NED KELLY does not need to be an Australian hero, an author has said while recounting a Bendigo district resident's terrifying ordeal, 144 years ago.
Historian David Dufty made the comments as he discussed the terror Anne Calvert must have felt when the criminal burst in and took her and her family hostage.
She was visiting family in Euroa when Kelly marched into her bedroom and took her prisoner.
The gang was robbing Euroa's National Bank, which Calvert's son-in-law Robert Scott managed, at the time.
"It's easy to downplay the experience she and other hostages were going through at the time, but the fact is they were taken hostage against their will and then taken out of town," Mr Dufty said.
He made the comment in an interview for an upcoming story on Calvert in the Bendigo Weekly, which the Bendigo Advertiser will publish online and in print on Saturday.
Mr Dufty's new book Nabbing Ned Kelly examines the police officers who brought Australia's most notorious outlaw to justice.
It paints Kelly in a harsher, more realistic light than many of the 20th century's romanticised accounts.
"There was this period when Australia was really looking to find national figures to help create a cultural identity," Mr Dufty said.
"Ned Kelly was one of the ones who really came to the fore at that time."
The historian is critical of those past attempts to glorify his murders, robberies and other crimes.
"It's a pity because, if you go back a quarter of a century earlier, you've got the Eureka Stockade, where you have fantastic role-models in Peter Lalor and the Eureka rebels," he said.
"These were good guys who really were oppressed by the authorities, and who put up a fight against police brutality."
Multiple Ballarat miners were killed in 1854 when soldiers attacked a group protesting police corruption and exorbitant mining prices.
The survivors succeeded in fast-tracking reforms like the right to vote. None were convicted after a public outcry and leaders began reforming the police force, Mr Dufty said.
The miners were part of a wider movement that had begun with a monster meeting of miners in Chewton and continued with Bendigo's peaceful Red Ribbon Rebellion protests.
"These miners caused change - good change. They are the ones we should use. Not Ned Kelly," Mr Dufty said.
Read more about a Bendigo district resident's brush with the notorious outlaw this Saturday, either online or in print.
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