Kelly Gang Rides Again

A feature article in Saturdays Melbourne HeraldSun by Mike Edmonds Sat 8 Sept 2007

Ned's reputation is unfair according to a new gang  MIKE

There's a new Kelly Gang roaming the central Victorian bush. But this gang has no interest in robbing banks, holding up Cobb &Co coaches and shooting it out with the "traps".

 They simply want Ned and his lads given long overdue recognition for their role in the whole federation movement, and to set the record straight on some historic aspects of the Kelly Gang's rule of lawlessness.

The Kelly Gang of 2007 is led by Bill Denheld, from Croydon, who became interested in Kelly after a run in with a real-life highway robber.

  Living link David Gorman 81, from Berrigan, picture FIONA HAMILTON

The others are Graham "Dook" Gibb, a landowner at Bobinawarrah, David Harris from Wangaratta and Arthur Hall from Glenrowan, both places well known to the original Kelly Gang.

Bill Denheld was a keen prospector, claiming to be among the first to get in on the metal detector boom that revitalised  Victoria's worked-out goldfields in the 1980s.

"One night I was driving home with a hat full of nuggets and I was chased for 40km by a bloke who wanted to rob me," says Bill.

"it was modern highway robbery, and after I lost him I started carrying a gun in the car. "but it also got me thinking about bushrangers and the Kelly's and it went on from there." 

He began researching and quickly turned up some surprises. He and his gang are convinced they've found the remains of a previously undiscovered Kelly hut.

They believe the hut was a winter shelter and fortress for the gang in 1879 when they were on the run after the Stringybark Creek killings of police constables Lonigan and Scanlon and Sergeant Kennedy in October 1878.

It's perched on a flat area on the side of one of the thousands of High Country gullies surrounding Bobinawarrah.

The modern-day Kelly Gang believe the hut, now burnt down, was originally used by paling splitters.

It's on crown land, overlooking a freshwater spring and is approachable only through private property.

Bill Denheld and his band have found an impressive collection of bits and pieces.

They've found a concentration of ironwork, nails, horseshoes - even part of what looks like an old trigger mechanism.

His evidence and deductions are all detailed at




The gang had big public sympathy in the area because of historic links with the Eureka Rebellion, which occurred around Ned Kelly's birth, and more recently the founding of the Australian Natives Association, of which former Melbourne Herald proprietor Samuel Winter* was a founding member. 

The ANA's main task at the time was keeping the federation movement on track, and oddly enough many people in the Bobinawarrah area about the time the Kelly Gang was on the rampage had family connections in the Corowa - Berrigan - Jerilderie region.

The initial meeting of the Federation Convention was held in Corowa** in 1893.

David Gorman, 81 of Berrigan is a living link between the nationalist activities of the old revolutionary families, which spawned the Federation movement, and the Kelly gang sympathisers who thwarted the authorities every move to hunt the Kelly gang down.

Members of his family were involved in the federation movement while being Kelly gang sympathisers.

So Bill Denheld and his new Kelly gang have deduced that while the bushranging Kelly Gang was giving governments of the day a belly - ache, the exploits of Ned and his partners in crime were also being seized on by fledging federationists and republicans through out southeast            Australia.

He believes the Kelly Gang were influential in the parallel growth of the federation and republican movements as they roamed the Victorian highlands and all the way to Berrigan and Jerilderie in NSW. The Kellys were symbolic of the growing nationalism of the times.***





Their crimes were seen by many in the federation and republican movements as part of the battle for nationhood and a rebellion against British rule.

To many people the portrayal of the gang as callous robbers and brutal killers was a plot hatched by spin doctors working for the British Crown.

Today Bill Denheld and his backers believe the same - that Ned Kelly was a lawbreaker, but was also one of the unsung heroes deeply involved in cementing the mood that led to the formation of the Commonwealth of Australia.

This picture and notes below was not part of the HeraldSun story.

Bill Denheld with David Gorman at Berrigan NSW. David is a direct descendant of the Gorman family that lived next door to the Kelly's at Wallan East Victoria.

*(Sam's brother Joseph later married a daughter of David Gorman)

** ( Berrigan )

***  supported by ANA





Story line by Bill Denheld and reported by journalist Mike Edmonds of the Melbourne Herald Sun
Saturday 8 Sept 07 captures two stories - 

One is about the site finding of the 'Hut Behind the School' at Bobinawarrah in Victoria where the Kelly gang hid out during the winter period of 1879. The second story was the synergy of the Kelly outbreak with the increased memberships of The Australian Natives Association ANA and the Federation League both for a better peoples voice in a new parliament.

The closeness of the Kelly family with their direct Irish neighbors ' the Gorman family ' and in particular one family member who grew up with Ned Kelly,  - then went on to become 'Chairman' of the Federation League at the ' Berrigan ' branch that initiated the first Federation meeting at that town. Shortly after a second meeting was organised at Corowa because it was more central for all concerned at which E J Gorman was the Convener and Secretariat of that meeting which sealed and delivered the positive move towards a Federation for Australia in 1901.

Regarding the Bobinawarrah Hut site, it is very probable this hut was home to the outlaws when the notion for a republic for NE Victoria was being cooked up. Also that the Jerilderie letter was drafted here, and quite plausible the armour was made and tested at the site. see web
References from the James Wallace story (and book recently published by Arthur Hall and Julie Stevens 2005) helped establish strong external activities headed by Wallace to help Kelly bring about his revolutionary Republican action following the siege at Glenrowan. Wallace kept the Gang fed and collected plough shares for the making of the armour.

Many pioneering families of the district were sympathetic to Ned's cause, but the ill fated siege at Glenrowan failed to kick start a Republican movement for NE Victoria in June 1880.

Writer Mike Edmonds has used his poetic license to knit the story together. Thanks to Mike and the Melbourne Herald Sun to bring this unrecognized Kelly association to our colonial ambitions for a fairer society, and finally to Federation.
Bill Denheld

Forgivable Shortcomings to the Herald Sun story,
That 81 year old David Gorman ( not 91as in the article) shown in the picture is a direct descendant of David Gorman -neighbor of the Kellys at Wallan East where Ned grew up.
No mention that old Mrs. Mary Cahill Gorman had been midwife to Ned's birth.

That the owner of the Melbourne Herald 'Samuel Winter ' and founder of ANA , his brother Joseph Winter who ran the Catholic Advocate was later to marry a daughter of David Gorman.

See NativeNed webpage for further information