Archaeology before development

An area previously part of East Perth Cemeteries is being excavated by a team of archaeologists, paving the way for the development of a new civic precinct at the eastern end of the Perth CBD.

Australian Development Capital has formally acquired the site from the Western Australian Government and, in conjunction with the Perth Girls School site, is planning a mixed use neighbourhood. A condition of the sale requires the exhumation and reinterment of any human remains identified during the excavation. A specialist team of archaeologists and forensic anthropologists are undertaking the fieldwork and post-excavation analysis of the remains.

Although the National Trust has never managed this section of the cemeteries, its history is integral to our understanding of this significant historical site. Until it closed, almost all of the people who died in Perth, from the wealthy and prominent, to the poor or unknown were buried here. The National Trust therefore is working with the developers and the archaeologists to build as much knowledge as possible about this little known area of the site.

East Perth Cemeteries closed for burials in 1899 however burials were permitted in existing graves until 1916 and again in the 1940s. Located on the western side of Plain St between Bronte and Wickham Streets, the land was relinquished and made available to the Education Department. It was levelled for tennis courts for Perth Girls School in 1958.

Although there are no surviving records of who and how many people are buried in this section of the old cemeteries, it is known members of the Presbyterian and Chinese communities were buried here. All individuals exhumed will be reinterred at Karrakatta Cemetery in an area to be known as the East Perth Cemeteries Memorial garden.

If you have any information relating to the Presbyterian or Chinese sections of the cemeteries please contact us at trust@ntwa.com.au or (08) 9321 6088.

A database of known burials in the sections of East Perth Cemeteries on the east side of Plain Street managed by the National Trust can be accessed here. East Perth Cemeteries is open on Sundays from 2–4pm where our volunteers can assist with database searches and location of graves.

Further information:

Information on the redevelopment of the Perth Girls School and the sections of East Perth Cemeteries can be found here and here.