Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Lady of the Swamp (update)

I wrote this post about the Lady of the Swamp in May last year. It is a fascinating tale about two sisters who fell on very hard times, a murder, the high life and poverty and inaction by authorities.

Margaret Clemment and her sister lived in Tarwin Lower, South Gippsland in the early part of the twentieth century. One sister, Jeannie, died of natural causes and it is alleged that a property developing couple a couple who befriended Margaret shortly before she disappeared, murdered her.

Track it down if you can. It is a great tale. I mention it again because the post just received another comment that adds a little more colour.


  1. Excellent to hear the house is still standing :)
    Still trying to track the book down, thought I'd heard something more was found/decided a few years ago but can't find anything online.
    Very curious!

  2. Andrew, that is so amazing isn;t it? I remembered the tale when I read the headline of the post just now. I then went and read the new comment from the old post. Great of them to make an update on it all. And so the tale continues..

  3. My copy is nearly falling apart Jayne. I am very interested in the second book, which I did not know about.

    Is was a very nice comment Cazzie. The memory of it will die out soon though. Every time any bones are found nearby, the topic crops up again.

  4. Anonymous11:48 am

    I have never heard of this mystery.Thanks for posting about it again Andrew.

    The story is real Australian gothic - the elegant house surrounded by swamp. So eerie. Looking at the photo of the developers I would add that I think it is in both their eyes. She looks like the cat who ate the cream.

  5. The man, Stanley, was known to have a violent temper too LiD.

  6. Anonymous11:37 am

    A friend of mine Patricia L'nane Freeman has written a play about the Lady of the Swamp that has had one performance to a sold out and overflowing Lower Tarwin Pub.

    It is a Musical drama, and although I was not present at the pub it apparently went down very well. She is trying to put a production company together now to tour the play.

    I am doing a story on it in the Metro News this month.

  7. Thanks for the info Mick. It is clearly a case that fascinates more than just myself.

  8. Anonymous10:42 pm

    I posted some comments on your blog about a year ago and have some great news! Tullaree is open to the public once only on Sat 2 May between 10am-4pm (fund raiser for a local school). There will be historical displays, music & associated food, suggest all those curious about Lady of the Swamp cancel all other engagements.

    Rob from Walhalla

  9. Thanks Rob. Wish I could go. Maybe there will be an annual opening. I wrote another post today referring back to this one.

  10. Anonymous3:08 pm

    Hey i have just read the 2nd instalment about the investigation into the "mystery". It also re-hashed alot of the old book which was good as i read that along time ago. FYI- I grew up down that way and my fatehr and grandparents farm was not far from Tullaree so they often saw Margaret walking into town. We grew up listening to this story. Tullaree is still in it's glorious state since Livingstones did it up.
    Great blog.

  11. Thanks FE. Great to have some local colour.

  12. Anonymous8:26 pm

    Hi Andrew,
    We went to the open day at Tullaree 2/5/09 - It was a once only open day to raise money for the local Christian Day, boy what a day was run so smoothly, 2 very long lines of around 2hour wait to go through the house, whick was out of the world, having read the book you could just see Margaret and Jeanie (room where she dies etc) I felt I had been there before, a friends Mother used to visit Margaret twice weekly for afternoon tea with her.
    The Auther Richard Shears was there signing books, which I have both and photo with him.
    Any one who didnt go missed a great day of History.Everyone was so patient and all talking about their thoughts and a good day had by all.
    _ Diane Roberts

  13. Wow, thanks Diane. I will update the many who are interested with a brief new post. Was photography allowed? Any snaps? There was like a shield above the front entrance with Tullaree on it. Is that still there? I would guess the house is quite grand inside.

  14. Anonymous11:42 pm

    Some other bits and pieces from searching google for those interested in the forthcoming "lady of the swamp" play at Darnum and other info:
    Darnum Musical Village - The Lady of the Swamp Mystery. Sunday, 26 July 2009 2:00 PM, Musical presentation and afternoon tea. $25 per person. ...

    Also a fabulous picture of the Homestead "Tullaree":

    This image was taken at the famous South Gippsland homestead of Tullaree.
    The house was owned by the Clement sisters, whose father made his fortune as an investor in the Walhalla mines.
    They lived an ostentatious Edwardian lifestyle until a combination of factors saw them lose all their wealth. The home and property deteriorated over the years and become surrounded by swamp waters, and was only reachable by wading through the water. In 1950, Jeannie Clements died and her sister Margaret lived there alone until she vanished without trace in 1952, suspected murdered. The story has been titled 'Lady of the Swamp' and was the subject of a recent book.
    The property has now been beautifully restored by the McRae family, who kindly allowed their home to be opened as a fundraiser for the Leongatha Christian College on 2 May 2009.

  15. Andrew, I have finally found a copy of Lady of the Swamp, and I read it in one sitting. You weren't kidding - what a riveting book! For a little paperback it is packed with information.

    I wonder if the letter from Mrs Livingstone will ever surface? Unlikely I suppose, but Australia check through all your old books. You never know.

    What a twist of fate that their brother returned shell shocked from WW1. It could have all worked out quite differently.

    I was struck by the Yea connection - the Livingstones going on to buy Murrindindi Station with their profit from Tullaree. I have been fascinated by Murrindindi Station for some time - buildings date from 1840s onwards / the property came up again for sale a few years ago. I had no idea of its connection to this mystery.

    Anyway, it is one intriguing story, Andrew. Very sad too. A shame justice wasn't served.

  16. Anonymous11:10 pm

    Hi Andrew.
    I have been following this story since the early eighties since I came across the story in a newspaper and found a couple of copy's of Richard shears first book and have read it that many times it is starting to fall apart but I have one copy still in mint condition .I have collected all the newspaper cuttings on the story each time something new surfaces.I always find it frustrating that bits of information

    and verbal conversations with the people present couldn't lead to a conclusion at the time. But I think sadly we will never really know who did it as too much time has past and all the players in this mystery are now gone.I brought a copy of Richard shears updated version of his first book and it's excellent with new photos and updated information .If anyone is trying to get a copy of this updated book try your nearest Collins book store I saw a copy of the book in the window only today so it could be just rereleased (hard covered)
    Regards David

  17. Thanks David. My original book could be best described as 'loose leaf'. You are right I think. I don't think we will ever know and those involved are now dead. I wonder if the police cold case department ever drag the file out?

  18. linda8:58 pm

    hi richard could not put the book down i first bought the book as a present but once i read the introduction i was hooked had to go back and buy another book i live in gippsland and never heard about the lady have to see the homestead. linda from yinnar gippsland

  19. Anonymous6:44 pm

    It a sad story

  20. Anonymous6:53 pm

    My mother use to talk about this story she remembered it well because she was around when it all unfolded when Margaret went missing ..the police of the day had Livingston in there sights but could not get the prove to charge the bloke ..

    1. Anon, though there is no proof, everyone seems to think Livingston did it. He certainly hid the body well. My mother remembers the reports well enough.