Established in 1859, Jerilderie is nestled along the banks of Billabong Creek which, at 321km, is the longest creek in the world. The name Jerilderie is the English translation for the local Jeithi Aboriginal Tribe’s word ‘djirridhuray’, which means ‘with reeds’ or ‘reedy place’.
A mere 20 years after its founding, Jerilderie gained lasting renown as the first and only NSW to be held up by The Kelly Gang. Over the course of three days in 1879, the Kelly Gang left an undeniable mark on the town robbing the bank of over £2000 and chopping down telegraph poles to ensure no message of the robbery escaped the town. Kelly tricked and locked the town’s police officers into their own cells, and held more than 30 people hostage.
A lesser-known fact is that the true purpose of Ned Kelly’s time in this historic town was to publish a document that is now known as ‘The Jerilderie Letter’. The Jerilderie and Urana Gazette had opened the previous year (1878), and while Ned was ultimately unsuccessful at having it published, this 8000-word document giving his personal account of his actions, highlighting his plight and the corruption of the law is a valuable piece of his and Jerilderie’s history.
STEP INTO HISTORY
As you tour Jerilderie, you cannot go past The Bolt Exhibition, located with the Old Printery Building (once home to the Jerilderie and Urana Gazette). The exhibition can be access via the Jerilderie Library during opening hours. Visitors and locals alike can travel back through time and enjoy the extensive historical collection dedicated towards convicts and bushrangers. The exhibit features originals and exact replicas and includes 30 story boards and banners detailing the lives of various Australian bushrangers and convicts, pistols and guns from the Eureka Rebellion, and much more.
Found on Powell Street, the Post and Telegraph Office is a small yet valuable piece of history as the location where Ned Kelly ordered the telegraph poles to be cut down, ensuring no warning of the Kelly Gang’s presence or bank robbery escaped the town.
The Jerilderie Court House is well worth a visit and gained renown for the amusing actions of Dan Kelly – for while the wanted gang was on the second of their three-day hold up of the town, Dan escorted Mrs Devine from the prison to the Court House to help her prepare for Sunday mass. The Post and Telegraph Office, and the Jerilderie Court House both have virtual 360 degree tours available; visitors can view the original buildings on their device.
Take a self-guided tour through history with the Ned Kelly Raid Trail 1879; Jerilderie is the only town in NSW that played ‘host’ to the Ned Kelly Gang and has more surviving authentic Kelly sites than anywhere else along the Ned Kelly Touring Route. Maps and information can be found at the Visitor Information Centre.
If anything is to rival Jerilderie’s rich history, it is the beautiful surroundings. Horgan Walk along the Billabong Creek is a must for all visitors. Leading over footbridges and showcasing the flora and fauna of this tranquil town, sites include Powell’s Bridge, The Willows Homestead and the Post and Telegraph Office.
To top off this town’s attractions for travelling visitors, the Jerilderie Lake offers a bounty of activities. Sporting a playground and ample day parking for caravans, this man-made lake is also a safe water-skiing venue and recreational outlet. Many species of birds can be spotted from the shores of this tranquil lake, including pelicans, ducks and swans. An all-weather walking/cycling track circles the lake and features a circuit of outdoor exercise equipment that all can enjoy.
Jerilderie Fun Facts
Jerilderie also bears the proud history of being home to Sir John Monash from 1874-1877, when he attended Jerilderie Public School. And it is claimed (although never confirmed or denied by Sir John), that as a boy Sir John met Ned Kelly and held his horse for him.
The Jerilderie hold up was particularly infamous as the NSW Police had vowed that Ned Kelly would never cross the border out of Victoria, yet he did so – despite the bounty on his head and orders for him to be shot on sight.
Over the course of the three days, the Kelly Gang impersonated police officers and charged the cost of having their horses reshod to the NSW Police (you can visit The Ned Kelly Blacksmith Shop by appointment).