• Date: 28/02/2019
  • Cemetery: GMCT Home

Take a look at how some unique features of GMCT cemeteries and memorial parks have changed over time using our interactive sliders.  

A legacy of love

The Williamstown Cemetery fountain, built in 1892, was commissioned by John Joseph White, a local mariner who built ships and operated a trading business. It was a tribute to his wife Agnes, who passed away in 1889. John and Agnes are now buried together at Williamstown Cemetery.

Victoria’s Heritage Restoration Fund contributed $50,000 towards the 2017 restoration of the fountain. Speaking at the unveiling of the restored fountain, Wade Noonan - Member for Williamstown, Minister for Industry and Employment and Minister for Resources – spoke of the fountain’s significance.

“John never forgot or stopped loving Agnes, frequently visiting her grave, and eventually deciding to commission this fountain in her memory,” Minister Noonan said.

“[This fountain is] a statement to love, it’s a statement to our great community history here in Williamstown, and with many things not right today in the world around us, I think many of you will agree that what’s happened here – the construction of this fountain and its restoration – is something that is very right, and something that we can all rejoice in.”

Tea stop through time

The historic tearooms and surrounds at Fawkner Memorial Park are a testament to GMCT’s rich history. The photo at left from a 1935 cemetery brochure shows the area shortly after the construction of the tearooms. The terraced brick stairs to the Fawkner railway station can be seen to the right.

Fawkner's architect Charles Heath was inspired by the English garden cemetery movement, which focused on the creation of open and green spaces that would be pleasing to visit in the urban context. This desire coupled with the need to provide space for mourners to gather, to refresh and to commemorate loved ones, saw the construction of tea rooms, flower stalls, and shelters. 

Today, the historic tearooms are a popular cafe stop, offering train passengers and cemetery visitors a peaceful place to relax.

A resting place for Melbourne's pioneers

The graves of Melbourne's pioneers were transferred from the old Melbourne Cemetery (which stood on the site of today’s Queen Victoria Market) to Fawkner Memorial Park in the early 1920s.

The transfer of graves was completed in 1923. Chief among these was the resting place of one of Melbourne’s famous founders, John Batman. His new memorial was dedicated in the specially created Old Pioneers section of the cemetery on 27 January 1924. In all, 70 significant memorials from were transferred. The oldest memorial moved was that of Frederick William Craig, who died in 1837, aged 18 months.

These memorials stand today as a lasting tribute to those who helped shape our city over time.

The railway cemetery

Fawkner Memorial Park is home to one of the last remaining examples in Australia of an early 1900s mortuary carriage. The carriage was restored in the 1990s and now sits on public display adjacent to Fawkner station, near the historic tea rooms. 

Fawkner is one of two 'modern railway' cemeteries established in Victoria in the early twentieth century, representing a new approach to cemetery planning. Between 1906 and 1939, mortuary carriages were used for transport from the city centre to the cemetery.

In 2016, artist Marcia Ferguson drew on Fawkner's history as the inspiration for her work, 'Train Lines', which was funded by the Moreland City Council as part of the MoreArt festival. Marcia's stencilled paintings at stations along the Upfield train line reflected on the journey to a final resting place at Fawkner.

Find out more 

Visit the history and heritage section find out more about the history of our cemeteries and memorial parks.