The Kellys had a great deal of support from the small selectors and bush workers of north-east Victoria and also some sympathy in other quarters. Poems like these were composed by such people and quickly went into circulation. Ned Kelly, the sole survivor of the final shoot-out, was hanged on 11 November 1880, but his legend has grown to the point where his iron helmet is now an Australian icon. The first printed version of this ballad seems to have been in a Hobart broadsheet of 1879, a copy of which is held in the Mitchell Library, Sydney. This text collected by Warren Fahey from Joe Watson, Caringbah, NSW, 1973.
Oh! Paddy dear and did you hear, the news that’s going round,
On the head of bold Ned Kelly, they have placed two thousand pound,
For Byrne, Steve Hart and Dan, two thousand more they’d give,
But if the price were doubled, sure, the Kelly boys would live.
It was in November ‘78 when the Kelly gang came down,
Just after shooting Kennedy at famed Euroa town.
Blood horses they all rode upon, with revolvers in their hands;
They took the township by surprise and gold was their demand.
Unto the bank Ned Kelly walked, to ‘Bail up!’ he did say,
‘Unlock your safes, hand out your cash, be quick, do not delay!’
Without a murmur they obeyed the robber’s bold command.
Ten thousand pounds in silver and gold they gave into his hand.
‘And out with all the firearms you have,’ the audacious robber said,
‘Hand out all your cartridges, or a bullet through your head,
Your wives and children must come, and make them look alive!
Get into these conveyances and we’ll take ‘em for a drive.’
Oh, they drove them to a station about five miles away,
Where twenty men already had been bailed up all that day,
A hawker shared their fate, as everybody knows,
He came in handy to the gang, supplying them with clothes.
They destroyed communication by cutting down the wire,
And of their left-off clothing they made a small bonfire.
Throughout the whole affair, my boys, they never fired a shot,
And the way they worked was splendid and they’ll never be forgot.
It’s hard to think such plucky hearts in crime should be employed,
But for police and persecution they’ve all been much annoyed.
Revenge is sweet and in the bush they can defy the law;
Such sticking up and plundering, colonials never saw.
Oh then Paddy dear, do shed a tear, I can’t but sympathise,
Those Kellys are the devil, and they’ve made another rise,
This time to cross the Billabong Creek, near Morgan’s ancient beat,
They’ve robbed the banks of thousands and in safety did retreat.
Sure they rode into Jerilderie at twelve o’clock one night,
They roused the police from their beds, who were in a hell of a fright,
They took them in their nightshirts, though I’m afraid to tell,
They covered them with revolvers and locked them in a cell.
They then acquainted the womenfolk that they intended to stay,
To take possession of the camp until the following day.
They fed their horses in the stalls, without the slightest fear,
And went to rest their weary limbs ‘til daylight did appear.
So next morning being Sunday, of course they must be good,
They dressed in trooper’s clothes and Ned he chopped some wood,
No one there expecting them, for troopers they all passed,
And Dan, the most religious, took the trooper’s wives to mass.
They spent the day most pleasantly with plenty of good cheer,
With beef steaks and onions, tomato sauce and beer,
The ladies in attention indulged in pleasant talk,
And just to ease the trooper’s minds – they took them for a walk!
So on Monday morning early, still masters of the ground,
They took their horses to the forge and had them shod all ‘round,
Their packs were brought and mounted there, plans laid out so well,
In company with the Bobbies, they stuck up the Royal Hotel!
Sure, they bailed up all the servants and locked them in a room,
Saying, ‘Do as we do bid you, or death will be your doom,’
A Chinese cook ‘No savvy!’ cried, not knowing what to fear,
But they brought him to his senses with a lifting under the ear!
So they shouted for all hands and they paid for all they drank,
Then two of them remained in charge and two went to the bank,
The manager could not be found, so Kelly in great wrath,
Searched high and low – until they found him in his bath!
But now where they’ve gone is a mystery,
And the Bobbies cannot tell
(Spoken with laughter)
And, until I hear from them, I’ll bid you all farewell!