After rain had spoiled a day at Bronte Beach, I forced two carloads of my friends to take me to the nearby Waverley Cemetery. This was the first time I had been home to Australia in two years, which meant my friends felt somewhat obligated to indulge my unusual request.
Waverley Cemetery was established on the same principles as Highgate Cemetery in London and Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, in that it was designed as a self-funding enterprise “to provide for the future”. Because we all know, if there’s one thing the dead care about, it’s the future. Waverley Council were only willing to take on the project of managing the cemetery on the provision that it incurred them no cost to do so. The cemetery was officially opened and the first interment occurred on the 4th of August 1877. Since then, more than 80,000 people have found their permanent resting place on the Waverley clifftop.
Notable residents include a literal who’s who of Australian brand names – including meat pie bakers George and Charlotte Sargent, bookseller William Dymock, greeting card manufacturer John Sands, and beer brewer Edmund Resch. Australian poets Henry Lawson and Dorothea Mackellar; Jules Francoise Archibald, benefactor of the annual portrait prize in his name; and cricketers John Fingleton OBE (of bodyline fame) and Victor Trumper are also interred at Waverley. Bookmaker and
underworld organised crime figure George Freeman is also buried at Waverley. Meanwhile, Juanita Nielsen – an anti-development activist who disappeared from Kings Cross in 1975 under suspicious circumstances – has a memorial on the Mark Foy family mausoleum. Her body has never been found.
Dying to get in to Waverley Cemetery?
Funerals are conducted daily at Waverley Cemetery. If you wish to pre-purchase your allotment, prices start from $21,290 AU for a 25-year tenure. If you’d prefer to visit while you’re still breathing, the cemetery is open every day. As public transport in Sydney (and Australia on the whole) is notoriously bad, I recommend driving or walking. The 6 km Bondi to Coogee walk heads past the cemetery. If you’re a real sadist, you can take the 378 bus from Railway Square (or Bondi Junction rail interchange), and alight at St. Thomas Street, Bronte.
remember you will die
remember you are alive
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