A couple of weeks ago I spent some time in Perth, WA visiting my son and a couple of friends who I have known since high school. It was lovely to catch up with all of them and just take time to relax and chat. And I enjoyed the weather – it was wonderful to finally have some heat and blue sky after so many grey and cool Melbourne days.
While I was in the west, my son drove me to Karrakatta Cemetery, where my parents and maternal grandmother are buried. I haven’t been there since my father died in 2012. My parents are in the newer Russian Orthodox section but my grandmother is on the other side of the cemetery in the old Russian Orthodox section. My grandmother, Olga Woronoff (neé Countess Kleinmichel) who told her story in her memoir Upheaval, is also included in one of the cemetery’s historic walks, in trail two.
Personally I find cemeteries, especially older cemeteries, fascinating.
As a historian, and especially a family historian and writer, I have always
found a mine of interesting information written on old headstones. So many
stories lie buried with the dead. When I travel I regularly visit cemeteries
and wander through them, reading the headstones and wondering about the lives of
the people buried there. Often the headstones tell sad tales, children who died
of disease or accidents, but at times the inscriptions can also be quite
cryptic, with meanings meant only for the family.
So I applaud Karrakatta Cemetery for showcasing some of the
more interesting people buried on their grounds in their historic walk trails.
I wish there were more stories available about the “ordinary” people as well
because I believe everyone has a story to tell, no matter who they were or
where they came from. I am sure there are other cemeteries which have the same
type of trails or information, I just haven’t visited them yet.
My grandmother shares the historic walk trail two mostly
with men, but there are a handful of women who are also featured, among them a
women’s temperance activist (I bet her story is fascinating) and a couple of
politicians. My grandmother is the only Russian Orthodox on this particular
walk trail, but there are a few Greek Orthodox males, however the majority are
Roman Catholics. Each of the graves on the historical walk trails has their own
QR code next to them which, when scanned, gives the visitor detailed
biographical information on the person buried there. It’s nice to know my grandmother’s
story is widely available in this way.
I wonder how many other people find cemeteries appealing. I
cannot be the only one who enjoys meandering through old graves, reading
headstones and wondering about the stories which lie beneath…