Leather purse presented to 15 year old Florence (Florrie) Hodges by the Children of Victoria and Western Australia to recognise the bravery of her actions in protecting her two sisters from harm during the Powelltown Bushfires, on Sunday 14th February, 1926.

It was given to her at a ceremony at the Hoyts de Luxe Theatre in Bourke Street, Melbourne, on the 19th September, 1926. Inside was a Savings Bank book containing a thousand pounds plus interest, invested for her until she turned 21. The presentation was carried out by Mrs Jane Turnbull, who, as 7 year old Jane Duff, had kept her two younger brothers alive after they were all lost in the Victorian bush for 9 days in 1864.

Florrie suffered serious burns, and spent a long period recovering from her injuries in St Vincents Hospital in Melbourne.

Physical Description

Leather purse with a woven cloth interior, and lettering stamped on front interior.

Obverse Description

At centre, a female standing on left facing right placing a wreath on the head of a kneeling male beneath the Southern Cross, around, VIRTUTE PARATUM

Reverse Description

At centre within olive wreath AWARDED / TO / FLORENCE E. HODGES / 14. 2. 26 around, ROYAL HUMANE SOCIETY OF AUSTRALASIA INSTD. A.D. 1874 (the name of recipient and date are engraved)

Edge Description



This item is significant as part of a small collection documenting the aftermath of the brave actions of one young woman during the Powelltown Bush Fires, on Sunday 14th February, 1926. Trapped by the advancing flame, Florrie used her own body to shield two of her younger sisters from harm. Suffering horrific burns from the incident, she was taken to St Vincent's Hospital in Melbourne, where she spent many months recovering from her ordeal.

News of her bravery spread across Australia, through the press and on radio, and she was soon recognised as a local hero. This notoriety assisted in helping raise funds for her, through several charities set up for this purpose. This included the raising of 1,000 pounds by school children in Victoria and Western Australia, which was presented to her in this leather purse.

More Information