Australia Day, in 1917 known as Anniversary Day, was a great Friday in Wrightville, a small mining town near Cobar in mid central New South Wales.
People had gathered for the festivities, which included a swimming carnival in the mine tank.
Lucy (Lulu) Ted and Thelma Knight, aged 9, 8, and 6 were brought to the event by their mother, and spent the day “enjoying themselves in characteristic juvenile fashion,’’ reported the Western Age a few days later.
After tea with friend Mrs Boroham, the two older children persuaded their mother to let them return to play at the mine tank, which was not far away.
As the two Boroham children often played there, Mrs Knight said yes, intending to join them in a few minutes.
But before she did, the alarm was raised and they rushed to the water. By the time a man had plunged into the water to attempt a rescue, it was too late.
A doctor quickly arrived, but “notwithstanding his unremitting attempts at resuscitation and the help rendered by numerous ladies, the lives could not be revived, they had passed beyond human aid.’’
Meanwhile, Mr Knight was at home waiting for his family to return. A telephone call sent him rushing to the scene, a 10-foot deep channel between two tanks.
Years ago, in the dry times Mr Knight supervised the excavation of this cutting and he “sorrowfully, though philosophically”, remarked to the newspaper reporter, “that he little thought at that time that he was watching the construction of a death-trap for his own two darling children”.
Source: Western Age (Dubbo, NSW : 1914 – 1932) Tuesday 30 January 1917 p 2