• Date: 24/02/2014
  • Cemetery: News & Events

The unique Fawkner Memorial Park has been recognised as a place of significance to the Victorian community.

Announcing the decision to include the cemetery in the Victorian Heritage Register, Heritage Council Chair Daryl Jackson said it reflected Melbournians' religious and cultural practices around death, burial and mourning over the past century and he diverse range of monuments and memorials provided insight into patterns of migration to Victoria and the history of multiculturalism.

The first burial at the cemetery was four year old Dorothy Knapp in 1906, however the cemetery holds relocated pioneer monuments dating from the 1840s.

The cemetery has an unusual half spider-web design and is one of the earliest examples of a garden cemetery in Melbourne.  It also holds Australia's first public mausoleum among many other significant features.

There is also a train station within cemetery boundaries (Fawkner) that was used between 1906 and 1939 to transport funeral parties. A restored mortuary carriage that was used for transporting coffins during this period is located near the train station.

Melbourne co-founder John Batman, who died 175 years ago this year, is interred in a special Pioneers Section at the cemetery along with 220 other early pioneers whose graves were relocated to Fawkner in 1923-24 from the Old Melbourne Cemetery site (at Victoria Market).

Famous architect Charles Heath, who was responsible for the unique layout of Fawkner, is also interred in the Pioneer Section.

The Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (GMCT), which manages Fawkner Memorial Park, is delighted at the listing, which recognises the special place the cemetery holds in Melbourne and Victoria's heritage.

GMCT Chair Catherine Brown said the Fawkner cemetery held a significant place in Victorian history.

"Despite the fact that we are such a modern and fast-moving society, or perhaps because of it, we are increasingly conscious of our heritage and the past that has shaped us as a community," Ms Brown said.  "Fawkner Memorial Park is a genuinely beautiful, peaceful place to reflect and to remember loved ones as well as to absorb something of the rich, complex history of our wonderful city of Melbourne."

Other interesting and unique aspects of Fawkner Memorial Park include:

  • The front gates were originally the Melbourne Fish Market gates and were relocated in 1959.
  • Specific sections were set aside for religious and community groups, leading to some distinctive memorial areas and one of the most diverse selections of cultures buried in any cemetery in Victoria.  The influx of migrants of Italian descent into the area post World War II was a key reason for construction of Australia's first public mausoleum.
  • Fawkner was classed as a 'modern railway cemetery' when it was established.
  • The cemetery features a historic Jewish Chapel (1918) and Muslim Chapel (1930s).
  • The landscape and plantings reflect continuous development over 100 years, with different planting styles and selections according to the tastes and resources of each generation.
  • Fawkner Memorial Park contains more than 14,000 rose bushes (a popular cremation memorial) and several significant tree plantings that include Oaks, Pines and Cypress trees that are up to 100 years old.
  • The Tea Rooms were built in 1934 and follow an Italianate design.
  • The Garden of Eternal Memories features a tile mosaic of ceramic, marble and stone that serves as a focal point to recognise the contribution of military and non-military personnel during 20th century conflicts with Australian involvement.

The Victorian Heritage Register is the official listing of the more than 2000 places and objects which have been assessed as significant to the State of Victoria.

The listings provide the State's highest heritage protection and mean changes require a permit from Heritage Victoria.

Visit a Cemetery Weekend - April

On the weekend of April 12-13 this year Fawkner Memorial Park and other GMCT sites will hold an open day as a public awareness initiative and to encourage Victorians to reconnect with their heritage and cemeteries as a community space.

This year the event will be particularly relevant given the commemoration of the centenary of World War I. GMCT has developed a special Commemorative Poppy Tile that can be placed on the headstones of those who served and returned from war, and therefore do not have an official war grave.  For further information go to the GMCT website under 'news and information:  WWI Centenary Project'.


Media enquiries and photo opportunities:

Megan Lane

Manager Marketing and Communications

Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust

0458 603 020