A Cemetery Reserve at Wyndham was gazetted on 10 October 1864, seven months after the creation of the Wyndham Shire. The reserve covered 13 acres and was located on the north side of the Geelong and Melbourne railway lines.
Trustees were appointed in February 1865 and were as follows: G.C. Darbyshire, William Leake, Patrick Kelly, Richard Heath, Andrew Wilson and John Baker. The Trustees represented the major denominations of the cemetery. These being Church of England, Catholic, Presbyterian and Wesleyan Methodist.
The cemetery was originally fenced by acacia and post and rail fences with timber entrance gates. These were necessary to avoid damage by stock wandering onto the cemetery grounds. Discussion of the cemetery layout and paths as well as compartmental boundaries continued well into the 1870's. Planting of trees and shrubs was an important activity in the early years because of the cemetery's visibility from the railway line. The Chirnside family was generous in donating trees for the cemetery over a number of years.
A caretakers cottage was built in 1876 with Jeremiah Dee appointed as the first caretaker. He moved into the cottage with his family and was given duties such as digging graves, trenching and planting trees. Dee was dismissed in 1881 after complaints that his family had destroyed the fences of the cemetery by using it for firewood. He was not charged as it was stated that a husband could not be held responsible for a wife's actions.
The cemetery was run by private trustees until this role was handed over to the then Werribee Shire Council in the early 1970's. Records received by the council at this time only dated back as far as 1909. As far as it is known no burial registers exist for the time prior to 1909.
Recently the Werribee Family History Group has transcribed two minute books of the Werribee Cemetery. The first relates to the period 1865-1881 from when the cemetery was first began. It states in here that the area had been used for a number of burials prior to being gazetted as a cemetery. This first Minute Book also contains details of burials that took place during this time. In fact the Minute Book seems to have been used as a minute book, burial register and finance records all in one. The second Minute Book covers the period 1881-1953. This book mentions some burials in passing but not in the detail of the previous book. There are also large gaps in the dates covered.
This century the cemetery is most notable for the large number of Italian monuments which relate to the migration of the Italian farming community in the 1920's and later. There are also many Greek, Macedonian, Vietnamese, Islamic and Pacific Island graves making the Werribee Cemetery representative of Australia's multi cultural society.
Kellaway, Dr. Carlotta. Heritage of the City of
Wyndham. Context, 1997.