Grace Elizabeth Jennings Carmichael (1867-1904), poet and nurse, was born on 24 February 1867 at Ballarat, Victoria, daughter of Archibald Carmichael, a miner from Perthshire, Scotland, and his wife Margaret Jennings, née Clark, from Cornwall, England. . She was educated at Melbourne and while still a child went to live on a station at Orbost, and grew up close to the bush she came to love so much. In 1888 she went to Melbourne to be trained as a nurse at the Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, and in 1891 published a small volume of prose sketches, Hospital Children. Having qualified she obtained a position on a station near Geelong, and subsequently married Francis Mullis. She contributed verse to the Australasian, and in 1895 Poems by Jennings Carmichael was published. She lived for a time in South Australia and then went to London, where she died in poor circumstances in 1904. Her husband, Henry Mullis, was last recorded in the workhouse in Woolrich, but then disappeared leaving the three children- Geoffrey 7 yrs, (Thomas) Clive 5 yrs & 4 year old (Archibald) Keith and one year old (Rupert) Wyatt, destitute & were sent to the Northampton workhouse, (Thomas ) Clive dying in 1906.
In 1910, a group of Carmichael's admirers, discovered the whereabouts of her children, where a public fund was established to bring the children to Australia, the Victorian Government giving them free passage, arriving in Victoria in October of 1910. The children were placed in private homes and took on their mother's single name of Carmichael.
In the late 1930s, plaques were unveiled in Orbost & Ballarat in honor of Grace Jennings Carmichael. The one in Orbost was part of the "Back To' celebrations. It hung in Mechanics' Institute in Orbost.
This is significant to the Orbost region in that it is associated with a woman who is certainly our foremost female poet.
A bronze cast memorial plaque set onto a wooden backing board. The plaque has an image of a woman, a candle and a book, and also some text (see below).
Inscriptions & markings
Grace Jennings Carmichael, Australian poetess, 1868-1904, spent her childhood in this district, erected by Mrs G A Hunter & a few admirers.