Darwin's first "official" cemetery. The Pioneer Cemetery, which was originally known as Palmerston cemetery, was opened in 1865 and closed in 1919. The first burial took place around 1872 or 1873. A number of burials have been carried out at Palmerston Cemetery since its closure and others associated with the pioneering families and individuals buried there may continue. In all, 1,230 burials took place at this cemetery, however 450 of these were not recorded by Births, Deaths and Marriages. Today, about 90 graves are still visible, within the new fenced area of what remains of the old cemetery.
Throughout it's history the cemetery was the subject of inadequate record keeping, lack of documentation and at varying times, neglect by the authorities. Among the gravestones and unmarked graves lie buried the stories of hundreds of the Territory's pioneer men, women and children. There are stories of tragedy and triumph, hope and heartbreak. Here, in this final resting place, the 'occupants' sleep on, oblivious to the modern homes and businesses established nearby and the thousands of vehicles that pass by each day.
The Cemetery had become less important after the Gardens Cemetery was opened in 1919. For a long time few cared that vehicles were driven over the graves or that memorials were often desecrated. In 1961 the NT News said that the cemetery presented a scene of "desolation and neglect". The News urged that a fence should be erected immediately, to prevent traffic, littering and vandalism. The City of Darwin sought control and eventually won back the freehold of the cemetery. Management was low key until an upgrade program in 1983. One outcome of this was the installation of a plan which showed the locations of graves and the names of their occupants.
Photographed and transcribed by Jeanice Levez in mid 2014.
Goyder Road runs between the Stuart Highway and Gilruth Ave. The cemetery can be found on the northern side of Goyder Road next to the Motor Registry Department.
City of Darwin, Harry Chan Avenue, Darwin NT 0800. Postal Address: GPO Box 84 Darwin NT 0801; email: email@example.com
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