Buninyong Cemetery and Old Cemetery
Unusually for a town its size, Buninyong has two cemeteries: the "Old Burial Ground" and the Buninyong Cemetery.
The Buninyong and District Historical Society has published an informative booklet documenting both cemeteries which is available for sale for $3.00 from the Buninyong Information Centre and the Historical Society.
Ballarat City Council now manages the Old Burial Ground with the adjoining reserve Desoza Park. A Cemetery Trust manages the Cemetery.
The Old Burial Ground
Buninyong's Old Burial Ground is a narrow strip of land running between Learmonth St and the Union Jack Creek, near Cathcart St. Early settlers from the 1840's and one aboriginal person are known to be buried here but unfortunately their graves are not marked and their precise locations are no longer known. A Bunya Bunya pine was planted by the CWA in 1988 with a commemorative plaque to mark the approximate position of Buninyong's first graves. The historic burying ground was abandoned in the 1850's when the current cemetery was established further west on the outskirts of the town.
The Buninyong Cemetery lies in well-tended grounds west of the township with distant views of Mount Buninyong. The graves of many of Buninyong's founders can be found in this tranquil setting and and it is still used today.
A complete set of the Cemetery's burial records can be searched in the Buninyong Information Centre.
Buninyong Cemetery Trust
The Buninyong Cemetery is managed by a Board of Trustees which has is responsible for operating, maintaining and developing the cemetery and for setting rules and policies for its use. All enquiries about burials in the Cemetery should be directed to the Cemetery Trust.
Contact the Buninyong Cemetery Trust on: 0415 929 571
The Learmonths first settled in the Buninyong District in 1838 and there were a number of burials in the Old Burial Ground in Learmonth Street.
A preliminary survey of the Township of Buninyong by Surveyor Smythe in 1849 shows the present cemetery on the map divided into four denominational sections. It is therefore possible that the Cemetery began to be used in 1850 although it was only officially recorded in 1856. The earliest recorded burial with a headstone is Presbyterian 411: Margaret Gullan, aged 45, who died 3 December 1852. The numbering of the plots has been changed since the first survey and all the earliest burials are on the central high ground away from the creek.
In Buninyong's prosperous gold mining days there was a large local population of approximately 10,000 and there were many deaths due to unhygienic conditions, women dying in childbirth and men being killed in mining accidents or from miners disease. Burials were averaging more than 100 a year and a full-time Sexton was employed. A report in the Buninyong Telegraph, 22 October 1872 gives great praise to the Sexton of the time, a Mr Bull:
There were well-maintained flower beds, shrubs and trees along the main East-West Drive, the banks of the creek having been alternately planted with willows and elms.
Gold mining began to decline and by the beginning of the First World War the last deep lead mines had closed and Buninyong's population continued to dwindle and so, in 1968 the last permanent Sexton retired. His role has been taken over by the Cemetery Trust Secretary and the gravedigger.
With income continuing to fall, the cemetery became overgrown and neglected until in 1991 the Cemetery Trust Secretary, Alan Bath, approached the Buninyong Shire Council seeking their assistance to restore the cemetery. A Shire Councillor was appointed to the Cemetery Trust and the Shire drew up a comprehensive Capital and Maintenance Works program covering mowing, the control of noxious weeds, the identification and assessment of existing trees and shrubs, the construction of new roads, a dam and reforming the creek bed. As a result of the Shire's efforts, various unemployment schemes and volunteer assistance from a group known as "Dad's Army", the Cemetery is now in a presentable condition.
Information on the history of the Buninyong Cemetery was supplied by Derick Leather, Buninyong & District Historical Society.