Ned Kelly frocked up! Bitching to commence in 5,4,3,2…


Ned Kelly Kelly Gang
Image: australianbushranging/Instagram

True History of the Kelly Gang, the latest cinematic take on Ned Kelly and his infamous gang, sees the iconic Aussie bushrangers frocked up.

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No doubt the outrage merchants are champing at the bit. It will gift Margaret Court material for her next sermon. Here comes yet another opportunity to blame the LGBTIQ communities for the decline of western civilisation. After all, young bushrangers are going to end up so confused by this.

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Such is life.

Australian director Justin Kurzel based True History of the Kelly Gang on Peter Carey’s Booker Prize-winning book of the same name. In Carey’s novel, the Kelly Gang associate with a rebel movement known as the Sons of Sieve. The Sons frock up and blacken their faces before raids on wealthy landowners.

Carey took inspiration from a real anti-authoritarian Irish movement called the Molly Maguires. The Mollies wore dresses and blackened their faces with burnt cork as a disguise before attacking landlords, storekeepers and others they believed ripped off poor Irish farmers.

Documented cross-dressing in the Kelly Gang

However, cross-dressing in the Kelly Gang is a historical fact.

While some conjecture the entire gang at times dressed as women to evade police, it’s unlikely. Ned Kelly’s hirsute countenance seems more suited to ploughshares than lipstick.

But Steve Hart often dressed as a woman. He even won a horse race in the township of Greta, dressed as a woman and riding sidesaddle.

Among the many contemporary reports of Hart cross-dressing, is this from the Argus Correspondent.

“Steve Hart… was in the habit of going about in female attire… Hart usually went on horseback, and his slender figure and boyish face, together with his general good looks, gave him altogether the appearance of a woman.”

The paper reported on people who met a young lady riding near the scene of a recent Kelly Gang outrage. They asked, “if she was not afraid of meeting Kelly’s gang.”

The young lady replied in the negative and showed the concerned citizens two revolvers. She then galloped away, leaving the persons “in a state of wonderment at the courage of, as they thought, a young lady returning alone into the stronghold of the bushrangers.”

The film stars George MacKay, Essie Davis, Nicholas Hoult, and Russell Crowe.

True Story of the Kelly Gang opens in cinemas on 9 January and premiers on STAN 26 January.

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