Volunteers revive historic Outtrim Cemetery
Tuesday 13 May, 2014
The Outtrim Cemetery, near Inverloch, has had a major makeover thanks to the diligent efforts of the Outtrim Recreation Reserve Committee, ORRC. Since 2009 this dedicated group of volunteers have been working to rejuvenate this rundown historic site. The cemetery of ten acres was established in the late 1890s and by 1946, when the last burial occurred, it had over 220 gravesites.
By 2008 the Outtrim Cemetery was mostly without a fence and the small cluster of head stones gave little indication of the extent of the site. When the ORRC was asked if the cemetery site could be used as an overflow car park for a local sporting event, it refused that request, and began discussing what could be done to return some dignity to the site.
There has been a huge amount of work done over the past four years. The remaining old fence was removed and replaced with a matching ‘old fashioned’ post and rail fence of native hardwood and chicken wire. An information shelter with information panels was constructed and a stone monument inscribed with the names of those buried in the cemetery installed. Gravel walkways were then created around the site. The committee members also carried on general maintenance of the grounds and graves, with eight of them clocking up around 650 hours of voluntary labour.
Outtrim was a thriving coal mining town in the late 1890s. At its peak the town had a population of 4000 people, a workforce of over 2000, and a school, post telegraph and money order office, five churches, a bank branch, a mechanics institute, stores, coffee palaces, a public hall and a library.
The opening of the State Coal Mine at Wonthaggi in 1909, fires at the mine in 1911 and 1912 accelerated the closure of the Outtrim mine with the company ceasing all operations by 1915. Outtrim soon became a ghost town.
Bruce Hutton from the Reserve Committee says they are now planning the next phase of the project.
“We’ve rejuvenated the Outtrim Cemetery site through our very positive collaboration with some dedicated Parks Victoria staff. The results can be seen on the Outtrim-Leongatha Rd for anyone who would like to visit. Now we’re hoping to attract funding for restoration work on those graves that need repairs.”
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