Childhood medal mystery unsolved 25 years later

A FAMILY trip to the beach and childhood pastime of digging in the sand more than 25 years ago uncovered a historic medal and now its finder wants to know its significance. 

Louise Barfoot camped with her family at Warrnambool as a child and was digging a hole with her father when they discovered the medal buried deep in the sand.

Mrs Barfoot, her parents and two older brothers made the annual trip from Leopold to the south-west from 1983 to 1987 for their summer holidays. 

“I asked mum and dad how old I was when we found it and I was surprised how young I was as I can vividly remember the event. I was only in kinder, around four or five years old,” she said.

It was only recently when Mrs Barfoot and her mother were going through her grandmother’s belongings that the pair found the medal again.

“We showed a picture to an antique dealer and they’re unsure what it is. They think it could be a religious icon but they don’t think it’s a war medal.

“We’ve got no idea what the medal actually is. My parents took it to a roadshow thing in Geelong to see what it was and they didn’t know. 

They didn’t think it was Australian. They suggested we get onto immigration,” she said. 

The Standard contacted the Australian War Memorial, which confirmed it was not an Australian war medallion. A spokesperson said while they were unable to identify the medal’s origin, it may be European. The medal was also possibly related to a religious order due to the use of the word ‘SION’ (Zion) which was used by a number of orders. 

Zion is a name often used as a synonym for Jerusalem.

The Standard also contacted the Melbourne Museum Discovery Centre, which said Museum Victoria did not have a curator in numismatics (coins and medals) to assist with our enquiry. Neither could the Numismatic Association of Australia identify the medal by photo.

Mrs Barfoot, now 33, posted a comment and photo of the medal on her Facebook page this month but has had no luck so far.

“I dug this up at the beach as a young girl when we camped at Warrnambool. I was wondering if anyone could tell me about it. 

“In the past we have tried to find out but no one we have asked has known. Please share and hopefully someone will be able to help me,” she posted.

Now married with a nine-month-old daughter, Violet, Mrs Barfoot occasionally returns to the south-west. 

“I loved Warrnambool. I’ve got very fond memories of Warrnambool,” she said.

She is hoping a reader may recognise the medal and be able to shed some light on its origins and age.

“I just want to know what the history is behind it and what the medal represents,” she said.

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