History, Heritage and Headstones – Discover Cemeteries at 2023 Heritage Festival

18 April 2023


The rich local history of a number of significant Crown cemeteries will be proudly on display 
until 26 May, as part of the 2023 Australian Heritage Festival in NSW, with a range of events 
and displays showcasing and celebrating this year’s theme of Shared Stories. 

Cemeteries participating in this year’s Festival include: Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park at 
Matraville, Gore Hill Memorial Cemetery, Macquarie Park Cemetery, Rookwood General 
Cemetery and Woronora Memorial Park at Sutherland. 

Each cemetery will host a range of events and activities as part of the festival, including 
audio, guided and/or self-guided walking tours, exhibitions, displays and video 

Woronora Memorial Park, in partnership with Sutherland Shire Citizens’ Heritage Festival, 
is hosting the Heritage Festival Discovery Day on Saturday, 22 April, from 10.00 am to 
3.00 pm. 

All are welcome to this free community event to step back in time and explore the park’s 
newly renovated Art-Deco chapel, old crematorium and historical artefacts, with hourly bus 
tours, self-guided walks, original historic photographs and artifacts. Graves of famous locals 
and notables will be marked with QR codes, for all to discover the varied history of the 
person who is buried. 

At the Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park at Matraville, local historians from Cape Banks 
Family History Society reveal the fascinating history of Pioneer Park located within the 
grounds of the cemetery, which boasts headstones transported from the early burial grounds of two of Sydney’s oldest cemeteries – Town Hall Cemetery and the Sydney Burial Ground, 
also known as the Devonshire Street Cemetery. 

There is much to learn about the stories behind these historic graves and the people that 
they belonged to, with guided walking tours from 10.00am on 4, 11 and 18 May, from the 
cemetery’s Captain Cook Memorial statue, located within Pioneer Park, bookings 

The final resting place of many accomplished individuals in Australian history, Macquarie 
Park Cemetery, in Sydney’s North-West will hold guided tours from the on-site cafe, with 
local historian, Tom Sweeney from 10.00am on 28 April, 5, 11 and 18 May. 
Bookings are recommended through Eventbrite

The cemetery will also display a series of videos, featuring footage of recorded interviews 
and historical photos of some of the notables buried at the cemetery, including Johnny 
O’Keefe, Kathleen Butler, Lottie Lyell and Sir John Kerr. 

Visitors to the largest and one of the oldest cemeteries in NSW, Rookwood General 
Cemetery, will journey back 150 years with a Rookwood Cemetery walking tour on 28 April 
and 26 May, discovering the cemetery’s intriguing history and visiting significant areas and 
notable graves – bookings recommended. 

Gore Hill Memorial Cemetery is one of the oldest and largest remaining cemeteries on 
Sydney’s North Shore, dating from 1868. Friends of Gore Hill recently held a guided 
Heritage Week tour, unearthing and sharing stories from this heritage cemetery. 

Ms Lee Shearer, Administrator, OneCrown Group of Cemeteries, said participating in one of 
largest annual community-driven heritage festivals, affords everyone a rare insight into 
the unique heritage of cemeteries. 

“Cemeteries are incredible spaces to experience the history of a local community,” Ms 
Shearer said. 

“I encourage everyone to visit our cemeteries during this year’s Heritage Festival, 
to learn about the history and stories of those who lived and died in the nineteenth and 
twentieth centuries. How their stories shape Sydney’s past, present and future.”


Media enquiries: Poppy Diamantis | OneCrown Cemeteries | 0447 171 423