Nancy and Frank Jarvis, aged eight and four years of age, wandered away from their Bonogin Creek home near Tallebudgera in June 1914 and became lost in the surrounding bush land.
Their mother had asked them to bring in the cows, and seeing the task had not been done, Mrs Jarvis proceeded to bring in the cattle herself while her older daughter went out to look for the younger children. It was assumed that they were playing but, their continued absence made Mrs Jarvis uneasy. The Jarvis family and neighbours searched for Nancy and Frank throughout the evening and, when the children had not been located by the following morning, the authorities were called and search parties were organised.
Over 200 people, including residents from Mudgeeraba, Tallebudgera, Bonogin, Nerang and Southport, joined the search for the missing children. The men undertaking the search were often unable to return home at night and spent nights in the bush land to continue the search. The women supporting the search parties arranged for food and water supplies to be transported out to the groups.
Five days after being lost, Nancy was found near Mudgeeraba. While she had sustained some cuts and bruises, she had stayed warm in the evenings by sleeping in a sugar bag she had carried with her. While asleep one night her brother had wandered away from her and they had become separated.
In the late evening of the ninth day of searching Frank was found sleeping between two railway sleepers on the railway tracks near Mudgeeraba. Three brothers from Merrimac Estate, the Healys, had been walking home along the railway line late on the night of 24 June when Edward Healy stumbled over something on the tracks. Lighting a match he discovered it to be Frank Jarvis. The Healy brothers took the boy to Laver’s hotel, the Mudgeeraba Exchange, where a doctor declared good hopes of recovery.
Frank had lost items of clothing and had sustained bad bruises and cuts from vines. He was found four ½ miles away from his home and six miles from where his sister had been located some days earlier.
On questioning how they had managed to remain in relatively good health while lost, their father said the children were not unfamiliar with collecting and eating grass seeds, which they enjoyed.
Based on the variation in the children’s tracks, it was thought they had wandered in different directions for nearly 40 – 50 miles over the days they were missing. However, the police admitted that because the children were not too far away from the areas being searched, it was thought Nancy and Frank had likely deliberately hidden from the search parties on some occasions.
Nancy and Frank Jarvis were described by the police at the time as being ‘wild and shy’ and were possibly more concerned with being seen by strangers than being alone in the bush of the Gold Coast Hinterland in winter.
Sources of information and further reading
1. “Boy’s wonderful endurance.” The Bombala Times (NSW : 1912 – 1938) 3 July 1914: 2. Web. 7 Nov 2016 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article134587524
2. “Lost children.” Daily Standard (Brisbane, Qld. : 1912 – 1936) 20 Jun 1914: 5 (SECOND EDITION). Web. 7 Nov 2016 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article178886832
3. “Lost In The Bush.” Sydney Mail (NSW : 1912 – 1938) 5 Aug 1914: 54. Web. 7 Nov 2016 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article166253864