After watching that news report I became interested in visiting Glenrowan. What clinched it was reading Bill Bryson’s description of Ned Kelly’s Last Stand, an animatronic theatre show in Glenrowan Tourist Centre. “Well, call me a Whimp, drop a brick shithouse on me, but I can honestly say that I have seldom seen anything so wonderfully, so delightfully, so monumentally bad as Ned Kelly’s Last Stand. It was so bad it was worth every penny.”

Who wouldn’t want to experience that for themselves?

Clare, Jason and I set off for Glenrowan on Friday morning. It was my first Australian road trip (I visited Wilsons Prom with someone I met on Gumtree earlier in the week but neither of us were Australian so it doesn’t count). We listened to Crowded House and ate Cheezles, both Australian road trip essentials, according to Clare.

I had prepared this God-awful packed lunch. My intentions were good but it turned out very badly. The first packet of wraps had gone mouldy, the expiry date on the second, unopened packet was last August, but I swear I didn’t notice either of those things when I packed them. I was up late the night before frying falafel, which came out burned on the outside and mushy on the inside, and cutting out Ned Kelly shaped gingerbread men. I brought some random green leaves I found in the fridge hoping it was some sort of lettuce. Jason told me it was spinach. Whatever. I’m just glad it was something you could eat. And at least the gingerned men looked good.

Ned Kelly’s Last Stand was absolutely as horrifically bad as we had expected. Even the signs outside were bad, with a missing apostrophe on one and “effected” instead of “affected” on another. You’ll notice that the non-traditional spelling of “wimp” (on the sign in the above photo) has not been changed since Bill Bryson’s visit to Glenrowan more than a decade ago.

The show lasted about forty minutes but the first five minutes were wasted with a bizarre animatronic magician addressing empty seats in the audience: “You there, by the door… And you, by the window…” There were only seven of us watching and we sat in the front two rows. Finally the magician transported us back in time to 1880, but only after showing off his skills at conjuring up a thunderstorm with flashes of lighting and pouring rain appearing outside the window slightly out of time with his narrative.

We were directed into a saloon where animatronic Ned Kelly told us about his plight. All the while we were distracted by a rattling trap door and an animatronic dog standing up on its hind legs, resting its paws on the bar and peeing into a spittoon.

Outside we saw a re-enactment of the shoot-out where, for no apparent reason, a giant Ned Kelly and a giant police officer statue fought side by side with their human-sized animatronic counterparts.

The whole thing was rounded off with Ned Kelly levitating in his coffin while Such is Life, Ned Kelly played in the background and a red-eyed owl looked on.

It really was so bad that it was good, which is an entirely different type of good from the regular kind but equally valid and not to be frowned upon. The packed lunch? That was just plain old bad.


8 thoughts on “Glenrowan

  1. This looks magnificent. If not for the the photos, I’d have assumed it was all just some food-poisoning induced delirium on your part. .

  2. Pingback: A Communication Mishap | Helen Caldwell

  3. Ugh! I couldn’t agree more with how bad that disgraceful ‘show’ is.It is an absolute insult to Ned & the boys.The man running the thing is an idiot too.

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