The true site of the gunfight between the police and the Kellys.
The true site of the gunfight between the police and the Kellys.

‘Disgraceful’: Site where Kelly killed three cops vandalised

Heritage Victoria is investigating after the historic site where notorious bushranger Ned Kelly killed three policemen was dug up.

The unauthorised dig at Stringybark Creek Reserve, about 35km from Mansfield in northeast Victoria, has sparked outrage and upset among the descendants of the officers who were shot by Kelly and his gang there in 1878.

Sergeant Michael Kennedy, and constables Thomas Lonigan and Michael Scanlan were killed.

The part of the reserve that was disturbed was at the Kennedy Tree, which local historians believe was where Kelly killed Sgt Kennedy.

Ned Kelly in chains at a prison called the Old Melbourne Gaol, which is now a historic site. Picture: State Library of Victoria
Ned Kelly in chains at a prison called the Old Melbourne Gaol, which is now a historic site. Picture: State Library of Victoria

Locals discovered the site had been dug up in late February, much to the distress of Sgt Kennedy's descendants.

Great-grandson Leo Kennedy said it was "very upsetting" for him and his family as it could affect future investigations at Stringybark Creek.

"I think it's disgraceful what they've done," he told the Herald Sun.

"They've potentially jeopardised future archaeological work on the site if it ever happens.

"The families (of the policemen who were shot there) treat the site as sacred. We lost family there, it's an important place in our family history."

It is also believed that a gun had been fired in the area around the time it was dug up.

Mr Kennedy said the person who did it had "no regard for authority or the families".

"The thing I'm worried about is what they've done there," he said.

"A few months ago, someone else decided to discharge a firearm when they were doing sort of a re-enactment and talk about the history.

"It's not on to be letting off a shotgun around there. The last shots that were fired should have been 142 years ago. People are really taking things into their own hands and have no idea about the hurt they're causing to family members."

When contacted by the Herald Sun, Heritage Victoria said it was investigating.

"There are significant penalties under the Heritage Act for disturbing archaeological sites without consent from Heritage Victoria," a spokesman said.

The earliest portrait of Ned Kelly, dated August 8, 1874. Kelly was 18-years-old.
The earliest portrait of Ned Kelly, dated August 8, 1874. Kelly was 18-years-old.


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