On This Day: June 28th

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On June 28th 1880 the Australian bushranger Ned Kelly was captured at Glenrowan. The capture came about after Kelly and his gang failed to derail and ambush a police train, Kelly’s gang dressed in metal armour and engaged in a final confrontation with police at Glenrowan. All were killed except at Ned Kelly who was severely wounded and captured. Despite support for his reprieve, Kelly was tried, convicted and sentenced to death by hanging, which was carried out at the Old Melbourne Gaol. His final words are famously reported to have been “such is life”.

Ned Kelly had become a legendary figure in Australia even before his capture and execution, historian Geoffrey Serle called Kelly and his gang “the last expression of the lawless frontier in what was becoming a highly organised and educated society, the last protest of the mighty bush now tethered with iron rails to Melbourne and the world”. Despite Ned Kelly’s reign being over a century ago he remains a cultural icon, inspiring countless works in the arts, and is the subject of more biographies than any other Australian. Kelly continues to cause division in his homeland: some celebrate him as Australia’s equivalent of Robin Hood, while others regard him as a murderous villain undeserving of his folk hero status

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