Being the child of a historian, I knew instinctively there was a story waiting to be uncovered and after a quick Google search, I found myself on a pilgrimage.
On June 30th, 1867, 151 years ago to the very day, William Graham, 6 1/2, his brother Thomas, 4, and their friend Arthur Burman, 5, set off in search of some goats, crossing Wombat Creek and heading towards Muskvale.
Evening fell and the trio had failed to come home. Their fathers went out to search for them. It had been a cold and sunny winters day, but that night the coldest and most bone-chilling frost in twenty years was recorded in Daylesford. The search for the boys was unsuccessful.
The following day, a bigger search party was sent out. This would be the first of many search parties, growing in size over the next couple of weeks, as around 700 people from the surrounding areas and all walks of life came to assist with the search, scouring the vast and unforgiving Australian bush in cold and rainy conditions.
The boys were unable to be found, presumed dead, and eventually, the searches were called off.
Winter turned into Spring, and on September 13th, a man's dog came home with a child's boot in its mouth. Inside the boot was a foot. The search for the boys recommenced the following day and the remains of all three were discovered sheltering inside a hollow tree, two curled around each other for warmth, the eldest just outside. In the light of day, the boys were painfully close to the man's hut and it was estimated that search parties in the early days of July had been only fifty or so metres away.
A small shrine stands near where the boys were found
Today, there are many memorials for the boys around the town. In addition to the memorial park, a small tribute stands just metres from where they were found, decorated with a collection of trinkets, marbles, and messages tacked to a tree in their honour. Those wishing to make a true pilgrimage can follow their small footsteps along The Three Lost Children Walk.
The message tree is filled with messages, weather worn and heartfelt
It's documented that there is an impressive monument at the Daylesford Cemetery, where the boys now lie. Somewhat confusingly, being a goldmining town, a lot of the souls at that particular cemetery had impressive monuments. Walk through the gates and follow the path past the cottage. Don't turn left when the path does. Fittingly, leave the track, and wander through the graves to your right. You'll find it.
If you're lucky, they might send you a sign. As I wandered the cemetery searching for their final resting place I said aloud, "where are you?" I'd barely said the last word when the sunlight shone on gold writing, catching my eye:
In Memory of the Lost Children.