Story of lost boy put Charleville in the headlines
IT WAS the event that catapulted little Charleville into the headlines.
One hundred years ago dozens of townfolk and the local police were mobilised in a desperate search for a lost four-year-old boy wandering lost in the Mulga wilderness of a bitterly cold 1916.
Young Nick Frousheger was not born to a rich or lucky family; his mum had recently died.
His dad let him come along on a trip to cut some firewood on what we now call the old Cunnamulla road. Barefoot, and clad in normal clothes, Nick wandered out of sight and was lost.
His dad raised the alarm straight away and the town responded in force.
The local police dispatched several Indigenous trackers, a number of police officers, not to mention 50 locals, mounted and unmounted.
At the time the town was home to perhaps a thousand people or so.
There was no SES in those days, no two way radio or even proper metalled roads for cars (which were rare in any case).
For days they searched, camping out in the wilderness in their ones and twos, finding the occasional track here or there.
Eventually he was found on Sunday, July 19, on Alice Downs station - dozens of kilometres from where he was lost.
There are two stories about how he was discovered.
A group including George and Tom Akers found him sitting on an abandoned ant mound.
As with all local legends, this is disputed, with Les Dighton claiming his grandfather was the one to find the little pup, riding on horseback. It was definitely a group effort and all involved deserves credit.
Either way, it was Harold Bunning, a car owner, who ferried Nick back to the Charleville hospital, bleeding from worn out feet and generally not feeling his best (you’d imagine he’d have wanted something to eat and drink quick smart too).
The police estimated he took a circuitous route around the town, crossing several railways before walking in more of less a straight line away from town.
They estimate the four year old walked, alone, barefoot, for nearly 90 miles.
The story of the lost boy was a national sensation.
The story has a post-script: in 1981 George Balsillie managed to track down all the key players in the saga for an interview. The photo he took is above.