Rookwood Cemetery

Rookwood is one of the largest cemeteries in the world, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere and the last operating Victorian Cemetery anywhere in the world.

Amongst the attractions on display were horse drawn hearses, mounted troopers, vintage cars including vintage hearses and vintage Sydney buses which were being used to transport visitors from one Chapel to another Last weekend I visited a location with a lot of memories for thousands of people. Well at least that is what would be indicated according to the many plaques and monuments that were around. The occasion was the 150th Celebrations of operations at Rookwood Necropolis (Cemetery). Many people attended and visited the various Chapels, Churches and Crematoria where various other displays were being shown.

You were permitted to wander around the Cemetery at your own pace checking out the various burial sites for the multitude of religions and/or independent burial grounds.

I was impressed by the area called “The Ring of Love” where there was a modern sculpture in the centre and also a plaque dedicated to all the children and babies buried in unmarked graves throughout Rookwood.

The original cemetery which encompasses 81 hectares (200 acres) is located in the north western corner of the present cemetery and is protected by an Act of Parliament and is subject to a Permanent Conservation Order. The current cemetery now covers 238 hectares (700 acres) and is quickly filling up. I recall a few years back that there were moves for the cemetery to acquire the adjoining Strathfield Golf Course to allow for further expansion although I don’t think anything has yet happened in that regard.

The cemetery has a rich history over its 150 years. Some readers may recall the old mortuary railway line which was closed in 1948. Mourners would travel by train from the Mortuary Station, Regent St, Sydney near Central Railway to the Rookwood Mortuary Station on Necropolis Circuit within the old original cemetery. The Rookwood Mortuary

Station was dismantled in 1956 having been sold to the Anglican Church and was rebuilt as All Saints Church at Ainslie, a suburb of Canberra.

Among the buildings that were open was included the Frazer Family Vault, just off Cohen Drive which once held up to 8 tombs. The very attractive chapel of St Michael the Archangel was also open for inspection. The chapel has a statue upon the roof of St Michael. The original statue was hit by lightning and was replaced with the replacement statue also being struck by lightning some years later, and they say lightning does not strike twice in the one place.

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