After the tragedy of April 1878, Joe joined the Kelly brothers in making whisky at Bullock Creek in the Wombat Ranges. Previous to this, he had aided them in their sluicing enterprise, with Ned asserting it had been making them ‘good wages.’ However, now, more than ever, even more money was needed, and the young men worked extremely hard to obtain this. According to Ned, ‘I came back with the full intention of working a still to make whisky, as it was the greatest means to obtain money to procure a new trial for my mother.’ He goes on to explain, ‘I was with my brother and several others in Bullock Creek, one mile from Stringybark. We had a house, two miles of fencing, twenty acres of ground cleared for the purpose of growing mangle wurzels (a root vegetable) and barley for the purpose of distilling whisky. We were also digging for gold. We had tools and sluice bowls and everything requisite for the work. We had a place excavated close to the house for the purpose of erecting a small distil, so as if anyone informed on us, they would not get to the most valuable or main distil that was further down the creek with the sugar and other requisites.’
Ned’s explanation comes from the letter he dictated to warder J.Kelly, on the 3rd of November, 1880.