Monday, August 9, 2010

Researching a Ned Kelly story: a green sash, a little boy, a bridge in Avenel

The story of Ned Kelly rescuing little Richard Shelton from drowning in Hughes Creek in Avenel is a favourite with storytellers, especially in Victoria. A big story, The Kelly uprising frames a period of history that embraces the tensions between the squatters and the selectors, debate around the notion of a Republic, the gold rushes, Chinese miners, Catholic and Protestant animosity ... Travelling up the Hume Highway the string of towns along the way are rich with stories of struggle, oppression, rebellion and hardship on a scale that is hard to imagine. For a while now, I have been telling the story of the time when young Ned Kelly rescued Mr and Mrs Esau Shelton's son from drowning. It was a brave act - and the Shelton's rewarded Ned with a green silk sash with gold braid tassels. It's interesting to speculate what the sash meant to Ned in a life so hard and bereft of anything other than the necessities for survival. He was wearing the sash under his armour when he was captured at Glenrowen after being shot 28 times. The bloodstained sash can be seen today in the Benalla Museum.

These pics were taken late in the day so they are a little dark. But they show the beautiful stone bridge across Hughes Creek. Probably little Richard fell from a temporary bridge a bit further along the creek. The 'Royal Mail Hotel' (now called The Imperial) has a bullnose verandah addition but you just see the older building behind. The hotel is still owned by a 'Shelton' - Richard Shelton and leased to the current managers.

You can read my story on my website Click on stories and you can't miss it.

If you would like to read the sign, click to enlarge.


1 comment: said...

We just published a book about this episode, funnily enough called "Ned Kelly and the Green Sash" Walker Books. The part of the creek where Ned actuallu rescued the Richard was further along. Cheers Frane


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