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Ned Kelly gets dying wish

More than a century after the famous bushranger was hanged, Ned Kelly's final wish was granted when he was buried alongside his family at Greta Cemetery.

JOHN LEWIS January 22, 2013 4:30am

The final chapter in the saga of bushranger Ned Kelly’s burial ended yesterday morning when a headstone was unveiled at the entrance to Greta Cemetery.

The stone’s inscription announces the site as the final resting place of Kelly and his family members in unmarked graves.

Kelly’s remains were finally laid to rest at Greta on Sunday — 132 years after he was hanged at Melbourne Gaol.

Kelly’s great-grand-nephew Phil Griffiths said a few dozen family members gathered at the tiny cemetery for Sunday’s private ceremony, conducted under a marquee to keep the exact location secret.

‘‘It was a solemn ceremony with some well-spoken words. It was all done correctly and properly,’’ Mr Griffiths said.

He said Kelly was buried in an unmarked grave alongside other members of his family — his mother Ellen, brothers James and Daniel and sisters Margaret, Anne and Grace, Mr Griffiths’ great-grandmother.

Mr Griffiths, a truck driver from Ocean Grove on Bellarine Peninsula, helped carry Kelly’s coffin from the hearse.

‘‘I was honoured to be asked. There’s Kelly blood in me. You want to see people buried properly. It should be put to rest,’’ Mr Griffiths said.

He said after Sunday’s graveside ceremony, Kelly’s coffin was encased in concrete to deter souvenir hunters.

‘‘We hope it gets left alone,’’ he said.

The burial came after a funeral service at St Patrick’s Church at Wangaratta on Friday attended by about 200 Kelly descendants.

Mr Griffiths said Monsignor John White, who conducted the church and graveside services, was careful not to discuss the Kelly legend that continues to divide Australians.

‘‘He said, ‘We’re not here to make him a hero or a villain. It’s not for us to judge. God makes his own choices,’’’ Mr Griffiths said.

He said he was glad there were no anti-Kelly protesters at either services.

‘‘We’re all just glad he’s back with his family. He should be properly buried, like everyone else,’’ he said.

The inscription on the stone at Greta cemetery ends: ‘‘Along with their extended family and friends/May they rest in peace.’’

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