Judith Keating (left), Josephine Davis, Margaret Simmons, and Joseph Engelsman, siblings of Ned Kelly.
Judith Keating (left), Josephine Davis, Margaret Simmons, and Joseph Engelsman, siblings of Ned Kelly. Cathy Adams

Ned Kelly, bird lover and artist

LIKE HIS infamous namesake there has been much speculation about who was Broadwater man Ned Kelly.

But the name and the physical likeness is where the similarities between the two men end.

While the bushranger was out robbing people and shooting police, Broadwater's Ned Kelly was a talented artist and a devoted bird lover from a young age.

"He loved birds and animals so much; that's the kind of person he was; the birds got fed before he did," his niece Tanya said.

"He had a crimson rosella for years that had been hit by a car that he nursed back to health."

"It used to sit on his shoulder when he rode his bike into town and he would even take it on the bus to Ballina with him shopping."

Mr Kelly was born James Harold Engelsman on February 12, 1958 at Coraki hospital.

He was the third child of Dutch immigrants Joseph and Josephine Engelsman.

Mr Kelly never knew his elder brother Jozeph, who drowned at the age of 13 after diving into a creek near Beaudesert in Queensland.

He hit his head on a submerged tree root.

Ned was raised by his parents in the Broadwater home where he later died.

He had two more sisters and a brother after his mother gave birth to Judith, Josephine and Joseph.

Mr Kelly's older sister Margaret Simmons described her brother as 'a bit of a rebel' in his teens and early 20s.

She said he went to Broadwater Public School and Ballina High School before leaving home at 16.

From there Mr Kelly travelled around Australia for a few years working at fruit picking at Mildura in Victoria and picking up work in a wrecking yard in Darwin.

After a short romance Mr Kelly married Lillian but within 18 months they divorced.

Just months apart in 1979, Mr Kelly's parents died and his older sister Margaret was given custody of her four younger siblings.

Following his parents' deaths Mr Kelly changed his name by deed poll. He also got a tattoo on his arm of Ned Kelly with the words Kelly's Outlaws below.

From 1985 until he was murdered, Mr Kelly lived in the family home at River St, Broadwater.

Described as a jack of all trades by his siblings, Mr Kelly worked on fishing trawlers out of Ballina, in a shipyard at Ballina, drove stunt cars at regional shows and did lots of carpentry and rendering work for people around Broadwater.

When he wasn't working, Mr Kelly would often walk along the beach collecting materials he could recycle into spectacular works of art.

The family are hoping that police will be able to find his missing skull so he can be cremated.

"I would dearly love to cremate my brother with all his bits but we can't wait forever for that to happen," Margaret said.

"It may never happen; we may never get Ned's head back."

Mrs Simmons said her 'little brother' would be greatly missed by the family.

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