Ned Kelly and his gang are still folk heroes to many Australians, but few know that four Victoria policemen were sent into the bush to track down Kelly and his brother Dan in 1878, and only one of them returned.
The policemen—all of them Irish immigrants, who made up a majority of the force in the early days—are the subject of a large exhibit at the Victoria Police Museum. As a foreign visitor especially, it’s revealing to learn about the modern crimes that shook the state of Victoria, including the Russell Street car bombing in 1986, and the Hoddle Street massacre the following year.
A gun and a set of the instantly recognizable metal body armor used by Kelly’s gang is here among the expected artifacts like uniforms, badges, weapons, and a vintage police motorcycle, as well as a look at notable acts by past officers and the rise of women in the force.
There are also some unusual finds, like a 19th century vampire slaying kit that was confiscated in a drugs raid in 2004, and the death mask of Frederick Deeming, a notable killer who murdered his wife and four children in his native England, and another wife in Melbourne. Hanged at Melbourne Gaol in 1892, for a long time he was considered to be a candidate for Jack the Ripper, the serial killer who haunted London in 1888.
Back on the streets of Melbourne, large, square concrete bollards are the latest weapon in the fight against terrorism, though locals responded by decorating them with art work, posters, graffiti and designed coverings.
Update as of January 2020: The museum is moving to 313 Spencer Street and will be closed until it re-opens again in early 2021.