With a reward of £8000 on offer for the Kelly Gang, the largest reward yet offered in Australia, the pressure is on for the police to capture the outlaws. Leading the hunt are many distinguished officers whose personal conflicts may prove more damaging to the reputation of the police force than the continued depredations of the bushrangers.
Superintendent Francis Augustus Hare
South African man-hunter
Hare is a giant of a man on the far side of middle age. Though he has the drive of a much younger man, he struggles to keep up with the demands of the Kelly pursuit and his failing health – a slipped disc, high blood pressure, and weak immune system – make his job all the harder. He comes to rely on Aaron Sherritt, the closest friend of outlaw Joe Byrne, to provide the best chance of catching the gang but his trust may be misplaced. Hare is a simple man driven by a desire to see justice done and a thirst for adventure.
Superintendent John Sadleir
Head of the region, but not the hunt
Sadleir is a veteran of the police force whose critical perspective on the pursuit sees him frequently at odds with his colleagues. This dour Irish police officer wants justice to be brought to the Kelly Gang for what happened at Stringybark Creek, which he feels personally responsible for as the man who sent the slain troopers to their fate. He works hard to not let his personal feelings dictate his professional conduct, which he sees as the main flaw in his colleagues. He believes that if given the opportunity he could do a better job at catching the outlaws than any of the others that have pursued them.
Sub-Inspector Stanhope O’Connor
A soldier in policeman’s clothing
O’Connor is a military man by nature as much as by training. He is often more comfortable taking orders than giving them but his years of following the directions of men he considers fools have forced that to change. The massacre at Cape Bedford that he commanded has affected him more than he likes to admit and he wrestles with the remorse for his actions. His time in the Kelly pursuit has left a chip on his shoulder and a stain on his career and just as he is about to finally get turned loose, he is called up once more to finish the job he started.
Captain Frederick Charles Standish
Top cop and notorious fop
A fop by nature and gentry by name, Standish is a man more interested in satiating his vices – namely gambling, high-society soirées and indulging in fine food and drink – than police work. Despite this, he is a man who understands the full weight of his office and does his best in the limited capacity in which he is able. He adores Superintendent Hare; a man whose handsome features as much as his personality have bewitched Standish. Standish’s antagonism towards the certain colleagues has resulted in unnecessary setbacks and inner conflict in the Kelly pursuit, but his staunch belief in the capability of Hare to get the job done stops him from losing any sleep over it. By June 1880 the Kelly affair has blighted Standish’s reputation and he is desperate for a win.
Detective Michael Edward Ward
The resident detective at Beechworth, Ward has extensive history with Joe Byrne. This also makes him wary of Aaron Sherritt but over time he begins to see Sherritt as a genuine ally. Ward works closely with Superintendent Hare and fervently hopes that their combined efforts will bring a swift end to the pursuit. Ward is a dandy who takes pride in his body and his appearance, not well-suited for stake-outs in the bush but committed all the same. He has no real ambition for high office, having already become top dog in his neck of the woods. Instead, his battle is to remain in his respected position while the Kelly Gang’s elusiveness continues to make his a target for mockery and criticism.