BAMOS - Vol 35 No.1 Autumn 2022 Autumn 2022 - Page 14

BAMOS Autumn 2022

14 Article

Francis Carrington also produced this sketch showing the reporters huddled together in the train carriage — again , hinting at the very cold temperatures of the early morning , 28 June 1880 . Photograph : “ Reporters On Police Train ”, Francis Carrington Sketch , State Library of Victoria .
Upon reaching Benalla railway station the reporter again remarked on the night sky : " A fine large station but dimly lighted by gas . That mattered little though for by this time the moon was up , silvering with her radiance the earth and the heavens and casting a halo of glory upon the rugged and mountainous " Kelly country "— the peaks and spurs of which reared themselves ahead of us — standing out in bold relief against the cloudless sky ". 2
These reports indicate that the early morning of 28 June was clear and cold , with local frosts likely around the Glenrowan area . Lunar tables indicate that the moon was " waning gibbous " phase — the first phase after full moon .
Bureau of Meteorology rainfall data :
The daily rainfall record for Wangaratta for June 1880 reveals a wet spell before the siege . In the 24 hours ending at 9am on 25 June , 26.9 mm was recorded followed by 13.2 mm the next day . This was on top of 105.8 mm in April and 44.2 mm in May , meaning that it was possible that conditions in the bush in the surrounding area , including Glenrowan , were wet under foot on the morning of the siege .
Also , in " A Guide to Australian Bushranging — the Siege of Glenrowan Pt 2 ", the author mentions , " shortly after heading into the bush Ned passed out near a fallen tree . It is uncertain how long he was unconscious for but when he came to he crawled into the bush leaving his carbine and skull cap behind in the mud ".
This would indicate that there were likely puddles and mud areas around the Glenrowan Inn , due mainly to the rain event of the previous week .
There were no formal wind recordings taken from the immediate area . However during the early afternoon the Glenrowan Inn was set on fire by the police to displace any gang members that may have still been inside . Photographs of the burning Inn were taken and the line taken by the pall of smoke gives us some idea on the wind direction at the time .
Top : the smoke plume appears in the photograph taken on the afternoon of 28 June 1880 . Photograph : State Library of Victoria . Bottom : The direction of the smoke plume from the fire at the Glenrowan Inn superimposed on the sketch “ Birdseye view of Glenrowan ” in Illustrated Australian News , 17 July 1880 .
In the images below , it appears the wind was from the west / southwest — a common wind direction for Victoria during the winter months .
There are several newspaper references to " mist " around the Glenrowan area in the early hours of 28 June , mostly around the time that Ned Kelly , in full armour , attacked the police from outside the Inn .
A retrospective article in the Ararat Advertiser of 26 February 1914 recalled that "... when on the tragic morning Kelly loomed out of the mist in his armour and bullets began to fly ..." 3
In summary
The weather conditions during the famous siege of Glenrowan that occurred from the early hours of 28 June 1880 until well into the afternoon have been reconstructed using data from the Bureau of Meteorology , contemporary photography , the lunar calendar and newspaper reports from the time .
From this information it is hypothesised that the pre-dawn conditions were clear , cold and frosty , with the ground wet underfoot as a result of quite substantial rain over the previous week . Some morning mist also lay across the area . As the day progressed some cloud moved across but no rain fell .
Wind during the afternoon was likely from the west to southwest as deduced from the direction of the smoke plume produced when the Glenrowan Inn was set on fire by the police .
3 Retrospective article : The Ararat Advertiser 26 February 1914 , P3