It might be known as ‘Kelly county’ but the North East was also home to the three officers murdered by the Kelly gang, Victoria Police chief commissioner Graham Ashton said.
A fact he believes hasn’t properly been acknowledged until now.
On Saturday, Sergeant Michael Kennedy, Constable Thomas Lonigan and Constable Michael Scanlan were recognised at the newly developed Stringybark Creek site.
Previously home to a barbecue, seating and Ned Kelly helmet bollards, the location where the officers died was redeveloped to feature plinths with family statements and signs outlining the events of October 1878.
Mr Ashton accompanied Sergeant Kennedy’s great-grandson Leo Kennedy to the spot his forefather was murdered.
He said it was a moment made possible by the two and a half year Stringybark Creek Historic Reserve project.
“I felt emotional at that spot, being there with Leo,” he said.
“It means a lot to me and it means so much to Leo obviously being a descendent of Sergeant Kennedy.
“He worked for years and years - in fact decades to try and locate that site.
“We were able to do that through this project, he now knows where his loved one was murdered and that means a lot.”
All three police officers were killed on October 26, 1878 while searching for Ned and Dan Kelly.
Another officer, Constable Thomas McIntyre, escaped to report the crime.
Mr Ashton said the project aimed to “understand once and for all” what happened on that day at Stringybark Creek, near Mansfield.
DELWP and Victoria Police worked with the Blue Ribbon Foundation and descendants of the police and Kelly families to redevelop the site.
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Mr Ashton said previously police felt the site’s history wasn’t being properly recognised.
“This is an area where the Kellys grew up and the Kellys lived. It’s also a place where many [police] colleagues grew up and lived,” he said.
“They were migrants they came out from Ireland with their families and also started families here to try and create a better life.
“It’s part of their story as well. It’s Kelly country but it’s also the country where these officers lived their lives.”