Eat a Ned Kelly

A Ned Kelly pie and iced coffee at Beck's Bakehousing in Noarlunga, South Australia.

“What is a Ned Kelly pie?” I asked the server at Beck’s Bakehouse.

“It’s a meat pie with an egg on top,” she shrugged.

Who is Ned Kelly?” I asked Jared. We were seated outside the Port Noarlunga bakery café with his daughters Tilly and Delilah.

Jared’s eyes lit up. “He was a bush ranger, yeah?” he started. “He was an outlaw, a folk hero, an advocate for the disenfranchised in Australia.”

“What do you mean by ‘ranger'” I prodded as I sipped my iced coffee. “In Canada, a ranger is someone who looks after the forest.”

“Nah, nah, nothing like that! He stole horses and shot a few policeman and he was Irish,” Jared offered. “He defied the British colonizers and got hanged when he was just twenty-five years old.”

“But why did they name a meat pie after him?” I pursued. I looked around from Jared to Tilly to Delilah. They sipped their juice.

“Such is life”

Back at the house I used my brand new Onkaparinga Library card to secure a DVD of the 2003 feature film Ned Kelly. It stars Heath Ledger and Orlando Bloom.

Jared and I watched the film and I learned—through the lens of Hollywood cinema—that the real Ned Kelly drank horse blood, hid in the Wombat Ranges, wore a suit of armour,  and fetched a reward of £8,000 for his capture. Enough citizens of the time resonated with his Irish-Australian idealogy that more than 30,000 of them petitioned for his release.

After a hostage-taking, gun battle, and capture in Glenrowan, Ned Kelly died by hanging in 1880. Rumour has it that his last words were, “Such is life.”

“Okay,” I turned Jared when the film credits started rolling. “But why is a meat pie with egg and cheese on top called a ‘Ned Kelly’ pie?”

“I dunno,” he answered. “I guess we’ll have to watch the documentary too.”

We did, but my meat pie question remains unanswered.

Watch Outlawed – The Real Ned Kelly from ABC (Documentary, 52:18):