The Ironbark Blog – www.ironbark.info Special edition JULY 2005
NED KELLY BLOG
Out on Bail!
Bail Records produced an Extended Play (EP) vinyl recording in 1980 as part of the Ned Kelly Centenary. One hundred years
after Ned Kelly was hung millions of Australians rallied to the Campaign to Pardon Ned during 1980. Limited copies of the vinyl recording can still be obtained. Contact Bail Records at email@example.com. Cost for a vinyl EP $20 incl p&h. A CD version is also available for $30..
On Ned Kelly Rides Again!
AN ACCOUNT OF THE NED KELLY CENTENARY FESTIVAL and interview with Peter Galvin
written by Sharon Hollingsworth,
North American Correspondent,
Reproduced by courtesy from:
Everyone who knows me knows that I love to hunt for facts and solve mysteries. I can't rest until I find solutions to puzzles and conundrums that have caught my fancy. My latest Sherlock Holmes type exercise involved the Ned Kelly Centenary Festival, which was supposedly held a quarter of a century ago at
My quest began because at another Kelly website and on ebay from time to time, I had seen a souvenir programme booklet for the Ned Kelly Centenary Festival.
Further checking on the
other Kelly website showed that there was a recording called 'Ned Kelly 100
Years a Hero' released as a souvenir of the Festival. What sort of threw me off
was that the blurb (at least last time I looked!) said that it was "produced
in 2000 by Bail Records." Having seen a photo of the back cover, I think
the confusion set in as 2000 was a postal code of an address on the back. This
was originally produced in 1980 and is still available for purchase (and now even
in CD format), but more on that in the interview section below.
My curiosity was piqued! Why had I never heard anything about this event? No one online had ever mentioned it in feedbacks or in articles, no one had claimed they had attended it and I have seen no photos of it. Granted it took place in the pre-internet days, but folks love to rub it in and carry on about some great one time only experience they had that you never will (witness the original
The website that Google took me to (which is now currently not showing up on searches, but did months ago when I began this quest, luckily I cut and pasted the pertinent parts!) was a sort of travelogue of someone who had visited
I decided to dig deeper and ask around to see if any of the 'usual suspects' in Kelly circles had any idea what the go was. Several people had told me that they had heard it did not go on or that they heard it had been cancelled and so on. A couple of people had said they always just assumed it had happened but they had heard nothing of it beyond reading the festival programme booklet. So again I found myself without a clear answer. I was told that Tapsell's Bookshop (in Beechworth) had stacks and stacks of the programmes available for $2 a copy. Again this added to the assumption that if they had "thousands" of them then maybe it did not go on as related by the punter above? I knew I needed a copy of this booklet myself before I could proceed further. Dave White sent me one and I was very impressed with the content.
The Ned Kelly Centenary
Festival souvenir programme booklet was dedicated to "MAGGIE SKILLION-the
fifth or forgotten member of the Kelly gang." Looking through this I was
able to find out that the director of the festival was Mr. Peter Galvin (not
Gavin as the other website had it in its blurb about the magazine, again as of
this writing). I was able to locate Mr. Galvin and get the story from "the
horse's mouth" so to speak. I found that the Ned Kelly Centenary Festival
most certainly did go on! I have an interview I conducted with Mr. Galvin
below. He was most gracious and friendly and helpful. But first, to set the
stage, let's see what was on the schedule of events for that weekend in November
of 1980. The festival kicked off on Friday November 7th with the gates opening
at Admission fee was $8.50
per day and children under 14 accompanied by adults were admitted free. A
weekend ticket for Friday
through Sunday cost $16.00. But what a bargain it was as the festival was chockfull of entertainment and fun! According to the booklet there were around 20 musical acts to perform. Among those scheduled were the Bushwackers Band, Redgum, Reg Poole, Ted
Egan, Carrl Myriad Band, Eric Bogle, Johnny Chester and Hotspur, Bush Turkey and many others. Quite a few plays and re-enactments were to be presented. The plays "The Jerilderie Weekend" and "The Kate Kelly Roadshow" (by Frank Hatherley) were on the schedule Re-enactments such as one on bushranging called "The Chain Gang" and Kelly related ones
such as "The Fitzpatrick Incident," "Stringybark Creek," "The Kelly’s Wouldn't Run," "Robbery on the Benalla Road," "The Shooting of Aaron Sherritt," and "Glenrowan" [see photo at bottom] were also on the agenda.
Other events and activities over the long weekend included a damper bakeoff, harness show, stockhorse events, a cross country horse race, billy boiling, yarn spinning, bush fun run and marathon wood chopping. As if all that was not enough to get one's Kelly groove on, there was to be a forum led by Dr. John McQuilton, a showing of historical Kelly films, carnival rides, amusements and exhibitions, as well as bush and folk music workshops and a special Guinness Book of World Records attempt!
The souvenir programme booklet itself also contained articles about the Kelly’s which included "Fallout from Stringybark Creek," "Did Ned Get a Fair Trial?" and interestingly there is a reprint of the 1880 pamphlet called "Kelly's Defence" (by a lady).
One final bit before getting
to the interview with Mr. Galvin is this bit taken from the festival booklet.
In the section called "History of the Festival-how it came to pass"
is the question "Why Winton?" The answer: "When the idea was first
conceived, we looked around for a suitable venue in the Glenrowan area. At the
time, the local media publicised our
search for a Festival site, and we received an offer from the Benalla Auto Club, suggesting the viability of the Winton Recreation Reserve. After considerable investigation, it was decided that the Winton Reserve was the only suitable site in "Kelly Country" that would be able to cope with the crowd that we anticipated would attend. Winton also had the
added advantage of being situated centrally in the heart of Kelly Country, just 6km from the Kelly Homestead in Greta, 15km from Glenrowan, 12km from Benalla, and was the site of the former Winton Grog Shop, where disgraced Constable Fitzpatrick drank for many hours before he set off to arrest Dan Kelly, but ended up assaulting Ned Kelly's mother and sisters. This incident led to Ned's mother being jailed for three years, and was the spark that ignited the Kelly legend. What a combination!! The site of a coward's self-vindication to the site of
massive people's commemoration. At this festival we stand on the site of history, but such is life!" ..............................................
Below is an email interview I conducted with Peter Galvin, the director of the Ned Kelly Centenary Festival.
you come up with the idea of staging a Centenary Festival? Who else was involved in the planning? Were you a Ned Kelly fan from way back?
Peter: The Kelly Festival was in fact the idea of many like minded people who were loosely associated through an ambitious magazine called the Independent Australian, the Bushwackers Band and also the Builders Labourers Union. The Festival came about when a number of us who were involved in the promotion of an independent Australian culture saw the centenary as a way of highlighting
The Festival became our field of dreams and was at least a decade before its time. I have no doubt that it was our politicisation of the Kelly legend that led to our event being ignored by history, because in a sense we failed to capture the support of the traditional Kelly aficionado, the mainstream folk music scene and the local area community.
Peter: We had about 3,000 paying customers and about
1,000 others (workers, performers etc) and was a
wonderful event for those that attended. It was a financial disaster for the
organisers (a group of 5 friends were the company, organisers and financiers)
being about 2,000 people short of break even. Unfortunately it rained solidly
in the week leading up to the Festival and there was a petrol transport strike
which combined to stop people coming up from
Peter: At the time I was an industrial officer with the BLF (a construction industry union) and in my spare time I ran Ironbark music promotions as a hobby. I have worked for the past decade in the community education and training sector, until I had a stroke a few years back and now do freelance media and I am still called Ironbark.
Sharon: Reading in the Ned Kelly Centenary Festival booklet I see that at the Festival you had several souvenir items for sale among them an EP (extended play) record with 4 songs on it (The Kelly's Wouldn't Run-Carrl Myriad/Stringybark Creek-Bushwackers Band/Poor Ned-Redgum/Ned Kelly's Letter-Blue Tongue) which is also now available in CD form and can be ordered by going to http://www.ironbark.info/index_files/Page460.htm Give us some info on this record.
Peter: The EP was a moderate success but I was left
with a couple of thousand which I have managed to sell (as a fund raiser for
worthy causes) or give away over the past 20 years. The CD version is just a
copy that I ripped to the computer and make for people without record players,
depending on demand.
Peter: As far as I can remember, everyone listed appeared, and the program was so tight there was no room for late additions.
Peter: I'm not as sure about every event as there was too much happening for me to keep track of but I don't think Mr Jones turned up. I seem to remember some dispute over who was to pay his fare out to
Peter: It did, and again I have no recollection of these specific events.
Peter: I don't but I do believe it happened.
Peter: Make sure your big ideas are backed up by big and reliable finance and marketing.
Peter: A guy from Melbourne, Dan Hellier, who now runs Publicity Works. The advertising was handled by a woman whose first name is Jane (I can't remember her last name). I wrote and organised most of the content.
Peter: I don't have any photos of the event. I am normally an avid photographer but I must have been too pre-occupied at the time to take any but I'd love to see any some time.
Pic: Peter in armour.
[Note from Sharon: Just
prior to this story being run, I had mentioned to Brian McDonald about what I
was writing about and he sent in a photo of a scene from one of the Festival's
Kelly re-enactments which he found in an issue of "Two Hundred Years"
put out by Bay Books, circa 1988. Issue #45 had a piece on "Festive
Occasions" and was where he found it!
Above pic: A photo of the actual festival!
Many thanks to Peter Galvin for his time and cooperation.
Thanks also to Brian McDonald for being both generous and eagle-eyed!
And last, but never least, thanks to Dave White for getting me a copy of the Festival booklet and for always being willing to give me a showcase for my writings.
END OF THIS SPECIAL BLOG FEATURE