On the night of the 3rd of December 1879, Joe and Aaron visited Ye Fang’s store in Sebastopol, where they purchased a bottle of gin, tobacco and opium.During Jack’s evidence at the Royal Commission in 1881 he stated, “I saw the Chinaman at the Chinese store, Ye Fang, I was in there one day. I … Continue reading Tobacco and Gin
Constable Alexander’s description of the Byrne house: ‘The hut is composed of slabs, with a bark roof, and has two small windows in front. It is situated at the foot of the range in a clearing of considerable extent, so that it presents a conspicuous object from any point of view. About 20 yards from … Continue reading The Byrne House
In late January 1876, Joe and Aaron bring a roan coloured calf into Camp Street to be slaughtered by Sherritt butcher James Warner. The calf isn’t branded and Aaron tells the butcher he would like the hide back for the purpose of making whips. As it is a hot day and Warner being without pigs, … Continue reading A Roan Coloured Calf
“It is now known for a certainty that Byrne often slept on the premises of a man who lives within two miles of Beechworth. This man, on hearing of the destruction of the gang and the death of Byrne, absolutely shed tears." The man may have been Dick Murphy, a Sebastopol local who was a … Continue reading A Hut in the Woolshed
While Anne Jane Sherritt was riding back to Sheepstation Creek on the night of the 24th May in 1880, she called in at the Byrne house. While she was there Joe and Dan came to the house, with “each of them leading a horse and riding another”. She further described that “Mrs Byrne came out” … Continue reading The Kelly Gang in Sebastopol
On a wintry night in early June 1880, Joe crept along the old mining race at Sebastopol and visited his mother, Margret. Here, he collected some clean clothes and filled his belly with warm stew. Joe’s visit was reported by his brother Paddy to Jack Sherritt, while the pair were drinking together. According to Jack, … Continue reading A Visit Home
My name is Joseph Byrne and I have been a prisoner inside the granite walls of Beechworth gaol for close to three months now, my survival down to nothing but water, bread and gruel. It is far from pleasant fare, but it has given me the strength to work, so for that I feel I … Continue reading Walls of Granite
The heels of Joe’s polished bluchers clip over the cobblestones as he walks up along Camp Street toward Bray’s Photographic Studio. His pipe hangs lazily from the corner of his lips, swirls of tobacco smoke drifting into the crisp autumn air. Feeling proud in his appearance, in tweed jacket and trousers, waistcoat and a crisp white shirt, Joe holds his head high, his blue eyes focused firmly ahead at the bustling cross roads.
Hobbling Music in the thick scrub of the gully, Joe begins untying the rope that secures the rolled up overcoat to the pommel of the saddle and unfurls it, revealing the shotgun that has been hidden within the fabric. The bitting chill of winter sends a shiver from his lips and he wraps the coat around himself, turning up the collar to hide the bushy beard that frames his face. Slinging the weapon across his shoulder, Joe unbuckles the girth and removes the saddle from Music’s back, resting it against the rotted stump of a pine tree. He strokes his hand along the glistening mark at her side, causing her to twitch and flatten her ears in response. Aware of what has made the bloody wound, Joe lifts his leg behind himself and rubs a finger against the pointed tip of his spur, the iron smeared with blood. He shakes his head and removes her bridle, the tom thumb bit falling from her mouth with a clatter. Music grinds her teeth and rubs her forehead against his shoulder, leaving a speckled patch of white on his woollen overcoat. “Enough of that,” Joe says, pushing her head away. Laying the bridle on the stump, he begins his descent down to the flat of Sebastopol in search of rest.