Delivered as part of the LAMP Residential VIII Marysville, Victoria Feb 08

Conceived and produced by Gary Hayes co written with Matt Costello

A video was made of some of the experience on YouTube called Second Life – Mixed Reality Game ‘OLD FOREST’

1 Introduction and Backstory – (All Development text G Hayes)

A Mixed-Media, Cross-Reality Game “The Old Forest” is set in Marylands, a large old house and grounds hidden from time in the ‘Mystic Mountains’, part of the heavily forested Yarra Range and Great Dividing Range, Victoria, Australia. The story begins with one of the first settlers in 1875 Mary Baxter who was banned from England as a teenager for witchcraft and forced into the mountains by a nervous Melbourne Major (she was suspected of starting the Fire of London). Mary protested her innocence but, as in the frenzy of all such witch hunts, to no avail.

Image of Mary Baxter aged 23 in 1895 (actually Emily Ada Sparke from 1895 (taken in the town) the second wife of Thomas Barton one of the first settlers of Marysville)

Soon there were rumors in the valleys — already steeed in superstition that blended the legends of the Aboriginal Dreamtime with the more gothic fears of the Europeans — that Mary had brought her White Witch Coven practices to the area. Someone said that had they had even seen her carrying an infamous ancient spell book known as ‘Old Forest’ (a rough translation from the Slovakian) itself a copy of a papyrus manuscript that predated the birth of Christ. This had come into Mary’s possession when she was in Eastern Europe, on a family trip in 1882 (aged 10) – an old lady in a decrepit hotel insisted the family look after it for her.

To the man who spotted the book. Soon after making the charge, that man disappeared returning home one night from a local Inn.

After years of taunting the locals, who soon grew to fear and respect Mary, she died in very suspicious circumstances when the fires of 1939 surrounded Maryland’s House just before the Second World war. The supposed book vanished with her. There was actual incriminating evidence, documented by the locals, who claimed that she was casting grand spells that were partly causing global unrest, of course nonsense.

But that nonsense was seemingly supported by images and maps, pictures of historical figures and places of the time, now covered with arcane symbols and words from no language known to anyone.

During the war Maryland’s was used by Melbourne Girl’s Grammar school as an evacuation centre. Their arrival was deeply troubling. Missing their parents, the place had very dirty living standards and very dubious characters in the local area and some of the reject teaching staff. The girls soon bonded together in the face of weird teachers and the odd, superstitious locals. They soon realized they might be in greater danger here than in their former homes. The social fabric of the once prim and proper school broke down when one of the girls discovered the book ‘Old Forest’ hidden in the grounds scrubland. Some of this book was in an English, but many pages were filled with disturbing images and words that themselves made gooseflesh rise on the arm. Worlds like ‘Ry’leh…Soggoth…Fhtagn’.

There was a fight for ownership and one evening the books pages were ripped out as the girls fought for it. After this they broke into groups which became tribes, each with particular spell pages. Soon each ‘tribe’ of girls began to have vivid dreams, seemingly explaining and instructing them in the power of their pages.

One group had power of distant communication, one of travel across time, one had curses to hex people and places and the final group had a set of spells to morph and change things. The rest of the hundreds of spells, including many of the antidote spells, were torn to shreds in the chaos and buried later in different places in the grounds by one of the caretakers who discovered the mess in one of the dorms late that same night. He feared for the house being known as a Coven, but he feared even more the repercussions of destroying such powerful pages.

Each of the girl tribes was transformed from a clique of young girls into something stranger, now driven, each with an acknowledged leader, each tribe with its rank of followers,,,,The tribes set about doing endless supernatural experiments, trying to contact parents in the war, putting curses on dastardly teachers and so on. Any attempt to do ‘good’ resulted in even more terrible things occurring. In the end, the tribes submitted to this, recognizing that the power they had was indeed dark.

Things deteriorated into pure anarchy as each tribe moved to take control and their frustrations spilled over into mystic fights against each other. Over several weeks, girls were banished into the future (only to communicate through paintings on the wall), some were made dumb and had to write their communication on cards, others turned into plants and statues, and in desperation one tribe placed a large curse on the entire grounds and building. Over several weeks the place became silent in the day, but unlivable in the evenings, as countless invisible portals to some other evil universe opened. No one could sleep due to the endless visitations, strange smells, lights, creaking walls and muffled screaming.

When finally nervous authorities arrived to investigate the strange occurrences at Marysville, the school children were eventually discovered by the teachers and authorities as being, not victims of what was happening, but the cause of the breakdown. Many were missing or deranged. The original pages were confiscated and burnt and the ashes all taken to a new temporary school nearer to Melbourne.

As to those who attempted to destroy the tribes’ pages, nothing in known. But the locals say each and everyone came to terrible and grisly ends.

But the legacy remains. The ill doings of that time, several mysterious murders and scandalous events have occurred since, quickly laid to blame for either the pages buried, or even the ashes—since some say the cursed book can never really be destroyed, at least in a conventional way.

If it’s ever to end, something more than mere buuning will be needed if anyone should ever rest in this valley in peace, to have dreamless nights free of the horror. The terrified locals know that only when the truth is found can the curses uncovered and reversed?

As time has shown us, there never seems to be a shortage of those who seem to think…they can end a centuries old curse and stop evil.

And for them, Maryville awaits.

On-going running order and dev of game play

RW = Real World VW= Virtual World

  1. A taste of the back story. Read out – the set up.
  2. Gary does the local myths, Matt done the ‘research’ at the esteemed Arkham University (or perhaps Miskatonic U.) before flying to Oz.
  3. A random allocation of teams. Teams based on the original girl tribes. So each person draws out of a hat – a random ‘rip’ of paper (6 pieces from 4 spell/graphic pages).
  4. Instructions on the back of the spell page allows them to track down the first ‘soul card’ (we choose the Croquet Lawn). The overall team goal is “find out what happened to your named girl in your team, 6 of them? In doing so you will discover something much more sinister – which you will share with the rest of us later. But you must work in your teams. The Gorgons, etc:
  5. RW: On the back of this first card it mentions the 1st Croft of Hay a room with special powers. This is the SL room
  6. VW: Various too and fros with puzzles, images and ghost whisperer objects pointing at locations where they can find the soul cards.
  7. RW: The photograph contains a hidden mobile number where they can speak to one of the girls on the other side.
  8. RW – One of the 2,3 or 4th cards will have a clue that says “You need 4 cards before you go to the Frozen Garden. But there is a photograph of me in the old part of the building. Hidden in there is a number only you can call and I will tell you about the Frozen Garden”. Each team calls that number to talk to the girl trapped in the house ‘who wants to come home’. This girl mentions something about a curse, and needing to break it. She tells them about Bruno’s Garden, where many girls are hidden. The girl on the phone tells them about two of her friends – “Susan was turned into a goat holding a beer glass and Gemma a Eagles Spirit. Don’t believe Bruno, he is a Wizard and keeps the secret safe”
  9. RW – So after much going between RW and VW getting another 3 cards, they can then go to the Frozen Garden for numbers 5 and 6 AS a team.
  10. On both of the cards placed near the statues it says – “return with all the girls soul cards to the MystiScope Hall and perform the Cleansing – (to be worked out)” – but when they start the ceremony a part says “Take the fragments of pages and hold them to the sky” – of course a ‘what pages emanates’. The reveal of where the treasure chests are to be revealed.

If based on the suggested story-secret, it could involve something as simple as locking the pages away together and restoring Mary’s reputation (a gravestone, a marker, flowers, a poem composed in her honor, etc?)

To incorporate some props for rituals etc: and a few more artifacts. At some point in the structure the existing fake websites Gary set up will be modified and used – Curse Cleanse and Australia News Online

The panorama I took below shows the conference wing on the left, the restaurant and bridge linking middle and main building reception and public rooms on right. A super high rez 10 000 pixel wide image is here

Final Fire Chant

  • Craft the spell in the fire
  • Craft it well, weave it higher
  • Weave it now of shining flame
  • Take pages back from whence they came
  • I case this light into the darkness
  • Break the curse dispel the shadow
  • Girls lost souls to me do harken
  • Hear my voice and it do follow
  • Let now the hurtful spell reverse
  • and lift you from this vicious curse
  • Bound by pages bound by text
  • One will flow into the next
  • Firelight the cleansing burn
  • be now charged to break the hex

The Cards

Team slips – Four different location puzzles to take them to their first card 1-4

  1. Cards – all will have a picture of a girl on the front, a symbol and on the back a short narrative
  2. Cards 1-4 – Four girls who discovered the MystiScope (a device to see the parallel universe) – so something like “secretly I spent many hours in Haycroft 1 and used my scope to uncover all that was happening around me, as it was happening. The majesty, terror and power of it all”
  3. Cards 5-13 – Found cards around the grounds. So 8 short backstories, again voices from the past. Bits about Mary the witch, the pages, the curse etc
  4. Cards 14-17 – A card that talks about being able to communicate with those ‘behind the curtain’ – it mentions find my photograph, I will hide a telephone number to call
  5. – tel: diversion. A short script to now guide the teams to the Sculpture Garden. This will be a live call
  6. Cards 18-24 – Two sets of cards. One will be about how to remove the curse, one about being frozen in time.

But thoughts on the card collecting gameplay – each card having to be earnt. From a team perspective they all work together to find the cards (representing the living souls of the ‘parallel universe’ kids)

The Teams and Name Sequence

The ‘Kronons’ Time Traveller Spell Clic

  1. Ruth Gould – in croquet leads to SL room
  2. Lucy Ross – Backstory about fire
  3. Louise Gould – Backstory about pages
  4. Janet Frecheville – picture in SL and house
  5. Maria Chester – turned into first statue
  6. Mary Jane Yates – second statue

The ‘Mercs’ Communicate across distance and time spell clic

  • Marlene Fiske –
  • Mary Davis – back story about tribes and screaming
  • Ruth Creer – back story about Mary Baxter history
  • Mary Hossick – picture in SL and house
  • Clara Sparke – first statue
  • Bridget Roche – second statue

The ‘Gorgons’ Change things and people spell clic

  1. Mary Kenealy
  2. Annie Gould – bs about book
  3. Marlene Halliday – bs about tribes fighting
  4. Rosemary Wright – picture frame
  5. Alice Dix – 1st statue
  6. Margaret Passing – 2nd statue

The ‘Ravens’ clic who had the hex powers, long time curses

  1. Olive Oxlee
  2. Marjorie Cromie – bs about teachers and dark words
  3. Jean Dolan – about the book and Mary Baxter
  4. Helen Jennings – picture frame girl
  5. Alice Hodson – 1st statue
  6. Emma Walker – 2nd statue

Writing on the back of the cards

GAME PART A Four cards found after the opening puzzle sheets put together – Matt and I will actually do a puzzle on the back before we tear them up

Olive Oxlee

I held the pages, and then, in that darkest room of the school the first Croft of Hay, I could see someplace else. Not this world, but something shadowy, teasing in the way it reached out to me. A window to a place of wonders!

Lucy Ross

In the darkened first Croft of Hay room, as I looked at the images of the pages, I felt a breeze; gooseflesh rose on my arms, and I could see all my friends! We were there together, but it was different somehow, and then, just before that image faded , I saw others circling from the outside. I just knew I wanted to see more.

Mary Kenealy

I didn’t tell anyone. But I went to the dark room the first Croft of Hay, where we hid the torn pages from the book. And suddenly the room became filled with a dark light. I could see the other girls then, even myself, in this other world. Where was it…what did it mean? I had to know more.

Marlene Fiske

Some of the girls were too scared to enter that room the first Croft of Hay. Not me. I walked in and shut the door, alone with the strange pages with the confusing words and images. I closed my eyes. And I saw things, a world like our world but different. But suddenly I felt dizzy, my head spinning. And though I did not tell the others, I felt so scared.

GAME PART B – In haycroft 1 the computers have a simply team label with the note, four souls to find… Here they are wondering around second life and it delivers to all teams 3 locations after they do inworld puzzles or stumble across clues. In these two locations are 4 cards each. One location is a picture frame and two are in the grounds close by.

Jean Dolan

The others teased me, saying I was scared of her, the one they called the witch from so long ago. But she was real, Mary was real—and then the pages of her book let me see a world where no one would ever tease me again! No one would….dare!

Ruth Gould

One girl said that Mary Baxter was her name, the one they called a witch….they said she had started the Fire of London, and they drove out of Melbourne up to these lonely hills. And they say she started practicing her witchery right here, and the valley was never the same again.

Annie Gould

Such silly girls…that’s what I thought. Simon, the crazy-eyed caretaker told us that this old book, with its twisted images of an Old Forest, was her secret. That inside that book…could be found the source of her power. But we were young and foolish, and the truth was something no own could ever imagine! And one day Simon disappeared never to be seen again.

Ruth Creer

Mary died. Or so they say. No one saw it happen…nobody saw how the flames began that eventually circled the house and finally consumed her. The townspeople thought she was creating the terrors about to engulf the world. They say…she died in that supposedly accidental fire. But did she?


Marjorie Cromie

We girls had once been together, holding each other close with so many strange teachers and people surrounding our school. But then…one of us found her old book. It was real! There were words in English, frightening words…but also words we had never heard before… Ry’leh…Soggoth…Fhtagn! And once we heard those words, we could not forget them

Louise Gould

I remember the fight, all of the girls fighting over this old book, the pages tearing, ripped out, flying through the air like the dry dead leaves of fall. Some gathered the pages up and hid. And then, for all of us, that’s when the dreams came, the nightmare voices that started to explain thing.

Marlene Halliday

We used to be one, all of us standing together. But now, each small group, holding their tattered pages close, became like enemies. And when we found that our pages could show us how to do things, amazing things. We became giddy with the amazing and wonderful powers. Some could speak across great distances, like a whisper in your ear. Others could move from place to place like the wind. But the group that could curse others, damning them to pain and fear…yes, they soon became the most feared of us. Even the teachers became terrified, knowing who really ran the school now.

Mary Davis

I remember the screams. At night, girls from the different groups, like tribes, waking up, howling, And some of us knew that we didn’t really control these things, these powers. They controlled us. So when the town’s authorities surprised us at night, taking the pages form the ancient book and burning them, many of us prayed that they would succeed.

Helen Jennings

Fire is nothing to this other world. But I can help those who reach out to us. So simple….this is my image, of who I once was. Call the number I hide here and I can tell if you really intend to end this…and what you must do.

Janet Frecheville

My picture—who I used tot be—you have found. And found, you can, yes, speak to me though you will not believe how very far away I am. You must call for I will tell you how to end this curse on all of us.

Rosemary Wright

You have found my image, you have spoken with me. I told you to enter the frozen garden. But you did so at your own risk. Look not too long at any of these figures.

Mary Hossick

My image, who I once was, must be found. Then you can speak to me by a simple call. I will tell you what you need to know, what your world must know. Just be sure you have the first four images before entering the cursed world of the frozen garden.


The phone call would have sent them to the Bruno Sculpture Garden. The first card will be behind the hidden statue also in the Black and White image. The first four are more about back story BUT contain a clue to the last card behind 4 final statues as added below

Alice Hodson

They say the fire that consumed the school was an accident. But you know that isn’t the truth., And now, it falls to you to remove the curse on this place. My best friend joined me here, her limbs turned into serpents…

Maria Chester

Never forget…this began with Mary, it will end with Mary, the real Mary. And when the curse is removed from this garden, when my spirit and all the girls spirits are free, that shall be revealed. My dearest friends soul turned into an old lady with a hat, her grandson beneath her

Alice Dix

The pages were brunt; but what matters that to an evil that crosses the universe to touch our world? But that opening can be closed if you remove the curse on me, on the others, on this garden of horrors. I don’t want my best friend spending an eternity trapped in her snail shell.

Clara Sparke

If this is to end, if Marysville is ever to sleep in peace, mere burning will not be enough. Only if the curse is reversed, will the evil end. And to do that just look into your heart at what has happened, and all the frozen ones here will be freed. Where is my best friend, musical she was, frozen in time player her long green flute.


Emma Walker

The one who free this valley will place our souls together; we will be as one, as we were before the book was found. And when the missing pages are found, they too must be restored to she who how was their guardian. Go to the place to exchange our souls for the pages.

Mary Jane Yates

Each girl, each image…must be placed together, as we once were. And only then will the missing pages be found. Then the must be restored to the guardian, she who was so wrongly accused. Only then will the evil sleep move more., Go to the place to exchange our souls for the pages.

Margaret Passing

Gather us together, like the school children we once were. Then the way to the missing pages can be found. But do not hesitate…restore them to she who was the guardian against their horrors. Then Marysville will sleep again. Go to the place to exchange our souls for the pages.

Bridget Roche

Every girl’s soul must be restored placed with all the others. Then the way to the missing pages will be clear. But do not think to hold them for long. They must be returned to she who was their rightful guardian. Do that, and the nightmares and evil in this valley will end. Go to the place to exchange our souls for the pages.


How to deliver the challenges, an early list from Gary

Useful to have a list of practical ways of delivering puzzles and messages

Virtual World

  • Can click on pictures or objects – a notecard can pop up, it can talk in chat, a sound byte can play
  • Sensors will trigger an action when the avatar walks past. Again sound, chat, or texture change (eg: an image can morph into something else)
  • Ghostly objects can pass through avatars – floating around the area. As they pass through again short sound byte, chat
  • Note: For messages from the other side suggest more flexible is a notecard that pops up as we can change later on. So things like where to go, anagrams etc: Picture clues can be revealed images.
  • We could have say one ‘mentor’ planted avatar who could be a sort of guide inworld, befriend those who look lost…

Real World

  1. Want to have some sound that starts in the VW and then they have to find a tree and hear the rest. Sort of the avatar walks past a ‘specific’ tree outside the venue “My life is split between here and the real tree, and my time on this earth ended when…” – the player then find the real tree and hears the rest of the message (iPod with speakers on a loop on a branch) Continuous.
  2. Parts of spell pages left in several locations. Also riddles that point back to virtual world.
  3. Still thinking about the cards – can we get the into story?
  4. Several framed pictures (pre-prepared will have embedded clues and answers) – perhaps 8 of these using the old images examples around here
  5. We have 4 treasure chests to hide around the grounds. They can contain pages or props for the cleansing
  6. In the sculpture garden we could plant clues next to specific statues (so a photo in the virtual world points them at the one in the garden)
  7. others to come

Matt Possible Challenges

  • So, perhaps the RW locations can be tied to, as mentioned, a differently cursed ‘girl’, and so each curse comes from a different sprit realm. Perhaps one physical, one visual, one mental, one illustrative. (Body, Eyes, Mind, Hand) And each spirit is guarded by a challenge and we make them as tied to the story as possible.
  • So a physical challenge could be- -The Red Knot. Someone in the group must grab a blood red cloth, not let go, and tie it into a knot, without releasing their hands, or having their hands in the knot itself. (An old carny challenge, but do-able.) Clues to doing it could be gotten from the girl-sprit or be found in the VW. -Defying gravity. Someone in the group must take a jar with a marble and hold it completely upside down for 13 seconds without the marble falling out.
  • A mental challenge could be: -A variant of the Wolf/Goat/Cabbage problem, where people from the group become the wolf, goat etc ….and someone has to bring them across a divide one a time, but in a way that those left behind do not eat each other.
  • Other mental problems can be found in the power point I’m also attaching.
  • A visual problem would be a riddle or a clue which uses the setting and someone will have to figure out the riddle to determine where to ‘look’ , in sequence, to get their symbol.
  • An illustrative problem could be a variant of the ‘Missing Alien’ problem I do in my presentation, or – in the attached PP, the last problem slide involving a dog, a tree, a twelve foot leash, and a bowl of food 15 feet away…the solution must be drawn.
  • Some of the above could of course await in the VW. i.e., you get the symbol in the RW (and some story hint) and go to the VW where more awaits when you have done the challenge.
  • Oh, re: Lots of nice courtyards to use and very hidden fountains – cute Great for a visual challenge, following lines of sight, riddles pointing to certain statue, etc…

Virtual Marylands Progress by Gary creating virtual Marylands

A quick first build (couple of hours) of the New Wing (where LAMP will be hosted). I am building it at 150m or so and the natural cloud base in SL will make the ‘Mystic Viewer’ seem more ghostly.

The build is accurate and being built on top of the scale plan

The interior below will be much more detailed with specific items such as ornaments and precise seating.

The textures are from images taken at the location

Additional Story Sources

Following a trip Gary made to Marysville there is a lot more to consider – more than the Grammar School at least. First excerpts from a book I bought called ‘The High Way to Heaven’ (a lot of OCR work here!)

Chapter 1 Once Upon A Time and all that Gold – A spiritual theme

A little comer of heaven really does exist on earth. Here in our village we are surrounded by incredible beauty and nature’s gifts in abundance. This “heavenly piece” of the ranges brings “heavenly peace” to all who come here. As all stories used to begin “Once upon a time” so too this story will begin the same way. “Once upon a time” – in our story – the mid 1800s, the lure of gold was very strong in Victoria. Men, women and children left their homes, their ships, their mean dwellings to travel vast distances and undergo great hardships, ever hopeful of making their fortunes which would enable them to buy land and make a fresh start. My own forebears were amongst those who left the problems of Ireland and made the epic journey across the oceans and on up to “The Blue Jacket” on the Jordan goldfields.

The full story of gold discoveries in Australia is a most exciting and interesting one and in Victoria particularly there remains many remnants of this special, adventurous time in our history. Dotted around our state we find cit- ies, towns and small villages which owe their existence to gold.’’

Sometimes that gold was found, not by digging in the hard, rocky ground or by panning in icy streams but many enterprising persons made their fortunes by supplying the miners and their families with dry goods, meat, cloth- ing and also by catering to the need for warm beds, a good ale or whisky and jovial company. Fodder supplies for horses and a competent blacksmith were necessities, not luxuries, for those early fossickers.

Such was the story of Marysville!

As the gold tinds increased at the Woods Point, Gaffneys Creek and Jordan goldtields, it was quickly realized that the routes being taken to those spots were too long and difficult to be sustained. Miners either alone or with families used to set out from Melbourne, travel along “the Sydney Road” to Broadford or Seymour, then veer east to follow the Goulbum River towards Manstield. Mansfield was already well established as a sheep farming area. Here they could restock supplies and then head off through the mountains to Jamieson where another thriving settlement had sprung up. From Jamieson the journey became steeper and more dangerous with numerous river and creek crossings. It was an even longer and more arduous journey to return with a cart or wagon laden with gold and so the state government of the time (1860) offered a reward for a short cut and easier route to be found. Explorers, fortune hunters and adventurers scurried off in all directions across the mountain range. Some came across from Gippsland, via Seaton, others found a way from Warburton, through Reefton. One mother sent her two sons to try to tind a way from Beaconstield/Berwick area.

The Yarra Track – an important route town

The route which interests us is the one which came to be known as “The Yarra Track”. This went from Melbourne out to Heidelberg and on to Eltham, Kangaroo Ground, Christmas Hills and thence to Yaffa Glen where a stop could be made at Gulf Station. From there the track went to an area at the back of where Healesville now stands. This camp was called “New Chum” – a phrase used for a person who had come from England, Ireland or Scotland. Chum Creek village still exists today and is closely linked to Healesville. The next stage passed through the valley where Maroondah Dam is today. Imagine traversing those steep slopes. The next stops were in the area known as Glen Watts and two more little stopover villages were bom – Maytown and Fernshaw. Neither of these exists anymore as they were in the catchment area of the Maroondah Dam. Fern- shaw was a pretty little village. It was nestled amongst the tall trees and graceful ferns from which the name was derived. The Watts River provided fresh sparkling water and good fishing. Small hotels offered accommodation but not of a very high standard. Straw palliases laid side by side on the floor were the order of the day. Early foot travellers left Fernshaw via Morley Track but as heavier traffic began to come through, a wider, drier road was surveyed and so the next part of the climb followed the spur or ridge to a spot near where Narbethong is now. In those days this spot was called Fishers Creek as a gentleman by the name of Fred Fisher established a shanty there and ran a pub.

Sometimes that gold was found, not by digging in the hard, rocky ground or by panning in icy streams but many enterprising persons made their fortunes by supplying the miners and their families with dry goods, meat, cloth- ing and also by catering to the need for warm beds, a good ale or whisky and jovial company. Fodder supplies for horses and a competent blacksmith were necessities, not luxuries, for those early fossickers.

One of the first groups to go through had a very experienced bushman with them. His name was Robley and his expertise helped them make their way further up the mountains.

As time passed and more travellers came through, more settlements and shanties sprang up in spots which were about a day’s ride apart. Belle Elle Creek was the site for a shanty run by the Petty Family. Mount Arnold was yet another wayside stop where a small hotel was built.

However, we must remember that such resting places only came along later. Those first explorers had to cut their way through virgin bush land, previously unexplored either by aborigines or white settlers. It was a long, steep and laborious trek but they were climbing to reach “The Promised Land” – hence the names Jordan and Jericho at the end of the line.

The old grammatical from with the apostrophe after the “s” meant belonging to the Blacks – a term which would certainly not be used nowadays. However, early maps refer only to Black Spur – perhaps a reference to the darkness of the area with its giant trees and ferns.

Yet the story persisted. Many old postcards, tourist books and articles featured the name Blacks’Spur. However, in time, in typically Aussie fashion, this was shortened to The Black Spur. We’ll never know for sure which name is correct.

Nor does it matter much, whatever the spelling. It is still a picturesque roadway and nowadays is considered one of the most scenic drives in Victoria. Increased traffic in modern times has led to many problems with landslips. On going maintenance is required. However our current day difficulties are nothing compared to the hazards and problems experienced by those early intrepid travellers. Many of their stories are recorded in local archival mate- rial and make fascinating reading.

Imagine being bogged with a cart, then having to unload, carry supplies across the mud stretch or creek by hand, return, unhitch the horses, take them through, tie them up, trudge back through the mud again, drag or push or pull the cart or wagon through the mire, repack, rehitch, move forward only to repeat the exercise further along.

One story is told of a traveller who became bogged and was unable to move as it became darker. He held himself up by tying his belt to a tree so that he wouldn’t slip and stayed like that all night. Help arrived at daylight. How terrifying!

At one time the land at Paradise Plains was mooted as a site for a settlement but without water that was totally impractical. A new spot with good fresh water needed to be found.

Down into the valley they explored, possibly out beyond where Granton now stands and along to the low hills where the cemetery is situated. The land and valley beckoned. Two permanent courses of crystal clear water fed this idyllic spot. Paradise Found!

Early travellers came around on a track to the steep pinch where Kings Road is today and then down a path which became known as Pack Road. We’ll never know how many early travellers carried their packs along that route but because of their courage and determination the site for a new village had been discovered.

More about the war years

As in towns all over Australia the men of Marysville heeded the call to arms in both world wars. Our RSL display at the Local History Centre remembers these people and there are many photographs and much memorabilia from those trying times.

The effect of the Second World War was felt here in Marysville in a much more unusual way than elsewhere. Dur- ing the early war years 1941-1942 soldiers took over many large premises and sites around Melbourne. Schools and Racecourses were acquired to house the soldiers. Amongst those taken over were the School for the Deaf in St Kilda Road and Merton Hall (Melbourne Church of England Girls’ Grammar) School in South Yarra.

The children of these schools were evacuated to Marysville and were billeted at Marylands, Mary-Lyn, Kooringa, Roseleigh and Mountain Lodge. They had a couple of years there and many staff members and children, now adults, have returned to recall their stay and tell their stories. Being removed from home created traumatic experiences for parents and children. Some were quite tiny three year olds when they arrived here but older students took great care of them.

The Fire Tragedy

An account of the Narbethong fires when lives were lost was written by Mrs Olive Oxlee who was the local post- mistress. Her story is a valuable part of our society archives. Newspaper reports from 1939 are also in our files and make frightening reading. A copy of 1983 “Ash Wednesday” is also a sad read and can be viewed at the Local History Centre.

These extracts from newspaper articles may give a little more insight into the horrific 1939 fires.

“January 12 1939 – Victoria’s Black Week – the worst series of bush fires on record. As well as the tragic loss of life, a tremendous amount of damage has been done in the destruction ofproperty and to the valuable timber resources of Victoria. Intensely dry conditions have prevailed during the last season. It may be said that over half of Victoria is on fire. One of the finest examples of Australian timber is to befound at the worldfamous Cumberland Valley near Marysville … Although the bushfires are threatening this beautiful valley it is hoped it may yet escape as thefire has to burn a considerable distance before it is reached…. On reliable authority the writer has heard of a party of men lying on a timber inill cricket pitch with flames encircling them, and a near by tin box which contained bread and butter became so hot that the bread was burnt black, yet all the party lived through the intense heat..” Mr Don Lovett was one of these men. He told how they ran to the centre of the cricket field, each dug a hole for his face and then lay face down in the dirt as the fire raced over them. Don carried the scars of that day till he died. He actually spent six weeks in hospital after the ordeal.

Another who remembered with terror and horror those terrible days was Claire Keppel. She was visited by a local lady Mrs Pam Ellis as she lay dying. Pam asked her what her most vivid memory was from her long life and Claire told how her brothers went off fire fighting in 1939 and were not seen again for over a week. The family at home in Buxton did not know if they were alive or dead. The anxiety and fear were deeply etched in her memory.

Heavenly Location

The upper falls, only reached after a difficult climb, are called Everard Falls, named for a Victorian politician who supported the district. Everard Park at Healesville is also named for him. He promoted the opening up of Mount Donna Buang. The tirst tourist group travelled to the falls in 1866. We are told in reports that the members of the team wrote their names on a piece of paper which was put in a bottle and sealed. This was then tied to the upper branches of a tree. A photograph of the occasion records the historic moment, however, we don’t know which tree or if it even survived!

Marion Miller Knowles wrote of the falls and the Steavenson River in her book Fronds Froin the Black Spur.

Steavenson River Marysville

  • Singing, ever singing in the rhythm of a hundred rills
  • I hear a river calling from out the purple hills
  • The fairies formed its music of laughter and of tears
  • And my ear keeps time beside it through the marches of the years
  • The fern and wattle follow in the tracks of its shining thread
  • And the silver fish leap upward like light from a starry bed
  • There as whirr of wings in the silence and a sigh from the wind-swept trees
  • The deep drawn breath of the joy of life that holds God’s mysteries
  • Dipping, ever dipping, their leaves in its cooling waves
  • The branches answer tenderly in the only words it craves
  • And the sunlight flecks its shadowed breast with many a tender smile
  • Pursuing with its golden shafts for many a joyous mile
  • Now in the darkened hollows, now o’er the mossy stones
  • Ever the eltin laughter, ever the sadder tones
  • Telling of love and longing, of mortal weal and woe
  • But most of the rose-hued days of youth and the kiss of long ago
  • Changing, ever changing, are the ways of the world and men
  • But the hill tops keep their purple romance as now as then
  • When to a lover’s whisper, caressing, low and sweet
  • The heart of the river answered to the throb of our own heartbeat.
  • And never a wildflower blossoms, never a leaf is stiffed
  • But the dear and olden story once more in our ears is heard
  • And never the ripple of water laughs back to the smile of morn
  • But a thrill of the sweetest day of love again is newly born
  • They haunt our path forever the echoes from the range
  • Where our feet stood in a country divinely fair and strange
  • Where our spirit woke within us and panted for the goal
  • That cloud on cloud in glorious hues, love painted for the soul

The Mystical Sculpture Garden by Gary

On my visit to Marysville discovered the amazing Bruno’s Sculpture Garden. I took 123 pictures which we can use as a core part of the game. Thoughts include matching the cards (symbols) to many of the statues. So the card with a real person on is now manifest in this frozen otherworldly state. View the images here

I think should now be a central part of the game. The broad area we are in is called The Mystic Mountains’ and there are some cool spiritual theme’d locations and one is actually 3 minutes walk (tested!) from the venue. Some of the most amazing, carved out-of-nature, life size sculptures I have seen – 130 of them (12 years of work). Amazing detail in every face/body, a story in each one, at times like being in a game

Lots of ideas spring to mind – but next Sunday Bruno will give us exclusive access for the teams, and I told him a little about the game theme. So hasn’t given them names or labelled them. The garden is pretty big but a statue at every turn (I can see scenes from Good Bad and Ugly – or something more serene!).

So the Old Forest, combined with witchcraft, freezing time and people – its all coming together 😉