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Founded in 1848, Camperdown Cemetery is an historical site strategically located in the inner suburbs of Sydney along the church street in Newton with a total of more than one thousand eight hundred burials having taken place. People who fought for independence of Australia are buried in this cemetery and it is one of the historical cemeteries that still exist.
Apart from the cemetery, there are other historic monuments in the site that include landscape garden features of mid nineteenth century and samples of indigenous flora. According to Diesendorf (1993), “this site is considered by National Heritage and South Wales Heritage council as a site of national importance.”
Camperdown cemetery is linked with breathtaking stories, known ghosts and killings. Genealogists and historians use this site for studies as well as schools and societies for excursion purposes. It is also a recreation venue for families and societies while at the same time it offers a conducive environment to the surrounding population due to its greenness.
The park is positioned in a natural area, quiet with fresh air with a lot of grass. At the venue one could observe picnics and dog walking taking place. Dogs can play and run without any barriers in the dog’s area and there is a playground to accommodate sporting events.
Cemetery Lodge and the fig tree
At Campedown Memorial Park, there are murals, stencils and graffiti slogans together with street art and graffiti placed on the wall that surrounds St. Stephen Church. The cemetery lodge consists of three rooms and an upper floor which is located in the far right of the cemetery where you make your entrance from Church Street.
The walls are made of bricks and part of it is partially left while the roof is steep with a protruding porches. The curve on the door and design of the roof is a proof of the colonial periods. There is also a big fig tree which is believed to have been planted in 1848 to correspond with construction of the roof of the lodge, the tree has a span of approximately thirty meters and it is surrounded by other oak trees of the same age. Fruit bats are attracted to the tree and one could spot nests.
There are different types of monuments within the cemetery with majority of them made from Sydney sandstone. Most of the monuments that are within the cemetery are upright and made with simple designs such as the tombstone. The common styles that are observed are round shaped in the heads, gothic and cross like.
The stones with round heads are simply curved at the top with mould cuts along the edges and decorations of motif like the hour glass and drooping flowers. There are also stones that have the characteristic of neo gothic style where their tops point arches. The stones seem to have been prepared by architectural experts as it is characterized by gothic traces.
Stones that are classically made were captivating to watch, some were carefully curved similar to Italian scrolls while some were plain, the outside appearance is similar to shoulders but with no finishing. The cross like curved stones form minority of the stones, they are made to take the shape of Celtic crosses with an additional circle.
Tamsyn (1999), argued that, carvings on the stones had meaning, for instance, carvings of a ship on the grave implies that a sailor was buried there, while a sword carving implies a soldier was buried on that grave, a bud carve on a wrecked stem means the child had died before maturity.
Of all the monuments in the cemetery, two are unique in style. The sandstone monument representing harpist Nicholas Bochasa is damaged to a big extent and is surrounded by a mourning lady and a harp with damaged strings which is placed on the base of a tree trunk.
This is a symbol of a Scottish style of burial which was done by John Roote for his family. Another striking monument with unique characteristics is the one of John Ley, which has the shape of a ships propeller. There are few white monuments due to the fact all the burials occurred early in the Victorian times.
Apart from the monuments and grave stones, there is a collection of objects with amazing features that have been recovered and stored in the cemetery. They include the water fountain with a gothic arch which is beautifully made and kept in the cemetery in remembrance of Molesworth for forty five years of service in the church at St. Stephene’s.
Close to this monument is an erect detachment of a building with a carved ship going through the waves. This is placed in the cemetery in remembrance of seamen that worked in Maritime Services Building in mid 1800s.
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The walk in the park was interesting and I liked the look of the place. Equipments and landscaping in the park was beautiful. Facilities for adults and children in the park are in good shape. Seats are maintained properly and additional stone walls are available for perching. The park is full of mature eucalypts and sun shades with a grassy and big surrounding, but the only thing that lacks is a toilet.
Diesendorf, J. (1993) Camperdown Cemetery Trust: Conservation and Maintenance Practices, unpublished, Cemetery Trust Files.
Tamsyn, T. (1999), Historic Camperdown Cemetery: Lecture to Cape Banks Family, History Society CCT Files.