The infamous 1913 treasure hunt, in which thousands of Melbournians and visitors to the city competed to find an assortment of keys that were scattered across the city, was a doomed enterprise from the moment that Beaufort Montgomery Joyce and his fiance, Margaret Elizabeth Jagger, broke off their engagement. The pair had volunteered, in 1911, to write the clues for the planned treasure hunt. In retrospect, it was not exactly cricket that they had been asked to do this on the night they announced their engagement, at a time when they were both so euphoric they would have said yes to a proposition that they take flight over the nearest cliff.

The process of creating the clues became an acrimonious dispute between the couple. Each of them wanted to write clues pitched to what he believed to be the level of intellect of most people in Melbourne. The problem was the Joyce underestimated and Jagger overestimated. The result – in addition to an ongoing argument between the couple that eventually led to the disolution of their engagement – was two sets of clues. One of them was ludicrously, almost insultingly simple; the other was so abtruse and complex that MENSA advised its members to avoid the headaches they induced. The former set was Jagger’s and the latter Joyce’s – each of them having decided to prove the other wrong via a reductio ad absurdam.

The other reason that the contest was doomed was that the locations were copied by hand by an employee of the organisation, who then sold the answers to Alan Stimson. Stimson decided that the contest should more or less start over, and thus, aided by a few of his closest confederates, stole all the keys and started placing them in new locations. Unfortunately, his attempts to pass on the information regarding the new locations with his own new clues were stymied by his chosen method, which was by painting the new clues in various locations, such as on store hoardings and railway stations. The police took exception to this, and it is hard to argue that it did not constitute vandalism, at least in a legal sense.

Stimson tried one last time: he sent an open letter to every newspaper and radio station he could think of, stating that all of the keys were now buried in a location “not far from the inland waterways and the garden of royalty”. It was not until after World War Two, more than thirty years later, that any progress was made in locating the keys, and the area where Stimson had hidden them became known as Keysborough as a result. Unfortunately, by the time the hiding place of the keys were found, in 1969, the keys themselves had long since been stolen by parties unknown.

Suburbs near Keysborough: