Throughout the Eastern Goldfields of WA, the only remains of many mining townships are the small abandoned cemetery’s silently telling their stories.
At the centre of these Goldfields is Kalgoorlie with its large historic Cemetery. From a ‘solitary 10 acres with never a headstone on it’ in the 1890s, it is now a country Cemetery different to any other in Australia. Since the first death in Kalgoorlie in 1894, more than 20,000 burials have taken place in this arid inland cemetery of red earth and eucalypts.
Laid out with the centre circle and radiating roads, it is essentially a Victorian-era Cemetery with separate denominational sections. Whilst there are many fine examples of marble workmanship, showing a wide range of symbolic carvings, other types of markers such as cast iron, and tin worked into patterns and curls can also be seen. Another feature at the Kalgoorlie Cemetery is the large range of glass-domed immortelles so popular in the first half of the 20th century.
The early history that the whole Cemetery reveals embraces the early prospectors and entrepreneurs, the typhoid victims, tragic mine accidents and the tiny babies who could not survive the harsh conditions. The headstones show the origins of those who lie beneath. They came not only from Ballarat, Bendigo and Eaglehawk, but from Dublin, London and the four corners of the earth.
The 32 graves featured on this walk are just a random sample of the countless histories in the Cemetery, but they tell of early exploration, gold finds, mining accidents and heroic rescues. They feature not only our civic fathers and the men of commerce but also the women who stood alongside them. The ravages of typhoid, the strength of the Lodge movement, the importance of music and bands and the background to the 1934 race riots, are all stories to be found in the histories on this walk.
To carry out the walk, please refer to the instructions given between each story, and to the map of the Cemetery in the center of the booklet. Each gravesite has a marker for easier identification. The entire walk will take almost two hours; however, it is possible to start, leave or begin again at any part of the walk by using the instructions and the map.
Many of the gravestones are very old, and we would ask you not only out of respect but in the interests of your own safety, to please refrain from walking across them. Please use the pathways and roadways.
The Kalgoorlie Cemetery was established in 1895 and in December 1896 was placed under the care, control and management of the then Kalgoorlie Cemetery Board.
For more information or to purchase the Heritage Trail booklet, contact the Kalgoorlie-Boulder Cemetery Board, Memorial Drive, Kalgoorlie.