ALTHOUGH THE POLICE and the Kellys exchanged shots only twice over the course of the Kelly Outbreak,- at Stringybark Creek and the Glenrowan siege, guns were an ever present necessity to both sides of the 20 month conflict. Following is a brief overview on the Kelly and Police arsenal collection and how it developed, followed by a brief, individual look at some of the firearms.
“ ‘Oh Christ. I’m shot.’ They are his last words. He pitches to the ground, dying. Night is in the air; so is gunsmoke. Everyone is shocked.”
the battle at Stringybark creek, the newly created Kelly gang had several
weapons at their disposal. Their former owners would no longer be needing them.
Four Webley revolvers, Kennedys double- barrelled shot gun and Micheal Scanlons
.500 calibre, seven shot Spencer carbine made up the collection.
the bank robberies at Euroa and Jerilderie, their arsenal increased
considerably. The Euroa National Bank donated two revolvers whilst the hawker,
Mr.Gloster, had a supply of weapons for the gang upon his arrival at Faithfulls
This was also where Ned procured his favourite rifle, “Betty” , a Snider-Enfield of .577 calibre and as it was previously used by a kangaroo shooter, converted as a sporting weapon. This superb weapon is currently on display at Ned:The Exhibition, complete with “K” carved into it.
From Senior-constable Devine, Ned took a six-shot, .36 calibre, Colt Navy revolver, two .539 calibre Callisher and Terry Carbines and two revolvers from the Bank of New South Wales.
Between the Jerilderie and Glenrowan exploits, the gang purchased yet more weaponry. Some Winchester rifles and a Colt revolving rifle were among the group.
the police were dithering around the Kelly Homestead, playing spy, one of them
dropped a Martini-Henry rifle. Ned promptly scooped it up and ultimately used it
to fire the test shot at his armoured breast-plate.
most common long-arm for the police in the “Kelly Country” at the start of
the outbreak was a .577 calibre, single-shot Enfield rifle. At this stage, it
was already obsolete. Scanlons Spencer-repeater was one of only four in the
whole North East. The normal, standard weapon of the mounted police was a Webley
revolver. Five Colts were available as special issue to foot police.
After the events at Stringybark creek, four more Spencer-repeaters, 86 breech-loading shot-guns, 62 Martini-Henry rifles and 256 revolvers were issued. The best shots in the force were given rifles. After the robbery at Jerilderie, a further 78 revolvers were issued.
were also a number of privately owned weapons in circulation at this time,
invariably before any were even issued in the North Eastern police district of
several of the Kelly guns survive. As noted, “Betty” can be seen at the
exhibition amongst others. Interestingly, a replica of Neds first gun, the sawn
off carbine, made for the television series, “The Last Outlaw” (1980), can
also be seen at the exhibition. The original disappeared from the Museum of
Applied Science in Melbourne. A pocket Colt revolver used by Ned at the Siege of
Glenrowan was stolen in the United States in 1976.
ENFIELD RIFLE Cal.0.577 in.-Introduced into British forces in 1853. It was a muzzle-loader and was the first successful rifle to be used. Widely used in Australia by volunteers and police. Photos of police at Glenrowan 1880 show this weapon.
RIFLE Cal.0.44 in.-Produced
in the United States in 1866. Played a big part in opening the American West. At
the time of the Kelly Outbreak, 637 weapons were issued from the Victoria
barracks to police. Only one of these was a Winchester.