Highly respected journalist Mike Munro, presenter of the series LAWLESS, has unwittingly been led astray by the “experts” who he believes have solved the mysteries of the Stringybark Creek (SBC) police shootings by the Kelly Gang in October 1878.

Please click on video to start viewing preview.

 


 

Foxtel (the hosts of this production) need to realise that the production company and the Lawless team headed by archaeologist Adam Ford have shabbily taken the credit for finds at SBC that have been well known to Kelly historians for years.  The pile of rocks they purport to be the remains of a hut which denotes the site of the police camp and which they found while flying a Lidar 3D helicopter drone were in fact found many years ago by the CSI@SBC team.  This find is well documented in a report published by the CSI@SBC team back in July 2011 (and since revised).  However archaeologist Adam Ford has now claimed this find as his own. 

Foxtel have made the full 52 minute episode available for a limited time click this link-
https://www.historychannel.com.au/shows/lawless-the-real-bushrangers/video/lawless-the-real-bushrangers-full-episode-ned-kelly/
 

 


 

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The photo below shows Mike Munro and Adam Ford viewing a Lidar 3D “fly-over” of Stringy Bark Creek (SBC). 
The scan is comprised of multiple images which capture the high and low points in the landscape. When these levels are averaged out it produces contours of the terrain.


The scan is certainly something which will wow the viewer.  But does it assist to reveal the truth about SBC?   
 



 

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In the image below, the trees have been removed and we can see gully indentations to the right. 

The building circled in red are the toilets opposite the SBC picnic ground reserve. 
Plotting these buildings establishes a datum point which allows other features in the area to be plotted. 

 


 

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In the image below, Adam Ford points to a little walkway bridge which crosses the creek in the vicinity of the picnic ground.  I think it likely he is going to tell viewers that this is near where the police were camped.  However if you stand near this bridge you will not be able to see the scene of Constable Lonigan’s shooting that is shown in the Burman photograph left.  And that’s because the slope that is shown in that photograph is not visible from anywhere near this small bridge.

Notice in the image left, the steep slope behind the figure. Photo view South
  
   



 

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The image below shows the other features in the vicinity of the picnic ground.  No attempt has been made to show the actual site of the police shootings.  I have added this in myself (the red ‘V’ which shows the angle of view corresponding to the Burman photograph).  The Kelly tree shown in the image is the third such tree that has been identified at SBC and has no relationship to the site where the police were shot.  The Lawless documentary will use this tree to suggest the killings happened in the area identified by the yellow circle.   

 

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The above image shows two hut sites marked 1884 and 1885 respectively.  These sites are taken from two survey plans prepared 6 and 7 years after the killings.  They are meant to be the same hut (despite the two sites being 160 metres apart), but have been incorrectly plotted on the respective survey maps.  No evidence of hut remains at either site were found by me when metal detecting these sites in 2002, 2004, 2009 and 2010.  In any event, if either of these locations are to be accepted as the location of the police camp, then there is major problem in that the slope shown in the Burman photo is not visible at either site. 


It all looks very convincing when they next overlay the old map with the hut plot over the scan.  However they have not synchronised the hut plot to anything in particular, and certainly not to anything that resembles the background slope shown in the Burman photo.
 
 


 

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The survey map reproduction below is part of the 1884 Parish plan when roads and allotments were added.  The surveyor has written ‘HUT Scene of the Police murders by the Kelly Gang’. This is the hut Adam wants to plot on his diorama.  As already explained, this plot by the surveyors is wrong.  The slope that can be seen in the Burman photo is not visible at this location and there were no hut remains at this location either.  The second survey in 1885 then plotted the same hut at a location 160 metres to the north.  But there too there is no slope like that shown in the Burman photo and there are no hut remains at this location either.  So therefore both these supposed hut plots are unrelated to the police murders.
 

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In the photo below, Adam Ford tries to associate the hut 'splodge'  with the scan.  A red arrow marks the site which he wants to tell us was where the police camp was.  But nothing ever happened at this location.  The true site of the shootings is actually 250 metres UP the creek near the ruins of two small huts, the fireplaces of which can be seen in the bush today.  

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The image below shows the hut sites as shown on the two survey maps – one at 804 metres and the other at 645 metres from the junction of SBC and Ryans Ck north.  Both sites are wrong, but Adam Ford wants to place the police camp in the middle of these two sites.  He is wrong.  The true site is the “Two Huts” site located to the south (marked in yellow), from where the slope shown in the Burman photo can be readily seen.  This is where Constables Lonigan and Scanlan were shot dead. Careful reading of primary sources indicates Sergeant Kennedy was murdered near the K of the word gold workings. 

  


 












 

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It is obvious from watching the Lawless Ned Kelly episode that Adam Ford the 'archaeologist' is the star of the show.  Through the use of technology, we are supposed to believe he has solved all the mysteries of SBC that have eluded many genuine experts for so many years. 

If you look at the map above, you will see the figures 804 M and 645 M.  These are distance markers measured from the junction of SBC and Ryans Cks.  These distances are where survey maps prepared by surveyors in 1884 and 1885 identified the remains of an old hut.  Both these sites have been dismissed by SBC experts as the site of the police camp.  But with the aid of that flying Lidar3D scanner machine, Adam Ford claims that the hut site is rather miraculously somewhere in between.  This same site however was documented by the CSI@SBC team in their 2011 report.  They described it as a small pile of rocks to the north-west of the tree known as the Kelly tree.  The site was known well before Adam Ford came on the scene. 

Shown below is a bird’s eye view of this site.  But what is the truth about these rocks? 
Please read on.

  



 

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The photo below shows Adam Ford and Mike Munro walking north to their so-called hut site.  SBC is to their right.  The pink ribbon outlines the hut foot print.  It is hard to tell from the photograph, but the stone is square-cut.  Whatever its origins, it does not belong to a pre Oct 1878 period as no one would want to cart that block there when there before there were roads.  Only bridle trails existed at that time.  The first huts and fireplaces were built from local granite river stones and boulders that had to be dug out or carried from the higher ridges.  The square-cut stone is more likely to have been part of a stone floor of a hut built after the Kelly times.  In contrast, the remains of the shingle hut at the campsite where the police were camped consisted of the ruins of a fireplace associated with a slab and bark hut. 
 



 

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Further to my comments above, the C-shaped natural rock fireplace remains of two huts can be found some 350 metres further up the creek.  I came across these remains in 2002 while searching the area with Gary Dean. 

The remains of one of these fireplaces are shown in the photo left.  The stones used in its construction are of granite composition and were taken from the creek nearby. 

The stones were originally held together with mud clay taken from the creek and applied as mortar.  Digging down in the centre we come across layers of ash and charcoal. 
These fireplaces are now covered with mesh awaiting a proper archaeological dig. This same fireplace can just be seen in one of the photographs Burman took of the site of the police camp site immediately after the shootings. 

 

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The photograph below shows the so-called stone fireplace that Adam Ford claims to have discovered.  It is a rather unnatural square cut block.  Next to the block (where the red arrow points) is a very flat surfaced stone which does not all appear to predate 1878.  I suspect they might have excavated rocks brought in to the site years later when the picnic ground was being established.  Alternatively it might be the remains of a small shack built around 1885 by the landowner James McCrum.
  


 

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Gold was not discovered in the district until after 1873, but early shepherd’s huts were erected in this area after 1848 by Messrs Heaps and Grice who were the first lease holders of ‘Fern Hills Run’, a pastoral property of some 65,000 acres.  

The fireplaces in these huts would have been constructed of easily obtainable local rocks (ordinary large river tumbled stones).  From the appearance of the stones in the photograph above, these appear to be shaped or cut in the manner of large 'blue stone pitchers' used in town buildings or pavements, and must have been brought into this area.

Whether this CSI@SBC / Adam Ford site was a hut, or the remains of materials brought in for a BBQs area remains to be verified, but by the photo below of the Denheld family posing, we can be certain its the same area by the looks of the forked tree. 
If the Adam Ford dig was an established fireplace of a hut we need also to see ashes and charcoal.  The existence of ash or charcoal was not mentioned in the documentary, but is obviously of importance if this is to be identified as the site of a former hut. If these stones pictured above can be proven to be related to any serious building structure, then there should also be evidence of other debris.  The finding by assistants of
the 'Adam Ford team a fragment of a ‘cup,’ this is hardly proof of this site having been a hut, particularly given the area has been used for so long as a BBQ area.  
  



 

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Below: Adam leads Mike from his wiz bang found hut site to
the picnic ground (north), estimated some 30 steps to where Adam will attempt to place the logs as shown in Const McIntyre's 'new found map', (Which incidentally Kelvyn Gill of the CSI at SBC team persisted with the Police Historical Unit to find). The program makes out as if it is some sort of holy grail, but it is nothing but a half truth as the third log as facing the viewer in the Burman photo is not even on his map. This fact is the key to all the confusion that Adam Ford has failed to grasp.

Anyway, we see Ford in his ignorant manner placing tapes representing the logs over the picnic ground (as per McIntyre's map) but assumes these log tapes are the same logs as facing the viewer of the Burman photos,
 
I feel sorry for Mike Munro and the forensic scientist, but this is all just complete rubbish.
Below I will show a diagram of the police camp exactly in accord to Primary Sources.
 



 

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Below: The next picture will show the true layout of the police camp by my findings 2009. I compiled a series of views to show what McIntyre would have seen from his tent, a pair of logs forming a near right angle. But analysis from the Burman photo it was not a right angle but an included angle. I produce this picture for a now deleted form if I'm not mistaken, but it clearly shows from a scale map where things fitted together.
 



 

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1, main map of two huts site, Follow a yellow line to a fireplace on the ground. The upside down Y are the three logs as in the Burman photos.
2
Image shows the actual ground layout with a steep slope rising to the right.
3,
Shows a view from the police tent to the logs that McIntyre writes is looking East, the creek side, but in his map two years later, he leads people to believe these two logs are the same ones as facing the viewer as in the Burman photo which was looking south. The logs logs 4, 9, 12, are the logs in the Burman photo.
4, Shows the photo array angle view over the logs looking south.

Please note, the total area that the Y logs configuration and the two huts fireplaces occupy is no more than 15 x 15 metres, yet Adam Ford places his hut and McIntyre's map logs over 50 metres from each other. That is not at all what the Burman photos show.

Below are some current related sites.
 

   
Link to Dee's comprehensive Blog where the CSI at SBC report, the DELWP StringyBark Creek signage is all being discussed, and no doubt also this Foxtel Lawless Ned Kelly episode.
  Stringybark Creek News-updates,  After four years,13th May 2008, Jeremy Smith of Heritage Victoria gives the go ahead to list the Kelly sites at Stringybark Ck, Kellys Ck, on the Victorian Heritage register. Since that time nothing has been done to undertake any proper archaeological work to verify the sites. In March 2014, Bill and Leo Kennedy identify a most likely spot where his G Grandfather Sergeant Kennedy was murdered .
 
Valid links with the Past. 
New Roads map courtesy Sheila Hutchinson and Fay Johnson 2004. 


   
 
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Map sources: Lands department records, copy from book Ned Kelly The Authentic Illustrated story. Keith McMenomy 1984. This page was first uploaded 22 October 2017. Copyright: Bill Denheld