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six degrees of ned kelly

Photography c. Alex Davies


Nora Moloney ran a pub in Wangaratta, Victoria in the 1870’s. She kept a shotgun under the bar and thought Ned Kelly was ‘scum of the earth.’ So the family story goes… And apparently Ned Kelly, Australia’s greatest bushranger of all time, was scared of her. Nora was my mum’s great, great grandmother.

Malcolm Rowston reckoned he stole Ned Kelly’s bones from the Old Melbourne Gaol. Malcolm thought of himself as a bit of a dare devil and apparently in 1929 he saw an opportunity…
Malcolm was my grandfather.

So, you can understand why I grew up thinking everyone’s family has a Ned Kelly connection. I mean, why would my family be the only ones? They were fence builders and pub owners – nothing special.

Our Ned travelled a fair bit, held a few people hostage, had lots of brothers and sisters – it makes sense we’ve all been touched by his larrikin ways. Or does it?


In Six Degrees of Ned Kelly, Melita Rowston goes on a journey of discovery into the heart of Kelly country. She hits the popular Kelly tourist trail (Oh look! Ned got his boots mended here!) and seeks out the answers about her family’s purported connection to the Kelly’s. Along the way she meets locals touched by Kelly Fever and uncovers many family stories in an attempt to prove her theory that we’re all six degrees of separation from Ned Kelly. And the lengths some will go to prove it.

Part TED Talk, part holiday slide show, part theatrical monologue, Rowston uncovers the power of a national myth that has truly impacted on every Australian family.


Written and performed by Melita Rowston


Serial Space: Performance Lecture Series Time Machine Festival, July, 2012

Serial 002 – (The Old Queen Street Studios), 10-14 Kensington St, Chippendale


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