Mudcat Café message #2079607 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #102082   Message #2079607
Posted By: Bob Bolton
17-Jun-07 - 10:05 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Game as Ned Kelly
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Game as Ned Kelly
Black Hawk,

Just a few clarifications on Australian terminology, re Kellys and bushranging:

When the First Fleet arrived in Sydney Harbour, in 1788, and settled on land that provided the indigenous Aboriginal population with rich food (harbour fish, oysters, a wide range of edible plant and tree fruits) ... the British promptly starved! They had no experienced fishermen ... the coastal land was nothing like developed English wheatfields ... there was no cattle-grazing land (and very few cattle)... &c.

The authorities selected a few reasonably trustworthy convicts (preferably ones sent out for poaching - since they knew about hunting!) and gave them one 'Brown Bess' musket, a powder flask and some lead ball and shot ... and told them to go out and shoot something edible; a duck, a goose ... even one of those big hoppy "kangaroos". They initially called these food-gathers "forest rangers" - then adopted the Dutch usage of "bush" (~Bosch), much as the Americans had, so the term became "bush rangers".

Surprisingly (to the authorities, anyway) quite a few of these did not come back on schedule, but stayed away as long as their food (and whatever they could shoot and eat) held out... so the term came to mean "escaped convict" ... and later on, after the end of convict transport, the term (now collapsed into a single word: "bushranger") meant anyone roaming free and living by theft and robbery.

Where Johnny Cash's song has the line: "Well he hid out in the bush and in the forest", this would not be the Australian way of saying it, since we use "bush" to mean what the British call "forest" ... in a similar to some American usage - also derived from their early Dutch settlers.


As you know, the Kelly connection is not viewed as quite so shameful these days. In the family history of one side of my mother's family we find one of my great-great grandmothers was a Jane-Anne Quinn - and the Quinn family oral history (as well as what records have survived) seem to show that she was sister to Ellen Quinn... Ned Kelly's mother ... so Ned was my G-g-uncle ... or first cousin, 3 times removed ... or something like that!

I can't say I agree with all of Ned's exploits ... but he does seem to be family!