Travels with Tim and Lisa

"If my discoveries are other people's commonplaces I cannot help it – for me they retain a momentous freshness" (Elizabeth Bowen)

Norfolk Island Cemetery, June 29th 2018

Posted by Lisa Hill on June 29, 2018

One of the most scenic cemeteries in Australia

On our last day we took a tour of the Norfolk Island cemetery.

Actually there are four other known burial sites, and there are unknown sites where the Polynesians buried their dead, but this is the one that became the official cemetery and is still in use today.

Entrance to the 2nd settlement section

We started off by looking at the only two graves that are definitely known to have a verified history.  (Apparently some gravestones were restored at some time in the past but at least some of them are known to have inaccurate information as to the person or the dates).

Altar grave of Sarah Gregory

First up was Sarah Gregory’s altar stone.  She died aged 67 in 1801 after having been transported here for stealing hogs, joining her husband who was transported for having possession of the same hogs.  She was a free settler by the time she died.  One of her children is historically significant too, because there are records of a man being made to run the gauntlet for having tried to sexually assault her. It’s nice to hear that she went on to have a good life, apparently unscathed by the experience.

Grave of Thomas Headington

The other grave known to have a verified history is Thomas Headington who was transported for theft. He died in 1798 aged 40.

The dead are buried with their ancestors and family

In keeping with Norfolk Islanders’ preoccupation with lineage, the dead are buried with the ancestral family.

Other graves of note are those of the convicts who mutinied against the brutality…

After the mutiny there was a particularly brutal commandant called Price who used burial in unconsecrated ground as a deterrent against insubordination. There is apparently a mass grave outside the fenced area, which has now been consecrated by the Bishop of Sydney.

Mass graves in unconsecrated ground

You can’t wander about an old cemetery like this without being chastened by the number of deaths in childbirth and child deaths, babies who lived just long enough to break their parents’ hearts.

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There were other perils too: a number of deaths by drowning, accidental shootings, and the unfortunate cook who was in the wrong place at the wrong time during the mutiny, along with a private aged only 22.

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Graves of three NZ soldiers who died in training accidents during WW2

More recently, three New Zealand soldiers were killed in a training accident during WW2.  It’s hard to imagine that, in a peaceful place so far from the battlefields.  Their parents must have thought they were safe here.

Cemeteries are always sobering places to visit, reminding us of the fragility of life…

3 Responses to “Norfolk Island Cemetery, June 29th 2018”

  1. Robyn Watters said

    I’m a taphophile. I enjoy visiting cemeteries as long as I’m not the one that is six feet under.

  2. […] Norfolk Island Cemetery, June 29th 2018 […]

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