Every country seems to have a criminal folk hero. England has Ronnie Biggs, Canada has a noted bank robber named Paddy Mitchell; the United States has Jesse James and a veritable pantheon of other villains. Australia, both a country and a continent, has one outlaw of renown, a national anti-hero named Ned Kelly. .
Ned Kelly is much prized by Australians. A few years ago, when British rocker, Mick Jagger, was selected to star as Ned Kelly in a movie of the same name, Australian critics panned the movie mightily, taking issue particularly with the premise that a Brit could accurately portray a legend of Oz. .
North-east of Melbourne in the Australian state of Victoria and extending to the border of the state of New South Wales, the Murray River, is a ranching region known to this day as Kelly Country. Here the legend of Ned Kelly was played out.
Ned, the eldest of eight children, was born to Irish parents in Victoria in 1854. His father was an ex-convict and mothers a migrant.
Ned attended school at Avenel until his father died on 27 December 1866. .
• 1869, Ned was arrested for alleged assault and held for ten days on remand but the charge was dismissed. .
• 1870, he was arrested and held in custody for seven weeks as a suspected accomplice of the bushranger.
• 1873, Ned's younger brother James was sentenced to five years' imprisonment for cattle stealing and upon his release was subsequently given ten years' for horse stealing. .
• 1874, he was discharged and worked for two years as a timber worker. .
• 1876, he joined his stepfather, George King, in horse stealing. .
• 1877, Dan Kelly was sentenced to three months' for damaging property and was wanted for horse stealing. .
• 1878, rewards of £100 were offered for the capture of Ned and Dan Kelly. Police set out to capture Ned and Dan and on 25 October camped at Stringybark Creek.