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Inebriates Hill – The Lost Boy

In 1906 the property previously used as the Female Inebriates Asylum was leased to the Mason family to be used as a dairy farm. On the 21st of April of 1906 the youngest child of the family was sent out to move the cows to another paddock.  In my research I cannot find any reference to the boy’s name – he is simply called the boy Mason. This in itself is rather odd. He has 6 brothers and sisters but it appears few of them were living with the family at this time. During his morning chore he called in at the house of Mrs Luke (also referred to as Cosgrove’s old place and which I believe is in the vicinity of Abeckett and Telegraph roads). She asked him to stay for lunch which he refused but agreed to wait while she made him some bread and butter.  When she returned he was gone.

He did not return home and by that evening a search party was organized.  Despite the efforts of hundreds of searchers including the native trackers from Dandenong, the young boy was never seen again.  The area in which he was lost appears to be in the vicinity of Salisbury, Telegraph, Dickey and Hughendon Roads. This area is full of old mine shafts and it is possible that he fell into one- but the searchers were well aware of this and searched the neglected shafts. There was also a report by a rabbit trapper along Cardinia Creek that he heard moaning and crying while checking his traps at night. A search was made but no trace of the boy was found. It is possible that the boy strayed as far as the old Haunted Gully diggings but again this area was searched. Today the haunted Gully diggings are deep under the water of the Beaconsfield Reservoir

Agnes Mary Agatha Mason was the sister of the young Mason boy.  She was 17 years old and working in Melbourne but came home to help out during the search.  She was taking dispatches to the telegraph office accompanied by one of the native constables when her horse stumbled and she fell.  Her blind brother Joseph was seated behind her and he kept his seat. Her skull was fractured and she died three days later.

In the weeks following the tragedies, Constable Steele from Berwick made appeals to the public regarding the difficulties the Mason family were having. Mr. A.L. Vieusseux and Constable Steele set up and managed the fund and a total of £47 was collected. Some of this money was used to take Joseph (the blind brother) into Melbourne to see if an operation could restore his eyesight. It was found that an operation was not possible but Joseph did go to training exercises to help him with his disability.

In the years following, Mrs. Mason and Joseph moved first to Harkaway and then took up a crown selection in Narre Warren East.  In 1915 another appeal is made, this time by the shire secretary regarding the distressed situation that Mrs Mason and Joseph were in. There is no follow up to see how this fundraising went. Joseph is listed as a labourer and as a farmer in electoral rolls. In 1919 when he is brought before the court on a criminal case but was discharged. In 1939 he is again brought before a court and this time he is guilty of the crime of lighting a fire in a proclaimed area. He is sentenced to 3 months imprisonment but commuted to a good behaviour bond of two years.

In 1943 Mrs. Mason passed away at the age of 85. Of her seven children only two survived her, Joseph and an elder sister Jeannie (Jane) Richardson. Throughout my research I can find no mention of her husband George Mason except on the children’s birth certificates and her obituary.