Stringy Bark Creek

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Victoria Police Museum

World Trade Centre , Melbourne


A mountain creek near Mansfield where KellyGang murdered police

The Country around Stringy Bark Creek

Head waters

Down Stream

Flows into Ryan's Creek. Stringy Bark Creek is in the Wombat Ranges.

What did the country look like (Argus30/10/79) Map


Links to the KellyGang

The KellyGang were camped a few valleys away on Bullock Creek. On 25 October 1878 they came across the police camp at the Shingle hut, near the spring on Stringy Bark Creek.

See also the Jerilderie Letter

See also (FH) (CHC) (BWC) (Argus28/10/78) (Age28/10/78) (Age29/10/78) (Argus29/10/78) (Age30/10/78) (Argus30/10/78) (OMA30/10/78) (Age31/10/78) (Argus31/10/78) (Kilmore31/10/1878)(Age1/11/78) (Argus1/11/78) (Argus2/11/78) (Alexandra2/11/1878)(Argus8/7/80)

Graves came to the conclusion that the whereabouts of the KellyGang was known to prisoners in Pentridge prior to the Wombat murders, and that the police by that means or some others gained a knowledge of where they were. He made particular refrerence to Henry Perkins who lived nearby.

Gold was sold in Mansfield. People might not have known exactly whether it was the KellyGang, but they knew people evading the law were there; and if you went to the place you could see marks on the trees showing that for months and months those men must have been practising shooting with bullets. There were also the remains of slaughtered cattle and those things could not occur without people knowing.

Sgt Kennedy must have known where the KellyGang were, but they were uncertain of the exact position, and the party went out for the purpose of searching that country. I think they arrived at the Stringy Bark Creek, and it being very rough country, they intended to camp there while Scanlan and Kennedy went to look for the hut. That would be the hour when constables would be most likely to find a place like that, because as the men came off from mining, and would be likely to light a fire, and the constables would be able to see the smoke.

There is an old diggings there, and as a matter of fact, they must have bought provisions there, and I believe the gold was sold in Mansfield, and I believe that the people knew they were there. They might not have known exactly whether it was the Kellys, but they knew people evading the law were there; and if you go to the place you will see marks on the trees showing that for months and months those men must have been practising shooting with bullets, and you will see the remains of slaughtered cattle there, and those things could not occur without people knowing. (RC15529)

Mr Tolmie's boundary rider found the KellyGang's horses, and Tolmie passed that on to Sergeant Kennedy, and showed him the shingled hut on Stringybark Creek, near which the police party afterwards pitched their tent. (JJK)

This is Ned Kelly's version of what happened from the Cameron Letter

' We approached the Spring as close as we could get to the camp, the intervening space being clear. We saw two men at the Log, they got up and one took a double barrel fowling piece and one drove the horses down and hobbled them against the tent and we thought there was more men in the tent, those being on sentry. We could have shot those two men, without speaking, but not wishing to take life we waited. McIntyre laid the gun against the stump and Lonigan sat on the log. I advanced, my brother Dan keeping McIntyre covered.

' I called on them to throw up their hands McIntyre obeyed and never attempted to reach for his gun or revolver, Lonigan ran to a battery of logs and put his head up to take aim at me, when I shot him, or he would have shot me, as I. knew well, I asked who was in the tent, McIntyre replied no one. I approached the camp and took possession of their revolvers and fowling piece which I loaded with bullets instead of shot. I told McIntyre I did not want to shoot him or any man that would surrender.

' I explained Fitzpatrick's falsehood which no policeman can be ignorant of. He said he knew Fitzpatrick had wronged us but he could not help it. He said he intended to leave the Force on account of his bad health, his life was insured, the other two men who had no firearms came up when they heard the shot fired and went back to our camp for fear the police might call there in our absence and surprise us on our arrival. My brother went back to the Spring and I stopped at the Log with McIntyre. Kennedy and Scanlan came up, McIntyre said he would get them to surrender if I spared their lives as well as his. I said I did not know either him Scanlan or Kennedy, and had nothing up against them, and would not shoot any of them, if they gave up their firearms and promised to leave the Force, as it was the meanest billet in the world.

' They are worse than cold-blooded murderers and hangmen. He said he was sure they would never follow me any more. I gave them my word that I would give them a chance. McIntyre went up to Kennedy, Scanlan behind with a rifle and a revolver. I called on them to throw up their hands. Scanlan slewed his horse around to gallop away, but turned again and as quick as thought fired at me with the rifle and was in the act of firing again, when I shot him. Kennedy alighted on the off side of his horse and got behind a tree and opened hot fire. McIntyre got on Kennedy's horse and galloped away. I could have shot him if I choose as he was right against me but rather than break my word I let him go.

' My brother advanced from the Spring, Kennedy fired at him and ran as he found neither of us was dead. I followed him, he got behind another tree and fired at me again. I shot him in the armpit as he was behind the tree, he dropped his revolver and ran again and slewed round and I fired with the gun again and shot him through the right chest as I did not know that he had dropped his revolver and was turning to surrender. He could not live or I would have let him go. Had they been my own brothers, I could not help shooting them or else lie down and let them shoot me, which they would have done had their bullets been directed as they intended them. But as for handcuffing Kennedy to a tree or cutting his car off or brutally treating any of them, is a cruel falsehood. If Kennedy's ear was cut off, it has been done since I put his cloak over him and left him as honourable as I could and if they were my own brothers I could not be more sorry for them, with the exception of Lonigan '

See the evidence of the inquest into Lonigan and Scanlon. (Age30/10/78)

See also details of Ned Kelly's trial and Stephens evidence of what Ned Kelly told him (Age10/8/1880)

A report of the murder was received on the Sunday, when McIntyre was making his way into Mansfield. It was an ordinary traveller brought the report, passing by the place, in the neighborhood. He said, "There are two or three police shot in the country," indicating where they were shot. It is a proof, if anything, that some person was standing by, and saw it-some person besides the police and the Kellys. (RC1866) See Const Meehan's story

Pewtress and his party, guided by Mr Monk arrived at Stringy Bark Creek about midnight and soon found the bodies of Const Lonigan and Scanlon. The third search party found the body of Sgt Kennedy and the KellyGang's strong point (CHC)


Graves recieved the following telegraph message, 31/10/1878, from Mansfield, signed by James Tomkins the President of the Shire of Mansfield.

"I have just returned from the scene" (that is where the men were murdered). "On my way home met police in pursuit, all of whom are badly armed. Three rifles among twenty-three men. Revolvers are useless in the ranges, and terrible scenes will be enacted unless a strongly armed force is sent at once. Civilians have done all yet and we must be supported by armed police. Do bring it before the House publicly, for no notice is taken of private representations. (RC15493)

On 9/11/1878 Const Johnson and his party found the pack horse, B87, taken from the police at Stringy Bark Creek in the Warby Ranges (RC12404)

On 28/11/1878 Det Ward received information and recovered two of the horses of the police that were shot in the Stringy Bark Creek in the Warby Ranges (RC13843).

Burman, the photographer from Melbourne, took his famous photographs of the scene of the murders

In April 1880 a monument erected to the memory of the victims of the Wombat tragedy was unveiled in Mansfield.

Hear Const McIntyre's evidence to Ned Kelly's committal hearing (Age9/8/1880) (Argus9/8/80) (Argus10/8/80)

George Stephens' evidence (Argus10/8/80), James Gloster's evidence (Argus10/8/80), frank Frank Beecroft (Argus10/8/80)

What was Stringy Bark Creek like in the late 1870's

A visit to Stringy Bark Creek. What was there in 1880. (Argus13/11/80) (BWC)

Settlements and Properties in the area

The site of the murders is in the Parish of Toombullup.

Early Selectors in the area included, Walter Stokes, George Stokes, and Robert McCrum.

What happened in the area of Stringy Bark Creek after the time of the KellyGang

How has the Stringy Bark Creek area changed

The area has been burnt by a number of bushfires

What is happening at the area of Stringy Bark Creek today

There is now a tourist facility in the area that gives some information