Stories Of My Irish Families

Irish Native/Planter Stories

Monday, 11 September 2017

Mystery of the Marysville Pitman's - The Missing of Olive Pitman and details of Marysville.

It is believed that the story is something as follows. Info was put together from News Reports, Family Stories and also info supplied from the Marysville Historical Society. This I suppose, could be the Pitman's real life version, of Joan Lindsay's "Picnic at Hanging Rock".

A small town nestled in some hilly territory, about 78KM's North East of Melbourne, lays the township of Marysville.

The 6th Child of Clarence & Caroline Pitman, was Olive Pitman.
The 7th and youngest child, was Gwendoline Pitman.
These Pitman's were known to Marysville during the early decades of the 1900's.

Olive managed a property called "Kooringa" and it was located about 180 Metres South of the Main road from Melbourne. It was a guest house property, offering a "Get Away" for all those city dwellers to escape the pressures of the city grind. Gwendoline lived in and managed a property called the "Log Cabin", just metres away from Kooringa.
They were only separated by a road's width, so even though they were independent of each other, they were still "a stone's throw" from each other.

Parts of the family also moved freely about, between Melbourne and Marysville over the years.
The Pitman's were the 2nd owners of the Kooringa property.
Because of the travel time to get there and the road conditions, it would have taken hours, maybe half a day to get there. I think people travelled up there for a week at a time, not just like day trips like we do today (as the below map shows).

GOOGLE Aerial Map of Marysville

12th July 1926

Disappearance of Olive Pitman

Sometime in the morning of 8th of July 1926, Olive walked out of the Kooringa property. No-one knew at that time, it would be her last "walk".
It's been suspected and told as a history, that she may have taken a walk to visit her Father's Grave at the local Cemetery, which is approx 1.3Km's away.
Her Father - Clarence, just passed away in March of that year. So his death was still quite raw.
When Olive did not return to Kooringa for Lunch, the alarm was raised to find her.
Olive must of been quite affected by her Father's death, to visit him on a cold July day.

What is known from that point, is that Olive never returned to Kooringa and was declared "missing".
What is unknown from that point, is where Olive ended up and what happened to her.
Search Parties went out looking for her for days on end, to no avail of finding her. After 2-3 weeks of frantic searching, with no known sighting, the search patrols realised that Olive could not have survived out in the bush for that long. She apparently wasn't dressed for cold weather, nor was it known that if she took food and drink with her.
The approx daytime temperature was around 10-12 deg. C, dipping to about 4-6 deg. C overnight.
The news reports of her disappearance, went as far as Interstate.

6th December 1929

The Age

After this lengthy rescue/search period had ended, her body was still never found or recovered and she was declared dead about a few years later (by a Court Case). But there were stories of later sightings of what was believed to be "Women's Apparel" and a Shoe in the area where Olive was thought to have ended up. And some bones were found as well, but it was never established or proven, that it was indeed the remains of Olive. Only today's world of DNA technology could prove that - if evidence still survives?

Things go through the mind what might have happened to her.
Did she slip and fall or maybe twist an ankle? Did she have a drink before going out?
A snake bite maybe - snakes are normally in hibernation mode in Winter, but some types of Australian snakes do tend to venture in the cold.
In any case, Olive had to be found, in the first 1-2 days of going missing.
In today's world, she would have been found within in that time, but back in 1926, with no phones, beacons or EPIRB's, walking and searching in dense hilly bush land, she had next to no chance, if she couldn't raise her voice to oncoming rescuer's.

It seems that since Olive was never found, Gwen took over the Kooringa property.

Bringing the story to a much later date, unfortunately, on February 7th 2009, known as "Black Saturday", a large firestorm ravaged the Marysville township, bringing it to it's knee's. The firestorm all but destroyed Kooringa and the Log Cabin, along with many other properties.

Kooringa was never rebuilt, but the land now lays bare of this majestic Guesthouse. Apart from the information sign put up by the Historical Society, the "Red Dirt", is now just a poignant reminder, of what was there.

To this day, Olive's "remains" still have not been found or formally identified.

Initial Takeover - October 1918

(3rd Oct 1918 - Table Talk)

Local Distribution of Leaflet. circa 1929

April 2017 - Kooringa Property

Aerial Map showing the Southern side of Marysville and relation to the Town Cemetery

by Stories Of My Irish Families Monday, September 11, 2017 No comments


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