Fallen officers commemorated at historic Stringybark Creek

Saturday, 08 December 2018 02:58

The lives of three Victoria Police officers who were shot and killed by the Kelly Gang in 1878 will be commemorated at Stringybark Creek Historic Reserve, near Mansfield, on Saturday (8 December).

This year marks the 140th anniversary of the deaths of Sergeant Michael Kennedy, and Constables Thomas Lonigan and Michael Scanlan, who were killed while on duty on October 26 while searching for Ned and Dan Kelly in the Wombat Ranges. A fourth officer, Constable Thomas McIntyre, escaped on Sergeant Kennedy’s horse, retreating to Mansfield to report the crime.

A collaborative project between Victoria Police and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) has created memorial plinths for each of the fallen officers, complete with service history and compelling family statements.

Interpretive signage within the reserve has been erected to tell a richer story about the events which occurred at Stringybark Creek, in addition to a new walking track in the vicinity of Constable McIntyre’s escape and Sergeant Kennedy’s running gun fight with Ned Kelly before he was fatally wounded and killed.

Ned Kelly was later captured by police at Glenrowan and convicted of the murder of Constable Lonigan. He was hung at Melbourne Gaol on 11 November 1880.

Following formal approval from Heritage Victoria, DELWP and Victoria Police worked with the Blue Ribbon Foundation and descendants of the police and Kelly families to redevelop the site.

“This is a significant day in Victoria’s history,” Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said.

“Stringybark Creek holds special significance to the families of the police officers who were shot and killed by Ned Kelly and his gang of outlaws while undertaking their role to serve and protect the Victorian community.

“Officers Kennedy, Scanlon and Lonigan bravely entered the Wombat Ranges with warrants for the arrest of the Kellys and didn’t return home to their families.

“Their deaths continue to have a significant impact, and now their stories can be shared and admired by the broader community.”

Chief Commissioner Ashton paid tribute to the project working group and DELWP staff who undertook the works which will provide a lasting legacy to the officers and their service to the community.

DELWP Regional Director, Clare Kiely, said: “This collaborative project with Victoria Police and the community has provided us with the opportunity to tell a deeper and more balanced story about the events which took place at Stringybark Creek.”

Victoria Police has also produced a podcast, A Shout from the Long Grass, featuring a narrative of what happened at Stringybark Creek using historical sources, original manuscripts and notes from 1881 Royal Commission.

A Shout from the Long Grass is a free, four-part series available for download via the Victoria Police Museum website, Spotify and iTunes.

Rochelle Jackson