Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Prince Henry (Coast) Hospital Cemetery (Little Bay - Botany National Park)

A hospital was established at Little Bay in 1881 after an outbreak of smallpox in the inner suburbs of Sydney. It was established in this location as it was deemed far enough away from the main centre to ensure that the infectious disease would spread. This quarantined site soon became the recipient of all infectious disease cases in Sydney including those suffering from typhoid fever, bubonic plague and leprosy. The cemetery was established soon after to house the patients who succumbed to these diseases.

Over 2000 people were buried in the cemetery. However, many of the headstones have not survived, many are undesc, but each headstone has been fully transcribed if possible, and of course, some of the people who were buried there would never have had a headstone in the first place.

Source: Cape Banks Family History Society Inc

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park (update)

I took advantage of the relatively sunny afternoon to head back to get some more photographs at this site and to see the Pioneer Memorial Park. Headstones and bodies were moved here after the closure of the Old Burial Grounds in Sydney central. I found some interesting pieces on the graves including a tin of herring. Other interesting items included an electric lamp in the shape of the nativity scene and a ceramic Mary. The design of the gardens is quite beautiful with a waterfall and pond dividing a part of the grounds. The above ground vaults are quite extraordinary and ornate and house some beautiful statues in the areas set aside for contemplation. More photographs available here.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Wikipedia entry

I used some of the information in my blog and some personal photographs to create a wikipedia page for Camperdown Cemetery.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Camperdown Cemetery (Newtown, NSW)

I really need to go through my photographic collection systematically and write a little about each one I have visited. I aim to provide links to present and historical information, photographs, links to library resources, maps and other useful information. First one to be tackled is Camperdown Cemetery in Newtown.

Camperdown Cemetery History (so far)

About 18,000 people have been buried in the (once large) cemetery which was consecrated in 1849. Some of the old headstones were repositioned around the stone walls of the current cemetery. Burials ceased in the 1940s (Morgan, 1998)

There are a number of famous people buried there including Sir Thomas Mitchell, the explorer and surveyor-general of NSW (Webster, 2007). Also Eliza Donnithorne, who is believed to have been the inspiration for Miss Havisham in Great Expectations. An interesting story accompanies this lady. Apparently, "after her groom failed to turn up for their wedding breakfast, she left the breakfast on the table until the day she died. Charles Dickens heard about her from her neighbour, his friend Caroline Chisholm" (Webster, 2007). In December 2004 her grave headstone was smashed into 3 pieces. Peter Rodgers (then St Stephen's Anglican Church minister) requested funds to repair the headstone (and reinstate the original gates). The Newtown community came out to assist, ""We've received support from dog walkers, the gothic community, local residents coming in and people ringing up from all over the place...We also got funding from the Dickens Society." (The Glebe, 2004). The grave was repaired by The National Trust of Australia, Rookwood Anglican Cemetery and students from TAFE students as part of their monumental repair and maintenance course (The Glebe, 2004).

However, the famous shared the space with the less well known. One plaque reads: "In memory of the many humble, undistinguished, unknown, unremembered folk buried in this cemetery whose names are not written in the book of history, but are written in the book of life." (Webster, 2007) The cemetery is also home to 22 of the passengers aboard the Dunbar, the ship that sank off South Head in 1857 on a return voyage from England, killing 121 passengers. A special altar contains the remains.

There are also reports of ghosts in the cemetery; two in particular. "Bathsheba Ghost", a matron of the Sydney Infirmary, was buried there in 1868. Some locals also believe the wife of Sydney harbourmaster Thomas Watson - after whom Watson's Bay is named - occupies corner of the graveyard in search of her lover (Morgan, 1998)

After a murder in 1946, much of the original 4.8 hectare cemetery was turned into a public park. Four acres were set aside for the cemetery and the headstones from the park were relocated.
"What most people don't know," says Ms Ward, "is they didn't move the bodies, they just moved the headstones. Throughout Camperdown Memorial Park the bodies are still there under the park." (SMH, October 6, 2007)


The darker side of Newtown and surrounds : a self guided tour for the misguided / National Trust of Australia

Self guided tour of Camperdown Cemetery / Camperdown Cemetery Trust

Historic Camperdown / by the Rev. T. G. Rees.

Online Articles

It was murder and mayhem in old Newtown


Camperdown Cemetery (Sydney Distance Education High School in conjunction with Camperdown Cemetery Trust)
Camperdown Cemetery (Sydney Webcam)


My photographs
Camperdown Cemetery Restoration Project
Old Historical Camperdown Cemetery 1 (State Library of Victoria)
Old Historical Camperdown Cemetery 2 (State Library of Victoria)
Old Historical Camperdown Cemetery 3 (State Library of Victoria)
Old Historical Camperdown Cemetery 4 (State Library of Victoria)
St Stephen's Church - Camperdown Cemetery (State Library of Victoria)
Plaque to the humble residents (Sydney Distance Education High School)


Morgan, J (1998) " Lay A Ghost As You Picnic", Sydney Morning Herald, 17 October 1998. Retrieved, April 20, 2008 from Factiva Database.

Sydney Distance Education High School (2003) Camperdown Cemetery. Retrieved April 20, 2008 from

Webster, S (2007) "It's a grave grave world", Sun Herald , 21 January 2007. Retrieved April 20, 2008 from Factiva Database.

Historic Grave Wrecked (2004) The Glebe, 1 November 2004, Retrieved, April 20, 2008 from Factiva Database.

"It was mayhem and murder in old Newtown" (2007) Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved April 20, 2008 from

Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park

I visited the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park Cemetery on the 19th of April, a rather wet and windy day. I took some photographs but was having problems with the camera batteries so have resolved to go back another day to explore further and take some more photographs. The cemetery is in a great location overlooking the sea and it is quite large. You can see the cemetery clearly from the lookout point of Molineaux Point in Botany (although not in this picture). I will include a link from this page to pictures from the cemetery. I have also listed a link to my photographic collection which has includes pictures from cemeteries in Europe, South America and Australia.

With regard to my research about the tram line that was installed to move headstones and bodies from the old burial grounds to the Bunnerong Cemetery, I visited the State Library NSW on Sunday to see if I might be able to find anything useful. There was nothing on the library electronic but I was advised to check in the Mitchell Library on the card catalogue. I hope to do that this week.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Next visit - Pioneer Memorial Park

Pioneer Memorial Park

I was driving in the Eastern suburbs of Sydney last week and found myself driving alongside the old cemetery called the Pioneer Memorial Park which is part of the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park. This section contains some of the earliest burials in Sydney.

"Created in 1976 through the dedicated effort of Fred W. Read and fellow Botany Cemetery Trustees, Pioneer Memorial Park has 746 surviving memorials of the many that were transported from the early burial grounds of Sydney in 1901." (taken from Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park)

Old Burial Grounds and Town Hall Cemetery

The Sydney Burial Ground, or Old Devonshire Ground Cemetery was created in 1819. It operated until 1868. Roughly, 5,000 memorial stones were erected over this period. Family plot burials continued until 1888 (Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park)

Many bodies were moved from the old Town Hall Cemetery and the Sydney Burial Grounds (also known as the Devonshire Street Cemetery and the Sandhills cemetery) after the closure of these facilities. In 1901, the government of NSW asked the descendants those who had died and been buried at the Devonshire Street Cemetery to relocate the monuments and remains 'at the government's expense because of plans to build the Central Railway Station. They were given "2 months to arrange for the exhumation and removal of remains." (Wikipedia) They were duly moved to a number of different Sydney cemeteries including: Rookwood, Camperdown, South Head, Waverly, Gore Hill and Bunnerong.

Bunnerong Cemetery

"The remains that were unclaimed were relocated to a purpose built cemetery named Bunnerong Cemetery. This new cemetery south of the city had a tram line constructed to make the removal of recasketed remains as simple as possible. Bunnerong Cemetery was next to the Botany Cemetery and in the early 1970s was absorbed by that cemetery to create the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park."

Pioneer Burials

"The majority of the monuments, including some of those of Sydney’s earliest settlers, which had fortunately been relocated by their families from Town Hall Cemetery to the Old Burial Ground in the 1820’s, were taken to 25 acres known as Bunnerong Cemetery which was in the custody of the Botany Cemetery Trust..... In 1972 Botany Cemetery Trust was given permission to re-use Bunnerong Cemetery for current burials. At that time a part of the land, now known as Pioneer Memorial Park was set aside for the re-erection and display of the headstones that were still legible and salvageable or specimens of monumental art." (Easter Suburbs Memorial Park)

I am looking forward to visiting this historic site and hopefully wandering around the adjacent grounds. It is interesting to note that when government made this offer to move graves from the old burial grounds to the new cemetery in Botany that they created a tram line to make this process easier. Looking at the history of this now defunct tram line has turned up a few leads, but it would be interesting to find further information on when it operated and for how long...and what happened to it.

Link for Tram Line to Bunnerong Cemetery
City Rail - Central Station

Link to Map of the Cemetery

Sunday, April 6, 2008

First post...

Well I have decided to gather some information on one of my pet projects and small obsessions...cemetery curiosities. I have been interested in cemeteries and their (above ground) contents for some time, and this has extended to a even more purposeful study of funeral trains associated with cemeteries. To this end I have added some articles about the Mortuary Station, Redfern (Sydney) on Wikipedia and have written an article which I have attached here about the history of the station.
I would like to use this site as a central point for information about funeral rites (especially during Victorian times) and all information relating to cemeteries and their gardens, monuments, sculpture, and other tidbits. I just recently visit Woronora Cemetery in Sutherland and took some pictures - some of which are on the blog. The rest are available at the following link. I particularly wanted to go to this cemetery because it is one of three in NSW that had funeral trains attending them. The other two were Rookwood Cemetery and Sandgate Cemetery. I hope to visit Sandgate Cemetery which is near Newcastle soon.

All for now,