In June 1880, the shootout between police and the Kelly gang occurred at Ann Jones’ Inn at Glenrowan. Kelly was arrested and the three members of his gang died in the shootout and subsequent fire.
The last stand was planned for Glenrowan, straight after Joe Byrne shot and killed Aaron Sherritt, his former best friend, who they believed was a police informant. He was working with the police but it’s possible he was giving them more bum steers than real information. Dan Kelly and Joe Byrne went to Aaron’s house in the Sebastopol in the Woolshed Valley and shot him on 26th June.
The boys knew that this event would bring even more police after them and so when they arrived in Glenrowan they took 70 people hostage. However, there was a delay in the murder, which wasn’t reported until the next morning.
This delay upset plans the gang had made. They expected a trainload of police to be on its way and had local railway workers pull up the train tracks to derail the train, after which the gang would capture as many of the occupants as possible.
With these hostages they would negotiate the release of Ellen Kelly, William Williamson and William Skillion.
But the train was a day late due to the delayed reporting by police of Aaron’s death. This meant the gang had a lot of hostages for 24 frustrating hours and had to entertain them and themselves with dancing, sporting events and drinking.
A local teacher convinced Ned to let him and his family go. Upon his release, this teacher, Thomas Curnow, ran to the broken train tracks and waited for the police train. When he saw it coming he was able to use a lantern to wave it down and stop it before it crashed.
Forty-six police disembarked and spread themselves around the hotel, trapping the Kelly Gang inside. For seven hours the police fired at the hotel and were hoping for a cannon to arrive from Melbourne so they could blow up the hotel. It didn’t arrive and so the decision was made to burn the place.
The Gang were probably still alive due to their homemade armour (made from plough parts and weighing very heavily on each of the boys).
Dawn came and Ned appeared from the hotel in his armour, walking toward the police all the time firing at them. Eventually they shot him in the legs.
Joe Byrne was found in the front room dead from a bullet wound to his femoral artery but the other two boys, Dan and Steve were found in a back room lying on blankets without their armour. It has been speculated that they took their own lives rather than being captured.