On This Day ……. 30th of July 1929

An Aboriginal, aged 74 years, was on this day in 1929 completed two months imprisonment in Geelong Gaol, declined to leave when he was discharged. It was only after several hours of trouble that he was pressured to sign his property out and go. It was the first time he had been in gaol. He looked the picture of health, and, apparently enjoyed life in the gaol.

 

On Friday the 29th of July 1859, the Kilmore gaol was opened for the reception of prisoners, after having taken a year and nine months to build. The buildings are surrounded by stone walls 16 feet high with half-round coping, and guard house overlooking the yards, which were also surrounded by stone walls of the same class, but even then prisoners made their escape. The dimensions of the building were 54 feet by 26 feet. The whole building was divided into eight compartments—four large and four small. There was four small cells for the prisoners, two on each side of the gaoler’s room which is in the centre.” At that time and for some

years afterwards some of the worst criminals in Victoria were sent to Kilmore for safe keeping, but from the time of the destruction of the Kelly gang of bushrangers in June, 1880, the building had been little used until the Kilmore dairy company took it over for a more peaceful purpose than keeping prisoners. The company paid pretty heavy rent for years, until they purchased the property from the Government for the small sum of £300, and paid cash down, so they secured the place for a mere song. It was intended to gradually make alterations and improvements until the place is an up-to-date butter factory, and about the first alteration will be the pulling down of the stone walls, the Kilmore shire council having agreed to purchase the stone broken into 2½ inch metal for road purposes in quantities required, at 5s per yard stacked at the factory.

On This Day ……. 29th of July 1913

A very bright service was conducted at the Geelong gaol on this day in 1913, by
Rev. Robert Kelly, who was accompanied by a small party of ladies to assist the music. Thirty-three of the prismiers took part, and entered into the singing most heartily. Mr. Kelly addressed them briefly, and the rest of the service consisted of solos and duets by Mrs. Clias. Fagg, Miss Elsie Fagg, Miss Rita Robertson, Miss Georgo (Miss McDonald assisting with the accompaniments) and hymns.

 

On This Day ……. 28th of July 1926

Royston Rennie, the young Geelong man who is awaiting death for having murdered John Greville, a bank clerk, made an unsuccessful application to
the Court of Criminal Appeal on this day in 1926, for leave to appeal against his execution.

 

Bushranger ‘Black Douglas’ Charles Russell

The legendary ‘Black Douglas’ Charles Russell was an English-born bushranger who held Melbourne and its surrounding areas to ransom during the 1850s. Russell preyed on those diggers travelling to and from the goldfields between Bendigo and Melbourne. There are several accounts of victims being tied naked to a tree or fallen log with their boots full of bull ants, left to die a slow and excruciating death. He reportedly led a gang of 16 bushrangers who worked together in their marauding. Their camp was strategically located a few kilometres away from the Alma minefields in Maryborough, Victoria. Eventually, a frustrated group of nearly 200 diggers burnt their camp to the ground and overpowered Russell in May 1855. He was 75-years-old when he died in Bendigo gaol in 1892.

 

On This Day ……. 27th of July

Mr. G. Read Murphy, P.M., paid an official visit to the Geelong gaol on this day in 1911. Amongst the generally orderly lot of old and infirm prisoners there he found few complaints of any moment, and no cases, of insubordination were brought under his notice.

 

On This Day ….. 26th July 1955

Léonard Wigley, 19, who escaped from the Langi Kal Kal training centre, in central Victoria on this day in 1955, was recaptured in the afternoon at Learmonth by Constable O’Halloran. He appear in Ballarat City Court on a charge of having escaped from legal custody.

 

No one knows when Ned Kelly was born:

True. What we do know is that Ned was the third of 12 children born to Ellen Kelly (from three different fathers). There is no clear evidence of his actual birth, but it was most likely 1854 or 1855, near Beveridge north of Melbourne, meaning he was just 25 or 26 when he died.

Ned Kelly was illiterate:
False. There are enough surviving examples of Ned’s handwriting to know that he could write. This myth most likely evolved from the belief that fellow Kelly Gang member, Joe Byrne, penned the famous Jerilderie letter. This letter has been described as Ned Kelly’s manifesto and is a direct account of the Kelly Gang and the events with which they were associated.

How did he wear such a heavy helmet?
If you have ever seen or tried on a replica of one of the Kelly gang’s helmets, you’ll be struck by how heavy they are and how much they cut into the collar bone. The fact is that the weight of the helmet was not meant to be borne on the collar bones at all. The helmets have holes punched on front, back and sides of each helmet, through which leather straps were strung, meaning most of the weight was felt on top of the wearer’s head. Ned Kelly is reported to have worn a woollen cap to pad his head.

A film about Ned Kelly was the world’s first feature film:
True. It is often reported that Charles Tait’s 1906 film, The Story of the Kelly Gang, was the world’s first full-length feature film. Its first screening was at the Athenaeum Hall on December 26, 1906, and is alleged to have prompted five children in Ballarat to hold up a group of schoolchildren at gunpoint. This resulted in the Victorian Chief Secretary banning the film in towns with strong Kelly connections. And for many years the film was thought to be lost, but segments were found in various locations, including some found on a rubbish dump.

In 2007 the film was inscribed on the UNESCO Memory of the World Register for being the world’s first fill-length feature film.

Ned Kelly’s last words were “Such is life”.
Many believe that the last utterance by Ned Kelly just before his hanging were three simple word, “Such is life”. Whether uttered with weary resignation or an acceptance of misfortune, the notion that the quote is attributed to Ned Kelly survives today (even inspiring one or two tattoos).

But what Ned Kelly actually said as his last words is uncertain. Some newspapers at the time certainly reported the words “Such is life”, while a reporter standing on the jail floor wrote that Ned’s last words were, “Ah well! It’s come to this at last.” But one of the closest persons to Ned on the gallows, the gaol warden, wrote in his diary that Kelly opened his mouth and mumbled something that he couldn’t hear.

Ned Kelly courtroom curse killed the judge:
It is true that judge Sir Redmond Barry died 12 days after Ned Kelly was executed. The two men, Kelly and Barry, had been antagonists for some time, so after being sentenced to death at his trial, Ned Kelly famously replied to Sir Redmond Barry, “I will see you there where I go” or a version of that quote.

Ned Kelly was executed on the November 11, 1880, and Sir Redmond Barry died on the 23rd of the same month. However Barry’s certificate did not list the cause of death as “curse”, rather it is more likely that the judge died from a combination of pneumonia and septicaemia from an untreated carbuncle.

If you have a Ned Kelly tattoo you are more likely to die violently:
Depending on how you interpret the forensic data, wearing a Ned Kelly tattoo can be very dangerous. A study from the University of Adelaide found that corpses with Ned Kelly tattoos were much more likely to have died by murder and suicide. But it was a pretty small sample size.

 

On This Day ……. 26th of July

Mr. G. Read Murphy, P.M., paid an official visit to the Geelong gaol on this day in 1911. Amongst the generally orderly lot of old and infirm prisoners there he found few complaints of any moment, and no cases, of insubordination were brought under his notice.

 

On This Day ……. 25th of July 1910

Three prisoners will be transferred from tho Geelong gaol to Pentridge on this day in 1910. Two of them are for discharge, and the other, a man, who was sentenced to a long term of imprisonment for shooting, at Constable Salisbury at Portarlington
some years ago, is being taken down for medical examination.

 

On This Day ……. 24th of July 1910

John Williams, an elderly man, received on transfer in December last from the Ballarat Gaol, died in the Geelong Gaol on this day in 1910. On the 12th instant he had a series of paralytic fits which deprived him of speech, and pleurisy afterwards developed. Dr. Croker certified that death was due to pleurisy and debility, and Mr. Murphy, P.M., who held an inquiry, found accordingly.

 

On This Day ……. 23rd of July 1945

In one of Victoria’s biggest gaol break, 22 men escaped from the old Geelong gaol on this day in 1945. Tired and hungry, four of the men, including the ringleader, were captured at Werribee on the 24th. The escape, which had been well planned, occurred at 12.30pm when the men were having lunch in the gaol yard. Without warning they rushed a stone wall, and, using tins as steps, scrambled over into a store yard. The guard on the watchtower tried to raise the alarm by telephoning the gaol orderly room, but the men had cut the wires. Grabbing several ladders they scrambled over the outer 15ft stone wall and dropped into the street. They were then seen to divide into several parties. Meanwhile the guard, unaware that the telephone wires were cut, was still frantically trying to raise the orderly room, and it is believed the first intimation the orderly room had of the escape came from an outside source. Military police in Melbourne were immediately notified and all roads and railway stations were watched. Police, however, were hampered by heavy football traffic from Geelong, and it in the confusion most of the escapees had made it to Melbourne, where their homes were. The four men captured at Werribee said they had no complaint against their treatment or against conditions in gaol. They had just seen the chance to escape and had taken it. Only one of the escapees was still a member of the Army, it was stated last night. Several of the men had civil convictions, and most of them had not served outside Australia. When they escaped the men were wearing Army clothes. The remainder of the men were found in Melbourne.