On April 27 1867, a one year old girl Eliza Amey was playing in the dairy at milking time on the family farm between Maffra and Newry. Fearing she may put her hands in the milk, her mother put her outside, and when she went to check a few minutes later, found the little girl had fallen into a water hole and drowned. In those early days the cemetery had not been established, so the family had to bury Eliza on the farm. Her father cut two slabs of bark from a large redgum tree beside the road, Eliza was enclosed in this bush coffin, and buried on a high point overlooking the Newry Creek.

coffin tree
The grave was originally surrounded by a post and rail fence, but this disappeared long ago and the grave site lay unmarked. A century and a half  later the old coffin tree still stands, above, known to members of the family and a few locals, and the Bellbird Corner Committee decided to work to have the tree and grave suitably preserved and marked. The tree was fenced off, a support was installed, and a plaque detailing its history put in place. A large rock was placed on the roadside adjacent to the grave, and a plaque in memory of Eliza fixed to it, a reminder to all who pass, of the hardships and tragedies endured by those early pioneers


Thanks to the Wellington Shire the exact position of her bush coffin was established by ground penetrating radar, we sourced a beautiful natural headstone from the foothills, and it was installed at the head of her grave with a bronze plaque attached.
The grave was then enclosed by a low steel railing.


  Here we are after a drizzly morning’s work with Eliza’s memorial finally in place.

The grave

The Bellbird Corner Committee worked on this for so long that we feel as if little Eliza is one of our own, and to see the new headstone standing gives us a lot of pleasure.

Above the creek flat, on a rise,
a little girl lies sleeping,
her grave unmarked for many years,
beneath the wind-blown grasses.
Just one year old, her life cut short,
flood water has no pity,
bush coffin made of red gum bark,
to hold her tiny body.
Remembered though, by those who care,
she will not be forgotten,
her resting place is marked once more,
white-painted rails and stone.
Now, if people passing by should pause,
to gaze and quietly ponder,
the little girl who knew so few,
may hear them call –“Eliza”.

Eliza's grave