Welcome to another edition of “The Greta Mob Insider”. The year is moving quickly and as I mentioned last time, it is the year for Ned Kelly. He has been in the news again on a regular basis what with the re-discovery of his boot  and the Christies auction of original photographs on the 26th March.


Although it doesn’t appear to be a favourite with Kelly buffs, Peter Careys book, “True History of the Kelly Gang”, has been a boon for the legend. It’s all set to continue with Heath Ledger the latest incarnation of “our Ned”. The film is currently lensing in the Warby Ranges- up in Kelly Country proper, with interiors to go before the camera in Box Hill. I wonder who the historical consultant for the film is?




The interest in Ned and his gang is further re-enforced by the continuing success of Ned: The Exhibition @ the Old Melbourne Gaol in Russell St. It seems to have encouraged people further to come forward with real or imagined “Ned connections”. While I’m sure the exhibition organisers have had their fair share of weirdos wanting some limelight time, genuine information turn ups are inevitable. Already, within the last 3 months, we have two new representations from the Kelly story in the public domain and causing a stir amongst enthusiasts.


The first of these is what is now known as the “Gentleman Ned” photograph. It was originally published in “The Herald” in 1930. Keith McMenomy, in his 1984 version of “Ned Kelly- The Authentic Illustrated Story”, published the photo. The details were fuzzy and quality poor but Kelly experts seemed to accept the fellow as Edward Kelly. Fast forward 16 years and McMenomys new edition of his well regarded book published a pristine version of the same photograph. Details are astonishingly clear and ironically, has called into question the authenticity. To many sceptics, the photo, taken by James Bray in his Beechworth studio, cannot be Ned as the person has blonde hair. Ned was dark. However, as the man is under a skylight, as well as facing light source from photographer himself, I believe  the features can be explained. Keith McMenomy believes the photograph shows Ned Kelly in his prime and says the photo has an “impeccable pedigree.” Ian Jones, a student of the Kellys for 60 years, is also of the belief it is Ned. I would like to see an in depth, published examination by a professional photographer with credentials in the field and put the issue to rest. In this writers opinion, “Gentleman Ned” shown bears remarkable resemblance to “Boxer Ned”, a photo taken to commemorate Neds win in a bout with “Wild” Wright. Are we now questioning this photo as well? Some enthusiasts suggest that only Neds prisons photos can be authenticated. Bear in mind though, with the possible exception of the “execution” photograph of 1880, they are all unflattering and say precisely only what they are meant to say- an identification of the subject for the record of the day. They are basically taken and lit and present a “flat” picture. Studio photography on the other hand, flatters and uses different techniques. If a person shows different features in a studio photo than to a prison portrait, does that mean we immediately discard the possibility in a cloud of cynicism?


Anyway, it is a remarkable photograph and recently sold to a private collector for an astonishing $19,080 @ the Christies auction in Melbourne. The good news is the buyer is aware of intense interest and has agreed to display it for all to see.


The other big news for Kelly students is the publication of a possible new photograph of Aaron Sherritt. It can be seen on page 70 of Ned: The Exhibition catalogue, published early this year. Whilst it may also be Aarons brother Jack, Kelly expert Ian Jones seems to think photo indeed shows a Sherritt and claims discovery is “titillating”. Comparing it to other published photos of Aaron, this writer immediately saw the slender hands and fingers evident in the other photographs. Keith McMenomy is also of the opinion it is Aaron Sherritt.The figure  wears the hat chin-strap under the nose- the “badge” of the Greta Mob and later, the Kelly sympathiser.


Speaking of Aaron, an original of the “Pork-pie hat” photograph was recently purchased by the Burke museum @ the Christies auction. It seems fitting that the photo will be returning to Beechworth, once Joe Byrne and Aaron Sherritts playground.


Mike and myself hope to meet a lot of other “Kelly students” on the upcoming “Ned Tours”,starting this month. The fact the trips are happening is another sign of the incredible interest in this rich slice of Australian history. See you there!

                                                         MARK PERRY