In 1841 the Reverend Lancelot Threlkeld became the Congregationalist minister at South Head, and requested the Governor make a land grant for a cemetery. The parish at that time consisted mainly of the fishing village of Watsons Bay. A land grant was reportedly made to Threlkeld by Governor Gipps in 1845. The Sydney Morning Herald noted on 9 September 1845: 'His Excellency the Governor has been pleased, in answer to a memorial from the inhabitants of South Head, to grant one acre of land for the purpose of a general cemetery for the interment of the dead, without any restrictions as to the religious persuasion of the deceased.
The Cemetery site from 1845, sited above Diamond Bay overlooking the Tasman Sea to its east. Current area 1.6 hectares (4 acres) containing around 6,000 burials. It is surrounded by a low stone fence, with impressive bronze cast-iron gates, between hefty sandstone piers entry gates. It contains some imposing monuments including family vaults. The cemetery has grass between the plots and lawn graves in the original paths. There are hardly any shrubs or trees within its walls, though groups and rows of Canary Island palms, (Phoenix canariensis, c.1925) and later Norfolk Island pines (Araucaria heterophylla) and New Zealand pohutukawa trees (Metrosideros excelsa), surround the boundary ('define its perimeter'. ] A modest amenities building dates from c.?1950. South Head Cemetery has always been a general cemetery and does not have sections reserved for particular religious denominations.
Size is 1.6 hectares (4.0 acres). Ocean views, although the cemetery does not extend down to the cliff. As well as the main gates, there is a lych gate entrance on Burge Street and an arched entrance from Old South Head Road. From the main gates, a sweeping avenue leads down to the ornately-carved Celtic cross, erected by the people of Sydney, to commemorate the grave of Sir Walter Edward Davidson (d.1923), Governor of NSW, 1918-23. Large and expensive family monuments line this avenue, one of the best places to be buried in this cemetery. The cemetery is notable for some fine examples of art deco memorials dating from the 1920s and 1930s – including the Wheeler Memorial by sculptor Rayner Hoff – and for a preponderance of large granite memorials marking family plots. One of the most famous monuments is the marble bust to motor car racer, Phil Garlick (d.1927), complete with steering wheel and racing cap flaps. Towards the southern part of the cemetery are some early sandstone altar tombs, dating from the 1850s, that were transferred from the Devonshire Street Cemeteries.
South Head Cemetery also features a number of naval burials, often marked with anchors - commanders and captains who now enjoy ocean views. An example is a marble cross and anchor marking the burial of sea captain Malcolm Green (d. 1904) (that includes a memorial to his brother James Green (d. 1857), captain of the ill-fated Dunbar). A few mausolea and family vaults are dotted throughout the site. A fabulous pair of Grecian and Gothic mausoleums memorialise the Foy and Smith families on the southern part of the site. The family plot includes a simple Celtic cross memorial to (Kings Cross) activist Juanita Nielsen (née Foy) who disappeared in 1975. South Head cemetery also boasts local wildlife, with kestrel sometimes perching on headstones. [From Wikipedia.org]