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This is the final cache in a series of 4 caches which follows the events that culminated in what was to be known as “The Kelly Outbreak”.
The quest is to follow the clues and locate a hidden relic that could prove once and for all whether Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick was telling the truth when he reported to his superiors that the Kelly’s tried to murder him!
The Fitzpatrick Incident – this is what started it all!
A version of events based on court transcripts and accounts from witnesses.
On 15 April 1878, Constable Fitzpatrick, who was very familiar with the Kelly’s and quite friendly with Ned Kelly himself, decided to visit the Kelly homestead to apprehend Dan Kelly on a charge of stock theft.
It is believed that Fitzpatrick had been drinking to fortify himself for the task and on arrival at the homestead at about supper time he made an unwanted and improper advance on the very beautiful Kate Kelly, while questioning the family on the whereabouts of Dan. Fitzpatrick didn’t have a warrant for Dan’s arrest so a scuffle ensued whereby Fitzpatrick’s wrist was cut on a door hook and he was hit on the head with a coal shovel by Ellen Kelly. Fitzpatrick lost his gun during the scuffle, however no shots were fired.
Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick.
After the scuffle was over, the Kelly’s tended to Fitzpatrick’s wound and sent him on his way asking him not to report the incident and to consider their previous friendship. However deep down they knew what was coming, especially knowing Fitzpatrick’s character as an untrustworthy, deceiving scoundrel. (Fitzpatrick was later dismissed from the force for drunkenness and perjury.)
When Fitzpatrick arrived back at the Benalla police station, he immediately reported the incident to Sgt Whelan, whereby warrants for the arrest of the Kelly’s and others involved were immediately issued for the attempted murder of Const Fitzpatrick.
In the meantime Ned and Dan Kelly knew that they wouldn’t be able to explain themselves to the police so they rode off into hiding leaving Ellen and the Kelly sisters to fend for themselves. Ellen and the others involved in the incident were later apprehended and jailed for 3 years for attempted murder.
Fitzpatrick’s version of events:
The way Fitzpatrick told the story in a statement presented to the court at the time, he found Ellen Kelly at home with three of her children, and questioned her briefly. She was obviously unwilling to offer many details regarding her young son, and after about an hour, Fitzpatrick left, riding up a small hill where he found Kelly's brother in law, Will Skillion and Brickey Williamson, a friend of the Kelly clan chopping wood. He questioned them, just as briefly and just as fruitlessly.
Still, he lingered and when he later saw Skillion return, bringing with them a rider less horse, he again approached the compound. This time, he found Dan Kelly inside. "I...told him I wanted to arrest him," Fitzpatrick wrote in his sworn statement. "He said, "My hell — wait a little while — I suppose you'll let me have something to eat."
According to Fitzpatrick's account, Dan Kelly sat down to supper and a moment later, Ned Kelly appeared at the door brandishing a pistol and fired a shot at the constable. The first shot missed, but sent Ellen Kelly into action. According to the constable's statement, the older woman grabbed a shovel and whacked Fitzpatrick on the head with it so hard that it dented his metal helmet. Ned Kelly, he claimed, then fired a second shot. This time the bullet clipped the constable in the wrist and grazed the stock of his revolver.
Fitzpatrick then said, "Ned Kelly began to examine my wrist. He said, "Here's the bullet...we must have it out of him. He got a rusty razor and I wanted him to let me go home to a medical man. He said, "You can't go away with that in your hand."
According to Fitzpatrick's account, he cut the bullet out himself using a small penknife, and then allowed Ellen Kelly to bandage the wound.
The Kelly’s who would later be depicted by the authorities as bloodthirsty murderers, then let Fitzpatrick go. Before they did, they exacted a promise from him that he would not report that he had been shot by Ned Kelly, or attacked by Ellen Kelly.
Who do you believe?
If you believe Fitzpatrick’s version that he was suddenly set upon, 2 shots fired at him and his gun taken from him, then Fitzpatrick is just in claiming that the Kelly’s tried to murder him and consequently the law had to pursue them with all of its might.
However there was never any evidence to support Fitzpatrick’s claim that he was shot at. Apparently his gun was taken by Ned or Dan which bore evidence that it had been hit by a bullet and despite repeated harassment by the local police, the revolver was never found.
A .32 calibre revolver, with a wooden stock, inscribed with the initials KK, was uncovered some years ago in the demolition of a house in Central West NSW, which was occupied by Ned's younger sister, Kate. The revolver bears the insignia of the Royal Constabulary, associated with the police force that hunted the Kelly gang in the period 1878-1880 and would have been the type issued to Fitzpatrick. It was auctioned last year but failed to reach not even 20% of what the auctioneer thought it was worth.
Consequently it was never proven to be “the” gun that started “The Kelly Outbreak”!
You need to find some evidence to support Fitzpatrick’s claim. Did Ned hide Fitzpatrick’s revolver so that no evidence could be found by the police? Did the revolver have a nick out of the stock from a bullet that was fired by Ned?
What you need to do.
You need to start with “The Kelly Hut” and from there follow the instructions until you work your way through the other caches in the series. It should take about 3 hrs to do the whole series with some bush-bashing involved to get to some remote spots. Hope you enjoy the challenge and the story. Good luck and please let us know your verdict!
Credits Our thanks to Bill Denheld and his web site http://www.ironicon.com.au/ which provided a rich source of information in putting together this series.
(No hints available.)
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Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum