A Weekend in Jerilderie.

Friday 7th of February:

Making sure the coast is clear and there are no police about, the Gang spur their horses across the Murray River, halfway between Mulwala and Tocumwal. Joe is riding a chestnut he has secured for the ride up to Jerilderie, allowing Music to have a well earned rest at Sebastopol. While the mare swims across, the murky river water laps at his calves, offering cool relief from the hot summer sun above.

Once into New South Wales, the four outlaws ride north along the boundaries of Barooga and Berrigan stations, making camp in a scrubby forest where they will spend their time finalising plans for the robbery ahead.

Saturday 8th of February:

Joe and Ned ride from Pine Rise, where they have been camped, towards Davidson’s Woolpack Inn, a substantial brick building situated two miles from Jerilderie. Ned has visited the Woolpack previously and fondly remembers the barmaid, Mary Jordan, who is better known to everyone but herself as ‘Larrikin Mary’.

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The pair order drinks and begin chatting with Mary, telling the barmaid they are squatters from the Lachlan and that it had been four years since they had last been in Jerilderie. After several more drinks, Ned asks if Collier and Maslin still live in the town and if ‘Larrikin Mary’ is still around. ‘Who do you call larrikin Mary?’ Asks the barmaid, ‘There’s no such person.’ At that moment, one of the Davidson girl’s enters the bar and laughingly tells Ned that he has indeed been talking to her.

Ned asks Mary what the Jerilderie people think and say of the Kellys, and is told by her the Jerilderie people think they are brave men but regret that they had shot the police. During the conversation, Ned establishes that there are still only two police in the town, Senior Constable Devine and Constable Richards. After the conversation regarding the police movements has ended, Mary presses Ned to buy a watch, but he declines to buy it, asking how a poor man can afford to buy a watch. Mary then entertains Joe and Ned with a song, ‘The Kellys have made another escape, keep it dark.’ During this time, Joe is so charmed and at ease with the barmaid in front of him that Ned has to warn him to ease off drinking and quietly tells Mary not to serve him any more whiskey.

At around ten o’clock, despite Mary’s urgings that the pair stay longer, Joe and Ned book two of the inn’s bedrooms, saying they will take a ride into Jerilderie and return again, and begin preparations to leave.

Meeting up with Dan and Steve, who are only a short distance from the Woolpack, the four outlaws ride on to Jerilderie, where two unsuspecting Constables sleep soundly in their beds.

Sunday 9th of February:

As the hot summer sun shines upon Jerilderie, Joe rises from the floor where he has been sleeping and enjoys a cooked breakfast in the parlour, which has been prepared by the pregnant Mrs Devine, the Senior Constable’s wife. For Joe, this is the first hot breakfast he has had in a long while and he savours every mouthful. It surely beats preserved sheep tongues or tinned sardines, just you ask him.

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Sipping the steaming cup of tea Mrs Devine has placed before him, he and Ned discuss how the Gang are to be spending the day, with it being arranged that Dan is to go across to the court room with Mrs Devine and decorate it in preparation for Mass. Joe laughs at Dan’s expense, jesting that it is because young Danny is the most religious.

While the two brothers put on police uniforms, he and Steve groom the Gangs horses, with Joe’s mind still very much taken by ‘Mary the larrikin’, the irrepressible barmaid he had met the previous night. Sweeping the dandy brush over the black mare, he decides, that if afforded the opportunity, he will slip away to the Woolpack later tonight. He will certainly be needing a whiskey anyhow.

After a hearty lunch of roast beef, supplied by the butcher who arrived at 11 am, Constable Richards begrudgingly takes Joe and Steve for a tour around the town. The pair are dressed in police uniforms and Joe is enjoying the guise of trooper Byrne, if only that bloody Mullane were here to see him. Ned has given Richards orders that if any curious Jerilderie resident comes up to speak to the Constable, he is to introduce Joe and Steve as new Constables about to be stationed here. During their uniformed walk, Joe checks the position of the Bank of New South Wales and the Post and Telegraph Office, these buildings will be of the utmost importance tomorrow.

When he returns to Ned, Joe shares the information he has gained while trooper Byrne and the two begin plotting the robbery, using a photolithographed plan of the town, mounted on cardboard. After they have finished, Joe flips the cardboard over and writes a riddle on the back:
Q – ‘Why are the Kellys the greatest matchmakers in the country?’
A – ‘Because they brought loads of ladies to Younghusbands (station), Euroa, Victoria.’
The remainder of the afternoon passes slowly, with Joe sitting at the Devines dining table, using the scrawled draft he and Ned have created to finish what is left of their letter. Counting down the hours till he can slip away to the Woolpack Inn.

Sunday 9th of February (evening)

After dinner has been eaten, Joe collects his mare from the police stables and mounts, his desired destination the Woolpack Inn.

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Since meeting Mary Jordan the previous evening, Joe has hoped he may be afforded some alone time with her and owing to the fact the Gang will be leaving Jerilderie after the robbery tomorrow, what better time to ride to the Woolpack than now?

Tethering his mare to the hitching rail, Joe tips the stable boy and enters the bar, hoping there won’t be too many patrons to steal Mary’s attention, although he knows that shouldn’t be much of a problem, seeing the barmaid was so taken with him last night. Much to Joe’s disappointment, however, both of the publican’s daughters are also working behind the bar. He consoles himself with a couple of quick whiskies and seeks out her attention, which he knows is easier to get when he is ordering another round.

Joe spends the remainder of the night flirting with Mary and drinking heavily, until the clock above the bar strikes midnight, when he decides it’s time enough to be leaving, especially for an outlaw with a price on his head. Bidding Mary a regretful goodbye, he retrieves his hat from the hook and stumbles out of the bar.

Finding his mare, Joe attempts to put his foot in the stirrup, but finds the action much more difficult with the amount of alcohol he’d put away. He tries again and succeeds, but this time he can’t seem to swing his leg over the saddle. Two men watch on with amusement, wondering when they should take pity on the poor bugger. Joe looks on them with a scowl and asks them for a leg up. Seeing the pair of handcuffs hanging from his belt, the men mistake Joe for a plain clothed Constable and help him into the saddle.
Joe directs his mare onto the main road towards Jerilderie, and leans back in the saddle, knowing that Ned will have a bit to say when he returns to the police station.

Monday 10th of February:

On this fine Monday, Joe, a little worse for wear after his late night at the Woolpack, dresses in police uniform and takes two of the Gangs horses to be re-shod by the blacksmith, Samuel Rea and his apprentice Andrew Nixon. Joe ties Ned’s black mare up to the hitching rail and stands, holding the chestnut. He rubs at his throbbing forehead and leans against the mare’s shoulder. Catching the two men looking at him, Joe points toward the rasp and clippers that lie on the anvil, “Would you mind getting on with your work,” He says, “And see that it’s charged to the government account.” Nixon nods and places the necessary shoeing tools into the pocket of his apron, clicking his tongue, he picks up the mare’s right front hoof and begins his work.

After the horses have been shod and the cost charged to the government, Joe walks across the road with his peculiar swagger and enters a number of the shops, just what it is he is after, he isn’t entirely sure. A cure for his blasted hangover would be appreciated and perhaps a loaf of bread and some meat for the young apprentice. Leaving the articles on the work bench, Joe thanks the men for their work and having the forethought not to ask too many questions of him and heads back to the police station.

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Changing out of the uniform, Joe puts on his tweed Paget suit and light felt hat, with the brim turned down over his eyes. He passes the uniform to Dan to change into, and at ten thirty, walks down towards the bank with Ned and Constable Richards while Dan and Steve follow on horseback. The three men walk into the Royal Mail Hotel, a single-story establishment with a broad veranda, situated next door to the bank, and the Constable introduces Joe and Ned to the publican. At first, Mr Cox isn’t sure what to make of it all, but very soon realises his position when Joe and Ned level their revolvers at him.

Soon afterwards, Dan and Steve begin herding the employees into the parlour, with the hotel becoming a holding point for prisoners. Dan keeps guard in the bar, tasked with offering patrons a free drink before they are sent to the parlour, which is to be watched closely by Steve.

Joe ventures into the kitchen and orders the Chinese cook to bail up, but the man shakes his head and carries on with his work. Joe repeats the order with a growl, his revolver barrel pressed into the Chinaman’s tunic. “No Savvy!” He replies, with a wave of his hand, however, he is soon brought to his senses with a thump about the ear.

With the hostages secured and final plans settled, Joe walks out of the hotel and across the yard and steps into the rear of the bank. Still looking like a man who has had far too much to drink, Joe stands with his hands firmly in his pockets and looks around the room, spotting Edward Living, the accountant, working at his desk behind the counter. Joe steps forward nervously, his footsteps catching the account’s attention and he turns on his stool and looks directly at Joe. “What do you mean by coming in here?” He asks. Joe pulls out his revolver and points it at Living, “I am Kelly,” he declares, as the startled man throws up his hands. Hearing voices, Mackie, the clerk, enters the room, with Joe ordering the young man to clamber over the counter, as he is doing so, Ned, dressed in police uniform, enters.

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Joe and Ned proceed to rifle through the safe, taking £691. The accountant tries to convince them that this is all the money currently in the bank, but Ned spots the treasure drawer and orders Living to open it. He answers that he is unable to do so with his key alone, as a second key is needed, a key that is in the pocket of the manager, and to make matters worse, his whereabouts are currently unknown.

Growing weary of the entrances and exits of Ned and Living, as they try to find the manager, Joe offers to go across the road and collect a sledgehammer to break open the lock, but finally Tarleton is found relaxing in the bath.

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Opening the safe, £1,450 is found and put into a sack, which is held by William Elliot, the local school teacher, who begins to quiz Joe as to the route they took across the Murray. Joe answers the school teacher’s questions politely, but grows suspicious of the man as he continues pressing for information and snaps angrily at him for wanting to know too bloody much.

The robbery finally over and the cash secured, Joe mounts his mare and rides down to the telegraph office, where he will oversee the cutting down of the telegraph lines, done so while he reads the telegrams.

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On his return to the police station, Joe sits down to a meal of fried beef steak, onions and tomato sauce, washed down with a beer. While he savours the meal, his mind busily shuffles through the festivities of the weekend and he ponders how he will go about depicting it in verse. He knows one thing though, this grand meal will most certainly be immortalised in ink.


Sources used:

Ian Jones, The Fatal Friendship

Ian Jones,  A Short Life

Keith McMenomy, Ned Kelly: The Authentic Illustrated History

Trove

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