Thursday, January 21, 2010

Stick 'em up: Glenrowan

Day two of our road trip and we headed off on the Hume Highway to "Kelly country".

Glenrowan was a quiet little hamlet used as a stop-over and coach staging point between Benalla and Wangaratta until the events of June, 1880, blazed it's name and that of Ned Kelly across world headlines.

The Glenrowan siege was Australia's first widely reported and photographed criminal drama. Telegraphy and outdoor photography were new, and news from Glenrowan via Benalla and Wangaratta telegraph operators, appeared in special newspaper editions almost as it happened.

Dad took Charly and Ro Ro to re-live the excitement of the siege at the Computerised Animated Theatre while Wanna and I called on the helpful man at the Australia Post agent in the newsagency to track down my friend, Ruth's, phone number the old fashioned way - via the Wangaratta White Pages!  We eventually hooked up for lunch with her lovely family at the Milawa Cheese Factory but not before we had our photos taken in front of the Ned Kelly Statue and played in the playground opposite the quaint railway station.

Ned was an Irish-Australian bushranger, and, to some, a folk hero for his defiance of the colonial authorities.  Following an incident at his home in 1878, police parties searched for him in the bush. After he killed three policemen, the colony proclaimed Kelly and his gang wanted outlaws. A final violent confrontation with police took place at Glenrowan in 1880. Kelly, dressed in home-made plate metal armour and helmet, was captured and sent to jail. He was hanged for murder at Old Melbourne Gaol.  All a bit bleak for me, so I was very glad to skedaddle outta there and head straight on to the Port of Melbourne to catch the Spirit of Tasmania I

Alas, I have no photos as the weather was windy, the waves were high and the sky bleak and this land lubber had to take sanctuary in the theatrette to watch 'Mao's Last Dancer' and stagger, literally, to the cabin.   No chance I was going to see " Melbourne's city skyline ablaze as the setting sun shone its final rays of the day across Port Melbourne" like the brochure says.

Spirit of Tasmania I and II were built in 1998 by Kvaerner Masa-Yards in Finland. They have a displacement weight of almost 30,000 tonnes and a length of 194.3 metres.  Spirit of Tasmania I and II cross Bass Strait at a cruising speed of 27 knots which is the equivalent of 50 kilometres per hour. The 429 kilometre voyage across Bass Strait is roughly twice the distance by road between Devonport and Strahan, on Tasmania’s west coast. 

Stretched end-to-end, the vehicle lanes on each ship would be almost two kilometres long!  Our trusty Honda took up some of that space.  Tassie here we come!


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