Driving along the Hume Freeway you'd be forgiven for thinking that Glenrowan was just another country town, that is until you see the signs pointing towards Ned Kelly's Last Stand. Glen Rowan is the town when Kelly was brought down amid many shots, in his famous metal armour. His silhouette can be found on almost every shop front in the town dedicated to Ned Kelly's last fight.
Kate's Cottage is a good place to start. It may appear to be a regular souvenir shop at first, complete with Ned Kelly tea towels and hand puppets, but when you walk through the back doors you'll enter the Ned Kelly museum. Artefacts, newspaper clippings and replicas from Kelly's life are set up through the museum, telling the story of the Irish Australian bushranger. There are some interesting bits and pieces, including a cast of Kelly's head.
Walk through another set of doors and you'll find a replica of the Kelly homestead. The real site isn't available for viewing by the public, but the replica is fitted out in 1800s fashion, and highlights the hardships that families like the Kelly's were faced with. Newspapers line the walls, and you can even take the time to read some of the titles of almost 200 year old stories.
There are 17 Kelly 'sites' in the town, and you'll be able to pick up a map at Kate's cottage. These include the inn that Kelly and his gang took hostage, the train station where reporters arrived only to walk into one of the biggest stories of their life, and the spot where Ned was shot down and captured. Old buildings have been restored or replicated, but in some cases all that remains is a marker.
The sites make up a walking trail, each site is has its own sign with information and details of its importance, and it is pretty easy to follow them. Wooden logs painted to resemble Kelly and his gang help to tell the story, and recreate the scenes that changed this small town. If you hear gunshots on your trip, they'll be coming from the animated theatre. Here you can watch the siege unfold, and even become part of it. The shows run half hourly, so you'll have to book in some extra time in the town if you want to check it out.
It is a real experience to check out the town, but even more so if you know a bit about Kelly to begin with. You can read Peter Carey's piece of historical fiction, the True History of the Kelly Gang, or check out the Ned Kelly film starring Heath Ledger. Ned Kelly is one of the few names ingrained in the Australian psyche, so why not learn more about him.
Glenrowan isn't the only place to visit on the Ned Kelly map, the Ned Kelly Touring Route features locations scattered over Victoria and New South Wales where Kelly made his mark. For more information you can visit their website, but you really should experience it for yourself. Glenrowan is about 2 1/2 hours outside of Melbourne.