The myth that Ned Kelly wanted to create a Republic of North-East Victoria is based
on tall tales, wishful thinking, and skewed historical research.
This free book by Dr. Stuart Dawson demolishes the claim once and for all


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One of the most perplexing claims of the modern Ned Kelly legend is that Kelly and his famous bushranger gang aspired to establish a Republic of North-Eastern Victoria, to be triggered by the destruction of a special police train at Glenrowan in 1880.
Yet there is no mention of republican aims in any historical record of Ned Kelly's day, nor in the numerous comments of those connected with or held prisoner by the Kelly gang on various occasions, nor in the work of early historians of the outbreak who knew the Kellys, their gang, their sympathisers, or the pursuing police.

This investigation provides a close historical analysis of the construction of a romantic myth of a Kelly-led Republic of North - Eastern Victoria in much          popular Australian history.

It systematically reviews the arguments advanced to support the narrative, and demonstrates that they are contradicted at every point by documented historical evidence.

The Kelly Gang's sympathisers were concerned with allegedly wronged relatives seeking justice from the system, together with land security for sympathisers potentially threatened by denial of land purchase in certain areas noted for stock theft, but never with the system's overthrow.

At no point in the entire Kelly outbreak down to his execution did Ned Kelly concern himself with a republic or political change. The myth of the Kelly republic originated from a spoof article in the Bulletin Magazine in June 1900.

It was widely popularised in a series of "believe-it-or-not" books and newspaper columns in the early to mid-1940s. This in turn led to hearsay oral “legends” of a Kelly republic through to the 1960s, when the idea was first taken seriously.

Enhanced and furthered by numerous Kelly enthusiasts, in particular from the late 1970s, it continues to the present day.

Despite its popularity, the Kelly republic emerges from this investigation as a widely promulgated fiction, built on tall tales, wishful thinking and flawed historical analysis.

Although just scraping in at the start of the twentieth century, this book proposes that the Bulletin's 1900 "Kelly republic" piece should be named as Australia's greatest twentieth century history hoax.