A cemetery on a cold winter's day wouldn't normally draw an enthusiastic group of youngsters.
But the Mortis Street cemetery was a hive of activity on Thursday morning as students from Strathfield's Santa Sabina College dug in to help community restoration efforts.
Sixty Year 11 and 12 students visited Goulburn on Wednesday and Thursday as part of an outreach program. Staying at the College's outdoor education and retreat centre at Tallong, they split their time over the two days laying mulch and newspaper at the historic cemetery, touring the Goulburn wetlands, listening to talks and undertaking activities.
Teacher Debbie Bachman said the retreat was focused on a sustainability theme.
"The whole idea is to gain a different perspective and walk in someone else's shoes for a while," she said.
On Wednesday night, the youth heard from local Anglicare representatives about homelessness and people sleeping "rough" They packed food hampers for the vulnerable and were given $2.50 to buy their dinner in order to grasp the challenges less fortunate people faced.
They also heard from the Grace Faith Foundation at the Wesley Centre about the bushfire impacts and the meaning of resilience.
In addition, the students made beeswax wraps at the Wesley Centre as part of one of their rotations. On Thursday they heard from Farmers for Climate Action chairman and Crookwell district grazier, Charlie Prell.
Friends of Goulburn Cemeteries member Heather West said the contingent's help was very welcome. Their work around 70 graves at the Mortis Street cemetery was designed to prevent soil degradation and inhibit weed growth.
"It was excellent to get so much done so quickly. It would have taken us five weeks," she said.
"Here they also get to feel Goulburn's cool weather and it linked in well with the talk about people sleeping rough."
Mrs West said it was an opportunity for the girls to appreciate the historic significance of old cemeteries by reading inscriptions of the many children who died in infancy, deaths by drowning and falls from horses.
There are also World War One memorials on family graves of servicemen who buried on foreign soil, and the graves of prominent early business people, such as Charles Rogers.
The headstones showcase stonemasons' skills and rich symbolism
The volunteer group has concentrated its efforts on nearby Saint Saviour's Cemetery in recent time. They have cleaned up graves, created a database and installed signage.
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But Mrs West said funding was needed to do similar work at the Mortis Street cemetery. Regulations prevent people other than relatives physically restoring the graves. However volunteers have passed on information to descendants about damage and at least gathered broken sections in the one place for any future restoration.
The cemetery includes Methodist/Wesleyan, Catholic and Presbyterian sections.
Co-member, Daphne Penalver said more community involvement in the project was welcome.
Those wishing to volunteer can email firstname.lastname@example.org