Lost!: A True Tale From The Bush
National Library of Australia, $29.95 hb, 110 pp
On the morning of 12 August 1864, Hannah Duff sent her three children – Isaac, aged nine, Jane, seven, and Frank, almost four – to gather broom from bushes growing a short distance from their one-room slab hut in the West Wimmera district in Victoria. They walked into the mallee scrub, and that was the last their mother saw of them for over a week. By some miracle, the children survived and were eventually found on the evening of August 20 by a search party which included three Aboriginal trackers. The children had walked nearly one hundred kilometres in those nine days, including twenty kilometres on the first day and six on the last. News of the rescue swept the state and the intense press interest in the siblings and their extraordinary adventure led to the establishment of an educational fund for them, but in particular to reward Jane for her nurturing of her brothers. The Aboriginal trackers were also financially rewarded. When Jane died in 1932, the words ‘bush heroine’ were inscribed on her gravestone.