A Purchase of Opium

Telegram from December 1878 informing of Joe’s recent purchase of opium in the Woolshed, it reads: “Detective Eason reports information obtained to Joe Byrne bought opium to which he is addicted last week at Woolshed and requests services of Fook Sing (Chinese detective) for a day or so.” Telegram from the Public Records Office Victoria.

I Have a Heart, but it’s as Hard as Stone

“Dear Aaron I write these few stolen lines to you to let you know that I am still living…” On the 26th of June 1879, a desperate Joe Byrne pens a letter to his lifelong friend, Aaron Sherritt, asking him to join the gang, “a short life and a jolly one” Joe asserted. However, within the span of a year, on the night of June 26th 1880, Joe, accompanied by Dan Kelly, would shoot and kill Aaron at his hut in the Woolshed. “You will not blow now what you do with us anymore”, Joe declared, looking down on the blood soaked face of his once most trusted friend….

Under London Rock

Joe tucks his fingers under the pommel of the saddle, the reins resting freely on Music’s neck, as she picks her way through the collection of saplings that dot the gap. Her large dappled ears flick, backwards and forwards, as Joe whistles the rebellious tune, The Wearing of the Green. As he edges Music along the pebbled bank of Reedy Creek, the excited shouts of Chinese miners resound, as horse and rider near the town of Sebastopol. Nearing the Chinese huts, the sweet aroma of rice greets him, as it wafts from one of the huts open windows. Like his fondness for the bliss of opium, rice had also become his weakness. Margret frowned on Joe’s taste for the sticky white grains. When he’d returned home, one afternoon, with a china bowl and a set of chopsticks she had been appalled. “You’ll turn into one of those yellow fellows if you keep eating like them”, she berated. Joe laughs at the memory, as his vision catches on several Chinese miners who splash in the creek, washing their hands in the tawny water.