The story of Diamond Lil


Walking along Napier St looking for the Temperance Hall, I saw this door. I loved that it looked like it needs to be painted. I also love colour combination. While I was standing there taking a few photos I looked above the door and realised I was standing in front of the Temperance Hall. Mum decided to sit on a nearby chair while I wandered around taking photos. She noticed a chair that had a pair of shoes in front of it. She thought someone had left their shoes there. She called me over to look at it. We realised there was an inscription on the chair.

The inscriptions reads:
I was born in 1935. My mother was 16 years old. They took me away and I lived in St Vincent de Paul Orphanage for Girls. I was well into my thirties before I knew I was Koorie.

When I was 16 they said I was uncontrollable because I talked to boys. So I ran away and worked my way around Australia. They used to call me Diamond Lil because I had a few too many adventures and a diamond in my front tooth.

I came back to live in South Melbourne forty years ago and my children grew up here.

It took a few readings before we put it all together. Mum said something about googling her so I got my phone out and found an article in the local newspaper. After reading it some of the words we couldn’t make out on the chair suddenly fell into place. Diamond Lil’s real name is (I’m not sure if she is still alive) Maria Starcevic. Her story fascinated us.






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