GLOUCESTER has had a long association with one of Australia’s best known bushrangers in Captain Thunderbolt, but now a Victorian man believes he may have found a link between the town and another even more famous outlaw.
Trevor Tucker’s debut novel ‘Ned Kelly’s Son’ explores the possibility that the infamous bushranger could have fathered a child with a young Irish girl he met shortly before his last stand at Glenrowan in June 1880.
Mr Tucker said he first met the man he believes to be Ned Kelly’s son when the man rescued him from a fast-flowing river in 1958.
Just 12 at the time, Mr Tucker and his family grew close to the elderly gentleman who went by the name Niall Kelly.
In the years before his death in the early 1960s, Niall told Mr Tucker’s father the curious story of his parentage and life.
Born to an Irish migrant named Orla O’Meara, Niall claimed his mother had met and fallen in love with Ned Kelly during the six months before the outlaw was captured at Glenrowan.
“It’s often referred to as Ned Kelly’s grey period where no-one really knew where he was or what he was up to,” Mr Tucker said.
“Orla had come to Australia to see the world and through friends at Wangaratta began working as a nanny. It was during this period while out riding her horse one day that she met Ned Kelly.”
Mr Tucker says the pair became lovers and Orla fell pregnant to the charming and charismatic bushranger.
While Mr Tucker calls his novel “a faction”, he believes much of what Niall told his father was true.
He says the novel is not a story about Ned Kelly, but about Orla and her son and the lives they subsequently led following the bushranger’s death in November 1880. Mr Tucker said there was evidence to suggest Niall Kelly had owned property in the Gloucester area in the early 1900s and had lived in the region for up to a decade.
“After returning from the Boer War in 1902, he tried to marry an Aboriginal girl. The marriage was not permitted and the woman subsequently died in childbirth,” he said.
“He came into a bit of money and used it to buy a cattle station in the Gloucester area. There’s also a strong suggestion he may have made a large anonymous donation to the second rebuild of the dingo fence on the Barrington Tops.”
Mr Tucker said he believed Niall Kelly left Gloucester in the 1930s and travelled to Tumut where he lived on another property he owned.
‘Ned Kelly’s Son’ is Mr Tucker’s first book. His interests in Australian history, bushwalking, and exploring his homeland are reflected with passion throughout the book.
With a strong reliance on recorded history, Trevor implants a probability of something neglected or overlooked in previous records about the country’s most notorious bushranger.
Trevor lives with his wife Meryl in Sale, Victoria.