Australia's early history has many sad stories but there are few to rival the tragedy of Daylesford's lost boys.
Three small boys wandered off on an adventure from Victoria's goldfields and perished from cold after becoming lost.
Even if today's retelling touches the reader, it doesn't come close to the scars left by this single calamity to the rough and lawless colony of 155 years ago.
The boys' disappearance and a frontier town's subsequent search created headlines around the world.
Even today people leave coins on a memorial built atop the boys' combined grave at Daylesford as a tribute to their passing.
The town itself still remembers these boys in all sorts of ways, from the memorials, to the naming of bush walks and parks, and even Dux awards at the local school.
Daylesford is today a popular Victorian tourist destination, famed for its mineral springs and local forests just over 100km north west of Melbourne.
Back in 1867 it was a town hacked out of the wilderness during the frenzy of the Victorian gold rush.
It was about 10am on June 30 three young boys - William Graham, 7, his brother Thomas, 4, and their friend Arthur Burman, 5 - headed off.
The boys went searching for wild goats seen on the outskirts of the town and became lost.
That mid-winter night the weather turned ugly, the coldest for 20 years.
Even though they were warmly dressed, temperatures fall sharply as darkness falls in these parts so the boys found shelter in the hollow of the tree pictured above, 8km as the crow flies from the centre of Daylesford.
One of the biggest searches ever mounted in the young colony's history, involving thousands of people and an entire town's resources, failed to find them.
Only a settler's dog returning to its master with a gruesome trophy some months later ended the mystery.
It turns out the searchers had been within 50 metres of the tree, likely several times, but had failed to find them.
The children almost certainly died that first frosty night.
The children were seen by several people during that Sunday as they wandered about the diggings, the oldest boy in the lead.
When they failed to return home for dinner the alarm was raised by their parents.
Neighbours and local police joined in a search which ended at 1am on a frighteningly cold night.
A local storekeeper called Mutch told searchers the following morning he had seen the little boys about 6km from town on the Ballan Road.
He had directed the boys to follow the then-new telegraph wires back to Daylesford.
It also emerged, that later still, at dusk, a local boy called Quinn spoke to the boys and also offered directions and commented "that the eldest boy (William) did not seem at all alarmed".
That Monday an enormous number of men joined the search as a virtual public holiday was declared in the town and miners, sawmillers, storekeepers and farmers joined in.
On Tuesday a public meeting was called at Bleackleys Hotel chaired by the Mayor.
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It was agreed all businesses would close for the week or until the boys were found.
Experienced bushmen and blacktrackers were brought in but thousands of men, their horses and the wet and cold conditions had obliterated all signs of the boy's progress.
"... it was only to remove a great public inconvenience that shops were partially opened on Friday," history records.
On July 16, the two fathers wrote to the local paper where they thanked the locals for their "deeds of endurance, energy and real sacrifices of time and money".
The last official searches were made on July 25, when it was thought the childrens' disappearance may remain a mystery.
The discovery of their bodies on September 13 led to an official medical finding "died from exposure and want".
The two smallest were found huddled together for warmth in the hollow. The remains of the oldest boy, William, was just outside the tree. Searchers said it was as if he was watching out for rescue.
That tree became a shrine for a century, called The Lost Children's Tree, until it unfortunately blew over in 1950.
The townsfolk built a large memorial over the boys' communal grave at the cemetery.
A second shrine is located on a road-side less than 100m from where the tree stood on the edge of the Wombat Forest.
More than 1000 people attended their funeral in the local town hall, with another 1000 assembled at the cemetery.
In later years, the father of one of the children funded a scholarship to the local school, which still survives today called the Graham Dux award.
The search made headlines around the world.
People who did not understand the conditions on the goldfields could not understand how they could not be found.
Visitors can today walk along their 16km path in the Lost Children's Walk, with various memorials and parks named in their honour.
Of course, they can leave a coin at their big memorial at the cemetery as many have done.
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