This section of the website briefly looks at Ned Kelly himself, then moves on to examine his gang members, relatives and some of the more “hardcore” sympathisers. In the process, we will see how it was a group effort that kept the police at bay and the gang on the move through the North East, staying one step ahead at all times. The story of “the others” is no less exciting than the Kelly Gang itself. (Again, in no particular order.)


Who was Ned Kelly?


Ned Kellys personality was so dominant that even today, his gang members, Joe, Steve and brother Dan remain shadowy figures. Physically, Edward Kelly was tall, almost 6 foot, very powerfully built and possessor of an extraordinary constitutuion. The last photograph, taken at the Melbourne Gaol, the day prior to his execution shows a portrait of great power and presence.His face “burns and smoulders”.It’s interesting to note that the man who knew the North East like the back of his hand also failed geography at school. Unsurprisingly, he also failed grammar. He seemed to like a game of billiards and liked a drink but was no slave to the bottle. (This had been the undoing of many a bushranger before him.). The best testimonial comes from Aaron Sherritt, an incredibly tough fellow himself, who said, “Ned Kelly could beat me into fits. I can beat all the others; I am a better man than Joe Byrne, and I am better than Dan Kelly, and I am a better man than Steve Hart. I can lick these two youngsters into fits. I have always beaten Joe, but I look upon Ned Kelly as an extraordinary man, there is no man in the world like him- he is superhuman. I look on him as invulnerable; you can do nothing with him.”


Ned liked a good horse, loved his Mother and could often indulge in ‘larrikin’ behaviour. The evidence suggests however, he was a decent man who trusted others too readily. If he hadn’t have trusted Constable Fitzpatrick, Thomas McIntyre, Curnow, the outcome may have been somewhat different. Ned was hard. He was game. He had grace and style. He was also a criminal. You cannot escape the fact that Edward Kelly killed and robbed.



JOE BYRNE- Joseph Byrne, Ned's trusted lieutenant, was born in the Woolshed Valley, near Beechworth in 1856. He was the oldest of the seven Byrne children, “a bright and well behaved boy.”From an early age, he was exposed to the Chinese diggers in the vicinity and eventually, became fluent in Cantonese. Opium smoking was also another oriental habit he picked up and may have contributed to his sometimes “bad temper” and “bullet eyed” appearance. The Chinese of the Woolshed often referred to him as ‘Ah Joe’. He was a well built and attractive young man with an affinity for poetry, bar-maids and horses. Ned once referred to Joe as “a man straight and true as steel”. Joe became a member of the gang by accident; he just happened to be at Bullock Creek that day with the Kelly brothers and Steve Hart. A careful reading of the evidence will suggest that Joe fired the fatal shot at Constable Scanlon, not Ned. When he was shot dead at Glenrowan in 1880, he was wearing Scanlon and Lonigans rings and had a packet of poison in his tattered coat pocket. His state of mind, following his execution of his former best friend, Aaron Sherritt, is impossible to determine. Until recently, there was no available photo of Joe alive- just the sad images of his dead body as he was strung up for the press. Ian Jones finally put this right in 1992 with the publication of “The Friendship that destroyed Ned Kelly- Joe Byrne and Aaron Sherritt”. It is an interesting photo. He wears his standard town clothes with slightly flared riding pants. He has carefully brushed his hair for the occasion but his eyes are strange-the right one seems dull and lifeless. Perhaps it was a trick of the light, perhaps he was stoned or he may have blinked.


“Or perhaps the camera captured a curious discrepancy found in desciptions of Joes eyes. To one man, they were ‘full and remarkable’, to another ‘shifty looking’. They earned Joe the nickname ‘Bullet Eyes’ and call to mind that uncharacteristic assessment of him as ‘dangerous’.


“The Friendship that destroyed Ned Kelly- Joe Byrne and Aaron Sherritt”- Ian Jones



STEVE HART- Of all the gang members, the least is known of Stephen Hart. A photograph taken at Barnes studio in Wangaratta in 1877 suggests a slim lad whose legs “knew their way around a horse”. Although he has received some bad press over the years, he was always considered a reliable member of the gang, true and trustworthy and great mate to Dan Kelly. On the other side of the coin, he was described as possessing a sullen temper, easily ruffled and “at times, wore a vindictive, cruel expression.” Born in 1860, Steve and his family had a selection on Three Mile creek, behind the Wangaratta racecourse. He was known to be an amateur jockey and seemed to be the superior horseman within the gang. He was well known to Sergeant Steele of Wangaratta and in his early years, tied the tail of Steeles horse to a fence for a gag. When Steele went to ride off and couldn’t, he failed to see the humour typically. Steve was a prominent member of The Greta Mob in later years. Eventually bored with work on the farm, he joined his mate Dan looking for gold at Bullock creek. He was finally recognized as a member of the Kelly gang when he ran into a former school acquaintance during the Euroa raid. There is no real evidence to suggest Steve Hart escaped from the conflagration at Glenrowan with Dan and they both supposedly lie in Greta Cemetery, young lives destroyed by forces set in motion in April 1878.


“…a small, dark, bow-legged teenager, a sometime jockey and brilliant horseman, a decent, slow- speaking boy whose size, abilities and temperament made him a perfect companion for the horse- loving, more assertive Dan.”  


DAN KELLY- Born at Ellen and Red Kellys home at Beveridge in 1861, Daniel was the youngest of the Kelly boys and perhaps forever in their shadow. A photo of Dan supposedly taken at Brays studio in Beechworth suggests his clothes are “roomy” and probably handed down from Ned and Jim. At the Stringybark creek battle, Constable McIntyre remarked his clothes seemed too big for the boy inside. And a boy he was. Dan was only 16 years old when Constable Fitzpatrick came to arrest him that fateful day and 19 when he died at Glenrowan. Both in the gang and within the family, he seemed to resent Neds dominant role and was once referred to as “low, cunning and a sneak” which was certainly undeserved. In the last moments of his life at Glenrowan, he showed concern for the prisoners and acted with honour. It appears he and Steve took their own lives with a gun or with poison rather than surrendering or receiving a police bullet. Perhaps Dan was a better judge of character than Ned and often warned his older brother not to trust so easily. He seems to have had some animosity to Aaron Sherritt and when present  at Aarons death, upon seeing the body, “smiled”.



“Lacking Ned's great strength and cocky, optimistic approach to life as an outlaw, Dan brought to the gang a more sombre appraisal of problems; if Ned had listened to his advice, Dan may have lived beyond his teens.”




TOM LLOYD- A mainstay of the gang and a “rock” in difficult times, Thomas Peter Lloyd, first cousin of Ned Kelly was involved actively and behind the scenes in almost every episode throughout the Kelly Outbreak. Without the assistance rendered by Tom , the gang would not have survived as long as they did and during the hunt, he was often regarded as the “fifth member of the gang”. He was born in 1857 and when the Kellys moved from Avenel to Greta, Tom and Neds lives in many ways became one. It is only by chance Tom wasn’t involved in the gun battle at Stringybark creek . He was waiting in the wings for Ned at Glenrowan though and assisted the outlaw in preparing to return to the Inn- and into history. He tried hard to win a reprieve for Ned and was one of the last family members to see him before the execution. Tom fathered 2 families (16 children!) and died in 1927. He lays at rest in Greta cemetery. A unique, full length portrait of cousin Thomas has recently come to light and can be seen at Ned: The Exhibition.    



JIM KELLY- The second oldest Kelly boy, James was born at the Kelly hut, Beveridge in 1859. After his release from a prison sentence in 1876, he came home to Eleven Mile creek “a sinewy 6- footer, good looking and volatile.” Jim spent time with Ned and Dan at Bullock creek searching for gold but was perhaps conscious of being an outsider due to a long time away in gaol. He left soon after to go to New South Wales and was nabbed for horse stealing. He remained in prison for most of the Kelly Outbreak and when finally released, it was feared he would “join the gang”. After Neds execution, he appeared restless and vengeful but eventually settled down to an honest life (after one more prison term) and became a respected figure in the district, helping his mother, Ellen, to care for the large, extended family. Jim died, aged 89, December 1946. He rests in Greta cemetery.  

AARON SHERRITT- And so we come to poor old Aaron. Many Kelly enthusiasts may feel Aaron shouldn’t be in this section at all. After all, until relatively recently, history branded him a traitor. However, from sifting the evidence, the Kelly student should see that Aaron Sherritt never did anything to bring the Kellys any closer to capture. In fact, he hindered them by tying up resources and feeding false information through the hierachy. And he seems to have done it all with a faint smirk on his face. Aaron was born in Prahran and became a familiar figure in the Woolshed Valley and a close friend to Joe Byrne. He was one of the many that could have been present at Stringybark creek that day and therefore a part of the gang but fate took him back to Beechworth to look after his selection it seems. After the police murders, Aaron was the first point of contact by the gang and he watched over them as they slept, exhausted from the many miles of hurried travel. Early in the pursuit ( the Charge of Sebastopol) he was approached by Standish himself to betray the gang. He agreed as long as Joes life was spared. For the next 20 months, he walked a tightrope, pretending to help the police but remaining loyal to the gang. If it wasn’t for Detective Ward, he would have lived. Ward set Aaron up as bait and finally, his former mate, Joe, believed the things he heard and killed Aaron. Ironically, it was the beginning of the end for Joe himself and the rest of the gang. Wards murderous strategy had worked. Aaron was notoriously tough and was a formidable bare knuckle fighter but despite this, he regarded Ned Kelly with incredible awe. “He is superhuman. I look upon him as invulnerable….” Fittingly, the Burke Museum at Beechworth have recently purchased an original photo of Aaron from the Christies auction to display in his home territory. His grave, in the Beechworth cemetery is still sadly, unmarked. 



JOHN QUINN- Jack was Ellen Kellys brother and uncle of Ned and Dan. When his father died, he took over the family property,’Glenmore’. Over the years, he escaped conviction for stock theft, despite police suspicions. He was one of the first arrested as a sympathiser and one of the last released.



TOM MCAULIFFE- Along with his brother Dennis(Dinny), Tom was an active sympathiser and a solid member of the inner circle. The brothers were planted by the Kellys amongst the prisoners at the Glenrowan Inn in June 1880. They were detained only briefly by police afterwards.



DICK HART- An older brother of outlaw Steve, Richard Hart belonged to the inner core of supporters as well. Due to a respectable name however, he escaped the indignity of imprisonment as a sympahiser. He worked closely with Tom Lloyd at Glenrowan and may have been a part of “the phantom army”. He played a prominent role after his brother and Dan were dead, “suggesting” police keep their distance. His aimed rifle Glenrowan was pushed aside by Tom Lloyd with the remark “there has been enough killing”. Dick died a respected businessman.



They are all long dead and buried now. Modern day sympathisers still exist though and continue to bring the rich story of the Kellys to others such as historian Ian Jones, seen here in 1966 with relics from the “police caves” in the Woolshed Valley. (Photographer: Albert Tucker.)


Thus endeth our brief look at Ned, the gang and the Inner Circle. There were many many more sympathisers but we have looked at most of the prominent ones. I have not included the Kelly women as they deserve a section of their own. They are considered the unsung heroes of the Kelly Outbreak by many and their story is told in “Neds Women”.

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