During my recent trip to Ipswich for the StoryArts Festival, I was kindly taken on an afternoon drive out to view the monument for ‘The Babies of Walloon‘. Henry Lawson’s poem told the tragic story of sisters Bridget Kate and Mary Jane Broderick.
The girls, aged six and nine, were students at Walloon State School.
Speak their names in tones that linger, just as tho’ you held them dear,
There are eyes to which the mention of those names will bring a tear.
Little Kate and Bridget, straying in an Autumn afternoon,
Were attracted by the lilies in the water of Walloon.
The outcome is too tragically sad, as both girls drowned in a waterhole on that day in March 1891. Lawson wrote his poem that same year. The monument is a poignant tribute to these two small girls. There’s a railway sleeper theme, interspersed with the lily flowers, as the girls’ father worked as a lengthman on the railway. Perhaps the most tender touch of all, that child’s doll, lying beside a lily flower…
The above photos were taken at Walloon, and the Ipswich Cemetery. You can read Henry Lawson’s poem in its entirety on the Ipswich Poetry Feast website.
You can read more Poetry Friday posts over at Poetry For Children .