The Home of the Dead
I have sited many cemeteries in my travels around Australia. There are many stories in these sites. As I was driving this afternoon, on my way to an appointment I heard some of a program on ABC RN, about cemeteries. It essentially was a program on the history of these places around Australia. I will have to listen again, as I had to depart my car for my appointment, and missed the last part. I am not sure but I think it was a repeat of this podcast.
It certainly was very interesting, especially as I am very interested in these places, and I like to find the burial sites of famous people, though I’ve not written about them very much.
My connection with visiting cemeteries goes right back to my first school days. I went to three schools in the Brighton area and they were all close to cemeteries. One at the St Judes Church (Hopetoun School) and next door Brighton Primary School, both adjacent to the St Jude’s Cemetery. My first high school was Brighton High School, now called Brighton Secondary School, which was right next to the North Brighton Cemetery. I can remember walking in both burial grounds in my youth. Sometimes, we’d watch funeral services – usually from a distance.
Ghosts of Norfolk Island Cemetery
When I was in Norfolk Island in 1988, several of my friends and I, covered ourselves with white sheets, and as a tour bus passed by, we ran through the cemetery, hoping to scare them. In fact, it was us that were scared, as one of the huge gates closed all by itself screeching as it did so. That scared us!
Cemeteries around Australia
In 2012/13 I drove around Australia in my lovely Mitsubishi Lancer and along the way visited quite a few cemeteries. The first one was at Miles, Queensland, where the remains of a cemetery, was high on a cliff overlooking the Dogwood Creek Apparently many years ago in a major flood, the cemetery was mostly washed away, so it was relocated.
Bourke, in New South Wales, is a favourite place for me to visit, and I have visited the cemetery there, in part to see the memorial to Dr Fred Hollows who did a lot of ophthalmology work in the area. It is a significant memorial to him.
I stopped at many cemeteries around Australia, and some I have little memory of – they were generally small and ancient.
Broome Chinese and Japanese Cemeteries
In the boom days of pearl diving in Broome, WA, there were many Chinese and Japanese living and working in the area, and it was a dangerous place with many deaths. Both cemeteries are very interesting. I wandered around both of them. They are well worth a visit.
I have been a great fan of Jeannie Gunn, author of We of the Never Never and other books. I stayed at a motel in Mataranka and explored the area as well, including the springs. When I went to the cemetery, there were three cattle in the grounds wandering around. I didn’t see them initially and wandered slowly around some grave sites.
Then I heard the noise of the cattle, running. As I looked up I saw all three jump over the fence and disappear into the bush surrounding the gravesites. I felt very uncomfortable, as I am a little scared of being up close to large cattle. I retreated to my car!!
I have visited three military gravesites – one in Freemantle, which is very impressive, one in Rockhampton, and another at Lutwyche. The latter two in Queensland. I must say that the Freemantle one is the best. So many stories on the headstones.
Recently I went for a wander in the Redcliffe Cemetary (north of Brisbane, Queensland). I was rather sad as the old part of this property looks rather neglected. Sadly, no one goes to cemeteries much any more. History tells us that once they were places where folk visited often and even picnic areas were common. I think it is a shame that they are so insignificant and neglected now.
Do you visit cemeteries?