Recent workshops for our volunteers focused on understanding the specialist skills required to protect the remaining headstones and their surrounds.
The East Perth Cemeteries reflect the diverse range of cultures and religions that made up the population of Perth in the first 70 years of the Swan River Colony.
In 1829 this was the site of the first colonial burial ground in Perth, when a general cemetery was established. This was followed by six more of different denominations, plus one for felons, until the closure of the eight cemeteries in 1899.
Although more than 10,000 people were buried here, the majority of the grave headstones and markers have been lost through decay, neglect, vandalism and well-intentioned ‘cleanups’. The nearly 800 remaining, now cared for by the National Trust, offer a unique opportunity to tell and explore stories of bravery, tragedy, illness and accident, of success, suffering and loved ones lost.
Caring for heritage headstones and graves
Our heritage sites are incredibly important not only to us but to many lovers of history and culture. Today, volunteers play a large role in the day-to-day functioning of our heritage sites.
The volunteers are passionate about our places and interested in the conservation practices carried out. The National Trust often enlists the help of conservation specialists to inform volunteers of the best methods to conserve our sites.
Piero Casellati of Studio 31, renowned in the field of building conservation with over 35 years of experience both in Australia and abroad, demonstrated to our captivated volunteers the process of cleaning lichen from headstones. Piero offered great insight into grave conservation as well as an insider look at his practical knowledge on conservation, walking around graves he has conserved at the Cemeteries.
Dr Ian Macleod of the Heritage Conservation Solutions and WA Museum Fellow led a fascinating presentation on metals and corrosion and the impact of weathering in the open air. He demonstrated to our volunteers how we can minimise the corrosion of metal at the East Perth Cemeteries.
Sharing his passion with volunteers, Ian said, “Metals are like people. They all have their pasts and history.”
At the National Trust our mission is to connect communities to the value of our Western Australia’s diverse natural and cultural heritage. By continually striving to improve our understanding of best practice and specialist skills we hope to share this connection with many generations to come.
Save a grave!
Did you know the National Trust conservation team is regularly approached by families and community groups keen to see a grave conserved at East Perth Cemeteries? You can read about how the Dyson family raised funds to restore their ancestors’ headstone and grave.
If you are interested in donating to East Perth Cemeteries conservation, you can make a donation online. Under ‘I would like my donation to go to’ simply select ‘East Perth Cemeteries grave conservation’ and your contribution will go directly towards our work to conserve the remaining headstones and graves.
Visit East Perth Cemeteries
Originally located on the edge of the town, the Cemeteries today are a tranquil haven within bustling inner city East Perth, perfect for a Sunday stroll. No matter how wealthy, famous, or admired we are, what is most important in life is that we have people who love us and will miss us when we are gone.
Stroll through East Perth Cemeteries on a Sunday afternoon and reflect on love ones lost and appreciate the stories this place has to offer. Volunteers on site are incredibly knowledgeable and can help you search the extensive database of burials and locate graves.
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