August 29, 2021, marked new beginnings at Saint Mary of the Angels Catholic Cemetery in Port Lincoln. Bishop Karol Kulczycki SDS blessed the new memorial park of the recently extended cemetery to prepare the way for its first urn internment on Wednesday, September 1, 2021.
The cemetery was established in 1869 when the first church was built on site and is situated within the grounds of the Saint Mary of the Angels Church, Port Lincoln. As part of my studies towards a Diploma in Landscape Design I had to do a Conservation Management Plan on a local park. The cemetery was always in my head as it always looked so sad tucked away in the corner of the church grounds and I thought it had potential to be beautified. Talking with Parish Council members I learnt that the church was interested in expanding its present grave sites as demand for burials within the church grounds was steadily increasing. I joined the cemetery committee and we were given permission by the former bishop Greg O’Kelly to extend the burial grounds along Oxford Terrace towards Kelly Street.
After lots of planning, approval by the City Council of Port Lincoln and many discussions we started work at the end of 2020. I found a soul mate and invaluable support in committee member Michael Martin, who, together with a number of volunteers, has been working with me on the project since its inception.
The project is a divided up into 3 phases consisting of a memorial park, enhancement of the old cemetery and an envisaged Mediterranean style garden opposite the old cemetery. Year 10, 11 and year 12 students of St Joseph’s have been busy helping to establish and maintaining the memorial park by planting indigenous plants, mulching and weeding the new site.
The memorial park is intended to be a garden of peace for cremation urns which currently make up 50% of all burials. 4 new full burial rafts have also been established to cater for increasing demand of full body burials as an extension of the current site. The design of the park considers principles of sustainability by choosing plants native to the area and reducing irrigation needs by using plants with low water requirements which are embedded in thick layers of mulch. Mulch was kindly donated by local businesses.
The project is volunteer based and relies predominantly on donations. The next few weeks will see a dry-stone wall being erected in the centre of the memorial park under the guidance of retired stone mason Bob Hanchant. Depending on further funds coming in, construction of the Mediterranean Garden is intended to start before the end of the year.
A landscape plan of the project can be viewed at the entrance to the cemetery. Working bees take place on Saturdays, usually from 10.00-12.00. New volunteers are always welcome.