Seeking historical information

Submitted: Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 22:50
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Does anyone know the story about two children who perished in the Simpson(?) Desert when they set out in foot looking for their father. Their tracks were followed until they vanished and their bodies were never found? Late 1800's early 1900's?
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Reply By: Member - Ian F (WA) - Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 23:15

Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 23:15
I think that they were part of the story in the film "The Back of Beyond" which also was about Tom Cruise the mail man who travelled the Birdsville track from Birdsville to Taree . I may be corrected.
Ian
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Follow Up By: Member - Justin O (QLD) - Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 23:44

Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 23:44
Thanks Ian I'm sure that's where I read about it. I think I may actually have the book About Tom and his life. Couple of corrections if I may. Toms name was spelt Kruse and his mail run was Birdsville to Maree not Taree.
Cheers
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Follow Up By: Batt's - Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 23:57

Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 23:57
Spelt Tom Kruse
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Reply By: Member - Ian F (WA) - Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 23:54

Monday, Dec 09, 2013 at 23:54
Thanks Justin for the correction, I think I saw the film in the late 50's and you are right it was Tom Kruse .
Ian
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Reply By: Mikee5 - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 13:02

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 13:02
Two young sisters, Sally and Roberta, have left their home for the Birdsville Track to get help for their mother. They have their dog, a bottle of water, and a wheeled cart in tow. The youngest picks up her recorder and plays a simple melody while they cross the desert.

When they come across their own tracks, Sally realises they are lost. Not wanting to alarm her younger sister, they keep walking. Sally is forced to leave their dog behind after discovering they are low on water and as she ties the dog under a tree, her sister continues to play on her recorder unperturbed. As the children continue under the hot sun, the narration reveals that they vanish, their tracks disappearing under the windblown sand.
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Follow Up By: Vesko P - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 20:50

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 20:50
Heart breaking! Is this story real?
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 23:19

Tuesday, Dec 10, 2013 at 23:19
One can never be 100% sure - but it's highly unlikely. More likely just a movie producers skit to induce on moviegoers, their worst fears and feelings of being lost in a desert - and selecting children for the skit, adds to the horror of the story.

There's no records in any of the digitised newspapers of any pair of sisters being lost in the desert in the 1800's, or even early 1900's.
This was because hardly any families ever went out there, apart from a few small numbers. Explorers were the desert adventurers - and we all know their stories of "doing a perish".

People stuck together in the early days, children were rarely left alone, and only in the few cases of the early station pioneers in the outback, were the women and children left alone at the homestead.

There's always the stories of the blokes going out alone to work and getting lost and doing a perish - but married men with a wife and children were usually more careful about adventuring to the remote areas, than single blokes.

Surprisingly, the greatest upsurge in reported stories of people doing a perish in the desert, is in the motor age - and from the late 1920's onwards. Many people became more careless than earlier adventurers, when they got hold of motorised transport.

I think poets and storytellers have probably advanced these stories of children lost in the outback - possibly based on a few events that were nothing like the event outlined above.

The greatest threat to children in the rural and outback areas was youngsters wandering off when the parents attention was elsewhere for 5 or 10 minutes. The biggest % of "lost child" newspaper stories are located in the cities and suburbs.

There's a surprisingly large number of stories of lost kids every year, in all these locations - but the majority of the lost children in rural and outback areas were usually found - because major search parties were quickly organised, and blacktrackers were nearly always engaged as quickly as possible.

However, a percentage were never found - and this is what seizes the imagination of film-makers to enable them to turn a mixture of scenarios, into a spine-chilling, gripping story.

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Follow Up By: Vesko P - Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 06:11

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 06:11
Thanks Ron,

Do you know anything about the story of Emma Smith? I came across her grave in the Flinders Ranges and was greatly affected.

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Follow Up By: Echucan Bob - Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 08:29

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 08:29
"The greatest threat to children in the rural and outback areas was youngsters wandering off ...."

The greatest threat was infectious disease - measles, pneumonia, consumption (TB), diarrhoea, whooping cough etc. It was not uncommon to see half the kids in a family wiped out in a single outbreak. Of course today, kids rarely die of infections, so we forget how devastating it must have been. The anti vaccine lobby should go and visit a few grave yards.

Bob
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 10:17

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 10:17
Vesko P - Sorry, I know nothing of Emma Smiths grave - and it appears no-one else does, either. There's no easily-accessed record of her death, communications were very limited in the 1860's and the few newspapers that were in production then, rarely got much news from outlying areas in that era - particularly if an event happened where there was no civilisation.

If you Google "emma smith 1860's Flinders", you'll find a number of bloggers who have speculated about her death - but they haven't been able to find the details either. The details would be buried in the Govt records of the day.

It was not uncommon for the newsapers of the day to just run a small paragraph about a "child found dead". Coronial inquiries did not extend to these type of unexplained deaths until the early 20th century. Usually, the police would just make a short inquiry, write up a short report, and that was it.

I have to agree with Echucan Bob, disease was a big factor in both adults and childrens deaths in the early days. Even simple infections led to death. My own grandmother died around 1925 in her late 40's, from simple septacemia - an infection that a dose of antibiotics generally clears up nowadays, with a very low death rate.
Up until WW1, typhoid was common in the outback, TB was a regular killer - and as Bob says, simple childhood diseases took a terrible toll.

In addition, "cures" on offer in that era were often products laced with arsenic, strychnine, lead, and radium.
Boracic acid was used to "clean up" milk, before pasteurisation was introduced. TB germs (bovine TB) in the milk flourished in the acid - and the acid is a poison, anyway, when taken internally.
Carbolic acid, a poison, was used for cleaning - even in hospitals!

Here's a fascinating list of "archaic medical terms" used to describe deaths ascribed to the multitude of poisonings that occurred in the late 1800's and early 1900's.
Poisoning was common in this era because of poor education - and even amongst doctors and the medical fraternity, there was an appalling lack of knowledge about the risks of exposure or ingestion of various dangerous substances, that we all know about today.

http://www.antiquusmorbus.com/english/poison.htm
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 11:07

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 11:07
A poignant memorial to a tragic story is situated on, I think, Pilgrim Creek, between Chatsworth Station and The Monument, SE of Dajarra Qld. Pilgrim creek is the head of the Burke River, that flows through Boulia.

Haven't been past there for over 30 years, but as I recall, a mother and her children perished during a wet, back in the 20's or 30's. Think their wagon got stuck in, or near the creek, and they ran out of tucker.

There's also a couple of headstones at the Old Mayne Pub, on Diamantina River, dated late 1800's and early 1900's that put a lump in your throat after reading the epitaph, and imagining their suffering at the time.

Bob.

Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

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Reply By: Member - Marilyn P (NSW) - Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 18:04

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 18:04
You may be thinking of the Payne Family.

http://www.simpsondesert.fl.net.au/perisha/
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Follow Up By: Bob Y. - Qld - Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 18:19

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 18:19
Page Family, Marilyn?

Bob

Seen it all, Done it all.
Can't remember most of it.

Lifetime Member
My Profile  My Blog  My Position  Send Message

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Reply By: Member - Justin O (QLD) - Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 18:22

Wednesday, Dec 11, 2013 at 18:22
Thanks Marilyn, I know about the Page family who perished in 1964. Not them.
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