ISSUES relating to The Forest Cemetery on Middle Arm Road are closer to a solution after a meeting of descendants and friends on Saturday at the Goulburn Workers Club.
They formed a committee to resolve the land title status that appears to be held by a man who died some 30 years ago.
It has also been instructed to investigate several possible options of ownership and to meet with Council to discuss its preferred option for the ongoing management of the cemetery.
The Forest Cemetery, on Goulburn’s northern outskirts, was one of 10 properties Council wanted to auction (also at the Workers Club last Saturday) for outstanding rates.
The one-acre site, nestled in the corner of a paddock below St Columbus Anglican Church, had $1500 owing but with interest and legal costs included, that figure blew out to $2500.
Some 47 people are buried and interred there.
They include six soldiers from World War One and Two, the Korean War and a Citizens Military Force serviceman, and families who settled in the district.
Fred Motbey, who convened Saturday’s meeting, said it was quite a positive gathering and participants with family ties to the cemetery were keen to have the issues that stemmed from Council’s bid to collect unpaid rates resolved.
The committee has been directed to arrange a meeting with Burrinjuck MP Katrina Hodgkinson who’s ministerial responsibilities includes lands and cemeteries to source government resources in resolving the issues.
“There must be a considerable number of small cemeteries across Australia, some family owned and some community cemeteries, in a similar situation to the one we find ourselves in with The Forest Cemetery,” Mr Motbey said.
“Over time, regulations regarding cemeteries have changed including issues of health and safety and public liability.
“I don’t believe we, as a relatively small group of families, have the capacity to meet these obligations and costs as well as council rates on an equitable ongoing basis at infinitum, so we need to seek assistance in sorting this out.
“We believe that Bega Council has 14 similar small cemeteries managed by 355 Committees which is one of the options we are looking into and will be suggesting as an option to council.”
“There is also the possibility of passing the property ownership to a church, with the church’s agreement of course but first we have to sort out the land title.”
It was also noted at Saturday’s meeting that there were several other small cemeteries including family cemeteries in the Goulburn Mulwaree district and neighbouring shires.
Mr Motbey said there was still quite a bit of research to be done and meetings to arrange before the committee could report back to the family members in July.
The group would also be kept informed by letter or email of developments from the discussions.
He noted that the Goulburn Mulwaree Council had produced a heritage report recognising the significance of the cemetery to the districts history.
There had been several members of the family too who had hoped Forest Cemetery would be their own final resting place, close to their ancestors.
Edith Medway of Crookwell and Keith Speer of Goulburn, who attended Saturday’s meeting, are two of four cousins who’ve looked after the private cemetery since 2004.
In that year, the previous caretaker, Lionel Price, passed way.
Mrs Medway is the granddaughter of Arthur Ernest Grubb, whose family established the cemetery in the 1870s and donated land for the original Methodist church, later purchased by the Anglicans.
Mr Speer’s wife, Marjory is descended from the same line.