveridge is one of the last visible landmarks of the Kelly legend – with many buildings and sites linked to this historical figure having disappeared. The site is significant as it is one of the original relics from that era, acting as a symbolic focus for the Kelly Gang tradition and associated anniversaries, exhibitions, and pilgrimages by different groups in the Australian community (Criterion G).
What do you want to achieve?
The homestead is an example of a typical Irish cottage built in 1859 to house a rural farming family. The significance lies not only with the building but also with whom the cottage housed. As the birthplace of Ned Kelly it is an important fragment in the history of Australia. The site in question includes a two-room split-paling timber cottage, a bluestone chimney, a brick enforced well, and a rock edged garden including the original fence pickets.
In conjunction with the existing owners, the Mitchell Shire Council should establish a joint management committee for the long-term conservation and day-to-day running of the Kelly Homestead, with the aim of attracting key groups and individuals willing to share particular skills that would help in conservation and decision-making. The foremost objective of management is to bring to a halt further deterioration of the homestead. A key direction of policy should include implementation of a regular maintenance regime, including sourcing replacement materials originally lost to theft and vandalism. It is recommended that an awning or shelter be built over the existing structure with new fencing, surveillance and lighting installed. With vandalism more of a concern than weather damage, this construction would have to be priority one – any work carried out on the house or surrounds without proper security would be futile.
To ensure the homestead’s uniqueness, non-original structures and extensions should be removed – including the timber floor (with the reinstatement of the original earthen base including original drainage); the restoration of the shingle roof and the reinstatement of original beams (including removal of the wrought iron and interior ceiling); the reconstruction of the cottage garden and adjoining well; and the restoration of iron grates, window panes, braced doors, etc. to replace those removed from the homestead.
The property will benefit from the current boom in Kelly Country tourism. Monies raised from compatible income streams such as souvenir sales and homestead tours would help contribute to site maintenance and ongoing reconstruction costs. Compatible uses for the homestead will be ones that can be implemented with the least impact on the original façade and surrounding gardens.
This essay formed part of a thesis I wrote for Curtin University entitled ‘Protecting Heritage Places’. Explanation of the criterion can be found on the National Trust (Victoria) website.