I have been fascinated with cemetaries and graveyards since I was a very small girl. I’m not sure exactly what the fascination is but the lure has persisted all these years. There were several small and very old graveyards where I used to live. Since I moved to the city, the opportunity to wander around old church yards has not presented itself very often. Rookwood Necropolis is the largest cemetary in Australia and one of the largest in the world. It covers 283 hectares (700 acres or just on 2 square miles) and has approximately 1 million bodies interred. It was established in 1868 and has been in constant use since then, receiving bodies from every walk of life – the poor, the insane, the criminal, the wealthy, the plague-ridden, the famous… My goal is to photograph as much of this fascinating place as possible. This is what I’ve done so far…
Small beginnings, I know, but I cannot describe trying to take photographs in this place. The immensity is daunting. It is possible to wander away from your car and get lost. The photo’s were taken on a hot summers day which was too close to midday to get good shadows. The photo’s above are of one small section of the necropolis and I managed to lose both husband and one stepdaughter within minutes. Thank heavens for mobile phones!
I was going to push the grass aside to get a better view, but the grass started rustling in a way I wasn’t entirely happy with. There’s a lot of wildlife around – huge rabbit warrens that cover whole acres in themselves. God knows what (or who) they’re tunnelling through! Then there are the cats, the crows (both of which preying on the rabbits) and a large collection of reptiles of varying leggedness. And huge ant-nests. I swear – next time I’m doing the whole safari kit thing.
This was particularly sad. The main epitaph is for a young man who was killed in WW1 and reads in part “…our hero son. We will never forget you…”. Added later are other plaques for older family members – presumably parents and siblings. Although this grave is in a section that is regularly mowed, it is badly in need of repair. It is clear that this family has been forgotten by the living after all.
Another sad one. This is a grave in the poor section. It has never had a proper plaque attached, so far as I could see. Someone, however, has carefully chiselled the word “Mother” on a small heart-shaped piece of stone. It looks like a home-made effort and appears to be in regular sandstone, rather than the usual marble or granite.
I rather liked the Italian section. This is a frequently used part of the necropolis. It reminded me so much of a suburban street – the fronts of the little houses are very ornate – the backs are very plain. And they put the rubbish bins out for collection like regular folks.