THE GREAT nephew of a girl buried at Trentham’s abandoned Blue Mountain cemetery has demanded – in the name of respect – an immediate clean-up of the overgrown, bracken-riddled site.
Graham Walker never met his great aunt Mary Margaret, who died when she was three in 1885. But when Mr Walker started doing some genealogy research, his family tree history brought him to a site so rugged and overgrown that he was horrified by what he saw.
He couldn’t even find his great aunt’s burial site.
Most of the tombstones are not even visible under the five-foot bracken and blackberry vines, and only certain areas are accessible by foot.
In fact, he was only able to find the cemetery by asking a nearby homestead in the surrounding Wombat State Forest.
“It needs to be cleaned up; it needs to be brought back. Show a bit of respect for our ancestors – this is our history,” Mr Walker said.
“These are the people who opened up this area and this is how they’re treated – like they don’t matter.
“It’s incredible that in the 21st century, this is allowed to happen.”
The last person to be buried at the site, according to Mr Walker’s research, was in 1986.
Visiting the site, The Courier also found a family memorial placed in 1994. It appeared few people would have visited since.
Nowadays, the Trentham Cemetery on West and Blackwood streets – closer to town and out of the forest – is used for burials instead.
Responsibility for the site has been at issue. The Hepburn Shire Council officially became trustee of the site during the 1980s, but have not undertaken any maintenance work.
Manager Strategic Asset Management Steve Millard said a joint investigation over recent weeks by the council and the Department of Health and Human Service (DHHS) confirmed that the site was actually within the Moorabool Shire Council boundary.
He said steps were being taken to “rectify the position in relation to trustee responsibility”.
Moorabool Shire Council confirmed it had heard nothing of the case.
A spokesman for the DHHS told The Courier said it would “liaise with the appropriate council” to draw attention as to the cemetery’s current state and “ascertain the maintenance required”.
However, as far back as early 2013, Mr Walker received a letter from the-then Department of Health stating Hepburn Shire Council was the cemetery trust responsible for the site’s management.
The letter said the department had spoken with the council, which had “advised it will take steps to develop a maintenance program for the cemetery”.
Appalled by the council’s lack of action over the past few years, Mr Walker wrote to Minister for Health Jill Hennessy earlier this year, offering to take over the cemetery trust himself.