• Date: 29/06/2018
  • Cemetery: GMCT Home

GMCT cemeteries are rich in stories just waiting to be told. The cemetery landscape holds meaning and memories for those in our communities, shaped by all those who are laid to rest at each site and the lives they lived.

Footprints in history is a new GMCT publication profiling individuals interred at GMCT’s 19 cemeteries and memorial parks whose achievements, leadership and contributions to the community have shaped modern Australian society.

Each edition will spotlight famous faces, such as football coach Jock McHale and World War I General Pompey Elliot, and also those who made quiet, less-heralded contributions to our communities and culture.

Footprints in history is authored by Dr Jan Penney, a professional historian who has worked across the fields of heritage, education and tourism. She has taught at several universities, including Monash University where she delivered the master of public history course. She is also a former Chair of the Heritage Council of Victoria. Jan was appointed to The Greater Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust in 2010.

This publication is compiled with the support and insight of local historical societies, volunteers and friends groups, and GMCT thanks them for sharing their knowledge.


Follow Footprints in history

Footprints in history is published fortnightly and shared on our Facebook page.

Consider the following individuals - among many - to be profiled in the coming months:

  • Robert Eadie, platypus trainer at Healesville Sanctuary - interred at Healesville Cemetery
  • John Paul Sennitt, ice cream manufacturer – interred at Coburg Cemetery
  • E.W. Tipping, journalist, social commentator and activist – interred at Burwood Cemetery
  • James Sloan – local Warrandyte stonemason with buildings that stand to this day – interred at Andersons Creek Cemetery.

Follow us on Facebook or visit the History and Heritage page to view profiles as they’re published. If you know of someone interred at our cemeteries we should spotlight, please email corpcomms@gmct.com.au.

Stories worth sharing

Publication of Footprints in history commenced in June 2018. Already, we have shared the stories of: 

Charles Web Gilbert – Sculptor

Charles' interest in sculpture developed early. By the age of nine he was working as an apprentice chef in a Melbourne café where he hand-modelled decorations for wedding cakes.

In December 1918, he was made an honorary lieutenant in the modelling subsection of the Australian War Records Section working with other artists. Together they travelled through France making studies and models of significant battlefields where Australians had fought.

He returned to Australia in 1920 and continued producing sculptures for government war memorials. In 1923, he resigned his position as head sculptor to pursue other commissions for memorials, such as those located at Broken Hill, Burnside, South Australia, at the University of Melbourne and outside St. Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne.

His death occurred while he was in the middle of constructing a major memorial sculpture to the Desert Mounted Corps in remembrance of Australian and New Zealand soldiers who fought at Port Said in Egypt from 1916 to 1918.

Isabel Grant Marsh – Austin Hospital Matron

In 1907, Isabel was appointed matron of Austin Hospital, where she was responsible for the day-to-day supervision and for all nurses and non-medical staff.

As matron, she insisted on high standards of nursing throughout the hospital. She emphasised quality bedside care and hygiene, introducing methods for the “prevention of bedsores, a constant look-out for complications and always a sympathetic approach to her patients - all important factors in the recovery of health.”

Isabel is remembered for transforming the Austin Hospital’s nursing and allied health care into a modern service.

The Isabel Grant Marsh medal was instituted by the hospital to recognise outstanding nursing services.

Albert Sylvester (Nuts) Renny - Jockey

Albert Sylvester (Nuts) Renny was killed at Fitzroy Racecourse (in St. George’s Road, Thornbury) on 24 November 1919. He was riding the favorite, a four-year-old gelding called ‘Wongaburra’, in the fourth race, the Fitzroy Purse. All went well until the final turn. Renny had moved into second place and attempted to ride along the rails, but ‘Wongaburra’ clipped the heels of the horse in front, stumbled and fell, bringing three more horses down with him. ‘Wongaburra’ somersaulted and landed on Renny,killing him. Renny died instantly and ‘Wongaburra’, who was seriously injured, had to be euthanased.

Racing was cancelled for the day and the large crowd of spectators stood silent, hats in hand, as the attending doctor pronounced him dead. The body was removed to the mortuary and the lengthy inquest later determined it was a simple racing accident.

Racecourses were well attended during the First World War as it was one of the few means of entertainment that all could attend for a reasonable price.

A smart dresser, Renny had an engaging manner and many friends. At the time of his death he was living at the Mordialloc Hotel.

Find out more

  • Visit the History and Heritage page for more information on the history and heritage of our cemeteries, fact sheets and conservation management planning
  • Find out more about our cemetery friends groups and local historical societies here.
  • Do you know of someone interred at our cemeteries who would make an interesting profile? Email the GMCT corporate communications team at corpcomms@gmct.com.au, or comment on Facebook to share your ideas.