Quite apart from the fact that Kelly country – the area around Benalla, Beechworth, and Glenrowan in Victoria’s northern high country – is naturally beautiful, marvellously gastronomic and is decked out in historic towns, the other reason you’ve got to visit Kelly country is to make up your mind about our Ned.
What exactly was he? The list of possibilities is lengthy: common criminal, notorious bushranger, Australian version of Robin Hood, unlucky Irishman, larrikin, brave dissenter or accomplished troublemaker. A tour of Kelly country and its many historic Kelly sites and activities is an essential Australian crusade, because, if nothing else, Kelly is a national icon, an Aussie legend, and by now – myth as may be – a distinctly Australian character.
Did you know?
Artists have been immortalising Ned for a century. In 1906 he was the subject of what would have been the world’s first full-length feature film – The Story of the Kelly Gang. During the 1920s an entire series of Kelly/bushranger films were made, even though bans existed in some states.
Painters and writers have been busy too, with Sidney Nolan’s 1946-’47 series probably the most famous.
How to get there
Qantas and Virgin Blue have regular flights to Melbourne from most major cities in Australia.
Kelly Country is situated in northeast Victoria and is a 2.5-hour drive from Melbourne along the Hume Freeway or the Midland Highway.
Best time to go
Tourism Victoria info on Kelly Country
Visitor information on Kelly Country and Glenrowan
** This is our original 100 Things to Do Before You Die. First published in 1996. There is an updated 100 Things To Do In Australia Before you die, published in 2011.