Sirius Cove is a delightful spot on Sydney’s Lower North Shore at Mosman, directly below Taronga Park Zoo.

In 1929 a scout group from the inner-city suburb of Leichardt was taken on an outing to Mosman. While the boys were attending some entertainment at a radio club their leader, Mr Coutts, went to Sirius Cove and laid down a treasure hunt in the scrub. It was actually just a paper chase, with pieces of coloured paper marked with fictional amounts of money.  The idea was to test and improve the youngsters’  scouting skills of deduction, observation etc.

Following behind  several other boys,  Jack Spain noticed the neck of an old pickle jar poking from the ground. He pulled it out and much to his amazement it contained what turned out to be around 3oo gold sovereigns.  Now honestly, what are the chances of a make-believe treasure hunt turning into a real one?

The bottle of  gold coins was taken to the Mosman police station.   There was nothing to identify an owner, so it seemed Jack Spain would eventually be allowed to keep his find.

The Sirius Cove Sovereigns were found by Jack Spain.

Observant boy scout, Jack Spain.


The Sirius Sovereigns found in a pickle jar.



Of course many people stepped forward to claim the prize, but only a couple were deemed credible. One was a rather imposing Mosman matron, Mrs  Clara ‘Jane’ Squires. She is pictured on the right in the following photo. Mrs Squires  was an ex-schoolteacher, but said to be descended from the English nobility.


The lady  presented a remarkable document in support of her case for ownership when an inquiry was held the following year by the city coroner, Mr May. It was a hand-written letter recounting her romantic  family history;

‘This burying of treasure seems to have been an inherited family habit. My mother’s people buried a treasure under the flooring of an ancient manor  house in which they lived during the reign of James II. For being mixed up in the Jacobite Rebellion they were forced to flee to France, leaving the treasure buried. Only some six or eight years ago 1,000 spade guineas were discovered, with still more valuable plate and family relics and jewels…The British government took possession of the find’

You can imagine the faces of the officials listening to this tale. Anyway, her argument was that this caused her family, residents of Mosman,  to follow the example of their ancestors and bury money if they lacked  confidence in the government or financial institutions.

She wrote that her late sister, who lived near Sirius Cove, had definitely buried a large number of sovereigns in her garden rockery.

When Mrs Squires’ claim was discounted she accepted the decision without argument, but said she would go on searching for her sister’s cache.

The second claimant had a very different story to tell. He had travelled thousands of miles to stake his claim. Would he be more successful than Mrs Squires?




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