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Missing Childrens Memorial, Message Tree and Resident Wombats

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Wheelers Hill Road, Musk VIC 3461

Features

  • Memorial to three children who went missing and died in the bush in 1867
  • Beautiful roadside garden
  • Information signs
  • Fascinating 19th century style message tree
  • Signs indicating the names and homes of several resident wombats
One of the saddest stories in Victoria's history is that of the three young boys who wandered off into the bush in the winter of 1867, never to be seen alive again. Locals came together and searched for weeks to no avail. The bodies of these unfortunate children, aged just four, five and seven, were discovered in a hollow tree almost three months later. Their names were William Graham, Thomas Graham and Alfred Herbert Burman, lost but not forgotten. This beautiful roadside memorial shares their heartbreaking story. The memorial features a cairn adorned with children's toys, a decorative seat, and various informative signs. 

To the left of the Missing Children's Memorial is a fascinating message tree, created in likeness of the 19th century message trees which were found along the roads to the diggings. This tree has been covered with various messages, poems and historical notes.

One poem on the message tree speaks of the three missing children:

So, when you walk that hidden track stop for a while and see. Through the trees and the morning mist, laughing children, count them, three.

Their voices echo on the breeze, and I beckon you. Take care! For if you stray, you may lose your way, as they did long ago. 

To the right of the Missing Children's Memorial you will find a couple of small, cute signs indicating the names and homes of several resident wombats.

Information signs at the memorial site display the following text:

THREE LOST CHILDREN - A DAYLESFORD STORY

Here stands a monument to three small boys who went on an adventure in 1867 that cost them their lives. Their names were William and Thomas Graham and their friend and fellow adventurer Alfred Herbert Burman. It was an adventure that would have these children writted into the local folk lore of Daylesford and through a grieving father's legacy, still has their story remembered today.

This cairn, erected in the centenary year of their walk, marks the discovery of the children on 14 September 1867, almost three months after their fatal journey began. The tree in which they were found stood symbolically approximately 120 metres East of this site until 1950, a reminder of the value of community spirit and a town built on timber and gold.

The Lost Children's Monument site fell victim to the Hogan's Lane-Muskvale-Musk Creek fire 2009. Left standing was the monument cairn of quartz and steel placed there in 1967 and a lacquered pine plaque with the children's story in brief written on it. Could it be that the children's spirits still rest within the ghost of the powerful tree that sheltered them in times faded? Perhaps not. Yet they live on in a father's gratitude to a community united by way of the Graham Dux Award presented to Daylesford Primary School children every year since 1889.

For the full story of why this particular incident was/is so important to the people of Daylesford and surrounding districts visit The Daylesford Museum or walk where the children are said to have walked. 

This site was created by Yvonne L. Fix of the Daylesford Historical Society in 1988 and again in 2009 after the fires.

THE MESSAGE TREE (1800s)

Almost by silent agreement a tree or large stump of a fallen tree becomes the place to leave messages. Usually the tree is at a fork in a well worn track where a rough directional sign or two is nailed up or wedged between branches marking the way to the next large settlement; or pointing in the direction of a rumoured strike; with a mileage estimate either to the site or to where the next signpost will move you on to yet another sign and mileage. And so on.

Messages are of hope, of 'See you soon' directions to where a person is staying or to the next imminent strike. Some are of sadness telling of a fatal accident, a friend passing away, a child lost and never found. Some are 'in memory of' or of love misguided or 'all is forgiven please come home'. All are from the heart. Displaced people in a  foreign land bonding together through the written word; on scraps of paper, torn cardboard pieces off container boxes, bark off trees or bits of tin. Written in charcoal from dead fires, lead pencilled, makeshift ink, berry juice, chalk, or knife marks forming the words. And if none of the above are available and the writer despairs, blood is used to get the message down.

Communication is the Life's blood in this new land for those still clinging to what they left behind. And for those seeking a new beginning there is the chance to start again with a clean slate, an expectation fulfilled if you are willing to embrace change and move forward into the unknown.



 

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