Wilcannia Cemetery - every stone tells a story

Posted: Sunday, January 17, 2021 - 10:21am

The first recorded burial, though unmarked, in what is now the Wilcannia cemetery happened in November 1866, when the remains of a man, lost in the bush 4 months before, were interred. His name was not known, the body was dressed in a striped cotton shirt, plaid vest, moleskin trousers and a brown coat, no money or papers were found in the pockets.

In 1881 the arrangements for the cemetery were formalised and trustees for each denomination appointed. Along with the traditional protestant and catholic appointments, Louis Phillips, George Myers and Henry Emanuel Cohen were appointed as trustees for the Jewish portion. There are no known graves in this section, the far south west corner.

There was also a less formalised section for the Chinese in the south east corner. A detailed description of the 1888 burial of a Chinese cook Tink Wah was published in the Port Adelaide News

There are hundreds of unmarked graves, which carry their own story of the hardships suffered and the itinerant nature of Wilcannia residents in the early days.

The cemetery, less than 2 ks along the west Menindee Road, can take a couple of hours to wander around, at night the solar lights on some of the recent graves add a surreal touch to this part of the towns history.