Monday, April 26, 2010

The Necropolis at Rookwood:

One of the vastest cemeteries in the Southern Hemisphere, The Rookwood Necropolis, has evolved through these years from a once sublime garden cemetery to a grand resource of the rich and valuable Australian history and culture. There have been, till date, over 1 million burials performed on this burial ground of the Sydney Cemetery. To occupy the extensive number of funerals the cemetery is the perfect ground with an area of about 300 hectares spread throughout Western Sydney. It holds its mark both on a national and an historic level in Australia. It is no doubt the oldest surviving crematorium in the country.

This cemetery is not for a particular section of the society but for a plethora of cultures and religions. Most religions are represented with their own sections in the mammoth of the burial ground that we have here. Few of these sections are the Anglican section, the Jewish section, the Old General section, the Independent section, the Catholic section and so on. There have been many celebrities buried in this crematorium as well. The cemetery gates are open every day from morning to evening. You can easily commute to the Rookwood Necropolis either by car, train or bus. The administration of this vast cemetery is handled by 9 different trusts. These trusts are Australian War Graves, Anglican Cemetery Trust, Catholic Cemetery Trust, General Cemetery Trust, Independent Cemetery Trust, Jewish Cemetery Trust, Joint Committee, Muslim Cemetery Trust and Memorial Gardens and Crematorium. It does not receive any direct funding from the government.

Rookwood has been just more than a symbolization of death like any other cemetery in the world. It is a place that is visited not only by the family of the deceased but also by common people and this is because of the rich heritage conserving monuments and sculptures present in the burial ground. This is the sole reason why the cemetery attracts a huge number of historians, artists and environmentalists every year. A separate section for the exhibition of 24 unique sculptures that signifies a different take on death and pain are exhibited in a place called ‘Hidden’. Spread over the cemetery’s Remembrance Lawn this was one of the ingenious way of engaging with the community and reminding everyone of the cemetery’s rich cultural heritage. There has been a mixed bag reaction to this exhibition of sculptures but in the end of the day it is just comforting to see something more than just graves in a cemetery. It takes a part of the sorrow away from the mourners.

In all, with all its vast number of gardens and monuments and the recent addition of sculptures, it is a place that the dead would prefer to rest in peace in. The peace and tranquility of the place adds to its beauty.


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