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Kelly Country

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Jerilderie is on the banks of the Billabong Creek, Australia's longest creek. It is known in history for being the only place in New South Wales which Ned Kelly visited.

Squatters, mostly from Tumut, moved into the area during the land rush of the early 1840s and established large cattle stations along Billabong Creek.

The farming centre produces one-quarter of tomatoes grown in Australia and is a prime merino stud region. Its diverse crops include rice, wheat, canola, mung and soy beans, onions, liquorice, grapes and it has a number of cattle farms.

The town quite likes its brush with infamy and everyone is well-versed on the Ned Kelly story.

On February 8, 1879, the Kelly gang arrived in town, cut telegraph lines, tied up the policeman and stole more than £2000 from the bank and locked the town's population in the pub for several days.

It was a most daring raid, even for the Kelly gang who, at the time, were already wanted for the deaths of three policemen and a major bank robbery. They had a £1000 reward on their heads.

Kelly delivered his 56-page letter to local bank accountant, Edwin Living, demanding he give it to the newspaper editor, Samuel Gill. One of just two Kelly documents known to have survived, the Jerilderie letter is the only document providing a direct link to the gang.

In it, Kelly justifies his actions, outlines his innocence, the injustices and indignities he and his family suffered at the hands of the police, as well as making a plea for justice for poor, vulnerable families.

Dictated to Joe Byrne, at one point Kelly calls police officers "a parcel of big ugly fat-necked wombat headed big bellied magpie legged narrow hipped splaw-footed sons of Irish Bailiffs or English landlords." Not surprisingly, the letter was not published and was later used in Kelly's trial.

The 8000-word manifesto neither swayed the jury nor saved Ned Kelly's neck when eventually captured, tried and hanged in Melbourne Gaol on November 11, 1880. The Jerilderie letter is preserved and amongst the Victorian State Library's collection of national treasures.

Ned Kelly Post Office is the original telegraph office which the gang sabotaged and Willows houses local archives and items of farming and local historical interest. There are around 500 items to see.

The town has a good range of accommodation.

Location

60kms north of the Victorian border.

Cost

The Willows and Ned Kelly Post Office is open 9:30am-4:30pm. Admission is free.

More information

The Willows and Ned Kelly Post Office
11 Powell Street
Jerilderie NSW 2716
Ph: (03) 5886 1511
Website: www.visitnsw.com.au

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