Mount Morgan Cemetery is home to many historic monuments.
Mount Morgan Cemetery is home to many historic monuments. Contributed

Town cemetery nears capacity, surrounding land not suitable

FEWER than 10 sites are left at Mount Morgan cemetery as the site nears capacity. However council has assured residents that the departed will not be forced to be buried in Gracemere.

There are now eight available plots for new burials in the lawn cemetery and this is expected to be reached by next year.

The Mount Morgan cemetery was established in 1889 under the trusteeship of Mount Morgan Cemetery Trusteeship until 1927 when it was transferred to the Mount Morgan Shire Council.

The cemetery reached capacity in 2003 and the cemetery was expanded to the west into the road reserve. The site is to the south of the township and sits on 4.5ha of land.

Council officers have been working on solutions since May.

A further report was put to Rockhampton Regional Council parks, recreation and sport committee on Wednesday.

It was previously moved for council officers to liaise with the Department of Natural Resources, Mining and Energy about expanding to the south of the cemetery.

It has since been determined this site is subject to flooding.

 

 

 

Mount Morgan cemetery. The red triangle is the state land council is looking to expand, pending invesigations of the land. The purple section is the original proposed development which was found to be flood zone. The green zone is the short term solution, where 30 plots will be built in the meantime.
WHERE TO NEXT: The red triangle is the state land council is looking to expand, pending investigations of the land. The purple section is the original proposed development which was found to be flood zone. The green zone is the short-term solution, where 30 plots will be built in the meantime. Contributed

Earthworks would be required to remedy this and it is expected these works would exceed the cost of the expansion.

The land has also been changed to a Native Land Title and an Indigenous Land Use Agreement or compulsory acquisition of Native Title Rights must be acquired. This could take up to two years or more at an unknown cost.

This information has proven the expansion to the south is not viable so alternative options were presented to councillors this week.

The first alternative option was to close the cemetery when it reached capacity and all burials would be referred to the regional cemetery in Gracemere.

This was vetoed by councillors who said it would not be an option.

The second option, which was favoured, was to explore the land to the north of the existing cemetery.

This space is bordered by road reserve and behind this is unallocated state land.

 

Group photograph of Linda Memorial Committee at the Monument, Mt. Morgan, 1909
Group photograph of Linda Memorial Committee at the monument, Mt Morgan, 1909. State Library

 

If council was to proceed with this option, part of the road reserve would need to close and council would need to buy the state land. Native title would need to be again addressed which could take up to two years.

To determine if this could even be an option, council needs to undertake investigatory works including geotechnical investigations to see if the ground conditions were suitable for a cemetery site. This is estimated to cost about $5000.

As this option could take some time and the capacity is imminent, a supplementary option combined with the northern option was offered.

Thirty further plots could be installed on part of the road reserve on the western side of the cemetery, allowing for two more years breathing room.

Councillors moved to proceed with option two which was to investigate expanding to the north, while also expanding with the extra 30 plots to the west as a short-term resolution while they determined the long-term solution.

 

 

Mount Morgan Cemetery, 1893.
Mount Morgan Cemetery, 1893. Richardson Collection, UQ

Mount Morgan cemetery history

THE earliest burial recorded in Mount Morgan Cemetery is of James Kennedy in 1886.

The Linda Memorial is a historic attraction, a tribute to men killed in a mining accident. On November 5, 1908, an accident occurred in the Linda section of the mine in which seven men were killed. Widespread concern and sympathy were evoked and a large public funeral was held. More miners were killed following further incidents, bringing the total to 26 miners between December 3, 1894 and July 28, 1909.

The memorial was constructed in 1909 by Busby and Hurlow of Toowong, Brisbane and unveiled by the Mayor of Mount Morgan, John Morrison, on November 7, 1909. The memorial is 6.5 metres with a freestone base and marble slabs with names of those killed on each of the four sides. Floral emblems including the rose, shamrock and thistle, symbolising the countries of origin of the miners decorate the base of the memorial which is surrounded by a low concrete wall. A circular column on top of the structure is broken at the top to signify "broken life".

The cemetery also contains a Chinese ceremonial burner, (a heung lew or xiang lu), which was used for burning symbolic papers and offerings for the dead. It is thought to be the only one of its type and age in Queensland. Mount Morgan had many Chinese residents in the town from the beginning working in mining, trade and market gardening.

 

 

Mount Morgan cemetery. The Linda Memorial was erected in 1909 in memory of the 26 men killed in the underground mine from1894 and 1909 .  The memorial consists of a freestone base with marble slabs. The  column on top is broken to symbolify
Mount Morgan cemetery. The Linda Memorial was erected in 1909 in memory of the 26 men killed in the underground mine from1894 and 1909 . The memorial consists of a freestone base with marble slabs. The column on top is broken to symbolify "broken life" Contributed

A three-metre high Celtic cross with shamrock motif monument was erected for Thomas and Katherine Barret and their children about the 1910s.

Tom Harrow Manson had a sandstone column with a football erected for him in 1907 by his many sporting friends.

In 1909, Giovanni Dannetto "met his death at the copper works" and a white marble slab with an inscription laid in copper was built in honour.

A sandstone sarcophagus with stylised medieval cross was erected for Edward Pigott in 1928 and a carving of an angel and a white marble stele to Ellen Lyons in 1908.

 

 

Crowds at the unveiling of Linda Memorial Monument, Mt Morgan, 1909
Crowds at the unveiling of Linda Memorial Monument, Mt Morgan, 1909 State Library

Ah Sha had a Chinese grave with narrow sandstone headstone built for him and a memorial was erected for the Bayali, the local Aboriginal people in the 1990s.

The Mount Morgan Cemetery was registered as a state heritage site in 1992. In 2011, it was estimated there were 7000 bodies buried there.