South Head General Cemetery | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage

Heritage

South Head General Cemetery

Item details

Name of item: South Head General Cemetery
Other name/s: Old South Head Cemetery
Type of item: Landscape
Group/Collection: Cemeteries and Burial Sites
Category: Cemetery/Graveyard/Burial Ground
Location: Lat: -33.858444 Long: 151.281675
Primary address: 793 Old South Head Road, Vaucluse, NSW 2030
Parish: Alexandria
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Waverley
Local Aboriginal Land Council: La Perouse
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT7006 DP1023201
LOT113 DP752011
LOT501 DP752011

Boundary:

Area bounded by Old South Head Road, Burge Street and Young Street, to the kerbline including trees outside perimeter wall.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
793 Old South Head RoadVaucluseWaverleyAlexandriaCumberlandPrimary Address

Owner/s

Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Waverley CouncilLocal Government 

Statement of significance:

South Head General Cemetery is of state heritage significance as the first general public cemetery in the eastern suburbs. It is on land originally granted in 1845 and eventually founded in 1868 as part of the attempt to cope with the growing demand for new burial grounds following the closure of Devonshire Street Cemetery in Surry Hills.

The state heritage significance of South Head General Cemetery is enhanced through its association with a number of high-achieving, famous and notable people from across NSW, Australia and the world including people from the fields of architecture, business and others of religious, political and sporting backgrounds. It contains the graves of people drowned in the 1927 sinking of the 'Greycliffe' in Sydney Harbour and others associated with important events in the history and development of NSW.

South Head General Cemetery is of state heritage significance for its aesthetic values. It has landmark values availed by its position overlooking Diamond Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Its eclectic collection of intact funerary monuments of various eras contributes to its landmark and aesthetic values.

South Head General Cemetery is of state heritage significance for its educational and research potential. The cemetery is an outdoor archive of genealogical, biographical, historical, architectural, artistic and demographic information which demonstrates the historic and contemporary social character of Sydney and New South Wales.

South Head General Cemetery is of state heritage significance as a rare and distinctive landscape character which sets it apart from other general cemeteries of its age and size. The absence of denominational or religious sections within the cemetery is rare.

South Head General Cemetery is of state heritage significance as a representative example of a burial ground that can demonstrate the principal characteristics of a general public cemetery from the Victorian period in NSW including funerary monuments which have evolved over time and reflect the social values and attitudes of the Australian community towards death and commemoration from the late 19th century to the present day.
Date significance updated: 14 Mar 17
Note: There are incomplete details for a number of items listed in NSW. The Heritage Division intends to develop or upgrade statements of significance and other information for these items as resources become available.

Description

Construction years: 1868-1950
Physical description: Cemetery site from 1868, sited above Diamond Bay overlooking the Pacific Ocean to its east. Current area 4 acres (1.6 hectares) containing around 6,000 burials. It is surrounded by a low stone fence, with impressive bronze (cast-iron gates, between hefty sandstone piers (Murray, 2016, 26) entry gates. It contains some imposing monuments including family vaults. The cemetery has grass between the plots and lawn graves in the original paths. There are hardly any shrubs or trees within its walls, though groups and rows of Canary Island palms (Phoenix canariensis, c.1925), and later Norfolk Island pines (Araucaria heterophylla) and New Zealand pohutukawa trees (Metrosideros excelsa), surround the boundary ('define its perimeter' (ibid, 2016, 26). A modest amenities building dates from c.1950. South Head Cemetery has always been a general cemetery and does not have sections reserved for particular religious denominations.

Size is 1.6ha (Murray, 2016, 27). Ocean views, although the cemetery does not extend down to the cliff. As well as the main gates, there is a lych gate entrance on Burge Street and an arched entrance from Old South Head Road. From the main gates, a sweeping avenue leads down to the ornately-carved Celtic cross, erected by the people of Sydney, to commemorate the grave of Sir Walter Edward Davidsion (d.1923), Governor of NSW, 1918-23. Large and expensive family monuments line this avenue, one of the best places to be buried in this cemetery (ibid, 26). The cemetery is notable for some fine examples of art deco memorials dating from the 1920s and 1930s - including the Wheeler Memorial by sculptor Rayner Hoff - and for a preponderence of large granite memorials marking family plots. One of the most famous monuments is the marble bust to motor car racer, Phil Garlick (d.1927), complete with steering wheel and racing cap flaps. Towards the southern part of the cemetery are some early sandstone altar tombs, dating from the 1850s, that were transferred from the Devonshire Street Cemeteries (ibid, 27).

South Head Cemetery also features a number of naval burials, often marked with anchors - commanders and captains who now enjoy ocean views. An example is a marble cross and anchor marking the burial of sea captain Malcolm Green (d.1904) (that includes a memorial to his brother James Green (d.1857), captain of the ill-fated Dunbar). A few mausolea and family vaults are dotted throughout the site. A fabulous pair of Grecian and Gothic mausoleums memorialise the Foy and Smith families on the southern part of the site. The family plot includes a simple Celtic cross memorial to (Kings Cross) activist Juanita Nielsen (nee Foy) who disappeared in 1975. South Head cemetery also boasts local wildlife, with kestrel sometimes perching on headstones (ibid, 27-8).
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
One of the best preserved and intact old cemeteries in Sydney. Headstones in a good state of preservation. The monuments are generally in very good condition.

South Head Cemetery is still in use, managed by Waverley Council, and this means that some of the landscape design has been compromised. Lawn burials cluster in every spare avenue and pathway (Murray, 2016, 27).
Date condition updated:12 Dec 16
Modifications and dates: 1924 wall and gates, 1950s amenities block
Further information: The cemetery is surrounded on three sides by 1-2 storey houses. On the west a retirement apartment complex has been constructed on the site formerly occupied by Vaucluse High School.
Current use: Cemetery
Former use: Aboriginal land, farm, cemetery

History

Historical notes: South Head General Cemetery is located on the land of the Birrabirragal clan of the Dharug nation. As with most Aboriginal groups in Australia prior to European colonisation, the Birrabirragal people lived a traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle that utilised the natural resources available in their environment to achieve the physical and spiritual nourishment to sustain their way of life. Evidence of the area's occupation by the Birrabirragal people is found in nearby areas such as Nielsen Park (Vaucluse), Cooper Park (Bellevue Hill) and Bondi.

European exploration into the coastal region of eastern Sydney commenced in 1790 with the establishment of a signal station at South Head. A road from Sydney to South Head was built in 1811, and in 1816 a lighthouse was constructed at the signal station. This road became known as Old South Head Road when New South Head Road was built in the 1830s. Old South Head Road runs along the western side of the cemetery and meets New South Head Road near the entrance gates.

In 1841 the Reverend Lancelot Threlkeld became the Congregationalist minister at South Head, and requested the Governor make a land grant for a cemetery. The parish at that time consisted mainly of the fishing village of Watsons Bay. A land grant was reportedly made to Threlkeld by Governor Gipps in 1845. The 'Sydney Morning Herald' noted on 9 September 1845: 'His Excellency the Governor has been pleased, in answer to a memorial from the inhabitants of South Head, to grant one acre of land for the purpose of a general cemetery for the interment of the dead, without any restrictions as to the religious persuasion of the deceased.'

However there is no evidence in newspapers or other records of any burials in the cemetery before 1868 when the burial occurred on 27 February of Major Lee, a resident of Vaucluse. Some earlier deaths were commemorated on later monuments, such as James Green, captain of the 'Dunbar' which was wrecked off South Head in 1857. He is named on the gravestone of his brother Malcolm who died in 1904. In addition a small number of earlier graves were moved to South Head Cemetery from the Devonshire Street Cemetery in 1901 at the time of the construction of Central Railway Station.

The first trustees were appointed in 1870 by the Minister for Lands, Sir John Robertson. They were Thomas John Fisher (1813-1875, barrister and son-in-law of William Charles Wentworth of Vaucluse House), Joseph Scaife Willis (1808-1897, resident of 'Greycliffe', Vaucluse), George Thorne (1810-1891, resident of 'Claremont', now part of Rose Bay convent) and Edward Mason Hunt (1842-1899, barrister and resident of 'The Hermitage', Vaucluse).

The original land grant of 1 acre was formalised in 1872. This area was the south-eastern part of the present cemetery site, on the corner of Burge and Young Streets (land title 501/752011). A further area of 3 roods and 36 perches was granted in 1890, west of the original grant and on the corner of Burge Street and Old South Head Road (land title 113/752011). The final area added to the cemetery was 2 acres, 2 roods and 7 perches granted in 1902 which is to the north of the other two grants and on the corner of Old South Head Road and Young Street (land title 7006/1023201).

The first funeral held at South Head for a public figure was that of Margaret, wife of Sir John Robertson, on 8 August 1889. Sir John was the Premier of New South Wales in 1860-1861, 1868-1870, 1875-1877 and 1885-1886, and his parliamentary career covered over 30 years from 1856 to 1886. Also in 1889 Sir John's 82-year-old Maori servant known as John Blanket was buried within the Robertson family vault. The inscription 'Sir John's Blanket' on the kerbing has been misunderstood by some writers as referring metaphorically to Sir John's grave as a 'stone blanket', rather than to a named person buried within it.

Sir John was buried with his wife on 10 May 1891, and the 'Singleton Argus' of 13 May 1891 commented: 'The cemetery itself, bleak and unornamented, is a dreary enough looking place, but its appearance on Sunday afternoon, with people walking about it, was almost weird.' Sir John's body was conveyed by boat from Watsons Bay to Circular Quay from where the funeral procession proceeded back to South Head by road to allow the public to pay their respects along the route.

In 1895 the Trust appointed a Secretary, Edwin Stanhope Sautelle, who was also the Clerk and Engineer of Vaucluse Borough Council which was established in that year. By then the original Trustees had been replaced by others including Harold Francis Norrie (mayor of Vaucluse and local doctor) and J A Murray. A sexton's cottage had been built by 1895, when a newspaper report ('Freeman's Journal', 11 May 1895) mentioned the sexton's wife assisting a visitor seeking Sir John Robertson's grave.

The tram line extension from Edgecliff to Watsons Bay opened in 1909 along New South Head Road, passing close by the cemetery. This line continued operating until 1960 when it was replaced by the 324 bus route. The tram made it easier for the public to travel to the cemetery from Sydney either to attend funerals or to visit graves.

After the death in office of New South Wales Governor Sir Walter Davidson he was buried in South Head Cemetery on 18 September 1923. Two years later in 1925 the Governor's remains were moved to the central avenue and a large Celtic cross monument was erected by public subscription. This event seems to have spurred the Trustees to undertake improvements, including the perimeter wall and gates. The main gates made from brass and bronze were designed by Edwin Sautelle and installed in 1924. ['Sun', 25 June 1924] An article in 'The Watchman' newspaper on 13 August 1925 stated: 'In the last two or three years the trustees have spent over (Pounds)8000, principally in substantial stone fences, cemented paths, etc.'

In 1926 the trustees had ambitious plans, with a proposal to expand the cemetery by acquiring around 17 acres extending south-eastwards to the coast. The Local Land Board approved the resumption of the area, but Waverley Municipal Council successfully appealed against the decision to the Land and Valuation Court. The move was opposed by Sir John Sulman, president of the Town Planning Association, who stated that the extension would block the proposed cliff walk and drive from The Gap (Watsons Bay) to Ben Buckler (North Bondi), and condemned the practice of having cemeteries in the middle of residential areas. ['Sydney Morning Herald', 9 September 1926]

South Head General Cemetery was the scene of a dramatic series of funerals in 1927, including 12 on one day, following the sinking of the ferry 'Greycliffe' on Sydney Harbour with the loss of 40 lives. On Thursday 3 November the ferry was travelling from Circular Quay and Garden Island heading for Nielsen Park and Watsons Bay when it collided at 4.15 pm with the steamer 'Tahiti' and sank. The 22 'Greycliffe' victims buried in South Head Cemetery are in individual graves.

In late 1937 Edwin Sautelle was discharged as Secretary of the Trust after 42 years' service. Along with this role he ran his own engineering firm and served on Vaucluse Council from 1912 to 1934 including three terms as Mayor. A subsequent audit revealed that up to (Pounds)40,000 was missing and in April 1938 Sautelle was charged with forging time sheets and stealing. He was convicted on six charges and sentenced to three years' imprisonment. This case signalled the end for the Trustees, and in 1939 the New South Wales parliament passed the South Head Cemetery Act which removed the trustees and authorised the Minister for Lands to appoint a single trustee in their place. The new trustee was Bruce Carlyle Hughes, the Inspector of Local Government Accounts. After two years a new group of trustees was appointed in 1941, including aldermen of Waverley and Vaucluse Councils. However less than six months later the trustees were removed and on 17 October 1941 Waverley Municipal Council was appointed sole trustee.

Waverley Council has continued to operate South Head Cemetery since 1941. The sexton's cottage was demolished after 1941 to create more space for burials, and was replaced with a smaller liver-brick amenities block in the 1950s. The addition of lawn graves from the late 1960s utilised the central avenue and other paths to increase the burial space within the cemetery. In 2011 residents expressed concern at the proposed removal of tuckeroo street trees (Cupaniopsis anacardioides) which were damaging the cemetery wall facing Burge Street. Council agreed to plant replacement trees and ensure they were growing before removing the original trees in 2014. ['Wentworth Courier', 10 August 2011 and 20 August 2014]

South Head General Cemetery contains the graves of many notable people, including: Australia's first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton (1920); NSW Governors Sir Walter Davidson (1923) and Sir Roden Cutler (2002); NSW Premiers Sir John Robertson (1891), Sir William Lyne (1913), Sir Charles Wade (1922) and Sir Joseph Carruthers (1932); Queensland Premier and Federal Treasurer "Red Ted" Theodore (1950); Sydney Lord Mayors Sir Richard Richards (1920), Sir Allen Taylor (1940), Sir Archibald Howie (1943), Sir Samuel Walder (1946) and Sir Emmet McDermott (2002); members of the Packer, Fairfax and Norton newspaper dynasties; members of the Street family legal dynasty including two Chief Justices, Sir Philip Whistler Street (1938) and Sir Kenneth Whistler Street (1972); Anglican Archbishop of Sydney John Charles Wright (1933); the Foy retailing family (including a monument to the disappeared Foy heiress Juanita Nielsen); architects Mortimer Lewis (1879), John Horbury Hunt (1904), Robin Dods (1920), Howard Joseland (1930), John Burcham Clamp (1931) and Neville Gruzman (2005); artist George Washington Lambert (1930); writers Jack Moses (1945) and Frank Clune (1971); entertainer Gladys Moncrieff (1976) and founder of the acting dynasty Roy Redgrave (1922); and Edmund Resch junior of the brewing family (1963).

In various parts of South Head General Cemetery there are Commonwealth war graves of 18 Australian service personnel, 5 of World War I and 13 of World War II. Other memorials note war veterans who are not buried within the cemetery. The cemetery is also the site of burials of a number of Sydney's early French families, including the Desjardins, Moutons and Tesserts.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
1. Environment-Tracing the evolution of a continent's special environments Environment - naturally evolved-Activities associated with the physical surroundings that support human life and influence or shape human cultures. Cultural: Cliffs and escarpments influencing human settlement-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Significant Places How are significant places marked in the landscape by, or for, different groups-Monuments and Sites
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Developing local, regional and national economies-National Theme 3
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes of contemplation and devotion-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Environment - cultural landscape-Activities associated with the interactions between humans, human societies and the shaping of their physical surroundings Landscapes and parklands of distinctive styles-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Changing land uses - from rural to suburban-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Naming places (toponymy)-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Land tenure-Activities and processes for identifying forms of ownership and occupancy of land and water, both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Administering and alienating Crown lands-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages 19th century suburban developments-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Subdivision of urban estates-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Cultural Social and religious life-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Shaping coastal settlement-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages 19th Century Infrastructure-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Creating landmark structures and places in suburban settings-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Developing suburbia-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Role of transport in settlement-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. State government-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Local government-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - conserving cultural and natural heritage-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - providing burial sites-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - building and operating public infrastructure-
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. Developing roles for government - parks and open spaces-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Monuments-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Developing cultural institutions and ways of life-National Theme 8
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. work of stonemasons-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Building in response to natural landscape features.-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Designing and marking grave furnishings and ornamentation-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Landscape of Remembrance-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Architectural styles and periods - Victorian (mid)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Landscaping - Victorian period-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Architectural styles and periods - Victorian (late)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Architectural styles and periods - Federation Arts and Crafts-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Landscaping - Federation period-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Architectural styles and periods - Interwar Art Deco-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Ways of life 1900-1950-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Ways of life 1950-2000-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Ways of life 1850-1900-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Domestic life-Activities associated with creating, maintaining, living in and working around houses and institutions. Living in suburbia-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Activities associated with relaxation and recreation-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Visiting heritage places-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation Enjoying public parks and gardens-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Death-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Cemetery-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Places of informal community gatherings-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Social institutions-Activities and organisational arrangements for the provision of social activities Commemorating war losses-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Marking the phases of life-National Theme 9
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Cemeteries-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Disintering and reburying the dead-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Operating and maintaining cemeteries and burial grounds-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Remembering the deceased-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Burying and remembering notable persons-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Burying and remembering notable persons-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Birth and Death-Activities associated with the initial stages of human life and the bearing of children, and with the final stages of human life and disposal of the dead. Burying the dead in customary ways-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Sir John Robertson - premier and colonial politician-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Mark Foy, retailer, businessman, philanthropist-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Sir Edmund Barton, First Prime Minister-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with George Washington Thomas Lambert, painter, artist-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Francis Foy, entrepreneur and merchant-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Sir Walter Edward Davidson, NSW Governor 1918-23-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Reginald Gordon (Phil) Garlick, racing car driver-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Gladys Moncrieff, soprano singer-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Robert Clyde Packer, newspaper man and media proprietor-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups Associations with Sir Douglas Frank Hewson Packer, newspaper man and media proprietor-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
South Head General Cemetery is of state historical significance as the first general public cemetery in the eastern suburbs. On land originally granted in 1845 " for the purpose of a general cemetery for the internment of the dead, without an restrictions as to the religious persuasion of the deceased", South Head General Cemetery was eventually founded in 1868 as part of the attempt to cope with the growing demand for new burial grounds following the closure of Devonshire Street Cemetery in Surry Hills. Other cemeteries founded at the same time were Rookwood (SHR 00178), Gore Hill (SHR 01491) and Balmain (now Pioneer Memorial Park, Leichhardt).

South Head General Cemetery may have particular historical significance for the decision to exclude religious sections or portions unlike most other general cemeteries.

The cemetery is of historical significance at a state level for its ability to demonstrate the historical rise of the Eastern suburbs as one of Sydney's most affluent and desirable locations to both live and die. The expansion of the cemetery from one acre when the land grant was made to the present four acres reflects the residential growth of Vaucluse and Watson Bay, and later the development Bellevue Hill, Double Bay and Point Piper. The construction of the substantial homes in these suburbs demonstrates the area's popularity with Sydney's political, cultural and business leaders since the nineteen century as does the burial of many of these individuals in South Head Cemetery.

The cemetery is still in use and demonstrates the cultural diversity and changing social values and attitudes of the Australian people towards death and its commemoration over nearly 150 years.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
South Head General Cemetery is of state heritage significance for its historical association with a number of high-achieving, famous and notable people from across NSW, Australia and the world. Over nearly 150 years South Head Cemetery has become the final resting place for over 6,000 people, including 137 listed in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. These include notable people from architecture, business, religious, political and sporting backgrounds, such as: Australia's first Prime Minister, Edmund Barton (1920); NSW Governors Sir Walter Davidson (1923) and Sir Roden Cutler (2002); NSW Premiers Sir John Robertson (1891), Sir William Lyne (1913), Sir Charles Wade (1922) and Sir Joseph Carruthers (1932); Queensland Premier and Federal Treasurer "Red Ted" Theodore (1950); Sydney Lord Mayors Sir Richard Richards (1920), Sir Allen Taylor (1940), Sir Archibald Howie (1943), Sir Samuel Walder (1946), and Sir Emmet McDermott (2002); members of the Packer, Fairfax and Norton newspaper dynasties; members of the Street family legal dynasty including two Chief Justices, Sir Philip Whistler Street (1938) and Sir Kenneth Whistler Street (1972); Anglican Archbishop of Sydney John Charles Wright (1933); the Foy retailing family (including a monument to the disappeared Foy heiress Juanita Nielsen); architects Mortimer Lewis (1879), John Horbury Hunt (1904), Robin Dods (1920), Howard Joseland (1930), John Burcham Clamp (1931) and Neville Gruzman (2005); artist George Washington Lambert (1930); writers Jack Moses (1945) and Frank Clune (1971); entertainer Gladys Moncrieff (1976) and founder of the acting dynasty Roy Redgrave (1922); racing car driver 'Phil' Garlick (1927); and Edmund Resch junior of the brewing family (1963).

South Head Cemetery has historical association significance at a state level as the final resting place for a number of individuals associated with significant NSW events, including being the location of 18 Commonwealth war graves for Australian service personnel - 5 of World War I and 13 of World War II. In addition it contains the graves of 22 of the 40 people drowned in the 1927 sinking of the 'Greycliffe' in Sydney Harbour. The burial of the Maori man known as John Blanket (Sir John Robertson's long- term servant) is an important and unusual indigenous interment in a European setting.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
South Head General Cemetery is of state heritage significance for its aesthetic values. Sited in a suburban setting on approx. four hectares, overlooking Diamond Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The Cemetery is enclosed by a low stone wall and impressive bronze entry gates which contribute strongly to the cemetery's aesthetic values. The original form of the cemetery if visible with grass between the plots and lawn graves in the original paths. There are hardly any shrubs or trees within its walls, though groups and rows of Canary Island palms (c.1925), and later Norfolk Island pines and New Zealand pohutukawa trees (Metrosideros excelsa), surround the boundary on the road verge.

The cemetery contains a collection of highly intact funerary monuments and grave furniture with a predominance of granite and trachyte, along with some sandstone and marble. There are a few statues of religious figures such as angels, but the more predominant designs are Celtic and other crosses and obelisks. Smaller monuments such as stone desks often include carved decorations using art deco style.

Significant monuments of high aesthetic significance include the monuments to Governor Walter Davidson and Archbishop John Wright, the tomb of Sir John Robertson designed by noted architect John Horbury Hunt, Hunt's own grave of brick, the cenotaph-style monument to Sydney Lord Mayor Archbald Howie (1943), the Foy family gravestone with the family members' signatures reproduced, the finely sculpted bas-relief of an angel and four cherubs on the grave of Fanny Eleanor Elizabeth Wheeler (1932) and the white marble sculpture of motor racing driver 'Phil' Garlick who was killed in an accident at Maroubra Speedway (1927).
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
As an operational general public cemetery, South Head Cemetery is of state heritage significance for its historic and contemporary association with the social fabric of Sydney's eastern suburbs, particularly its cultural, political and business elite.

The cemetery reflects the cultural and religious diversity of the Australian community since 1870 and its contemporary social significance is increased by its public accessibility and regular visitation.

South Head General Cemetery has strong association with many prominent individuals and families that are interred in the cemetery, including the presence of a large number of the 'Greycliffe' victims and a number of Sydney's early French families, including the Desjardins, Moutons and Tesserts.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
South Head General Cemetery is an important reference site. The cemetery contains an outdoor archive of genealogical, biographical, historical, architectural, artistic and demographic information, and as such, South Head Cemetery is a significant resource asset for NSW.

It is a readily accessible resource by virtue of its location near the tourist centre of
Watsons Bay and its proximity to public transport from the city centre.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Cemeteries of the same historical period are generally similar in layout, style and purpose but South Head General Cemetery meets this criterion of State heritage significance because it has an uncommon and distinctive landscape character which sets it apart from other cemeteries of similar age and size. The quality of the monuments and the cemetery layout are more closely aligned with larger general cemeteries such as Waverley, Rookwood and Gore Hill. In addition the absence of denominational or religious sections within the cemetery is rare.

The siting overlooking the Pacific Ocean makes the cemetery both a passive recreational facility as well as a place of remembrance. A journalist writing in the 'Watchman' newspaper in 1925 asserted: 'Everybody likes it. It is the most cheerful "God's Acre" I ever saw, and I have seen some of the best.'
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
South Head General Cemetery is of state heritage significance as a representative example of a burial ground that can demonstrate the principal characteristics of a general public cemetery from the Victorian period in NSW.

The funerary monuments reflect the social values and attitudes of the Australian community towards death and commemoration from the late 19th century to the present day, with strong representation of the inter-War years.

The ongoing operation of the cemetery and the gradual introduction of different styles of monument (such as lawn graves) demonstrate the changing attitudes of the community towards funerary practices in NSW over time.
Integrity/Intactness: One of the best preserved and intact old cemeteries in Sydney. Headstones in a good state of preservation.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

Recommendations

Management CategoryDescriptionDate Updated
Recommended ManagementProduce a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) 
Recommended ManagementPrepare a maintenance schedule or guidelines 
Recommended ManagementCarry out interpretation, promotion and/or education 

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
HERITAGE ACT 1977
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

FRANK SARTOR
Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008
57(2)Exemption to allow workHeritage Act - Site Specific Exemptions HERITAGE ACT 1977
ORDER UNDER SECTION 57(2)
TO GRANT SITE SPECIFIC EXEMPTIONS FROM APPROVAL
South Head General Cemetery
SHR No. 01991
I, the Minister for Heritage, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, in pursuance of section 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, do, by this my order, grant an exemption from section 57(1) of that Act in respect of the engaging in or carrying out of any activities described in Schedule C by the owner described in Schedule B on the item described in Schedule "A".
The Hon Gabrielle Upton MP?
Minister for Heritage
Sydney, 21st Day of August 2017

SCHEDULE "A"
The item known as South Head General Cemetery, situated on the land described in Schedule "B".
SCHEDULE "B"
All those pieces or parcels of land known as Lot 7006 of Deposited Plan 1023201, Lot 113 of Deposited Plan 752011, Lot 501 of Deposited Plan 752011, and through to the roadside kerb along Old South Head Road, Burge Street and Young Street as at date of gazettal, Parish of Alexandria, County of Cumberland, shown on the plan catalogued HC 3052 in the office of the Heritage Council of New South Wales.
SCHEDULE "C"
1. Maintenance and Repair
* Manual clearing of paths and drains;
* Maintenance of any roads, paths, signs, fences, drains and buildings where maintenance means the
continuous protective care of significant existing materials;
* Control of weeds within grave plots by manual methods;
* Mowing of lawns and paths;
* Control of weeds by application of herbicide not affecting ornamental or symbolic plantings or remnant
native vegetation in accordance with Waverley Council Pesticide Use Notification Plan 2016;
* Careful spraying of paths with herbicide;
* Remedial tree works carried out according to Australian Standard AS 4373-2007 (Pruning of amenity trees);
* Removal of dead, dying or dangerous trees or tree limbs in cases where there is a public safety risk in
accordance with AS 4373-2007 (Pruning of amenity trees) and Waverley Council Tree Management Policy
2013;
* Sympathetic repair and maintenance of existing roads, paths, signs and drains where like-for-like
replacement materials are used and consideration is given to the effect of cumulative replacement;
* Suppression of fires in cases of threat to human lives, property or cemetery monuments;
* Repair to fences where like-for-like replacement materials are used;
* Graffiti removal from significant or sensitive fabric by use of low pressure water and neutral detergents and
mild brushing and scrubbing with a soft bristle brush;
* Sympathetic repairs to buildings where like-for-like replacement materials are used and consideration is
given to the effect of cumulative replacement; and
* Sympathetic maintenance and repairs to retaining walls using existing or like-for-like replacement materials
and consideration is given to the effect of cumulative replacement.
2. Use of the Cemetery
* Continued use of existing family vaults;
3. Minor Activities
* The development of new memorialisation areas which may include the alteration of non-significant
structures;
* Change of building use including the alteration of internal non-significant fabric;
* Work programmes as approved from time to time by the Heritage Council of NSW or its delegate; and
* All other activities provided for in a Conservation Management Plan or other Plan of Management
(including amendments) endorsed by the Heritage Council in the future.
* Interments, including coffin burials/ ash interments in new and/ or existing family allotments. If new
memorials are required, memorials are to be in keeping with and sympathetic to the original cemetery style
(Victorian/ Edwardian);
* Erection of standard memorials in any areas used by the Armed Services;
* Erection of memorials in family plots remaining in use provided memorials are in keeping with those
existing;
* Re-lettering/addition of inscriptions where this is undertaken in an equivalent and compatible letter type or
attachment of panels of other compatible materials to existing monuments;
* Ceremonies, Funerals and gatherings that are consistent with Memorial Services; and
* Organised tours.
Aug 29 2017

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0199125 Aug 17 924518

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 2005Waverley & South Head General Cemeteries transcriptions
WrittenClive Faro1998To the Lighthouse!: the South Head Road and place-making in early New South Wales'
WrittenE.D.1925'About a Cemetery'
WrittenMargaret Park1996In the service of the dead: a history of South Head General Cemetery
WrittenMurray, Dr. Lisa2016Sydney Cemeteries - a Field Guide
Writtenn/a1924'Bronze and Brass Cemetery Gates'
ElectronicNSW Government Gazette2017NSW Government Gazette View detail
WrittenSouth Head General Cemetery Trust Minutes books and other records
WrittenSteve Brew2003Greycliffe: Stolen Lives

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Heritage Office
Database number: 5063599
File number: DOC16/589652; EF16/13595


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