Funeral fashion in the Victorian Era
156 years ago, people replaced their entire closets with mourning clothes to cope with grief.
Wed 28th Apr 2021
Waverley Cemetery is an iconic Australian landmark. Established in 1877, the site is located at the top of the Bronte Beach cliffs overlooking the Tasman Sea. It spans 16 hectares and contains over 80,000 burials and interments, many of which are decorated with Victorian and Edwardian monuments. It was heritage listed on 28 October 2016 and is recognized as one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world. It is owned and operated by the Waverley Council.
The Cadigal people of the Eora nation are the traditional land owners of the site where Waverley Cemetery is located. There is archaeological and non-archaeological evidence of the Cadigal people occupying the land pre-colonisation.
Waverley Cemetery began operations in 1875 when an old horse tram terminus was purchased; the site where the cemetery would be built. It was formally opened on 4 August 1877 when its first interment took place; Ruth Allen, aged 85. The first manager appointed was William Thomas, who was responsible for the layout of its now famous white marble monuments; its presentation was so well received by the community that Waverley Council recovered establishment costs in the cemetery's first year of operation.
Waverley Cemetery is the final resting place for many people that not only shaped Australia culturally, but those who helped protect it.132 of the 200 graves attributed to war time conflicts are registered and maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission; over 100 from WW1 and approximately 20 from WWII. The cemetery contains a memorial to the Military Forces of NSW inside the main gates, dedicated to officers killed in a sea mine explosion at Middle Head in 1891. The cemetery also houses The Irish Memorial, honouring those who died in the 1798 Rebellion, as well as approximately eleven American Civil War veterans.
There are many cemeteries around the world that attract tourists due to the fame of the person, or persons, buried in its grounds; Waverley Cemetery is no different. Here are a few:
Waverley Cemetery's most famous on-screen appearance is perhaps Mel Gibson's 1979 film 'Tim'. However, an Italian film based on the 1934 murder of Linda Agostini in Albury NSW titled 'La Ragazza dal pigiama giallo' (translating to 'The Pyjama Girl Case') was filmed on location in 1977. Other appearances include Baywatch Down Under, Dirty Deeds, Home and Away, and Water Rats.
Waverley Cemetery is not only the resting place for loved ones and famous Australians, but an amazing variety of wildlife including foxes, reptiles, frogs and birds such as the fairy wren, have found the seaside location very welcoming and decided to stay.
Walking tours on Saturday mornings dive into the cemetery's rich history, making stops along the way at the many famous graves to share tales and anecdotes.
By Mario Rodriguez