The Complete Inner History of the KellyGang and their Pursuers (55)

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Sherritt Sentenced to Death

On one occasion the four outlaws were camped in a dry lagoon near the Broken River, below Benalla.  Two contractors, Riggleson and Graham, were working on a big gum-tree which they had felled the previous day.  The contractors were visited by two young men, one of whom was recognised as one of the outlaws.  The young men chatted with the contractors for some time, and incidentally inquired if they (the contractors) had seen the police about lately.  The reply was no, they had not seen any police in that quarter.  The two young men were Joe Byrne and Dan Kelly.  They kept looking about while conversing with the contractors.  Quite suddenly Dan and Joe said, “So long,” and disappeared over the bank into the dry lagoon.  A few minutes later the contractors saw four horsemen coming towards them from the direction of Benalla.  They rode up to where these two men were working.

The four horsemen were now recognised as policemen.  They inquired if the timber workers had seen any horsemen about.  The contractors truthfully replied, “No.” Although they knew the Kellys were in the lagoon—within speaking distance— they had not seen them mounted, and although there was a reward of £8000 for their capture, the contractors, who were almost unknown to the Kellys, would not assist the police, even with the £8000 inducement.  The police, after a few common place remarks, turned back to report at Benalla.  The Kellys in their lagoon could have shot the four policemen, but instead of shooting they started off in the opposite direction mounted on four splendid horses.  The contractors went down into the dry lagoon and saw that the Kellys had fed their horses on oats and chaff, but principally raw oats. 

This was the period when the average policemen felt convinced that the Kellys had left Victoria for one of the other colonies.  On another occasion while the heads of the police department were at loggerheads the Kellys came into Benalla en route for the police paddock, and as the police officials were sampling well matured whisky in Craven’s Hotel on one side of Bridge street, the Kellys were also enjoying themselves in another hotel on the opposite side of the street.

They frequently discussed their plans for the future.  The providore suggested that they should go on to Queensland.  He would get them there one at a time.  When they were safely landed in Queensland they could come together again.  Dan Kelly was now about nineteen years of age and had already developed into a broad shouldered young man.  A few years retired from observation would so change his appearance and also that of Steve Hart, who was now twenty years of age, that neither of them would be easily identified.  Joe Byrne was now just on twenty three years, and with a few years in the tropical climate he, too, would not be recognised.  Ned Kelly would only have to clean shave to defy the keenest eye to identify him.  The Kellys took time to talk over this suggestion.  They looked at it from various points of view, and finally it was turned down, on the ground that they would be strangers in a strange land.  If they or any of them should be recognised they would not have the same whole-hearted support from the people in Queensland as they had where they were best known.  It was better to work with the object of forcing the Victorian and New South Wales Governments to come to peace terms with then. 

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This document gives you the text of this book about the KellyGang. The text has been retyped from a copy of the original. We have taken care to reproduce this document but areas of the original text may been damaged. We also apologise for any typographical errors. JJ Kenneally was one of the first authors to tell this story from the KellyGang's point of view

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