One son drowned, one son died via a whale blow, four of their siblings didn’t see their first birthday, and another died when she was just 14. That was the fate of the seven Kelly children.
The Kelly tomb in Hobart’s first cemetery tells an intriguing yet devastating tale of the extraordinarily difficult way of life in Australia’s pioneering days.
The children’s father, James Kelly, lived to be 66 but, despite being very successful, his later years must have been a lonely existence. Not only did he lose all of his children, but his wife Elizabeth also died when she was 33. Described by historians as an “energetic explorer who circumnavigated Tasmania in an open 5-oared whaling boat, James Kelly named Port Davey and Macquarie Harbour on the west coast. A skilled seaman and successful whaling entrepreneur, Kelly became pilot and harbourmaster for the Derwent in 1819”.