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Former Sandhurst Cemetery

  • 20210116 dsc 3434
Park Road Car Park Access, Bendigo VIC 3550

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Features

  • Site of former cemetery
  • Burials still intact beneath earth fill and car park
  • No surface evidence remains
The original Sandhurst Cemetery lies entirely buried beneath a few metres of earth fill off Park Road in Bendigo (previously known as Sandhurst), and partially covered by the car park of the Tom Flood Sports Centre. The cemetery contains burials of Bendigo's first non-indigenous settlers who arrived in the area during the gold rush, and evidence suggests that the majority of burials remain intact beneath the fill. 

The cemetery was situated on the eastern side of the Government Camp on Camp Hill (now Rosalind Park). When an act was passed in 1854 requiring cemeteries to be located one mile outside a town, burials at this cemetery ceased and new cemeteries were established at Back Creek and White Hills. 

209 registered burials took place at the Sandhurst Cemetery, and upon its closure the condition of the cemetery began to deteriorate. Complaints were made about its condition and beautification projects were planned, but none were acted upon. Although there were plans in the 1870s to remove the bodies and reinter them at other cemeteries, there is no evidence that any such reinternment actually took place. 

In the end, earthen fill was placed over the cemetery and by 1929 the Agricultural and Horticultural Society had taken up the whole reserve as part of their grounds, constructing several structures on top of the cemetery (structures which have since been demolished). 

Today the cemetery site is partially covered by the carpark for the Tom Flood Sports Centre. Interestingly, this is also the case of the Old Melbourne Cemetery which is buried beneath the Queen Victoria Market carpark. 

An article published in the Bendigo Advertiser, 11th December 1872, contained the following account:

From A. Bush, asking the Council to reconsider its determination to remove the bodies from the Bridge Lane Cemetery, as it would give offence and pain to the living relatives of the dead; in the majority of cases it would be impossible to identify the remains, and the removal would be general and without identification. Such a removal, he pointed out, was unnecessary, considering that it was the first grave-yard where lay the bodies of many old pioneers, they could surely spare the small strip of land their last remains occupied.

A substantial iron fence could be erected around it; if this were done, the expenditure would be ratified by the ratepayers. If the Council persisted in its determination to remove the remains of the dead, he would certainly request the Minister of Justice to interfere. [Cr. Buckley took his seat.]

The town clerk said several relatives of the deceased had expressed themselves as satisfied with the determination of the Council to remove the bodies. Cr Garsed said a similar removal of bodies had taken place at Castlemaine, and it was done with the greatest possible decency. 

The Mayor said not one single person had raised an objection except Mr. Bush; if his friend who was buried there could not be found, and could not be recognised, the body would be allowed to remain there as well as all other bodies which could not be discovered, or whose resting places were not distinguished by some headboards; an application had been made to the Attorney-General for permission to disinter the bodies, and particulars had been furnished of the intention of the Council. The bodies ere to be placed in separate shells, and buried in separate graves; those which were not claimed to be buried, in neutral ground. 

The town clerk said he had sent the following letter to the Attorney-General: - 
 
"7th December, 1872 - 
Sir, - In reply to inquiries contained in your letter of 5th inst.; re disinterment of human remains from old burial ground, I have the honor to state: - 

1st. In reference to remains not named or claimed by friends, it is intended to re-inter in neutral ground in the cemetery. 

2nd. A separate shell will be provided in each case, and a separate grave, to which will be removed any head-board or remains of fences at present existing. 

3rd. In reference to the cemetery, where friends come forward their wishes will be consulted. In all other cases the cemetery will be the Sandhurst Cemetery. In one case only have I had an application to re-inter in the White Hills Cemetery. 

4th. Where friends come forward an order will be given on an undertaker to perform the re-interment at the friends' directions.

- G. A. FLETCHER, town clerk, per J. W. M'C. The secretary Law Department."

It was decided not to take any further action, pending communications from the Law Department.

The site of the former Sandhurst Cemetery is located close to Bendigo's beautiful Rosalind Park, the iconic Poppet Head Lookout which stands atop Camp Hill, the former Police Barracks, and the significant Discovery of Gold Monument.

SEE ALSO


DID YOU KNOW...

  • Many cemeteries in the goldfields were established in the early-mid 19th century. Walking through the historic cemeteries of the area is like taking a walk through time.
 

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