“There lay before me the cars, people and animated existence that blurred by. Adjacent to this, the wrought iron fence stood high, guarding a desolate and far reaching environment so dissimilar to the side I was on. As I walked through the gates, a silence fell upon me. There was a peace that held me. Sounds from outside echoed through but did not disturb me”
Cemeteries are for many people a disturbing place that are attempted to be ignored and have a mysterious and dark reputation. For many reasons, the thought of cemeteries evokes sadness, thoughts of the future and can bring about unsettling realisations.
The Melbourne General Cemetery has a rich history and has been an iconic landmark for Melbourne since the mid 1800’s. When land was originally chosen for the ‘New Cemetery’, 40 acres was set-aside out of town. It is evident today, how in just under a century, what was considered ‘out of town’ has drastically changed.
Today over a million people have been buried in the grounds of Melbourne General Cemetery. The trustees of the Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust currently manage the cemetery.
The old Melbourne Cemetery, that existed where the Queen Victoria Markets are located, was closed towards the end of the 1800’s. Legislation was passed in Australia ordering that the bodies from the Old Cemetery were to be exhumed. During the period of 1920 – 1922 the identification of graves were carried out. Those identified were exhumed and reinterred to various Cemeteries across Melbourne, including the new Melbourne General Cemetery. Due to a fire, the records of many of the buried were lost. Controversially, only a very small number of remains were relocated.