• Date: 27/03/2018
  • Cemetery: Fawkner Memorial Park

The development of GMCT’s conservation management plan for Fawkner Memorial Park is a milestone in the protection of the cemetery’s historical treasures.

Conservation management plans have been published for many of our cemeteries and are now available on our website.  The plans were developed by GMCT’s history and heritage working group, led by trust member and historian Dr Jan Penney.

The conservation management plan for GMCT’s largest cemetery – Fawkner Memorial Park was recently completed.

Fawkner Memorial Park, which was opened in 1906, spans 111 hectares. It is an important heritage site as well as an active memorial park. The conservation management plan for the site will inform future planning and ensure the cemetery remains a sustainable and vibrant place where heritage assets are protected.

Fawkner contains a wide range of historically-significant monuments, memorials, funerary art, buildings and botanical features. This includes graves of early Melbourne pioneers from the 1840s, such as Melbourne's founder John Batman, renowned architect of Fawkner, Charles Heath and other Melbourne notables and a restored mortuary carriage.

Ensuring the preservation of historically-significant features is a key part of the continued development of our cemetery master plans. This includes the management of the heritage-protected features of our cemeteries recorded in the Victorian Heritage Register.

A park for all

The conservation management planning process identified there are new opportunities and challenges to manage Fawkner Memorial Park in a way that respects Aboriginal, natural and cultural heritage values.

The completed plan accounts for a range of different perspectives; considering the park as Wurundjeri Country, through the prism of its administration and chief designer Charles Heath, and importantly, as part of society’s customs of death and mourning through time.

Fawkner Memorial Park was assessed and examined as:

  • a place containing sites of cultural significance to Traditional Owners
  • a twentieth century cemetery
  • a cemetery defined by distinctive cultural groups
  • a place of changing traditions and burial practices
  • a  landscape designed by Charles Heath
  • a place where people can connect to their history, landscape and culture
  • a place that supports the performance of ceremony and ritual
  • a place that supports and cushions deeply felt emotions.

Community perspectives were also considered in the plan’s development, including the input of a range of key organisations. We thank them for their contribution:

  • Friends of the Garden of Angels
  • Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia
  • Cameo Memorials; Chinese Veterans Association
  • Buddhist Monastery Fawkner
  • Friends of Coburg Cemetery
  • Local Latvian community
  • Estonian Lutheran Church
  • Jewish community
  • Islamic Council of Victoria
  • Glenroy/Hadfield Ministers' Association
  • Victorian Chinese Memorial Foundation Inc
  • Operators of the historic tearooms.

Conservation management at GMCT

The conservation management planning process assisted GMCT to understand the heritage values of the site, provided guidance for its management, identified opportunities and challenges and will help inform future policies for the conservation of heritage. 

Future conservation activities at Fawkner Memorial Park will inform:

  • Maintenance schedules
  • Development of technical conservation guides
  • Design guidelines for monuments
  • Landscaping projects
  • Tree registers
  • Strategies for the protection of key historical assets, such as Old Pioneers and Jewish Pioneers memorials, remnant vegetation, artworks, the mortuary train carriage and other features of significance.

Conservation management planning will have an important ongoing role at all GMCT cemeteries and memorial parks as we plan for evolving community needs and future management of our grounds and assets.

Recommendations from conservation management planning will help GMCT understand how we can integrate new infrastructure and landscaping in a way that does not detract from the heritage look and feel of our cemeteries – a characteristic greatly valued by our local communities.

Protecting history and heritage into the future 

As part of GMCT’s 2017-2022 strategic plan, we have committed to deliver lasting stewardship of our cemeteries. GMCT aims to be a custodian of heritage, enabling and encouraging our families and communities to understand the history and legacy of our cemeteries.

In the coming years, GMCT will also develop a heritage and history strategy to realise our aspiration for internationally-leading remembrance and memorialisation, focused on heritage and history and incorporating new innovations for families.

Find out more

Enquiries about GMCT’s conversation management planning may be directed to corpcomms@gmct.com.au or by contacting our customer care team on 1300 022 298. You may also like to consult the following resources:

Click here  to download a summary of significant features from the Fawner Memorial Park conservation management plan.

Click here to read more about conservation planning in a cemetery context.

Click here to view the conservation management plans for other GMCT cemeteries and access fact sheets about the history of our cemeteries.

Click here to read our strategic plan.

Click here to see how some of Fawkner Memorial Park’s historical features have changed over time.