Ned Kelly in illustrated newspapers

Learning intention

Students examine media representations of Ned Kelly around the time of his capture and hanging through detailed image study.

Students will:

  • Identify points of view in the past and present (ACHHS123)
  • Compare information from a range of sources (ACHHS122)


Before photography, newspapers used illustrations to tell the story of significant events. Thomas Carrington was a documentary illustrator who recorded the capture and trial of Ned Kelly in this way. Carrington witnessed first-hand the events at Glenrowan, and applied an attention to detail that makes his work a reliable historical source.

You can find background information for students in the the Bushrangers section of Explore history and the Select resources section of Learn skills.


Primary sources on ergo:

Single image study - student template [Word 11.88 KB]
Comparing images - student template [Word 15.39 KB]


Look at the images detailed above in small groups or as individuals using an image study template. Use questions below to guide discussion:

  • Why did newspapers have illustrations instead of photographs in the late nineteenth century?
  • How is a photograph different to an illustration, especially when they are designed to record real events? Ask students to think about how much time passes between an event and when an artist draws a picture when compared to the instant creation of a photograph. How do photographers decide what to include or omit from a picture?
  • How do you think today's newspapers would be different if there was no photography - only illustrations? Consider how photographs, illustrations and comics are used in online media.
  • How are Carrington's illustrations different to 'A strange apparition'?
  • What do you think it would have been like for Carrington, onsite at Glenrowan surrounded by police and the Kelly gang so close? How do you think it affected his work?
  • Why were images like a 'A strange apparition' created? What do they tell us about how the public felt about Ned Kelly?
Iconic image of an armored Ned Kelly.
A reconstruction of the last evening of the Kelly Gang.
Newspaper image of an armored Ned emerging from the trees.