Unusual tourism experience launches at Adelaides historic West Terrace Cemetery

March 25, 2011
Unusual tourism experience launches at Adelaides historic West Terrace Cemetery

South Australias newest and most unusual cultural tourism experience was launched at State Heritage listed West Terrace Cemetery on Friday March 4. The self-guided interpretive trail, named Heritage Highlights, reveals many surprising stories of eminent and everyday South Australians buried at the historic cemetery.

Constable William Hyde died in the Royal Adelaide Hospital on 4 January 1909, after one of three suspects he chased on foot in Kensington two days earlier shot him three times. No-one was ever brought to justice for this crime, but there is now a continuing memorial at the West Terrace Cemetery to the sacrifices made by our serving police officers. The Police Association went to considerable effort to restore the graveside of Constable Hyde and re-dedicate the grave to his service and sacrifice.

Adelaide Cemeteries Authority Chair, Catherine Schultz said by its very nature West Terrace Cemetery was a place of deep emotion, and the chance to experience something rare, authentic and of great cultural significance would be appealing.

West Terrace Cemetery has been in operation since the foundation of South Australia and consequently contains the graves of many leading political, religious, social and business figures, and is renowned for its ornate 19th century monumentation and funerary symbolism.

As visitors navigate their way to the 29 sites on this trail, they will gain a unique insight into South Australias history through the lives of those buried in the cemetery, Catherine said.

Among those featured on the trail are:

internationally renowned musician and composer Percy Grainger;

Victoria Cross recipient Arthur Seaforth Blackburn;

womens suffrage campaigner Mary Colton;

Ballet Russe principal ballerina Madeleine Parker;

four men killed while working on the overland telegraph line; and

the Menz family, inventors of the popular FruChoc, Crown Mint and Yo Yo Biscuit.

I am not aware of any other cemetery in Australia that has approached the concept of heritage, tourism and interpretation in this way, she said.

As the custodian of this significant landmark, we are proud to be leading the way in innovative cemetery conservation and management.

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The Authority will continue to identify and develop new experiences and refresh existing facilities to give people more reasons to visit and to return to the cemetery.

This project is a valuable and impressive enhancement of West Terrace Cemetery and we hope that through this and future developments, the cemetery will become a vibrant centre for cultural tourism, education and research, she said.

Charles Cameron Kingston (1850-1908)

A towering figure in colonial and Federation politics.

A colourful and outspoken character, Charles Kingston polarised public opinion. He was the greatest of reformers to his friends but an unscrupulous autocrat to his foes.

Kingston became Premier in 1893 while still under a good behaviour bond for challenging political opponent, Sir Richard Chaffey Baker, to a duel in Victoria Square. The Kingston Government became the longest serving ministry in South Australia, and implemented many significant reforms including full female suffrage and workplace regulation.

Kingstons major achievement was his contribution to Federation. He was involved in all major discussions from 1888 until Federation in 1901. He was a prominent in the drafting of the Australian Constitution, and travelled to London to ensure the Commonwealth of Australia Bill passed through the British Parliament with little change.

Kingston was also elected to the first Federal Parliament. He held the Trade and Customs portfolio, successfully guiding the first tariff through Parliament.

Arthur Seaforth Blackburn (1892-1960)

Victoria Cross recipient

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On 25 April 1915 Arthur Blackburn was among the first 50 Australian soldiers to land at Gallipoli, Turkey and was one of only two Australian men to penetrate well behind Turkish lines, around 1800 metres inland from Anzac Cove.

It was at Pozieres, France that Blackburns courage and devotion to duty came to the fore. In the face of fierce opposition, and with many of his men either killed or wounded in the action, Blackburn led four successive bombing parties destroying an enemy strong point and capturing nearly 350 metres of trench. For this action he became the first South Australian to be awarded the VC.

Blackburn was a founding member of the Returned Sailors, Soldiers and Airmens Imperial League (the RSL) in South Australia, serving as president from 19171921 and from 19461949.

He also enlisted in World War II, serving in the Middle East and Java before spending more than three years in a Japanese Prisoner of War camp, until the war ended in 1945.

Blackburn is one of four Victoria Cross recipients from the First World War buried in the AIF cemetery at West Terrace Cemetery.

Almost as old as European settlement, historic West Terrace Cemetery dates back to 1837 when it was zoned by Colonel William Light in his plan for the City of Adelaide. Since then more than 150,000 burials have taken place and the cemetery has expanded to cover an area of 27.6 hectares.

As Adelaides main public cemetery for almost 100 years, people from all walks of life have their final resting place here, bringing the many threads of South Australias rich heritage together in one place.

In 1843 the establishment of a Jewish section began the distinctive denominational division of West

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Terrace Cemetery.
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Two years later, in 1845 a Catholic cemetery was established (on land adjacent to the main public cemetery). Over time the Catholic section has expanded, and later denominational areas including the Society of Friends, Afghan, Druses, and Islamic were allotted.

Today, West Terrace Cemetery is renowned for its ornate monuments, historical burial sites of early settlers and eminent South Australians, as well as some of the only remaining indigenous vegetation of the Adelaide Plains. It is home to Australias first dedicated military cemetery and for 22 years housed the only modern crematorium in Australia.

The great beauty of the cemetery lies in the intricate carvings and diversity of monumental symbolism. It is not uncommon to find symbols of death, mourning and hope, such as saints, angels, broken pillars and crosses, decorating early monuments. Many of these symbols are entrenched in Victorian sentiment and virtue, and can have several meanings.

One of the most prevalent and striking monuments is an angel carrying a flower bell, beckoning the dead to follow her. Many of the more ornate and highly decorated monuments were made from imported stone, and at great expense.

The Australian Imperial Forces (AIF) cemetery opened in 1920 and provided a burial ground for men and women who served in the First World War. It was the first soldiers burial ground in the Commonwealth. Among those buried in the AIF cemetery are four of the five South Australians awarded the Victoria Cross during the World War I.

In recognition of the cemeterys historic value, the cemetery was listed as a place of State Heritage Significance on 23 November 1989.

Editors Note: Gosee acknowledges with thanks Adelaide Cemeteries Authority who provide the words and pictures for this feature story. Copyright alert - the images in this story are not to be reproduced for any purpose other than promoting West Terrace Cemetery and the new interpetrive trail without the express consent of the Adelaide Cemeteries Authority.

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