True History of the Kelly Gang (film)

True History of the Kelly Gang is a 2019 British-Australian biographical western film directed by Justin Kurzel, from a screenplay by Shaun Grant, based upon the 2000 novel of the same name by Peter Carey. It stars George MacKay, Essie Davis, Nicholas Hoult, Orlando Schwerdt, Thomasin McKenzie, Sean Keenan, Charlie Hunnam and Russell Crowe.

Toronto International Film Festival on 11 September 2019. It is scheduled to be released in Australia on Australia Day 2020, by Transmission Films and Stan, and is scheduled to be released in the United Kingdom on 28 February 2020, by Picturehouse Entertainment.

As one of Australia’s most famous historical figures, Ned Kelly remains all-pervasive in Australian culture. Academic and folklorist Graham Seal writes:

Ned Kelly has progressed from outlaw to national hero in a century, and to international icon in a further 20 years. The still-enigmatic, slightly saturnine and

The Kelly Gang

Dan Kelly had discovered an abandoned gold diggings at Bullock Creek, which was worked by the Kelly brothers, Byrne, Sherritt, and Steve Hart during the next couple of years. Byrne was likely present at the Kelly homestead on 15 April 1878 when Constable Fitzpatrick claimed that Ned Kelly shot him and Ellen Kelly, Ned’s mother, hit him over the head with a shovel. Afterwards, Ned and Dan Kelly fled to Bullock Creek with a 100-pound bounty on their heads and Ellen Kelly was sentenced to three years hard labour for assaulting a police officer.

Joe Byrne was present at Stringybark Creek with the Kelly brothers and Steve Hart on 26 October 1878 when they surprised a patrol of four police officers on their trail, with three of them shot time of his death. The gang were declared as outlaws for this incident on 15 November 1878 and a price of £2000 (equivalent to approximately A$754,000 in 2008) was placed on their heads.

The Kelly Gang started developing a strategy with Byrne acting as Kelly’s lieutenant, always being consulted about strategy. The Kelly Gang robbed the Euroa branch of the National Bank of Australia stealing over £2,000 which was the largest heist to that point. Joe Byrne drafted the Euroa letter (now known as the Cameron letter) in red ink sent by Ned Kelly to Donald Cameron, a local MLC. claiming that justice had not been done in the case of his mother and himself. It concluded “For I need no lead or powder to revenge my cause, And if words be louder I will oppose your laws.”

The police locked up over 20 alleged supporters of the Kelly gang between 3 January 1879 and 22 April 1879 under the Felons Apprehension Act 1878. This cemented public support for the gang especially in northeast Victoria. Joe Byrne was able to use this support to advantage by penning a number of bush ballads about the exploits of Kelly and his gang:

My name is Ned Kelly,
I’m known adversely well.
My ranks are free,
my name is law,
Wherever I do dwell.
My friends are all united,
my mates are lying near.
We sleep beneath shady trees,
No danger do we fear.

Joe Byrne frequently visited his mother at her house in Beechworth and was also seen carousing in bars in the town, despite having a price on his head. This was due to a combination of his skill and daring, the incompetence of the police and the support of local residents for the Kelly Gang. There was a Royal Commission into the Victorian Police in 1881 after the capture of the Kelly Gang because of the deficiencies exposed by the Gang.

Kelly and Byrne started planning their next raid at Jerilderie. On 10 February 1879, dressed as police officers, the gang raided the Bank of NSW branch at Jerilderie taking another £2,000. Prior to the raid, Byrne composed the Jerilderie Letter which supported the creation of a Republic of North-eastern Victoria. The proceeds of both the Euroa and Jerilderie robberies were distributed amongst the gang’s family, friends and supporters. The Kelly gang shouted the bar at Jerilderie which further enhanced their reputation.

After the Jerilderie raid, the gang laid low for 16 months evading capture. This aided to their reputation and greatly embarrassed the government of Victoria and the police. The Victorian Government eventually increased



  • George MacKay as Ned Kelly
    • Orlando Schwerdt as young Ned Kelly
  • Russell Crowe as Harry Power
  • Nicholas Hoult as Constable Fitzpatrick
  • Essie Davis as Ellen Kelly
  • Sean Keenan as Joe Byrne
  • Jacob Collins-Levy as Thomas Curnow
  • Thomasin McKenzie as Mary
  • Charlie Hunnam as Sergeant O’Neill
  • Claudia Karvan as Ms. Shelton
  • Marlon Williams as George King
  • Gentle Ben Corbett as Red Kelly
  • Earl Cave as Dan Kelly
  • Louis Hewison as Steve Hart

George MacKay as Ned Kelly  Orlando Schwerdt as young Ned Kelly

Ned Kelly in 1880.png

Kelly on 10 November 1880,
the day before his execution
Born December 1854

Beveridge, Colony of Victoria, Australia
Died 11 November 1880 (aged 25)

Melbourne, Colony of Victoria, Australia
Occupation Bushranger
Criminal status Executed by hanging
  • John “Red” Kelly (1820–1866)
  • Ellen Kelly (née Quinn) (1832–1923)
  • Dan Kelly (brother)
  • Kate Kelly
Conviction(s) Murder, assault, theft, armed robbery
Criminal penalty Death

Ned Kelly (December 1854 – 11 November 1880) was an Australian bushranger, outlaw, gang leader and convicted police murderer. One of the last bushrangers, and by far the most famous, he is best known for wearing a suit of bulletproof armour during his final shootout with the police.

Kelly was born in the British colony of Victoria as the third of eight children to Irish parents. His father, a transported convict, died shortly after serving a six-month prison sentence, leaving Kelly, then aged 12, as the eldest male of the household. The Kellys were a poor selector family who saw themselves as downtrodden by the Squattocracy and as victims of police persecution. While a teenager, Kelly was arrested for associating with bushranger Harry Power, and served two prison terms for a variety of offences, the longest stretch being from 1871 to 1874 on a conviction of receiving a stolen horse. He later joined the “Greta mob”, a group of bush larrikins known for stock theft. A violent confrontation with a policeman occurred at the Kelly family’s home in 1878, and Kelly was indicted for his attempted murder. Fleeing to the bush, Kelly vowed to avenge his mother, who was imprisoned for her role in the incident. After he, his younger brother Dan, and two associates—Joe Byrne and Steve Hart—shot dead three policemen, the Government of Victoria proclaimed them outlaws.

Kelly and his gang eluded the police for two years, thanks in part to the support of an extensive network of sympathisers. The gang’s crime spree included raids on Euroa and Jerilderie, and the killing of Aaron Sherritt, a sympathiser turned police informer. In a manifesto letter, Kelly—denouncing the police, the Victorian government and the British Empire—set down his own account of the events leading up to his outlawry. Demanding justice for his family and the rural poor, he threatened dire consequences against those who defied him. In 1880, when Kelly’s attempt to derail and ambush a police train failed, he and his gang, dressed in armour fashioned from stolen plough mouldboards, engaged in a final gun battle with the police at Glenrowan. Kelly, the only survivor, was severely wounded by police fire and captured. Despite thousands of supporters attending rallies and signing a petition for his reprieve, Kelly was tried, convicted and sentenced to death by hanging, which was carried out at the Old Melbourne Gaol. His last words were famously reported to have been, “Such is life”.

Mugshot of Kelly, aged 15

Greta mob members Dan Kelly (left), Steve Hart (centre) and Joe Byrne (right) took to bushranging with Ned Kelly after the Fitzpatrick incident.

Kelly’s armour on display in the State Library of Victoria. The helmet, breastplate, backplate and shoulder plates show a total of 18 bullet marks. Also on display are Kelly’s Snider Enfield rifle and one of his boots.

Harry Power (1819–1891) was an Australian bushranger, who at one time had Ned Kelly, another bushranger, serve as his accomplice while a teenager.Harry Power, probably in Pentridge, 1870
Henry Johnson, also known as Harry Power, was born in Waterford, Ireland on 18 May 1819 and grew up in Ashton-under-Lyne, Lancashire, England. When he was sixteen years of age his father had him apprenticed to the saddler trade. Later on he joined the peasants in their conflicts with the British troops. It was during this time that he received the sabre wounds on his face, which are described in the Victorian police records as, “Scar over right eyebrow, scars on right cheek.”

e was convicted at Salford, Lancashire on 31 August 1840, and was sentenced to transportation for 7 years to Australia for stealing a bridle and saddle, under the name of Henry Johnson, and adhered to that name until he became a ticket-of-leave man.

He was freed in 1848 and moved to Sydney. By now he was calling himself Harry Power.[

Power, was engaged driving cattle all over Victoria and New South Wales, and afterwards with Captain Denman’s party in exploring and cutting a track across the ranges. In a few years he became a splendid bushman, knowing almost every mile of the country. During all this time he appears to have been getting an honest living, even when he kept a horse yard at Geelong, which is ostensibly a respectable calling. One incident changed his whole career. He was riding one of his own horses, near Sandhurst, when he was bailed up by two drunken German troopers. “I was going along quietly”, says Power, “when down came the two troopers, hooting and shouting. I saw they were drunk, and pulled on one side, but they stopped me. ‘Whose horse is that?’ says one. ‘It’s mine,’ says I. ‘Are you going to shout?’ says the other. ‘No,’ says I, for I didn’t like the Germans. ‘I believe you stole that horse,’ says the first.’ ‘You’re a liar,’ says I. ‘ You’ll have to come along with us,’ says the other. ‘I won’t do it,’ says I, getting riled. On that one of them drew his hanger, and said he’d make me. ‘You can’t,’ says I. He charged at me, and I’d only just time to draw my revolver, or he’d have cut me down. I shot him, and then the other fellow rode up and fired at me, and the powder singed my coat. I shot him, and then rode off. Now, if I had been sensible, I’d have ridden off to the nearest police station and given myself up. But I was frightened, and rode across the colony, thinking to go and stay in New South Wales till the row was over. At the Murray I was stopped. I did not deny my name or resist. They arrested and brought me down to Melbourne, and I got 10 years. The men were not hurt much, and it was proved they stopped me without cause, or I’d have got more.”


Escaping from Pentridge Prison in 1869, the 50-year-old Power turned to highway robbery and became known as a Bushranger. A reward of £500 was offered for his capture (a large sum of money at that time). There were claims that during these robberies Power had a youthful assistant who took care of the horses. Suspicion fell on the then 16-year-old Ned Kelly. Power himself was captured on 5 June 1870.Power believed Ned Kelly had betrayed him,he was arrested while sleeping in a hut on the Glenmore Run which was squatted by the Quinn family, Ned Kelly’s grandparents and uncles.

Joseph Byrne (21 November 1856 – 28 June 1880) was an Australian bushranger born in Victoria to an Irish immigrant. A friend of Ned Kelly, he was a member of the “Kelly Gang” who were declared outlaws after the murder of three policemen at Stringybark Creek. Despite wearing the improvised body armour for which Ned Kelly and his gang are now famous (and which he is reputed to have designed), Byrne received a fatal gunshot during the gang’s final violent confrontation with police at Glenrowan, in June 1880.

Joe Byrne the 19th-century outlaw.jpg
Joseph Byrne

November 21, 1856

Beechworth, Victoria, Australia
Died June 28, 1880 (aged 23)

Glenrowan, Victoria, Australia
Cause of death Gunshot wound to the groin
Nationality Australian
Occupation Bushranger
Organization Kelly Gang
  • Patrick Byrne (father)
  • Margaret White (mother)


Joe Byrne was born in 1856 in Woolshed, on the Reedy Creek flat 10km NW of Beechworth, Victoria. His father Patrick Byrne came from Carlow, Ireland (1831 Carlow Ireland- Nov 1870 Beechworth). He is buried at Benalla, Victoria. Joe’s mother Margaret (née White) was born at Scariff, County Clare, Ireland. She was one of the “Irish Famine Girls” who immigrated to Sydney, Port Phillip and Adelaide from workhouses in every county of Ireland.


Joe Byrne also learnt how to speak Cantonese from nearby Chinese gold miners and learned how to smoke opium.

Byrne and Sheritt became close friends and found themselves in trouble with the law by falling foul of a local, corrupt police constable. Byrne made his first appearance in court in 1871 on the charge of illegally using a horse, and had to pay a fine of 20 shillings to avoid going to jail. Byrne and Sherritt were later convicted of stealing a bullock and served six months in HM Prison Beechworth. During this imprisonment, Byrne and Sherritt met Jim Kelly who was the brother of Ned Kelly and Dan Kelly. Joe Byrne met in Ned in 1876 and the pair soon became firm friends.Photograph taken on 5 July 1880 of a policeman equipped with Byrne’s helmet and Ned Kelly’s rifle and skull cap.


Dan Kelly illustration (1878)
Daniel Kelly

1 June 1861

Beveridge, Victoria, Australia
Died 28 June 1880 (aged 19)

Glenrowan, Victoria, Australia
Cause of death Gunshot wound
Occupation Bushranger


Daniel Kelly (1 June 1861 – 28 June 1880) was an Australian bushranger and outlaw. The son of an Irish convict, he was the younger brother of the bushranger Ned Kelly. Dan and Ned killed three policemen at Stringybark Creek in northeast Victoria, near the present-day town of Tolmie, Victoria. With two friends, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart, the brothers formed the Kelly Gang. They robbed banks, took over whole towns, and kept the people in Victoria and New South Wales frightened. For two years the Victorian police searched for them, locked up their friends and families, but could not find them. Dan Kelly died during the infamous siege of Glenrowan.

Stephen Hart (13 February 1859 – 28 June 1880) was an Australian bushranger renowned for his membership in the Kelly Gang.


Steve Hart of the Kelly Gang
Stephen Hart

February 13, 1859

Wangaratta, Victoria, Australia
Died June 28, 1880 (aged 21)

Glenrowan, Victoria, Australia
Cause of death Gunshot wound
Resting place Greta Cemetery
Nationality Australian
Occupation Bushranger
Organization Kelly Gang
  • Richard Hart
  • Bridget Young
  • Richard Hart, Jr.
  • Hugh Hart
  • Thomas Hart
  • Esther Ettie Hart
  • Jane Hart
  • Winifred Hart

n 1880 Hart took part in the infamous siege of Glenrowan in which he, Dan Kelly and Joe Byrne were killed. Following Joe’s death from a police bullet during the night, and Ned’s capture in the early morning (at roughly 7am) of the 28th, the two found themselves trapped in the hotel and in a hopeless situation. It seems almost definite the two committed suicide sometime during that afternoon.

Their corpses were then badly burnt, as police (not knowing the two had already died) set the Glenrowan Inn on fire in an attempt to draw the outlaws out of the hotel. Hart’s body, little more than a charred stump, was claimed by his brother Dick Hart and buried at Greta Cemetery the following day (29 June) in the same grave as Dan Kelly. He was 21 years old.

It has been rumoured that Dan Kelly and Steve Hart were not buried in Greta Cemetery but somewhere in either the Hart or the Kelly properties. It has also been rumoured that the pair survived the siege of Glenrowan to escape to either America, South Africa or simply to Queensland.