Photos at the Ipswich Cemetery, Showing the resting place of the “Babies of Walloon” and the new Graveside Memorial on the site
On the 21 March 1891, two little girls, Bridget Kate and Mary Jane, aged 7 and 6, went on errand to fetch the daily butter from a farm near their home on the outskirts of Walloon. After evening fell and they hadn’t returned home, a search began. They were found drowned in in a nearby waterhole. It is believed that they were attracted by some water-lilies.
One of Australia’s greatest writers, legendary author Henry Lawson, who was working for the Brisbane newspaper, The Boomerang, at the time, was so captivated by the sad but true tale of the two young girls that he immortalised them in his poem The Babies of Walloon.
The poem and tale was brought to light by local author, Judith Baker, who captured the story in her book published in 1999, The Babies of Walloon.
The Ipswich Poetry Feast was established to build on this local connection. In 2006, a cast bronze, ceramic and Italian glass mosaic sculpture of the two girls playing was installed in a nearby park at Walloon as a tribute. The park has been transformed to honour Henry Lawson’s literary contribution to Australia and turn it into a major tourist attraction.
The park was officially renamed Henry Lawson Bicentennial Park and new public art works were unveiled.
· Poet’s Platform – timber with bronze bust of Henry Lawson set into the lectern.
· large community shelter
· public toilets were constructed which feature a verse of The Babies of Walloon poem on the front.
The goal in 2012 for the IPF 10th anniversary, was to try to track down decendants of the Broderick family. We discovered:
· Both of Bridget Kate and Mary Jane’s brothers died without heirs
· Their sister Anne moved to Rockhampton as a young girl to live with her Aunt Nellie after her mother became ill and then passed away.
· Anne had married and had a daughter Joan, living in Rockhampton – 89 at that time we contacted her – which makes her now 93?
· Growing up, Joan was told the story of her aunts’ drowning, though she understood this to have taken place at Woolwash Lagoon, just south of Rockie.
· Joan was unaware of the legend of the Babies of Walloon, Henry Lawson’s poem, or the Ipswich connection