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Euroa

The successful hold-up of the Euroa Bank can be attributed to a number of factors. The biggest contributor was the lack of a police presence in the district. With Nicolson and Superintendent Sadleir preoccupied with their pursuit, which led them to Albury, the gang, who by now were in desperate need of money, decided to stage a bank robbery in the small town of Euroa.

Ben Gould, a hawker and Kelly sympathiser, had been keeping an eye on the town for several days and notified the gang of the town movements. Making their way to Younghusband’s Station, the outlaws proceeded to ‘bail’ everybody present at the station, including George Stephens, an ex-police officer employed as the station’s groom. Also included were Henry Dudley and his friend, MacDougall, who had come up from Melbourne to indulge in some kangaroo hunting. Ned & Dan Kelly and Steve Hart changed into new clothes and made their way into town to hold up the bank, whilst Joe Byrne remained at the station to keep watch over the prisoners. Boldly, in broad daylight, they stuck up the National Bank at Euroa taking with them cash, gold and the selectors’ mortgage papers that had been kept in the safe but which they were to later destroy. The bank’s manager, Robert Scott, along with his wife and family and two of the bank’s clerks, were then taken to Younghusband’s station to join the other prisoners. Armed with the stolen money, the Kelly boys told their captive prisoners that they were not to leave until three hours after the gang’s departure.

News of the robbery quickly reached Melbourne. Three days after the robbery, Chief Commissioner Standish urged for an increase in the reward money for the capture of the outlaws. Reward proclamations were posted throughout Victoria’s northeast and photos of the gang were sent to police stations within the district. Having returned from his trip to Albury, Nicolson was then sent to Melbourne to take up another position and Superintendent Frank Hare was put in charge of the Kelly hunt.

The plot thickens at this point with the emergence of the Cameron/Euroa Letter: a letter written by Ned himself. This letter represented Ned’s attempt to tell his side of the story and at the same time vindicate himself in the Fitzpatrick affair and the events which led to the tragic deaths of three police officers at Stringybark Creek. Not coincidentally, the letter also increased the number of Kelly sympathisers. Two copies of the letter were sent out to Mr. Donald Cameron, a Member of the Legislative Assembly, and to Superintendent Sadleir. Chief Commissioner Standish, upon hearing about the letter, immediately telegraphed the Victorian Premier, Gordon Berry, advising him against publishing the letter.

Superintendent Hare and his search party continued to pursue the gang. While sympathy for the Kelly Gang was on the rise, police surveillance of family and friends of the Kellys had also increased. In January 1879, 20 men were arrested under the Felons Apprehension Act in an attempt to try and put a stop to communication between the outlaws and their sympathisers. This only served to further increase the level of resentment supporters felt for the force and their growing commitment to the outlaws.

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