Cathedral Park CemetEry, Newcastle
On behalf of Newcastle Council, AMAC Group and several Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs) from the local community investigated the oldest post-colonial cemetery in Newcastle. The work contributed to a Council project to revitalise Cathedral Park with new landscaping and ensure its colonial and Aboriginal heritage is protected and interpreted as part of the work. The park is recognised on the NSW State Heritage Register as part of Christ Church Cathedral, as one of the oldest European burial grounds in New South Wales and as one of the few that are still publicly accessible.
Newcastle itself has been the home of Aboriginal groups for thousands of years and the area now known as Cathedral Park retains cultural significance with the communities of today. Pictured below are representatives of Awabakal Land Council operating the artefact sieve stations.
In 1804, the British Crown established a penal settlement at Newcastle and soon after the Anglican Church established Christ Church Cathedral whose earliest cemetery records date back to 1826. The oldest headstone still standing in Cathedral Park is understood to be the 1826 grave of Mary Martin. Several historically important settlers are also buried there including Newcastle’s first Mayor, James Hannell, and his wife Maryanne Sophia, magistrate John Bingle and Major Archibald Clunes Innes whose ruined estate in Port Macquarie is also open to the public. The last burials recorded were in the 1880s, Mrs Maryanne Sophia Hannel amongst them.
According to burial registers, the cemetery grounds also hold the remains of several Aboriginal infants and adults, including the 1860 burial of an Aboriginal man who was known to colonial communities by a non-traditional name, Jacky Jacky. This sobriquet was shared by several men over the 19th century and made famous by the heroism of Galmarra of the Muswellbrook area who tragically passed, in Albury in 1854, and was recognised for his brave contributions to the exploratory party of surveyor Edmund Kennedy in far north Queensland.
Courtesy of Newcastle Council.
On a sunny day in May 2022, representatives of Newcastle Council, AMAC Group, the Guraki Aboriginal Advisory Committee and Awabakal Descendants Traditional Owners Aboriginal Corporation, pictured above, were interviewed by NBN News. The video is available here. Subscribers can also read the Newcastle Herald article.