Stories of life and death written in stone
East Perth Cemeteries sits on Whadjuk Noongar Country in an area known as Martellup, on a sandy hill overlooking Western Australia’s capital city.
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.
More than 10,000 people who died in colonial Perth are buried here, from the wealthy and prominent to the poor and unknown.
In the middle of the Church of England Cemetery stands a simple Gothic church, designed by colonial architect Richard Roach Jewell. Built in 1871, St Bartholomew’s is the only example of a mortuary chapel constructed in Western Australia. It became a parish church in 1888 and was almost doubled in size after extensions in 1900.
Despite a period of neglect, St Bartholomew’s is still a consecrated church and is used for church services, weddings, and other religious events.
Since the closure of the Cemeteries, the majority of the grave headstones and markers have been lost through decay, neglect, vandalism, and well-intentioned ‘cleanups’.
The remaining 800 however, 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.
A precious discovery to share
Beneath the Bitumen: Discoveries from the Chinese Cemetery, East Perth
Items from our recent exhibition ‘Beneath the Bitumen: Discoveries from the Chinese Cemetery, East Perth’ are currently on display at the National Archives of Australia in Northbridge. Stay tuned while we make the exhibition accessible online.
See, do, explore
Originally located on the edge of the town, the Cemeteries today are a tranquil haven within the 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, reflect on loved 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.
Find out more about the history of East Perth Cemeteries, search the database of burials, plan your visit, or access a school education program.
A number of recent initiatives at East Perth Cemeteries aim to share these stories through drama, music, and interactive tours. A dedicated East Perth Cemeteries walking tour by Perth’s own Two Feet & a Heartbeat has also been created enabling you to explore along with expert commentary of the place.
And there is plenty more to see, do and explore in Perth when you finish your visit to East Perth Cemeteries.