STRATFORD (NUNTIN) CEMETERY
Originally called 'Nuntin Cemetery', the Stratford Cemetery is located on the east side of the Princes Highway, some 3 kilometers on the Melbourne side of Stratford, Victoria, Australia. Situated on flat grazing land immediately adjacent to the flood plain of the Avon River, the cemetery stands amidst peaceful grazing lands on three sides and fronting, but set well back from, the Princes Highway.
The cemetery was first commenced under private ownership in 1865 by John Geddes (it would appear that the memorial plaque shown below has this date incorrect). John was buried in the cemetery in 1892, but the first burial was that of Elizabeth Weir on 4th. March 1865. Her grave is situated in the Monumental Area of the cemetery, Row I, Lot 29. Elizabeth died at age 48 years and her grave is marked by a handsome white marble tombstone, the inscription somewhat faded. Elizabeth's husband died 39 years after his wife and was buried with her in 1904.
Due to poor record keeping, or other dissatisfaction with the way the cemetery was being managed by John Geddes, the Stratford Council took over the responsibility for, and running of the cemetery, in 1885. The first meeting of the newly appointed public trustees was held on Monday 2nd. February 1885. Due to poor identification of plots, a revised numbering system was introduced at some stage in the cemetery's history - see the 'Comments' column of the registry for references to this new numbering system. Unfortunately, due to misalignment of graves and there being no permanent marking system on-site, further confusion of lot numbers has taken place, giving rise to uncertainty, in some instances, of the exact location of individual graves.
The cemetery has suffered from neglect and rabbit infestation, the latter causing considerable damage to graves by undermining the graves' foundations with their burrows. Some restoration work has been completed in recent years (2000-2001) with government grants under the "Work for the Dole' scheme - see photo below. The cemetery trustees also raise money for rabbit poisoning and regular grass mowing, weed control etc., by selling immature pine trees to be used for Christmas decorations each December. The pines are grown on ground that contains some unmarked and unidentified graves in the southern corner of the cemetery. The trustees also raise funds by charging a small 'lookup' fee to enquirers requesting information about burials at the cemetery.
A new Lawn Reservation Cemetery was opened in 1972 and a Columbarium (niche wall for ashes) in 1988.