You know those things that are so bad they’re actually really good? I love those things! They’re what I call ‘Craptastic’ (that’s a mix between ‘crap’ and ‘fantastic’ if you’re a little slow off the mark).
Well, I made quite the craptastic discovery last week when my brother-in-law and I stopped in a town called Tumut in New South Wales, en route to the Snowy Mountains. Browsing the souvenir shelves in the tourist info centre (not much else going on in Tumut – the info centre was a highlight), my eyes were drawn to a shiny and very kitsch tin of mints bearing a well-known bearded face and the words ‘NED KELLY ~Such is Life~ OUTLAW MINTS’.
Wow. I was immediately enticed by the tin’s bold claim that not only could these mints refresh my breath but they would also revitalise my life (a fairly big call for a mint, if ever I heard one). Not being one to walk away from a craptastic souvenir (and curious to see if these mints might woo me into a life of crime), I considered stealing myself a pack of OUTLAWS (I hadn’t even eaten one and already their illicit powers were getting to me), but then I remembered what happened to Ned Kelly as a result of his sticky-fingers, and so shelled out $3.75 instead.
After popping a few OUTLAWS, the impulses for criminal activity became quite intense – suddenly we wanted to litter and drive well above the speed limit. It grew increasingly difficult to suppress the urges to commit random acts of armed robbery and I found myself scanning the landscape for scrap metal to make into a suit of armour should we find ourselves in a shoot-out with the cops – I’ve seen Ned’s armour, I’m pretty sure I could knock together something similar in a fix. Well, that’s what I wish happened anyway… Pretty refreshing mints though, but not exactly life revitalising.
By now I’m sure there are some of you from far-far-away who are wondering who the hell is this Ned Kelly character is and why is he so special as to appear on a tin of mints. Perhaps the insightful text on the back of the OUTLAW MINTS tin will shed some light;
NED KELLY (1854 – 1880) was an outlaw who rode a horse, put on a suit of homemade armour and fought the police. He fought his last more than 100 years ago and was hanged for murder at Old Melbourne Gaol in 1880. His daring and notoriety made him an iconic figure in Australian history, folk lore, literature, art and film.
A little over-simplified, maybe, but such are the constraints of mint tin bios.
Basically Ned Kelly is most popularly known for 3 things; being a criminal with a penchant for evading and sticking it to the police; wearing a home-made suit of armour that bears a striking resemblance to a rubbish bin (here’s a photo) and for the last words he spoke before being hanged: “Such is life”. You’ll note that the OUTLAW tin has pretty much got it covered.
Of the squillions of films made about the life and times of the Kelly Gang, some of the more notable ones have seen some big A-listers land the role of Ned…
Recognise these familiar faces?
Often regarded as the Australian Robin Hood (and equally so a thief and cold-blooded killer, but hey, who’s counting?), Ned’s celebrity remains strong even 120 years after his death (we Aussies don’t dish out mint accolades to just anyone, you know). This lasting fame is, perhaps in part, due to the fact that just about every town in the high-country of northern Victoria/southern NSW, known as ‘Kelly Country’, lays some kind of claim to a Ned Kelly something-or-other. In fact, some Australian tourism groups have even put together suggested itineraries for serious Ned enthusiasts that take you to historical Ned Kelly towns where you can buy oodles of craptastic souvenirs (like Outlaw Mints!). For my next purchase I’m tossing up between getting the Ned Kelly earrings, or the peppermint flavour ‘Bushranger’ Lip Balm and a Ned Kelly snow-globe… decisions, decisions.
Glenrowan, Victoria, the scene of the ‘Last Stand’ (the Kelly Gang’s final showdown with the police), is the most famous of the Kelly towns. Among it’s more cringe-worthy Kelly attractions, Glenrowan boasts a giant Ned Kelly statue (affectionately known as ‘Big Ned’), and the multi-million dollar ‘theme park extravaganza’ that includes a computerised animated theatre complete with robots (yes, I said robots) acting out the shoot-out between the Kelly Gang and the police. It’s important to keep in mind though that the Last Stand show (according to the Glenrowan Tourist Centre website) is intended for “anyone who has ever dreamed [or] fantasized about going back into history and participating in an historical event… [it’s] only for people who want to enjoy themselves.” So unless you’re looking for fun, perhaps give it a miss. Actually, on second thoughts, maybe give it a miss even if you are looking for fun. Although, it is craptastic…
I’m not entirely sure what relationship Tumut has with Ned Kelly or why they’d be selling his mints. I mean aside from a general passing through of Bushrangers (ye-olde name for criminals at large) during the gold rush, the only connection I’ve been able to find is that at some point around the 1860s, James Kelly (Ned’s brother) tried to sell some stolen horses near Tumut… oh and there was some guy named Edward Kelly (no relation to Ned) who fleeced a couple of folks in another town nearby. Hardly a claim for the sale of Kelly branded paraphernalia, but whatever, I’m certainly not complaining… mint anyone?
What’s the most craptastic souvenir you’ve found?