Legendary Australian outlaw Ned Kelly will finally be laid to rest beside his mother on Sunday in line with his final wishes at a plot not far from the site of his last stand, reports said.
Descendants of the infamous bushranger, who was hanged at Old Melbourne Gaol in 1880 after he murdered three policemen, said they would lay Kelly to rest beside his mother Ellen in a private burial.
Kelly’s remains were thrown into a mass grave after his execution and discovered during renovations to the gaol in 1929 when they were reburied inside Pentridge Prison, save his skull which remains missing.
Redevelopers of the now-defunct prison site wanted to use Kelly’s remains for a museum or a memorial but the Victoria state government ordered that they be returned to the family last year.
According to Joanne Griffiths, the great-granddaughter of Kelly’s sister Kate, the family would formally farewell the outlaw at a Catholic service in the town of Wangaratta on Friday ahead of his burial in an unmarked grave Sunday.
“That’s what he would’ve wanted. That’s what he requested, and he wished to be buried in consecrated ground,” Griffiths told ABC radio.
The Kelly family said he would be interred at a small cemetery at the town of Greta near Glenrowan, the scene of his final gun battle with police, which he famously survived due to his home-made plate metal armour suit and helmet.
“The descendants of the Kelly family wish to give effect to Ned Kelly’s last wish and that he now be buried in consecrated ground with only his family in attendance in order to ensure a private, respectful and dignified funeral,” the family told The Age newspaper.
“The family wish for their privacy to be respected so that they may farewell a very much loved member of their family.”
Kelly’s three accomplices, including younger brother Dan, were killed in the showdown, ending an 18-month country town bank robbing campaign that saw the so-called Kelly Gang become folk heroes.
When they were confronted by police at Glenrowan the gang was subject to an 8,000-pound bounty — the largest reward ever offered in the British Empire at the time.
The Kelly gang exploits have been the subject of numerous films and television series.
Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger played the lead role in the 1970 movie “Ned Kelly”, while Heath Ledger starred as the bandit in a 2003 remake.
Kelly has also been the inspiration for many books, most notably Peter Carey’s novel “True History of the Kelly Gang”, which won the 2001 Booker Prize.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]