Constables Lonigan, Scanlon and Kennedy
- all killed by Ned Kelly's gang near
Mansfield (including Bonnie Doon,
Merrijig, Goughs Bay, Bonnie Doon and Howqua
Attractive service town noted for its strong
associations with the Kelly Gang.
Mansfield is a very charming sub-alpine town of
wide streets, old buildings and well-established
trees. It is situated on Fords Creek in a pretty
valley which is surrounded by the foothills of
the Great Dividing Range, near the north-eastern
tip of Lake Eildon. Because of its location it
is essentially a resort town and an excellent
winter base for those headed to Mount Buller and
Mt Stirling. As such it is well-geared for the
tourist dollar with a range of accommodation,
ski and equipment hire shops and plenty of
restaurants. The beauty of the local scenery has
attracted filmmakers who have used it as the
setting for the two Man From Snowy River films,
The Far Country and Cool Change.
Mansfield has a current population of some
2500 people. It is 185 km north-east of
Melbourne via the Melba, Goulburn Valley and
Maroondah Highways and 316 m above sea-level.
Prior to European settlement the area is
thought to have been occupied by the Youngillim
or Wuywurrung Aborigines. Explorers Hamilton
Hume and William Hovell passed through the area.
In the late 1830s the Hunter and Watson Pastoral
Company leased vast amounts of the Mansfield
Valley and their employees were probably the
first Europeans in the area. The first run was
established in 1839. The run was subdivided into
seven smaller stations in 1842. The father of
Dame Nellie Melba established a lime quarry on
one of these allotments.
Mansfield began in 1846 as a designated stock
route camp. The townsite was surveyed and lots
sold in 1851. The breadth of the main street was
to enable bullock teams to do U-turns. The
settlement was named after early European
settler Edward Mansfield and developed as a
commercial centre for the many small goldmining
settlements established to the south in the
After the initial rush Mansfield settled down
to become a service centre to a grazing, farming
and timbergetting community. One of the
timbergetters who worked in the area for two or
three years, following his release from prison
in 1874, was Ned Kelly, Australia's most
notorious bushranger and perhaps its best-known
In 1878, after an incident at the Kelly home
(see entry on
Glenrowan) the 22-year-old Ned and his
younger brother Dan went into hiding in the
Wombat Ranges just to the north-east of
Mansfield. Two police parties (one from
Mansfield and one from Benalla) headed into the
mountains to capture them. At Stringybark Creek
(near Tolmie), on October 25, the two brothers,
with two visiting companions (Steve Hart and Joe
Byrne), surprised constables Lonigan and
McIntyre at their camp. Lonigan had had a
previous run-in with Ned at Benalla. Ned called
for them to bail up. The unarmed McIntyre
complied but Lonigan jumped behind a log. When
he raised his head to fire he was shot by Kelly
and died almost immediately.
Two other constables from the party were out
searching for the brothers. McIntyre was advised
that if he instructed his colleagues to
surrender when they returned they would be
allowed to return to Mansfield after donating
their horses and guns.
As constables Scanlon and Kennedy rode into
camp, McIntyre complied but his actions were
taken as a jest. Kelly then appeared, demanding
their compliance. Kennedy leapt from his horse
firing. After getting off one shot, Scanlon was
killed by Kelly before he could dismount. As
Kennedy ran from tree to tree for cover he was
shot in the armpit. A second bullet pierced him
close to his heart then Kelly, who had fired
both shots, advanced and shot him directly
through the heart which, he said, was to prevent
further suffering before an inevitable death.
Constable Lonigan in Mansfield cemetery
McIntyre escaped during the fracas to spread
the news. All four constables were of Irish
descent (like the Kellys) and all were
considered outstanding members of the force. The
news shocked the country and caused considerable
concern. As a consequence, the gang members were
outlawed with 500-pound rewards offered for each
man, alive or dead (for the rest of the Kelly
story see the entries on Glenrowan, Euroa and
Mansfield's annual events include a Harvest
Festival on the Labour Day long weekend in
March, a Hot Air Balloon Festival in
February-March, a Mountain Country Festival in
late October or early November (which includes
the Great Mountain Race for cross-country
horseriders) and the Agricultural Show on the
third Sunday of November.
Things to see:
Mansfield Visitor Information Centre in old
railway station on High St. It is open daily
from 10.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m., tel: (03) 5775
1464. They operate an accommodation booking
service and can fill you in on the possibilities
for horseriding, camel treks, bushwalking,
canoeing, waterskiing, trout fishing,
sailboarding, gold panning, fossicking, hot-air
ballooning, 4WD tours, ski and equipment hire,
mountain-bike riding and white-water rafting.
They also have a booklet outlining the town's
At the corner of High and Highett Sts is a
substantial marble monument within the
roundabout which was erected in 1880 as a
tribute to constables Lonigan, Kennedy and
Scanlon who were killed by Ned Kelly at
Stringybark Creek to the north-east of town in
1878. They are buried in the cemetery at the end
of Highett St.
The imposing Highton Manor, in Highton Lane, was
the town's first two-storey brick home. Built in
1896, it features impressive stained-glass
windows. Its original owner, Francis Highett,
was a Victorian tennis champion. Also a notable
singer he performed duets with Dame Nellie Melba
and sang in St Paul's Cathedral in London.
Highett was given to long bouts of solitary
meditation in the tower where he communicated
with his family through a speaking tube which
remains. It is now a guesthouse.
Sailing, fishing, canoeing and boating can be
enjoyed on Lake Nillahcootie, 20 km north,
adjacent the Midland Highway.
Goughs Bay, on Lake Eildon, is 20 km south of
Mansfield, off the road to Jamieson. Nearby is
the Delatite Arm Reserve. This is a good area
for boating, waterskiing, fishing and camping.
There are established sites with pit toilets.
Fees are charged and bookings are necessary in
peak periods, tel: (03) 5775 2788 or 131 963.
Houseboats can be hired from High Country
Houseboats, tel: (03) 5777 3899 and more
conventional accommodation is available at
Fernleigh Cottages on Goughs Bay Rd, tel: 03
Bonnie Doon is a small town of around 300 people
at the northern end of the lake, 21 km west of
Mansfield on the Maroondah Highway.
Accommodation possibilities include the Bonnie
Doon Caravan Park (tel: 03 5778 7254), Bonnie
Doon Holiday Apartments (tel: 03 5778 7445), the
Lakeland Resort Hotel (tel: 03 5778 7335), the
Starglen Lodge Resort, 10 km north of town (tel:
03 5778 7312), Peppin Point Holiday Park and
Houseboats (tel: 03 5778 7338), 9 km south of
Bonnie Doon, and the Lakeside Leisure Resort,
tel: (03) 5778 7252. The latter has a
The Mansfield-Whitfield Road (61 km), to the
north-east of town, offers spectacular scenery
of the King River Valley. The best viewing area
is Powers Lookout. The name derives from the
fact that it was once a vantage point for
bushranger Harry Power. A 15-year-old Ned Kelly
was charged as being an accomplice of Power in
1870, but the charges were dismissed for want of
evidence. Head north-east along the
Mansfield-Whitfield Rd for 44 km and turn right
onto the gravel road. The lookout is 4 or 5 km
Mt Samaria State Park
Mt Samaria State Park (7600 ha) is an attractive
and forested semi-remote area which encloses a
rugged plateau to the north of Mansfield. It was
long used by Aborigines prior to the grazing and
logging practices of the European settlers.
Wildlife is abundant, as are wildflowers in
spring. There are waterfalls, magnificent stands
of trees, scenic views and abundant birdlife.
Visitors can enjoy scenic walks and drives,
picnics, camping, bushwalking and photography.
Access can be gained by heading north along the
Whitfield Rd for 10 km. When you get to Bridge
Creek continue ahead insteading of turning right
towards Whitfield. After 4 km take the turnoff
on the right onto Blue Range Rd. For details
ring the Department of Natural Resources on (03)
5761 1611 or Parks Victoria on 131 963.
For access to the northern end of the park
see the entry on Benalla.
Delatite Winery, established in 1968, is a
beautifully-situated winery in Stoney Rd
(signposted off Mt Buller Rd), about 11 km
south-east of Mansfield. It produces a large
range of dry red and white table wines and a
sparkling wine and it is open daily from 10.00
a.m. to 4.00 p.m. There are picnic and barbecue
facilities, tel: (03) 5775 2922.
Merrijig, 19 km south-east of Mansfield on the
Mt Buller Rd, is a small town which has a resort
complex for off-mountain skiers. The area to the
north of town was used in the filming of The Man
From Snowy River and its sequel. A major rodeo
is held here on the Labour Day weekend in March.
Accommodation is available at Willawong
Bed-and-Breakfast (tel: 03 5777 5750),
Carrathool Guesthouse (tel: 03 5777 5591),
Merrijig Motor Inn Resort (tel: 03 5777 5702),
Pinnacle Valley Resort (tel: 03 5777 5788) and
Highlander Lodge (tel: 03 5777 5511). There are
picnic areas beside the Delatite River at
Merrijig and further east on the Mt Buller Rd at
Sawmill Settlement and Mirrimbah.
Howqua Hills Historic Area
The Howqua Track heads south-east from Merrijig
to the Howqua Hills Historic Area. The Howqua
River was used as a major trade and war route
across the Great Dividing Range for the
Aborigines. They used the hard greenstone
outcrops along the river for manufacturing
spearheads, stone axes and cutting tools.
This land was taken up a spart of the Howqua
run by the Watson and Hunter Pastoral Company in
the 1830s and it is still being used for grazing
Gold was discovered in the valley in the
1860s and a major reef was located the following
decade. Three large companies were established
and the township of Howqua was proclaimed in
1888. There was an hotel, a post office, some
boarding houses, a blacksmith's and a butcher's.
Mining ceased with the closure of the Great Rand
in 1905 and the village was deserted.
A number of relics remain from the goldmining
days. There is a brick chimney associated with a
smelting furnace. Further east is a 100-metre
tunnel which was cut through Tunnel Spur to
bring water from the Howqua River to a 4-km
water race. The race, which conveyed the water
to an 18-metre waterwheel located near the
chimney, can be seen above the road which links
Tunnel Spur and the chimney.
Fry's Hut and Pickering Hut were both built
by local bushman Fred Fry whose life formed the
basis of Nevil Shute's novel The Far Country
which was later filmed in the area. They cannot
be used for overnight camping. However, camping
is permitted at Sheepyard Flat where shepherds
yarded their sheep at night. Fry's Flat is for
summer access only and Davon's Flat is a day
visitor and horse camping area with horseyards.
The historic area is ideal for camping,
bushwalking, fishing and horseriding. Ring (03)
5733 0120 or 131 963 for further information.
Howqua is not actually a town but rather a
locality on the edge of Lake Eildon, near the
junction of the lake and the Howqua River. It is
a popular spot for waterskiing, boating and
fishing. There is a caravan park with a general
store which also hires out houseboats (tel: 03
5777 3588). Other accommodation possibilities
are offered by Plough Cottage Guesthouse (tel:
03 9808 8570), Kallarroo Lakefront Homes (tel:
03 9842 5164) and Hillside Howqua
Bed-and-Breakfast (tel: 03 5777 3522). There are
Horseriding, Camel Treks, Watersports and
The excellent alpine and lakeside scenery of the
area lends itself to excellent trail riding and
there are numerous outfits to cater to that
possibility. They are Homestation Trail Rides (tel:
03 5777 3576), Kratlund Park (tel: 03 5775
1443), McCormacks Trail Rides (tel: 03 5775
2886), Sawpit Gully Lodge (tel: 03 5776 9562),
Stoney's Bluff and Beyond (tel: 03 5775 2212),
Watson's Mountain Country Rides (tel: 03 5777
3552) and, in Bonnie Doon, Starglen Lodge (tel:
03 5778 7312). Merrijig has Lovick's Mountain
Safaris (tel: 03 5777 5510) and Merrijig Lodge (tel:
03 5777 5590). Howqua has Sunset Ranch, tel:
(03) 5777 3730.
High Country Camel Treks, 4 km south of
Mansfield on Rifle Butts Rd, can be contacted on
(03) 5775 1591.
Abseiling, mountain-bike riding, trekking,
white-water rafting etc can be pursued with
Mountain Adventure Safaris, tel: (03) 5777 3759.
The Helicopter Service Australia conducts joy
flights, tel: (03) 5775 2008. Stirling
Experience offer high country 4WD tours from
November to May, tel: (03) 5777 3541.
Trout-fishing tuition and camping trips are
available with Catch Wild Trout, tel: (019) 328
585. Hot-Air Ballooning is available from
Ballooning Global, tel: (1800) 627 661.
Peregrine offer rafting expeditions along the
King River which depart both from Mansfield and
Melbourne, tel: (03) 9662 2800 or the Peregrine
Travel office in your state capital.