Monday, April 26, 2010

The Historical Significance of Rookwood Cemetery

Western Sydney is a major region of Sydney, Australia. It comprises of nearly 9000 kilo meters of industrial, rural and residential land. It is said that the British settled in Sydney in the year 1788 making it one among the oldest cities of Australia. If you are a student of history or simply someone trying to trace your family tree, the best possible places to search are the cemeteries of Sydney. Prominent among these is the Rookwood Cemetery. This is one of the largest cemeteries of the Southern Hemisphere and operating since the year 1867. It is the resting place of more than 800,000 Australians. It covers almost 300 hectares and houses modern cemeteries for over 80 religions and cultural groups. To get to the cemetery by train you could alight at Lidcombe station which is the station closest to Rookwood. There are a number of buses that depart from Strathfield, Homebush and Flemington railway stations.

The Rookwood cemetery is divided into a number of denominational and operational areas. Each of these areas has their individual offices, staff and equipments to run their sections. It is managed by many trusts viz. Anglican & General Cemetery, The Catholic Cemeteries board, The Independent Cemetery Trust, Jewish Cemetery, Muslim Cemetery, and finally the NSW cremation company that initially started the crematorium. These cater to a vast majority of the communities in Sydney. The Rookwood Anglican and General Cemetery caters to a wide section of communities such as Assyrian, Catholic, Hindu and Chinese. The Rookwood Independent Cemetery caters to denominations like the Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, and Methodists etc.

These denominations conduct funeral services and burials as well as offer to inter ashes. Among the other services offered include family history research service and even providing a training site for the funeral services industry. Not all denominations bury their dead. If you belong to the Hindu or the Buddhist denomination you could get your loved ones cremated and then inter their ashes which are nothing but left over calcified remains. These ashes are transferred to a processor to reduce the bone fragments to a fine granule type consistency, which is in turn kept in a sealed container. There are some who prefer to memorialize their loved ones. You could choose the size, style, stone, color and the inscriptions on the monument. The customs and practices of different religion vary. If you are unsure that your requirements will be accommodated there is a funeral director who would help you.

Rookwood cemetery is a place of peace and tranquility which is loved by families, historians and even environmentalists. It is the only 19th century cemetery in the world and it is said that almost everyone in Australia would have some relative buried or cremated in Rookwood. Such is the historical significance of the Rookwood cemetery, that it has been marked as a heritage conservation site by an act of Parliament.


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