The dead part of town is of little interest to those of us that walk with a beat. The aging, grass-licked concrete headstones and memorials are a permanent outlook that many prefer to avoid; the connotations of such places are dismal and morbid, remembrances of a sadder time.
Faux flowers outlive those that grow, fading in an unforgiving heat that refracts from the immovable stone they sit beside, lone trees brood in a dormant manner; their life the only present. What becomes most apparent to me whilst walking this vast deposit of memories, are the ideas of permanence and personality.
Where there is permanence, there is design. Walking amongst the usually ubiquitous stone and iron tributes you begin to realise how unique they can be. In an article on the design of cemetery spaces, a former monumental drafter Christina Cheng of CplusC architects believes the details, material and design of a headstone have the ability to convey the emotions and values that loved ones wish to remember, whilst the layout and space of the actual area can be totally determent of it’s use as a public space.
Evidence of this grows as you wander from section to section and see similarities dissolve to anomalies, the inscriptions and decorations on headstones their own and only example.
Gravestones here provide not only a final testament but also an indication of wealth, ethnicity, interests and values of the memory they mark. A worry it may be, if the graveyards of the future are as indistinguishable and concordant as some of our city streets.
Some of these memorials are more than a simple reminder, they are bold statements, built to last – an eternal finale. Large marble mausoleums house the remainders of families in undefeated structures. Some have begun to crumble under the weather of time and others from the more forceful actions of idiots, their once opulent gates now rust in haunting cliché.
The architecture of Wollongong cemetery is diverse and eclectic, unlike many other resting places, the graves at this Kenny and Swan Street location are at times directed in willy-nilly fashion, no doubt a result of it’s 19th century beginnings.
The presence of Wollongong cemetery is one that will outlive the rising mammoths of our metropolis, and perhaps with more character too.