Category Archives: Pioneer Gravesites

I am ashamed…

Map of Australia.Sth AustWith my head held high, I’ve always been most proud to be South Australian and enthralled by its uniqueness as a planned and free settlement. This dream of the “dissenters”, often called “The Paradise of Dissent” and “The Utopia of the South”,  was certainly not fulfilled as planned but,  nonetheless, South Australia has always been right at the forefront of social change. One prime example is being only second in the world, with New Zealand being the first, to grant women the right to vote and the very first in the world to allow women to stand for election to Parliament.

It is, therefore, with shame that I realise South Australia has also led the country in the desecration of the Burial Sites of our Pioneers, our Ancestors and our dearly departed.  No longer permitted to R.I.P. –  if the leases on their graves are not renewed the Cemetery claims ownership, buries strangers on top and, if family do not collect the memorials, they are disposed of in whichever way the authorities choose.

Headstone gone and strangers buried in the grave of:  Joseph Petter Bowen, Helen Leitia Bowen (nee Young), and Hilda Jane Bowen, Benjamin Clarence, Josephine Letitia and Estelle Maud Bowen, also memorial to Warwick Young Bowen AIF, who died in Cambridge, UK, in 1918

Headstone gone and strangers buried in the grave of: Joseph Petter Bowen, Helen Leitia Bowen (nee Young), and Hilda Jane Bowen, Benjamin Clarence, Josephine Letitia and Estelle Maud Bowen, also memorial to Warwick Young Bowen AIF, who died in Cambridge, UK, in 1918

Cheltenham isn’t the only cemetery which treats our Ancestors with such contempt.  Centennial Park, Dudley Park and Payneham are three others, that I know of, but there may be more. However Cheltenham is the only public cemetery, managed on behalf of all South Australians, who treats our Ancestors in this most disrespectful way.

The Adelaide Cemeteries Authority (ACA)  is a statutory authority of the State Government of South Australia and, since 2002, has been responsible for managing four cemeteries in the Adelaide metropolitan area—

*  West Terrace Cemetery, established in 1837, is a State Heritage Place (Register Number 12722).
*  Cheltenham Cemetery, established in 1876, originally owned and operated by the Port Adelaide Council.

*  Enfield Memorial Park, established in 1944, and commenced operations in 1947.

*  Smithfield Memorial Park, established in 1986 by the Northern Adelaide Regional Councils.

Cemeteries managed by the Adelaide Cemeteries Authority

Cemeteries managed by the Adelaide Cemeteries Authority

West Terrace Cemetery has, in the past, re-used graves but since receiving “State Heritage Listing”, because of rare indigenous plants growing within its grounds, the graves are protected.  I believe Enfield has also previously re-used graves, but stand to be corrected. In a phone call, a few weeks ago, I was informed that Enfield don’t re-use graves because “we have enough land.” Smithfield is way out in the northern suburbs, in a rather beautiful bushland setting, was only established in 1986 and seems to have huge amounts of excess land. They don’t re-use gravesites and disturb those who’ve been laid to R.I.P in their environs.

Book. Port  Adelaide. Mudflats to metropolisThe destruction of Cheltenham gravesites, and memorials, is the destruction of our history and a profound dishonouring of so very many of South Australia’s earliest Pioneers.  Cheltenham Cemetery is one of the oldest in the Adelaide metropolitan area, having commenced operations as the Port Adelaide and Suburban Cemetery on 27 July 1876 with the burial of Hannah Wheatley Mussared of Le Fevre Peninsula.

Port Adelaide is an historic area which was central to the colonization of South Australia dating right back to its inception in 1836 when Colonel William Light first sailed up the Port River. Port Adelaide has been the gateway to trade and commerce in the state and the first contact with South Australia for thousands of emigrants when they arrived by ship. Dr Susan Marsden points to the significance of the Port Adelaide region by describing it as:

“South Australia’s main port, its second city, and largest working-class district.”

Initially Cheltenham was the responsibility of the Port Adelaide Council, however, in 1987 this was passed over to the Enfield General Cemetery Trust on the understanding that it would be permitted to run the cemetery according to business principles and that gravesites, in the crowded cemetery, could be reused to provide funding for maintenance and further enhancements. It was a business decision.

Enfield General Cemetery Trust’s assumption of responsibility coincided with a series of State Government legislative reforms and Cheltenham became the first cemetery in Australia to redevelop expired burial sites. This was widely criticised by members of the public and the media and I well remember signing a petition, way back then, opposing this practice.

I would say that the interests of business still predominate in the continuing destruction of our heritage at Cheltenham Cemetery. The ACA Management plan reports,

At present, more than 40 per cent of all burials at Cheltenham Cemetery are in re-used sites. While the practice may be unpopular with some members of the community, it allows space for more than 300 interments each year and for the cemetery to continue to play an active role in meeting the needs of the local community.”

On page 7,  Adelaide Cemetery Authority also reports:

“The Authority provides more than 3,000 burial and cremation services annually, generating $8m in revenue that funds both operating expenses and capital development at our four cemeteries.”

So, who is responsible?… It is not the Cemetery management  nor the staff.  It is our South Australian Law which gives this practice the green light and our South Australian politicians are responsible for allowing it to continue. Many were hopeful the new South Australian “Burial and Cremations Act 2013” would bring an end to this practice but not so.

I’ve written previous about my distress at the destruction of “the final resting place” of so many of our Pioneers which you can read about HERE I also put this concern to the Attorney General, along with the expired leases at GX Section (click HERE to read) and received this response:

Response to my query from the Attorney General's Dept.

Response to my query from the Attorney General’s Dept.

I’ll be writing about this “Significant Places Policy” very soon. In the meantime you may like to read it for yourself on the “Adelaide Cemeteries Authority Management Plan.”   Just click HERE.

The best time to get politicians to listen to our concerns always is leading up to an Election.  As it happens, the South Australian electorate goes to the Polls in March… so we all have an opportunity to contact our local member, the opposition, the Greens, Nick Xenephon… whoever, and say  STOP THIS!!! … that’s if you have a mind to, of course.  Not trying to tell you what to do     😆



Copyright © 2014. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel




Filed under Adelaide Cemeteries Authority, Centennial Park Cemetery, Cheltenham Cemetery, Dudley Park Cemetery, MEMORIALS, Payneham Cemetery, Pioneer Gravesites, RE-USING GRAVES, West Terrace Cemeter

Almost Cemetery Fences

The destruction and desecration of gravesites disturbs my very soul and to see these old burial sites allowed to simply return to nature fills my heart with gladness…

Always Backroads

The cemetery from the time when Elephant Butte Dam was being built (about 1916 but there are a few newer graves) is guarded by a couple of ‘no trespassing’ signs.  No fence, just the fence posts.  no trespassing

And this is what they guard.  This is the newer grave (R. J. Schmalhausen, 1861-1932).
EB fenced grave

Most graves that can be seen are just piles of rocks overgrown with cactus and creosote.  This one had a nice fence once, but I think the cactus protects the grave more than the metal fence ever did.

EB grave cactus

Here’s an overview of the cemetery.  Not many family members visit to put flowers on the graves.  But the other day there were bluebirds decorating the area.  Very nice.

EB cemeteryI’ll link with Friday Fences, although mine are minimal.

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Port Adelaide Pioneers… gravesites gone.

The great esteem shown to their local Pioneers by the dignitaries, and residents, of the Port Adelaide district is clearly shown in this report from the Adelaide Advertiser (Thursday, 4 Oct 1928, page 14.) describing the Civic Reception and entertainment held in their honour.

SAGUT. Pioneers. Port Adelaide. intro

One of the Pioneers, mentioned a little further down in this rather length newspaper article, and honoured on that day is Mr F.L. Le Leu.

SAGUT. Pioneers. Le Leu

The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 – 1931), Thursday 4 October 1928, page 14

Mr Le Leu died on 30 Aug 1945, aged 89 and was buried in Cheltenham Cemetery, South Australia.  A search of their site sadly shows that his gravesite has been re-used/ re-cycled and there remains no signage to mark this Pioneer’s life. The civic respect and gratitude, shown in 1928, did not continue.

Cheltenham Grave redeveloped. Le Leu

On Monday 7 October 1929 (page 9) the Adelaide newspaper, the News, reports the death of  Mr E. Pine who was reported to be “one of the earliest settlers of Woodville district.

SAGUT. Pioneers. Pine

News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 – 1954), Monday 7 October 1929, page 9

This highly regarded early Pioneer was also laid to “Rest In Peace” in the Cheltenham Cemetery… However the records show that he too did not remain respectfully laid to rest for Mr Edward Pine’s gravesite has been re-used and re-cycled, with another taking up his burial place and his memorial gone.

Cheltenham Grave redeveloped. Pine

When reading the huge number of glowing newspaper reports about Captain Beilby H. Evans, and his pioneering contribution to the development of South Australia,  I felt quite confident that his gravesite would still be intact.  Here is the introduction to his lengthy Obituary which gives some idea of this mans extreme importance in the European settlement of South Australia.

SAGUT. Pioneers. Evans

The Register (Adelaide, SA : 1901 – 1929), Monday 28 June 1926, page 8

Clearly even Captain Beilby H. Evans was not considered worthy enough to have his “final resting place” maintained and protected.  The disgrace of it is here, for all to see, on the Cheltenham Cemetery Website.

Cheltenham Grave redeveloped. Evans Capt

Just a little research showed that the grandson of Captain Evans died during WW1 in France and I wondered if there had been a memorial to him on his Grandfather’s grave?  This was common practice but maybe not, in this case…  Hu knows???

SAGUT. Pioneers. Evans jnr.2

Chronicle (Adelaide, SA : 1895 – 1954), Saturday 23 September 1916, page 43


Well, there it is… just a brief outline of the many “Portonians” (Port Adelaide Pioneers) whose contributions to the settlement of South Australia have become ignored, and overlooked.  No longer feted and celebrated… the final insult being the desecration of their gravesites.  Sadly, it’s seen as more important to accommodate the wishes of “newcomers”, who want to be buried close to where they live.  Just too sad    😥     Surely there must be a way to bring an end to this. A way which meets the needs of all.

Babies' Rose

Copyright © 2014. Catherine Ann Crout-Habel 

Thanks to the National Library of Australia for the Newspaper articles.



Filed under Cheltenham Cemetery, Pioneer Gravesites, RE-USING GRAVES