Bungonia collaborates on columbarium and history project

JOINT EFFORT: Bungonia Historical Society members Anne Wiggan (front) and Diana Moran with stonemason, John Mottley, are proud of the village's latest project.

JOINT EFFORT: Bungonia Historical Society members Anne Wiggan (front) and Diana Moran with stonemason, John Mottley, are proud of the village's latest project.

Stonemason John Mottley has worked on some big projects in his time.

The Queen Victoria building, finials for the Great Synagogue, Sydney University’s Great Hall, the sea wall at Sydney Cove and now Saint Mary’s Church, Balmain are just some of the strings to the Bungonia man’s bow.

But in the past few months he’s turned his hand to a different job, a columbarium for the village. It will give people the option of cremation rather than burial in the historic cemetery.

“It’s a way of giving back to the community,” Mr Mottley said.

The free standing wall sections, built from brick and Western Australian sandstone, will also recognise 188 people buried in the cemetery whose grave sites are unknown. In addition, it will acknowledge 35 people, including convicts, buried without a name and recognise 92 contributors to the village’s life who are buried elsewhere.

Bungonia Historical Society member Anne Wiggan said the project was about “sustaining the present through the past.”

“The idea was to meet a community need and allow for the gathering of history that needs to be acknowledged,” she said.

Mrs Wiggan said there had been increased interest in interment but also family genealogy. 

Mr Mottley was just one contributor to the project. The Historical Society and Bungonia Progress Association initiated it, with help from the council and community. Quarry company Holcim donated $8000 and $2450 came from the State Government, supplementing community funds.

The cemetery contains some of the earliest graves in the district, including that of 11-year-old Robert Futter in 1836.

The project builds on extensive research by Moira McGinity and Ann Smith for a 1996 book, ‘Bungonia and District Cemetery and Burial Records.’  

The columbarium and memorial wall will be officially opened on Saturday at 10.30am. Goulburn MP Pru Goward and Mayor Bob Kirk, religious and Holcim representatives are among the attendees. The community is also invited to morning tea in the hall afterward.    

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