ON THE NED KELLY TOURING ROUTE
Glenrowan and Ned Kelly are an important link to a part of our national identity. It represents anti-authoritarian, larrikin, risk-taking and to many the support of the underdog, a very Australian sentiment.
Glenrowan Heritage Precinct was included in the National Heritage list on 5 July 2005. It is an eight-hectare site that includes the original railway platform, the siege site and location of Anne Jones’s Glenrowan Inn. In 1878 Anne Jones had a mortgage of 100 pounds that allowed her to build a weatherboard lined with hessian and paper with calico ceilings, furnish it and have enough money to start the business.
A six-metre-high Ned Kelly statue guards the village. The statue portrays Ned in his metal armour and it was for the siege here in Glenrowan that was the only time he wore it.
Historians are not sure where the inspiration for the armour came from but some suggest Ned was familiar with the novel, Lorna Doone by Richard Doddridge Blackmore in which the outlaws appear in iron armour. Another theory is that his armour was modelled on sets imported for a Chinese street parade in 1873 and possibly seen by the gang in Beechworth.
Presently the population is close to one thousand and most of these people would be able to tell you a story about the Kelly’s. It is a popular resting point for people travelling on the Hume Freeway with walks and tours of the famous Kelly siege sites a well-trodden path.
Before the Kelly’s came to Glenrowan, Baileys of Glenrowan had grapes already planted and today it is still a flourishing business. Old vine shiraz can be tasted at Booth’s Taminick Cellars owned by the Booth family since the beginning of last century. The Queens Birthday weekend has Trails, Tastings and Tales (8 – 10 June 2013) and in October the Winemakers Weekend.
In 1846 brothers James and George Rowan owned sixteen thousand acres of grazing land and this was the beginning of habitation of the area by European settlers. In 1857, the area was surveyed and allotments were sold. In 1861 Glenrowan was proclaimed a town, with only a population of twelve. Cobb & Co set up in 1862 and used it to change horses, for passengers to eat and have a rest as tourists still do today. In 1873 the railway came to town and by 1876 the first school was built. The schoolmaster was Thomas Curnow who would be pivotal when the Kelly Gang siege happened in 1880 as he stopped the train.
The original township was a mile closer to Benalla and consisted of a post office, school, police barracks, several pubs, one being the Farmers Arms which had originally been the police barracks and a boot maker.
The McDonnells Railway Tavern stood across from the little railway station and was away from the main end of Glenrowan. Also at this end of town were the Stationmasters and the Glenrowan Inn. Patrick McDonnell (Paddy) owned the tavern and was a keen Kelly sympathiser. Along with many others this was the place they first congregated to prepare for the raid. When the Kelly Gang first arrived at Glenrowan they stabled their horses here.
On Sunday 27th June 1880 just after midnight, Ned Kelly took over her hotel so that they could use is to house the Gang’s hostages. By 3.30am Anne’s hotel was nothing but ashes, having been burnt down by the police as they tried to flush the last of the Kelly Gang out of hiding.
Nearby is the Warby Ranges and Mount Glenrowan that comprises Morgans Lookout named after another famous bushranger, Mad Dog Morgan.