It looks like I haven’t posted for a while. Again. Oh well, eating and sleeping seem to be getting in the way of blogging. Anyway, in my drafts folder I’ve had a number of unfinished posts for quite some time, so I figured I’d get them out of the way before tackling other stuff. Believe it or not, but this entry was started a year ago, but like other ideas, fell by the wayside. It was meant to carry a wealth of information, but unfortunately it didn’t eventuate.
It exists though and I’ve got photos, so I might as well hit publish and get it over with.
The Shepherd’s Daughter’s Grave, Lal Lal sits in a lonely piece of forest just outside the Lal Lal-Bungal Historic Area in Victoria. Now this is where it gets a bit difficult. I have no particulars regarding its history, other than a solitary link and a photo that was taken in 1951. As a result, this post will be a lot briefer than intended.
In-between aimlessly wandering through the bush, I’ve also been keeping an eye out for other outdoor interests. As a long time cemetery buff, I’ve always been intrigued by graves that aren’t within graveyards and this one certainly fits the bill.
It was last winter when I first visited this spot. Afterwards I began a post, but hit the wall immediately. I think I lost a month trying to nail the correct grammar in the heading. Does the daughter have an apostrophe? What about the shepherd? Surely he’s got to have one. Then to make it tricky, the following link has it listed as, ‘The Little Shepherd’s Daughter’s Grave’. Hang on. Who’s little? Now it sounds like it could be the shepherd. Where does the little come from anyway? So many questions and it stretched the highest level of my education. Year 11. Mind you, I got C+ for English Literature, so I nailed that one.
Anyway, here’s the link to the only information I’ve got. A sheet for tourists.
From experience, links like this tend to go dead after a few years, so here’s the relevant part.
‘It is the grave of a little 6 year old girl – Mary Ann Paterson – who was droving sheep with her family on this side of the Moorabool River. There was a cold and rainy period and she developed pneumonia and died. The river was in flood and the bridge to Mt Egerton was under water and a doctor could not get across to help her. She was buried in the bush as there was no access over the river to the cemetery either … She died in 1867 at the age of 6 years old.’
As you can see , it’s sobering stuff. A visit was definitely in order, just to highlight a snippet of Australian history that seems to have been lost over time.
On my first trip to the forests around Lal Lal a simple trip in the car turned into drama. I’m not sure why, but I assumed a post about not walking a step should be fiasco-free, but that’s not how this place seems to work. I was going to detail the full saga in this post, but I’ve decided to split it. The subject matter of this one warrants a subdued write-up, whereas the next will contain some off-beat moments.
Now you can see why I haven’t posted this earlier. I’d prefer to have some information, but unfortunately I’ve drawn a blank. Rather than the shepherd, I’d like to know the story of Mary Paterson. I’ve sent a few emails seeking further details, but I’ve been unsuccessful finding out anything further. As it is, I’ve got nothing. Instead, all you’re going to get is a few more photos.
I actually had a grand vision of capturing this spot under moonlight, but it didn’t come to fruition. Three times I’ve gone to this spot in the middle of the night and although I’ve set off under clear skies, upon arrival in the forest the entire area has been cloaked in clouds. I imagined a ghostly glow like this…
…with stars through the trees, but ended up with nothing of the sort. Wandering around in the dark was a weird feeling and I wasn’t sure if I was keeping the grave of Mary Paterson company or the other way round.
I’m intrigued by the timber surround, but again, I’ve no idea when it was built. It appears in this photo taken in 1951, but the headboard is different than now. I assume the stones were laid on the grave originally and the timber was erected some time later. I think. Anyway, that information brochure calls it the ‘Little Shepherds Daughter’, but after looking at the headboard, there’s not a ‘little’ to be seen, so it appears that’s been added to the story over time.
The earlier link also mentions a small vase on the grave, which always has flowers in it. This hasn’t been the case during my visits, although in the late afternoon a fallen flower lay across the timber fence, adding some colour.
So, as you can see, I don’t have a lot to go on, but if anything comes up, I’ll add to it in the future. Also, on my first visit, finding the grave with the directions given was a bit confusing. I’ve been there so often now though, going back for a follow up post will be a cinch.
There you have it. As you can see, the most common line in this post has been, ‘I’ve got no idea’. A bit like life I suppose. Oh well, regarding this story, some ideas never happen as planned. Okay, next up is a further exploration of the Lal Lal area. Fasten your seatbelts.
I’m glad that little Mary Paterson has not been forgotten and through your poignant blog post will live on in the memories of readers. As the author, Jodi Picoult, wrote, “no matter how hard we try, no matter how much we want it…some stories just don’t have a happy ending.” But we still need these stories. They are valuable. I can’t imagine the grief of losing my daughter and burying her in that situation. It’s a reminder of the tough life circumstances back then (and still experienced today in other parts of the world.) Sometimes the good old days are over-rated. Beautifully written and I lovely pictures, especially the starry night sky. Thanks for going to so much effort to share it. I’ll buckle my seat belt for part two… 🙂
Yeah, I was hoping for more info regarding this grave, but I’ve got nothing. That’s the way it goes I suppose. There must be dozens of stories like this in the bush, but not many resources to find out about them. I’ll keep this post in mind though, as I have one other avenue of enquiry to chase up. Maybe there’ll be an update. The next post will be a lot more manic.
I can understand why Lal Lal didn’t exactly flow off the keyboard, it’s that kind of place I think. I saw the old grave when I was up there but my researching work leaves a lot to be desired compared to you or Jane. It would of been a very hard existence out there back in the day, especially for a young girl. Cheers
I feel like going to Lal Lal and do a bit of exploring one day. Looking forward to the next part. Right now I’m content with reading your post and view the pictures, which makes the place come alive. Even the grave looks lively, especially there are flowers on the fence. I guess most of us would know the flowers are the Common Heath, the floral emblem of Victoria. One of my side interest when going on walks is to take snap shots of flowers along the way and try to identify them at home with some sort of wildflowers books. Even though you don’t post as often, I’m sure your site is very active. I find myself coming back and read your posts many times in the past, most of them are still relevant, if not entertaining. I’m afraid there are many passive reader like me.
I could do a number of posts about Lal Lal, but I can’t write about everything. Not unless I reduce the posts to only a few paragraphs. Anyway, the waterfalls up there are worthy of a post. Seeing how one of them is haunted, I’m sure I could find some material to do a write-up! Regarding the grave, I was hoping to get some info from the Buninyong Historical Society, but it hasn’t happened. I might follow it up, as it would be nice to tell the Mary Paterson story, rather than confine her life as a footnote of the Shepherd’s Daughter.
Yeah, Lal Lal has a number of things to visit and they’re all quite close together, so it’s a worthy day trip. Oh, it would be great to identify some of the vegetation easily. I had a go at fungi identification and gave up after a day. So many variations, that I now just describe things as ‘green plant’ or ‘fungi’. Have to keep it simple! The past year has a being a bit full on, so I’ve been slack with the blog, but hopefully I’ll get back to some regular posts. I’ve got a lot of walks to write about, but it’s going to take a while to get through them. Thanks for dropping by. Passive readers are fine, as I know my writing style doesn’t lend itself to dozens of comments!
Hey Greg. Nice tribute to Mary Ann on her 150th anniversary?
Oh, this is so short on details than I intended. I may have an avenue for more info though! If I can work out a way of verifying the new information, I’ll do a whole new post 🙂
Thanks for the post Greg. It’s great to see that Mary’s resting place is still respected.
I visit Mary frequently and leave flowers and am also intrigued by the history behind it all.
I have heard that “The Shepherd” May be buried in the old cemetery close by.
I’ll watch your post with interest and if I find out anymore I’ll let you know.
No problems. It’s certainly as interesting as any bush grave I’ve come across. I’d like to shed some light on the person, rather than just the feature. Not having a lot of luck with enquiries right now. I’m hoping the Buninyong Historical Society can help out though. In the new year, I’ll give it another go. Thanks for dropping by.
It’s not from the current 24 hour news cycle, and it does include your pics, so you’re probably aware of this already, but just in case: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-10/shepherds-daughters-grave-fascinates-locals-more-than-century/9633560
In reply to an earlier comment from a reader, you touched on one of the falls being haunted. Can you recall if that is in connection to the local Bunjil story or something more recent? Or is that still in the pipeline for a future entry?
It’s one of those things. There was absolutely nothing online about this grave, so I thought I’d contribute something. Sort of became redundant when a news article suddenly appeared!
Regarding the falls, my memory is a bit sketchy, but I think it was something from a school expedition in the 1980’s? Two students died in a rock fall? I’m sure that’s more or less the story. There is a track down to the falls, but it’s closed. I noticed people ignoring this though. I assume it’s been closed since the accident? I’ll have to do some more research!
I Tanya Lightowler, I have visited her grave many of times, on my horses I have pictures of the grave with my horse paying respects, I can’t upload the photos but I could email them to you, I wonder if she loved horses.
I find it a fascinating, but sad place. It’s a lonely area. I’d love to know more of the history, but it’s been tricky to find out.
Does anyone know where “the old cemetery close by” mentioned by Luke is located or what it might be called?
I’ve got no idea. I think the parents are buried on private property in the local area. I don’t know of any defined cemetery nearby though and I’ve done a bit of walking around there. I could be wrong though! Hard to get info on things like that.