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Settler's Cemetery

Item details

Name of item: Settler's Cemetery
Other name/s: Settler's Cemetery; Kembla Grange Old Cemetery; Kembla Grange Pioneers Cemetery
Type of item: Archaeological-Terrestrial
Group/Collection: Cemeteries and Burial Sites
Category: Cemetery/Graveyard/Burial Ground
Primary address: West Dapto Road, Kembla Grange, NSW 2526
Local govt. area: Wollongong City
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
West Dapto RoadKembla GrangeWollongong City  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

The old "Settlers" Cemetery in Kembla Grange is of significance for Wollongong for historical, aesthetic, scientific and social reasons. The Cemetery is associated with a number of locally significant people and events through the decades of interration in its grounds and presents a unique collection of monuments and an unparalleled source of information about the past of the area. It is particularly significant for the actual local community members, many of whom have direct family members interred in its grounds. It has potential to reveal further information about the past of the area, and is a landmark for the local residents.
Date significance updated: 10 Feb 20
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Construction years: 1900-
Physical description: The Cemetery comprises the large open space of the rest park with headstones and monuments, many now gradually falling into disrepair. Most graves are from 1900 to 1930 including a monument to a hero of the Mt Kembla Mine Disaster 1902. This cemetery was once linked with the World War II Cemetery on Reddalls Road, however, it is highly likely that no burials took place in the central area and the physical link was eventually severed.
Further information: Has been poorly maintained. Site to be retained as an historic and public reserve within an area to be developed for light to medium industry.
Current use: Cemetery/Public Reserve
Former use: Cemetery


Historical notes: Kembla Grange (also known as the 'Old' or 'Pioneer') Cemetery contains inscriptions dating from 1907 to 1967. It is divided into Anglican, Catholic, Independent, Methodist and Presbyterian portions of which the Presbyterian portion contains the most graves. The monuments are generally in good order and the grounds of this long closed cemetery are in reasonably good condition. There is a number of unmarked graves and grave surrounds without a headstone or inscription. In 2002, 59 inscriptions were recorded in this cemetery. Kembla Grange Cemetery is administered by Wollongong City Council. This cemetery was once linked with the World War Two Cemetery on Reddalls Road (or it was intended to link them), however, it is highly likely that no burials took place in the central area and the physical link was eventually severed (WCC).

The request for a general cemetery for the Borough of Central Illawarra was made in 1897 (Illawarra Mercury 22 June 1897). The cemetery in Kembla Grange was dedicated under the Crown Lands Act on 26 March 1904 and comprised what is currently (in the year 2000) Lot 111 DP 771098, Lot 112 DO771098, Lot 113 DP771098, Lot 323 DP823189, 322 DP823189 and Lot 1DP538003. The cemetery was intended to be bordered by plantings with north-south and east west access tracks dividing denominational portions for Presbyterian, Methodist, Church of England, Roman Catholic and Unsectarian internments. The first internment was Francis Henrietta Jones on 9 May 1907 in the Church of England portion. As the cemetery was filling, representations were made to expand it in 1925 and 1929, but were not accepted.

The Illawarra District Cemetery Committee was formed and plans were prepared for a proposed crematorium, alterations and extensions to the present cemetery. Proposals to expand the general cemetery at Kembla Grange were again proposed as a result of a report by City Council's Chief Health Inspector on 8 April 1948 which labelled Wollongong General Cemetery as unsuitable as a general cemetery due to the nature of the soil formation. The cemetery was found to be overgrown and poorly kept with some graves only having been excavated to a depth of three feet and nearby residents complaining of offensive odours. 18 Following the Chief Health Inspector's report the Wollongong General cemetery was required to be vacated within three years and the proposal for a new General cemetery at Kembla Grange was endorsed by Wollongong City Council. Following its endorsement a report on the proposed General Cemetery at Kembla Grange was prepared by the town planner Mr Neil Abercrombie who stated that the soil was not perfect for use as a cemetery and that drainage could pose difficulties, but the site had already been used as a cemetery and was located on crown land in a central location for the region within an area which would be unlikely to be developed.

Abercrombie recommended that the location should be reserved in the Planning Scheme for a general cemetery. The report was adopted by Wollongong Council and the Minister for Lands was invited to inspect The site. The Minister for Lands, Mr Sheahan visited Wollongong on 25 August 1948 and gave approval for the acquisition of a site of 66 acres of land at Kembla Grange to be used as a general cemetery. During the Minister's visit the matter of a general cemetery was discussed with the Mayor of General Wollongong (Ald. H.A. Graham) stating that the most important matter in the district at the present time was the question of a general cemetery as those existing in the Wollongong area were 'just- about full up.'

The site selected by council at Kembla Grange was going to cost £25,000 and that the financial aspect of the proposal was the responsibility of the Government. The expansion of the Kembla Grange cemetery was altered through the addition of a crematorium, which proved a controversial move amongst undertakers and churchmen. An architect Mr L.S. Robinson was selected and a call for tenders made in 1954. The Crown Land to the north of Kembla Grange Cemetery was gazetted on 25 November 1954. Despite the advanced nature of the plans and funding allocations, the site appears to have remained undeveloped. With the exception of the War Cemetery, the land portions to the north of the cemetery site do not appear to have been utilised for internments. (Abridged from Biosis [2014], Preliminary Archaeological Assessment for 17 Reddalls Road and 66 West Dapto Road, Kembla Grange NSW).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Religion-Activities associated with particular systems of faith and worship Observing religious practices-
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. Entering and leaving worldly existence-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The item has historic value.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The item has group, landscape and aesthetic value.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The item has social and cultural value.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
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:

An archaeological assessment of the existing cemetery is recommended and remnant monuments should be conserved.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanWollongong Local Environmental Plan 2009632726 Feb 10 2010-76 
Local Environmental Plan  07 Jan 00 1/200069

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
City of Wollongong Heritage Study1991L7-SWMcDonald McPhee Rogers Conacher FullartonD. Fullerton No
Review of heritage items in Wollongong LGA2013 Zoran PopovicZoran Popovic Yes
West Dapto Heritage Study 20062HLA-Envirosciences Pty Limited  No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenBiosis2014Preliminary Archaeological Assessment for 17 Reddalls Road and 66 West Dapto Road, Kembla Grange NSW

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: Local Government
Database number: 2700723

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