Located on the edge of the Perth CBD, within the rejuvenated and bustling East Perth area, lie the East Perth Cemeteries. These cemeteries were a series of interdenominational cemeteries which served as the main burial ground for the residents of Western Australia since the colony's foundation in 1829 to when the site was closed around the 1900s.
John Septimus Roe, under instruction of Governor Stirling, surveyed the site for the cemeteries in 1829. The writing on the grave stones tell the stories of the early pioneers of the Swan River Colony – including that of Roe himself.
Visiting it today, you will see that the seven smaller cemeteries have mostly been incorporated into one large cemetery. The Jewish part of the cemetery still exists separately across Plain Street, very close an apartment block.
[ADVERT]In the past the cemeteries were open to the public, and after the decay, neglect and destruction of over 90% of the gravestones and grave markers, the site is now under conservation by the National Trust and is only open to the public for two hours per week.
If you are a history buff or just interested in a bygone era, a visit to the cemetery makes for an interesting outing. There are always knowledgeable volunteers from the National Trust on hand to help you navigate your way around the cemetery or just to answer any questions you may have.
As you walk down the main entrance of the cemetery you will find graves on either side escorting you towards a Victorian Gothic styled chapel with a steeped roof. St. Bartholomew was originally built as a mortuary chapel and it later became a parish church in 1888. This consecrated church is still used for weddings and other religious events.
An old bell stands outside the church and was positioned here during the restoration of the church grounds. The bell originally served time at a church at Toodyay and then at a diocese in Belmont before being moved to its current location.
The most interesting thing about visiting the cemetery is reading the gravestones. All of the graves here are very old and it is interesting to see the range of people who are buried here. The ages range from the very young to the very old and the people vary from the famous to the unknown.
Another cool thing to look for in the cemetery is its famous residents. Roe, Monger, Trigg, Wittenoom and many more are buried here. Reading the gravestones can unearth the namesakes of popular suburbs, streets and sites around Perth.
Reading the grave stones can also give you information about the way some of the residents of the Swan River Colony passed. These include natural causes, murder, being run over by a carriage, and drowning.
Great article Gen, is certainly is a fascinating place. My aunt volunteers here and I watched my sister get married here as well as the Christening of my niece and nephew. It is a silent relic of history in a city that is constantly moving.