History celebrates the lives of famous Australians, and sometimes even their deaths if they are interesting or unique enough – but when are we taught about how and where our famous Australians were laid to rest?
Our cultural heroes are celebrated and revered during their lives and funerals, but few of us really dwell on what happened next, where were they buried, were they cremated? Yet for a new breed of people sometimes called tombstone tourists, who interested in visiting cemeteries be it for genealogy purposes or to celebrate death this is an area of great interest.
Below are just a few famous Australian's – did you know Michael Hutchence's ashes were divided into three, Ned Kelly's exact grave location is unknown, Eddie Mabo was re-buried three years after his original burial and Saint Mary MacKillop was re-buried in a vault five years after her original burial in a cemetery.
Sir Donald Bradman
Born 27 August 1908 – 25 February 2001
Sir Donald Bradman was an international cricketer and is acknowledged as being the greatest batsman of all time with a test batting average of 99.94. Having been hospitalised with pneumonia late in 2000 he returned home and died 25 February 2001. His memorial service was held at St Peter's Anglican Cathedral in Adelaide, such was the interest it was broadcast nationwide. He was buried at Centennial Park Cemetery, South Australia.
2 August 1861 – 9 June 1932Edith Cowan is best known as being the first Australian woman to serve as a member of parliament, albeit she was defeated after a single term. She was also an advocate for the rights of women and children, particularly those children born to single mothers.
13 June 1927 – 19 September 2003Slim Dusty was an Australian cultural icon, a country music guitarist, producer and most well-known singer-songwriter. His version of the song 'A Pub With No Beer' with the first by an Australian to become a number 1 international hit song. He had over 100 albums and sold over seven million records. He died at home in NSW after a long illness with lung and kidney cancer. His state funeral was at St Andrew's Cathedral in Sydney and he was cremated at the Northern Suburbs Crematorium in Sydney, NSW.
22 January 1960 – 22 November 1997Michael Hutchence was a founding member of the Australian rock band Inxs and an actor. He won Best International Artist at the 1991 BRIT Awards. During the final leg of his world tour in 1997 in Australia, he was found dead in his hotel room on 22nd November, his death was later declared suicide by the NSW Coroner. His funeral was held at St Andrew's Cathedral in Sydney, he was cremated at Northern Suburbs Crematorium and a third of his ashes scattered in Rose Bay, Sydney Harbour on 22nd January 1998. His ashes were divided between his father and brother, mother and sister, and partner.
December 1854 – 11 November 1880
20 September 1880 – 30 November 1952Elizabeth Kenny promoted a controversial new treatment to polio that involved exercising the muscles instead of immobilising patients which was the practice at the time. In 1915 she volunteered as an unaccredited nurse to serve in World War I and was posted to the ships transporting war goods and soldiers between England and Austalia. On these ships, she started to use muscle manipulation to treat returning soldiers and their various ailments. Her principles of muscle rehabilitation were the start of physiotherapy. Her treatments were used by thousands around to world to help polio patients regain mobility. She died and is buried in her hometown of Nobby in Queensland.
29 June 1936 – 21 January 1992
Eddie Mabo is best known for campaigning for Indigenous land rights and for his role in seeing the legal doctrine of 'terra nullius' (nobody's land) overturned – providing acknowledgement and recognition for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people's unique connection with the land. He died in 1992 and was buried at Townsville cemetery. However due to his grave being vandalised his family decided to rebury him on Murray Island three years later, three years being the traditional mourning period for the people of Murray Island.
Saint Mary MacKillop
15 January 1842 – 8 August 1909Saint Mary MacKillop co-founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart (Josephites) in South Australia, the group established schools and welfare institutions in Australia and New Zealand. She is Australia's first and only Saint and was canonised in 2010. She died in 1909 at the Josephite convent in North Sydney and was buried at Gore Hill Cemetery. Her remains were exhumed in 1914 because visitors continually took earth from her grave, and she transferred to a vault before the altar of the Virgin Mary memorial chapel in Mount Street, North Sydney.
Dame Nellie Melba
19 May 1861 – 23 February 1931Dame Nellie Melba was the first Australian classical vocalist, and first stage performers, to achieve international recognition. She travelled internationally and regularly performed in the United Kingdom and Europe. She became one of the most famous singers of the late Victorian era and the early 20th century.
28 July 1902 – 8 August 1959Albert Namatjira was one of the most famous Indigenous Australian artists of his generation. He was from the MacDonnell Ranges in Central Australia, born and raised at the Hermannsburg Lutheran Mission near Alice Springs. His artwork was widely popular and reproductions adorned many Australian homes. He was the first Northern Territory Aboriginal person to be freed from the restrictions that made Aboriginal people wards of the state. In 1957 he became the first Aboriginal person to be granted restricted Australian citizenship.
Keep an eye out for new blogs coming soon, including more in this series.