Memorial to a young girl who loved poetry, airplanes and birds.
Memorial to a young girl who loved poetry, airplanes and birds. Samantha Elley

Young writer loved planes and birds

A LITTLE family headstone lies in the middle of Dunoon cemetery in memory of three young children whose plaques show their details.

The middle one is in "loving memory of Joyce Alice Mulley 'Dolly'”, a young girl who died at 15 years old.

What the plaque doesn't say about Joyce is that she was a prolific writer to the Northern Star's Aunt Kath pages between the years 1930 and 1932, up to only a month before her death.

Aunt Kath ran the children's pages printing stories and puzzles for the children to follow and encouraged them to become 'members' or nephews and nieces and tell her about their lives.

Each child had penpal names and would often write to each other as well.

Joyce chose her first penpal name as "Christmas Bells” but this was the time of early aviation and she loved to watch the planes fly overhead.

She soon asked to change her name to "Pilot Genaco” the same name as Charles Kingsford-Smith's Avro X Genaco plane.

"Don't you think Miss (Amy) Johnson is a brave girl, flying all the way from England?” Joyce wrote about the epic air flight of the time.

Over the next two years Joyce wrote to Aunt Kath giving an insight into a 13-14 year old's life in the rural surrounds of Lismore.

"My uncle cut his hand pulling corn. It is cut deep,” she wrote.

"Pulling corn is not nice.”

Joyce often spoke of the numbers of cows they had and named the calves that were born, also sharing the beauty of the flowers that were growing in their very pretty garden.

She joined the Gould League of Bird Lovers through her school telling Aunt Kath how much she loved little birds.

She often forwarded poetry that was shared to the children's page each week and also loved reading and sharing the books she owned.

Joyce lived at The Channon and went to school at Terania Creek.

I couldn't find a reason why Joyce died but her little friends on Aunt Kath's page wrote their sadness when they found out.


  • 'For the Children' Northern Star, Wednesday, June 11, 1930, Page 12, Wednesday, July 30, 1930, Page 12, Wednesday, September 2, 1931, Page 10, Wed October 29, 1930
  • Barratt, Pauline, 'Around the Channon', Colourmatch Printers, Ballina, 1999.