Black Snake: The daring of Ned Kelly

The Drum series

Book cover image

Ned Kelly was a thief, a bank robber and a murderer. He was in trouble with the law from the age of 12. He stole hundreds of horses and cattle. He robbed two banks. He killed three men.

Yet, when Ned was sentenced to death, thousands of people rallied to save his life. He stood up to the authorities and fought for what he believed in. He defended the rights of people who had no power.

Was he a villain? Or a hero?

What do you think?

Black Snake tells the story of the short but amazing life of Ned Kelly, Australia’s most famous bushranger. Although this book is non-fiction, each chapter begins with a short piece of fiction. These fictional pieces look at Ned from the point of view of different people: some who loved him, some who hated him; some who admired him, some who thought he was a monster.

Black Snake maybe purchased from your local bookshop or from Dymocks. It is available as an ebook from Booktopia. The audio book is available directly from Carole. Please read the hints prior to ordering.


“Carole Wilkinson takes the reader beyond the surface of the Ned Kelly legend… She brings the story alive through the everyday life and struggles of this unlikely hero… Wilkinson leads readers to ponder how Ned became an Australian icon in an accessible text which consummately uses fact and fictional reconstructions to achieve its purposes.”

 — CBC Book of the Year Judges’ Report 2003

“With Black Snake, Carole Wilkinson turns her hand from historical fiction to factual reportage, retelling the familiar story of the Ned Kelly legend. Factually, simple and without bias, Black Snake presents the circumstances behind the events as well as the conflicts between the personalities. It can be used as a biography, or read as an adventure. Through her consummate research and a deep empathy with the characters which she has resurrected, Carole Wilkinson has that rare ability to bring the past to life, in all of its authentic, ‘warts-and-all’ realism. Recommended.”

 — Magpies, November 2002

“…a must-have if you are a Kelly Gang fanatic.”

“One does not have to be a prior Kelly enthusiast to enjoy this book. It will appeal to not only the juvenile reader, but also to anyone wishing to gain a quick basic understanding of the story without having to wade through piles of books.”

“Author Carole Wilkinson aimed Black Snake squarely at the late primary/early secondary level and succeeded where others had failed.”