SOLEMN CEREMONY: Rose Robinson and Sophie Griffin lay flowers at the Babies of Walloon grave dedication.
SOLEMN CEREMONY: Rose Robinson and Sophie Griffin lay flowers at the Babies of Walloon grave dedication. Lyle Radford

Blessing for the Babies of Walloon

THE sky cried and someone even said so did the little girls' statue at the official graveside blessing for Ipswich's Babies of Walloon

The resting place of two young girls who captured the attention of one of Australia's greatest literary legends has been officially blessed.

Young sisters Bridget Kate and Mary Jane Broderick drowned in a waterhole at Walloon and were immortalised by legendary Australian writer Henry Lawson in his 1891 poem The Babies of Walloon.

Lawson became captivated by the sad tale of the girls while working as a journalist in Brisbane.

At the weekend, Ipswich City Council held a special ceremony in Ipswich Cemetery with the descendants of Bridget Kate and Mary Jane.

Among them was 92-year-old Rockhampton resident Joan Busby and her family who are descendants of the Broderick family.

Mrs Busby and her family were unaware until 2012 the Broderick sisters drowned at Walloon and were the subject of a Henry Lawson poem.

Father Neville Yun from St Mary's Catholic church does the blessing.
Father Neville Yun from St Mary's Catholic church does the blessing. Lyle Radford

They believed that the girls had drowned in a lagoon near Rockhampton.

Mrs Busby's late mother Annie always spoke about the tragic death of her sisters Bridget Kate and Mary Jane Broderick in the waterhole in 1891.

Aged six and seven, the two daughters of railwayman Patrick Broderick were sent on an errand by their parents.

It is believed they were attracted by water lilies in the waterhole near their home on Haigslea-Amberley Rd on the outskirts of Walloon.

They were found drowned in six feet of water.

Thankfully one of the girls' aunts had stopped Annie, then aged four, from following her sisters. Annie always talked about the incident but unfortunately she died in 1942 and never knew about the poem.

Cr David Pahlke said something wonderful happened at the start of the blessing that added poignancy to the ceremony.

"There was misty rain right at the start of the ceremony," Cr Pahlke said.

"I looked at the statue of the two little girls and it looked like tears running down their faces."

 

Councillor David Pahlke, Mayor Paul Pisasale and Councillor Paul Tully look on as Member for Ipswich Jennifer Howard places a flower on the grave.
Councillor David Pahlke, Mayor Paul Pisasale and Councillor Paul Tully look on as Member for Ipswich Jennifer Howard places a flower on the grave. Lyle Radford

He said the council was thrilled to be able to join with Mrs Busby and her family to formerly recognise the final resting place of The Babies of Walloon.

In 2012, the council used ground radar to narrow down the search for the final resting place of Bridget Kate and Mary Jane.

"We never knew about the poem, but my mother always warned us to stay away from water lilies," Mrs Busby said at the time. "All this time, our family believed that the girls had drowned somewhere up in Rockhampton.

"We are very pleased about what Ipswich has done and we all think the world of the place now."

The weekend's visit has been one of several trips to Ipswich for the extended family since finding out more about their history.

The family also attended the rededication of the Babies of Walloon statues in Henry Lawson Bicentennial Park.

The cast bronze, ceramic and Italian glass mosaic sculpture depicts the sisters playing.

The council has also protected The Babies of Walloon waterhole as a character place for its significant cultural heritage.

Father Neville Yun from St Mary's Church performed the blessing at the ceremony that also included unveiling a new headstone for Bridget and Mary's final resting place.

Councillor David Pahlke with Joan Busby at The Babies of Walloon grave dedication.
Councillor David Pahlke with Joan Busby at The Babies of Walloon grave dedication. Lyle Radford

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