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Cemetery Upgrade Of Grave Concern

By Duncan Horscroft on February 9, 2015 in News

Picture: Save Waverley Cemetery

Picture: Save Waverley Cemetery

Waverley Cemetery is regarded as the most famous cemetery in the country and is the final resting place of many famous Australians.

Among its 50,000 gravesites are those of Australia’s first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, poets Henry Kendall and Henry Lawson, aviator Lawrence Hargrave, swimmer Fanny Durack and cricketers John Fingleton (Bodyline veteran) and Victor Trumper.

But taking a stroll through history can leave many perplexed as to why the cemetery is in its somewhat unkempt state, with smashed gravestones and overgrown plots amid the eyesore of ‘temporary’ red plastic fencing.

The northern side of the grounds (Trafalgar Street) is enclosed by a tumble down wooden fence that is probably as old as the cemetery itself, which was established in 1877.

Some of the fencing has been replaced, but even that is beginning to come unstuck, and there was recently an attempt to clean up the gully area between the boardwalks, but that area has since become overgrown with weeds due to lack of maintenance.

In 2013 a motion was put forward to build a new perimeter fence, but, because of the significant borrowings needed for the project, Council rejected it. There was also a proposal to build a pavilion above the gully but that was also knocked back because of the cost.

“Waverley Cemetery is an operating cemetery and discussions have taken place for many years on how to fund its ongoing operation,” a Council spokesman said.

“The idea of a pavilion on the cemetery site as a place to hold funerals was suggested in the Plan of Management for investigation.

“However, the extraordinary borrowings required for the building of a pavilion and niche fence have not been justified and therefore the Council is not currently considering this option at this stage.”

According to Council, $450,000 has been set aside this financial year “for the ongoing routine maintenance of the cemetery”.

Maintenance and repair work set aside for this year includes new internal roads and internal directional signs, resurfacing of internal roads, internal fencing work and repairs to retaining walls.

“For Waverley Council, the focus of the cemetery is not on profitability, but rather preserving the history and beauty of the site,” Council outlined in the Frequently Asked Questions about the cemetery on its website.

“We are realistic and are aware that there will one day be no more ‘space’ to sell at the cemetery.

“We will work with residents on a combined vision for the future of the Cemetery.”

Let’s hope that our most famous poet, Henry Lawson, who died a pauper, is included in the vision and that his grave receives the upgrade it so deserves.

And far in the future (I see it well, and born of such days as these),
There lies an Australia invincible, and mistress of all her seas;
With monuments standing on hill and head, where her sons shall point with pride
To the names of Australia’s bravest dead, carved under the words “Here died.”

– Here Died by Henry Lawson