The Great Graveyard Shift

This article was originally published 7 March 2011

The ‘Great Graveyard Shift’ took place at South Brisbane Cemetery yesterday, and we could not be more pleased with the results. We (the the Friends of South Brisbane Cemetery and the Boggo Road Gaol Historical Society) had organised about 50 people to come along for this community clean-up, but in the end we had over 90 turn up and register with us! Taking into account that at least ten people who said they would come didn’t show, we were amazed at the numbers.

This included about 30 cubs and scouts from the Tarragindi and Kurilpa groups, who were a hive of activity and really stuck to their task for a few hours, which for kids is a huge effort. The rest of us cleaned around various parts of the cemetery, and everyone got stuck into the free morning tea and lunch.

It was especially rewarding to see so many children taking part and enjoying themselves. One of our major aims is to foster greater community respect for the care and use of cemeteries, and hopefully these kids (many of whom were seeing the cemetery for the first time) will long remember this positive experience. They were certainly fascinated by the headstones, and it was great to see them develop an understanding of what the place is used for, when it was used, what it means to others, and what work is required to maintain it.

This was also the case for a lot of the adults as well. One of the major benefits of these events is the community involvement, because the more time and effort people spend cleaning or even walking around cemeteries like this, the more they come to care about the place. While the parts of the cemetery we cleaned look so much better now, what I find more rewarding is this engagement of people with heritage and the development of better community ties with a place.

All in all, it was an excellent follow-up to the Sister Suburbs Sunday clean-up we had in January 2011, and the FOSBC and BRGHS continue planning for other community clean-up projects at the cemetery.

Chris Dawson