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Three Lost Children Memorial Park

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Corner of Midland Highway and Central Springs Road, Daylesford VIC 3460

Explore other locations around this area using our interactive map

Features

  • Memorial park
  • Picnic tables
  • Toilets
  • Information sign
One of the saddest stories in Victoria's history is that of the three young boys who wandered off into the Daylesford bush in the winter of 1867, never to be seen alive again. Hundreds of locals came together and searched for weeks to no avail. The bodies of these unfortunate children, aged just four, five and six, were discovered almost three months later. Their names were William Graham, Thomas Graham and Alfred Burman, lost but not forgotten. 

The Three Lost Children Memorial Park lies on the corner of Midland Highway and Central Springs Road, and features several monuments, an information board, picnic tables and toilets. 

The 15 km Three Lost Children Walk begins here, roughly following the way the children walked through the bush. FFM provides an online guide for the Three Lost Children Walk, which includes a map and trail information. 

Another memorial to the three missing children is located in Musk.

The information board at this park displays the following text:

THE DAYLESFORD SCENE IN THE 1850s AND 1860s

Gold was discovered in Daylesford in 1851 in the areas known as Wombat Flat and Connells Gully. Tom Connell was credited as being co-discoverer of the first gold. While gold prospecting development was fairly slow with two or three hundred diggers active in 1852, by 1855, diggers numbered in the thousands as new fields opened up at Yandoit, and later Coomoora. The Graham, Burman and Griffiths families lied in the Connells Gully area. William Graham, father of two of the lost children, was a miner who later went on to discover rich buried leads at Allendale. Many Chinese worked the local fields, and others turned their hands to market gardening. There ere Chinese market gardens in the Wombat, Stony Creek and Sailors Creek areas. Teams of six, eight or ten horses pulled many laden wagons of timber out of the nearby forest for use in the mines, as underground mining and quartz crushing developed in the early 1860s. One such mine was the Specimen Hill Mine, which the children passed on their journey. Dams were constructed for water to run along water races to sluice gullies and to power the minefields. The remains of one such dam can be seen on the south side of The Lost Children Walk at Blind Creek with the sluicing works to be seen on the North side of the track. Water races can also be seen along Cockatoo Creek Track. 

THE CALL OF ADVENTURE

It was Sunday morning, 30 June 1867, when a group of young children from Connells Gully, near Table Hill, Daylesford, wandered in the direction of Wombat Creek past familiar shallow gold diggings to look for wild goats. 

Three children, William Graham, aged 6 1/2, his brother Thomas, 4 years 3 months, and Alfred Burman, 5, responded to the call of adventure. They crossed Wombat Creek and headed towards Muskvale. 

When the boys failed to return home for lunch their fathers began to search, concentrating their efforts near the junctions of the Wombat, Stony and Sailors Creeks. That evening the police were notified, and the search went well into the night.

During the afternoon the boys had spoken to a Muskvale storekeeper, Mr Mutch, but failed to follow his instructions on how to reach Daylesford. After a short distance they unaccountably headed east to Specimen Hill. Towards dusk the children then spoke to an older boy, John Quinn, near Specimen Hill gold mine. He told them they were lost, but they ignored his attempts to turn them back and vanished into thick bush to their impending doom. 

ORGANISED SEARCHES 

At dawn on Monday 1 July, the search began in earnest. As news of the previous day's sightings circulated, the search area widened. Community anxiety grew, and the next day more than 100 horsemen assembled near the Specimen Hill gold mine. By Wednesday 3 July, after a public meeting the previous night called by the Mayor, Cr Bleakley, sympathy for the distressed families was so heightened that almost 700 people turned out in cold, miserable weather to continue searching.

THE SORROWFUL DISCOVERY

After eight successive public meetings and 25 days of searching it appeared that the tragedy of the Three Lost Children might never be solved. But on Friday 13 September a dog returned home to Wheelers Hill, some 10km from Daylesford, carrying in its mouth a small boot with a child's foot in it. The following day a number of Wheelers Hill residents combed the area and found the bodies of the youngest boys in the hollow of a tree. The remains and clothing of the older boy were nearby. There was a large funeral, and the three children were buried together in the Daylesford Cemetery. An impressive monument was erected there by public subscription - you can see it today in the cemetery on the Daylesford-Trentham Road. 

In 1889, Mr Graham, the father of two of the lost boys, established a scholarship to be presented each year to the best boy and girl pupils at Daylesford State School. In this way the memory of the Lost Children has been kept alive in the Daylesford District. 

On the other side of the information board, the following details are provided for the Three Lost Children Walk, as well as a map:

THE THREE LOST CHILDREN WALK

The walk shown here commemorates a tragic incident from Daylesford's past when three small boys wandered away from their homes in 1867. It approximates the route they walked and will take you through bush landscapes that were once active goldfields and now part of the Wombat State Forest and Hepburn Regional Park. Along the walk you will see the remnants of gold mines, waterways and tramways. 

Directions:

From here walk past the toilets to Table Hill Rd. Turn right and walk 300 m to Forestview Lane. Continue another 30 m then turn right to walk straight down the track to Twin Bridges carpark. The Great Dividing Trail joins the Three Lost Children walk here. 

Cross the creek and climb the steps, crossing Lake Daylesford walk, to reach Goo Goo Lane. Proceed 300m along Goo Goo Lane turn right at road intersection and continue a short distance to turn right again into the Old Ballarat Road. Walk 100m down the Old Ballarat Road then turn left into a track at the Muskvale sign. Continue through to turn left immediately after crossing Sailor's Creek. 

Follow the track 200m to turn left again into Black Jack Track. Follow Black Jack Track for 2.1 kms keeping left at each of the two road intersections. Turn right into Hogan Lane and walk through to Sailor's Falls track intersection. Follow the Three Lost hildren walk up hill to left to cross the Ballan Daylesford Road. The Lost Children were seen near here 5 hours after leaving home. Continue along Hogans Lane. Turn right at Foxes Lane then left turn at Manna Gum Road past two Management Vehicle gates to turn left at crossroad (Paddock Track). 

Follow Paddock Track for 1 km then turn right just before dismantled railway, following a pipeline which passes Specimen Hill Dam. This is where John Quin attempted to turn the Lost Children back. 

Cross Specimen Hill Road and follow Cockatoo Creek Track for 2.5 kms. Turn left and follow Cockatoo Track for 600m, turning left into a track just before Wombat Dam Road. Follow this track for 70 m to an intersection, turn left and proceed down this track through the forest to finish at Wombat Creek Picnic Area. 

To assist visitors in choosing whether to take the walk or not the tracks are classified by skill level and fitness level. For a description of these classifications, refer to the Forest Note 'FS0020 - Bushwalking in State Forest'

Before undertaking the walk collect a map with written directions from the Museum or Information Centre

Then consider...
    • the necessary Skill Level which is Intermediate
    • the Distance which is 15 km one-way
    • the Duration which is 5-6 hours one-way (including breaks) and
    • the necessary Fitness Level which is High
Suggested pick-up or set down points are shown, for those people wishing to walk only part of the track.

Be safe and prepared by...
    • Carrying and consulting your map along the way
    • Wearing sturdy footwear with good tread
    • Being wary when walking on uneven or slippery track surfaces
    • Taking clothing for variable weather conditions
    • Taking sufficient food and appropriate drinks
    • Keep to the walking track and minding your footing because there are deep mine shafts in the area
    • Observing and supervising inexperienced walkers, especially children
    • Following the Three Lost Children walk markers along the track
Last resting place

The bodies of the Three Lost Children were found in a hollo tree about 1.2 km north-east of the Picnic Area. To reach the monument near the discovery site drive 2.6 km towards Daylesford along Wombat Dam Road. Turn right down Cooper's Lane then right again at Wheeler's Hill Road. The monument is 1.5 kms along Wheeler's Hill Road on the left. 




DID YOU KNOW...

  • Bushwalking is an excellent way to get outdoors and exploring nature.
 

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