Back in 2003, the Moonambel Arts and History community, under the guidance of Jan Curtis and Merri Hogan, embarked on a journey
to last 18 years.
It was then that the community discovered that the lock-up at the original Moonambel police house was one of only five remaining portable police lock-ups in Victoria. At the time of discovery, it had been used for hay storage and as a chicken coop among other things. In 2003 Moonambel art and history community applied for and received a grant from Victorian Heritage to relocate the lock-up
to the Moonambel Common and then restore it.
Original sculptures of the children
were created by local artists Merri Hogan and Barry Fox and placed in the lock-up.
Over time these had become degraded and derelict. MAHG had taken the plight of the children to their hearts and decided they needed to have new interpretations made. MAHG Secretary, Jennifer MacKay, had seen photos of wire sculptures of ‘ghost soldiers’
in an English churchyard and with the suggestion from Merri Hogan
she presented to the MAHG committee the proposal for the new sculptures
to be made by Clunes artist Tom Ripon.
We assumed that was the end of a very sad story as the children were committed to the Department of Neglected Children.
Fortunately, Jennifer continued the story with the help of the Genealogical Society of Victoria.
She found a descendant of the eldest child
Edith Octive Dean. In finding this, it was also revealed that Edith Octive and Alice Louisa were sisters and the one year old Constance was a half sister.
Alice had died at the age of 21.
The ladies had no idea of the plight
of their grandmother and dear Aunt Connie
all those years ago. This was something that was never mentioned and the circumstances of which Eileen is eager to explore.
We would like to thank Ann-Maree Richardson of the Genealogical Society of Victoria research team who helped Jennifer to trace the descendant of the eldest child,
Edith Octive Dean.
Also, we acknowledge the Pyrenees Shire for funding the project.