Does Craigieburn Have Connections to Ned Kelly and his Gang

If so what could they be?

The train with a load of police on the way to Glenrowan to apprehend the Kelly gang!

If it wasn't for the Police Special Train crashing through the gates at Craigieburn history might have read much differently today, the train would have arrived on time and therefore everyone on that train could have perished!.

The Kelly gang discovered that Aaron Sherritt, Joe Byrne's best friend, was a police informer. On the 26 June 1880 Dan Kelly and Joe Byrne went to Sherritt's house and killed him.  On June 27th 1880, the day after the shooting of Aaron Sherritt, the Kelly gang bailed up Glenrowan cut the telegraph wires and forced the railway workers to rip up the line. More than sixty hostages were taken during the day as the gang waited for the arrival of the police's special train.

 After leaving Essendon the special train travelled at a great speed, and before the passengers were aware of any accident having occurred, the train had smashed through a gate about a mile beyond Craigieburn.  So the crash changed history in a round about way.

The Argus, Thursday 8 July 1880, Page 1.


'No sooner was the news received in town than the Chief Secretary, the Hon It Ramsay, instructed Captain Standish, chief commissioner of police, to have a special train immediately sent to the district with reinforcements of police and with the black trackers, who had been with drawn from the locality. At a quarter past 10 on the night of Sunday, June 28, the special train left town with Inspector O'Connor and his five black trackers, and the representatives of the Melbourne press.  Mrs O Connor, and her sister, were also passengers by the train on this perilous journey The train proceeded on its course as far as Benalla without any mishap beyond dashing through some railway gates beyond Craigieburn, a mischance which did slight damage to the engine'.

The Argus, Tuesday 29 June 1880 Page 5.


'After leaving Essendon the train travelled at a great speed, and before
the passengers were aware of any accident  having occurred, we had smashed through a
gate about a mile beyond Craigieburn. All we noticed was a crack like a bullet striking
the carriage. The brake of the engine had, however, been torn away, the footbridge of
the carriage shattered, and the lamp on the guard's van destroyed'.

The Argus, Friday 2 July 1880 - Page 7


'The engine-driver and fireman of the special train which was dispatched on Sunday night also deserve some recognition for the readiness they displayed in placing themselves in a position of danger. It appears that in running through the Craigieburn gates, damage was done to the gear of the brake, rendering it entirely useless. The pilot engine being provided with a brake, the driver of the special train, H. Alder, suggested that this engine should take the train, at the same time volunteering his services as driver of the pilot engine'.


Allan Mason and his parents of Craigieburn, great friends of the Kelly Family!

This story was extracted in part from the 'Little Book of Craigieburn Schools".

In 1904, John Mason (b. Woodstock 1856) and his wife, Catherine (nee Cameron a teacher b Wollert) bought land and built a house on 15 Mile Lane (now Craigieburn Road West).  His son Allan told the story about the families associations with the Kelly Gang.

John Mason had originally settled on a farm at Gretna in 1878.  One day he bought some cattle in the sale yards of Benalla and on his way home, a distance of some 18 miles, a thunderstorm blew up and he was caught in the dark.  His cattle stampeded into the hills and were lost. 

Mr. Mason saw a light in the distance and guided by his horse to the spot it turned out to be the home of the Kellys.  He was made very welcome and was given a meal and lodgings for the night.  When he arose early in the morning to go out and look for his cattle, Mrs. Kelly had his breakfast cooked.  When Mr. Mason was leaving, he handed Kate Kelly a half-crown, but Mrs. Kelly said she did not want the money for what they had done, saying "You are welcome here, at any time".  During the night he had heard the Kelly boys come home for provisions.  However, after that, food and goods were taken to them by their friends.

Ned Kelly has been born in 1855 and John Mason in 1856.  Ned's brother Jim became a great friend of the Mason family and often called on them after the gang had been caught. Allan Mason remembered him well.  He used to pick me up as a child and nurse me.  He was a big man and also taught me how to fight.  Jim Kelly always wore a white shirt and highly polished boots.  He also had a big beard, with a yellow stain down the centre from chewing tobacco.

Jim Kelly died in 1946 at the age of 89 years and Mrs. Kelly died in 1923 aged 85 years.

When Alan Masons Mother and Father sold the farm at Gretna in 1904, they were presented with an illuminated address, presented to them by their friends in the Benalla and Wangaratta  District.  On the address were the names of the brothers of Ned Kelly and Joe Byrne.  The Kelly family and his parents were great friends and often visited each other.

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