Sign, benches add to Tilba cemetery experience

TILBA District Cemetery Committee member Norm Hoyer from his farmhouse has great view across the paddocks of the cemetery in its stunning setting.

And hardly a day goes past when at least one car stops with its occupants getting out to take a look at the historic graves.

Now thanks to the work of the committee, these visitors, locals and relatives will be able to read about that history and people buried on a new sign now installed at the cemetery.

Two wooden benches are also being installed in each of the of the upper and lower cemeteries, allowing visitors to sit and take in the ocean views.

The works are part of an project to restore and rehabilitate the cemetery by the committee, who was able to triple a Eurobodalla Shire Council seed grant of $5920.

Mayor Lindsay Brown was invited to check out the improvements on Friday.

Committee member Harry Bate, who along with Mr Hoyer organised the improvements, said the benches are rustic wood mounted on stainless steel stirrups kindly donated by Narooma Stainless.

“We are really delighted to be able to provide and erect the sign,” Mr Bate said.

“The sign has the dual aims of enriching the experience of visiting the cemetery, and of recording bits of history for posterity about various persons buried at the cemetery, especially the early settlers.

“In addition to the preservation work on various monuments by Jacob Castagna of Australian Cemetery Supplies, as reported on earlier in April this year, we have recently engaged Peter Crisp to repair some of the old rusted steelwork around some of the graves.

“The steelwork was in serious disrepair, and had collapsed and was lying on or near the graves. Peter has re-erected what he can, using the existing steel such that it is not a rebuild. Whilst it is a ‘work in progress’, it is near to completion.

“Peter lives in Manly and comes to this area each summer for some months.

“The committee found him via the Bermagui Wallaga Lake Men’s Shed, who have also been of help to us, and we are grateful for the assistance from them and from Peter who is doing the work at no charge. Thank you, Peter.”

The following is the wording in full as it appears on the new sign as compiled by the Tilba District Cemetery Committee…

The Tilba District Cemetery

The Tilba District Cemetery was established in 1901/02 in this very beautiful setting on the farm “Haxted” (now “Haxstead”), owned at that time by Horrex (Honk) Read. Prior to this, burials took place on family properties and in the local churchyards at Tilba Tilba and Corunna. Situated adjacent to the ocean with views to Bermagui and Mt Dromedary/Gulaga and Montague Island, it is a magnificent resting place for those people and their descendants who came to the district to farm, mine for gold, make cheese and also to start their own businesses. In the nineteenth century (from 1856 – 1899), families including Bate, Braithwaite, Britten, Cork, Corkhill, Fookes, Forster, Greatrex, Griffiths, Hoyer, Keir, Latimer, Livingstone, Read, Southam, Stevens and Trapp came to the Tilba District, which is considered to extend from Corunna Lake, south to Wallaga Lake. This Cemetery forms an integral and historic place in the Heritage of the Tilba district and Eurobodalla Shire, as expanded on below.

The cemetery originally comprised six sections as follows:

Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, Church of England, Independent, Unsectarian (original wording), although now the cemetery is fully non-denominational.

Cattle had been free to roam through the area causing serious damage to graves and for this reason the community fenced in two sections in the early 1970’s. The lower section was originally Methodist, whilst the top was Church of England. There are believed to be three unmarked graves some distance from the two fenced sections, two Roman Catholic and one Presbyterian (precise locations unknown).

Notable early pioneers of Tilba who are buried here include:

John Forster - Son of one of the first settlers in Tilba Tilba (prior to selection being introduced under the Crown Lands Acts 1861).

Selectors:

The Read Family - Dairy farmers and selectors of the farm ‘Haxstead’, on whose ground this cemetery was established and also selectors of adjacent farms ‘Avondale’ and ‘Kent Farm’.

R M Bate - Dairy farmer and founder of Tilba Tilba village.

S W Bate - Dairy farmer and founder of Central Tilba village.

Joseph Latimer - Gold miner, co-owning with Horrex Read the Star of the South Mine on Mount Dromedary

The Hoyer Family - Who in the 1880’s selected “Sherringham”, the property immediately south and west of this cemetery. Sherringham is singularly significant in its status of remaining a dairy farm in the hands of the original selector family.

William Corkhill - Whose valuable early photographic record of life in and around the district is now housed in the National Library of Australia.

Five members of the Bate and Thomson families –

Who were variously Councillors of Eurobodalla Shire and in some cases President, are buried here, as well as father and son Henry J Bate and H. Jeff Bate who were at one time simultaneously Members of State Parliament. Jeff later served in Federal Parliament for 23 years (in addition to his 11 years in State Parliament).

A more recent Eurobodalla Shire Councillor buried here is Kathleen Doust. Two children buried here are also significant because of their fathers. Florence Maria Braithwaite’s father was a locally renowned bricklayer who constructed various brick silos still standing today in the district. He was also a successful miner, owning the Enterprise Mine on Mount Dromedary. Vere Livingstone, who drowned in the dam still situated just to the south east of the intersection of Sherringham Lane and the Princes Highway, was the son of highly skilled cheese maker, Alex Livingstone, who worked at the ABC cheese factory from 1909 to 1940, and who assisted the factory to achieve market leadership with premium prices during and after his tenure.

The Tilba District Cemetery Committee is an advisory committee to Eurobodalla Shire Council on matters relating to the Cemetery. As a part of its role, it endeavours to ensure the Cemetery is well maintained, promotes the heritage of the district, and is a pleasant and beautiful place worthy of accommodating loved ones. In 2013, with seed money from a Heritage Grant provided by Eurobodalla Shire Council and the NSW Heritage Council, and boosted by significant and generous donations from local community members and other interested parties, the Committee was able to perform conservation works on many graves which were in various stages of deterioration.

As a part of this work information plaques have been added to some graves and this sign has been erected.

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