Tilba cemetery gets a much-needed makeover

WALKING through the Tilba cemetery is like walking through the history of the settlement of the local district.

And now that the Tilba Cemetery Committee has secured funding and expertise to conduct much-needed repairs at the cemetery, these ancestors should be able to rest easy in their spectacular setting overlooking the ocean.

Committee member Harry Bate said $5920 in seed money provided by Eurobodalla Shire Council through a heritage grant, had been more than matched with donations from local community members.

This allowed the committee to engage contractor Jacob Castagna of Australian Cemetery Supplies to perform much needed conservation works at the cemetery.

Mayor Lindsay Brown with council’s heritage officer and Council’s Heritage Adviser last week toured the cemetery to inspect and admire Mr Castagna’s handiwork so far.

“I was over the moon and it made my day when I saw the work that he had been doing, he is great to work with, and we are most grateful to Council, and for the wonderful generosity of those in the local community and elsewhere who made up most of the money” Mr Bate told the council officials.

Fire, rabbits and the salt air had all taken their toll on many of the 112 grave sites, with some of the earliest graves now unmarked because rudimentary wooden crosses had long since disappeared.

The contractor focussed on the remaining grave structures, water blasting concrete and repainting inscriptions, righting and underpinning fallen headstones and repairing some metal railings.

Among those buried include pioneer farmer Horrex (“Honk”) Read, the original settler of the Haxstead property, who died on November 7, 1924.

The cemetery was established in 1901/2 on its present site.

Buried at Tilba also is early pioneer, John Forster, whose parents, Thomas and Mary, in 1848 prior to the “freehold selection” process, claimed all the land between Wagonga Inlet and Wallaga Lake.

William Corkhill is buried in the “Upper Cemetery” which previously was the Anglican section, although now the cemetery is fully non-denominational.

Corkhill took the photographs now called “The Corkhill Collection”, and housed in the National Library in Canberra.

Mr Bate said they constitute a wonderful historic record of life in and around Tilba from around 1890 through to 1910 or so, and are frequently drawn upon by various parties throughout Australia.

“He was a resident of Tilba for over 50 years, and was a very active member of Tilba Tilba Progress Committee, which implemented many positive changes, including agitating successfully for the construction of the present bridge over Wallaga Lake.”

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