skip to content

Rediscovering Ginninderra:
Hall cemetery

The Hall Cemetery at Wallaroo Road was established in 1883 as the district's first official cemetery outside Queanbeyan and is the oldest public general cemetery still in use in the ACT. It was planned with sections for Church of England, Methodist, Catholic, Presbyterian, Jewish, Independent and a non-sectarian section.

It contains the burials of many local Hall families, such as the Brown, Southwell and Kilby families. The earliest burial was that of a baby, Bessie Lillie Shumack, who died aged thre months on June 9th 1907. She was the child of George Shumack and Edith May Gozzard, and grand-daughter of 'Big Pete Shumack and Elizabeth Jane Gillespie.

Twenty years after opening, the cemetery was evidently suffering from some neglect: "I am pleased to hear that the Hall Progress Committee is applying for a grant of money for the purpose of having he Public Cemetery at that place cleared and fenced. I have often felt surprised that the committee did not take this matter in hand sooner but I suppose its better late than never and I wish the committee every success in its effort for it is certainly a work that wants doing badly". [Wizard's Notes Goulburn Evening Penny Post 28.7.1903]. The Wizard reported again in 1908 that "the trustees have at last accepted a tender for the cleaning of the public cemetery at hall". [Wizard's Notes Post 30.4.1908]

Evidently the various sections were initially attended to by the relevant churches. It is reported in 1910 for example that "Following the opening of the RC Church at Hall on Sunday the Bishop of Goulburn in the presence of a large gathering preformed the ceremony of consecrating the RC portion of the Hall cemetery". [Wizard's Notes Goulburn Evening Penny Post, 14.4.1910]. In 1914 the Methodists turned their minds to maintenance: "At a meeting of the Trustees of the Methodist Cemetery at hall it was decided to take immediate steps to put the cemetery in order in conjunction with what might be done by the trustees of other denominations". [Queanbeyan Age 11.9.1914].

In 1930 some more serious questions were being asked of the Capital Territory Administration about the control and maintenance of the cemetery:
"Replying to a series of questions from Cr. Shakespeare at the Canberra Advisory Council meeting recently, the Civic Administrator (Mr. Daley) said that the Hall cemetery area "was at present under the control of various trustees appointed under the laws of New South Wales. Mr. Shakespeare further asked that in view of the fact that several of our oldest pioneers are buried there and owing to the embargo on further areas in St. John the Baptist's Church yard being available for interment, thus necessitating local burial, steps be taken to have the Hall cemetery cleared of wattle scrub, a path run around the various religious portions and the grounds generally placed in a decent condition, Mr. Daley replied that the present position in regard to control was being investigated by the Crown Solicitor with the object of having the whole question of control and maintenance of the cemetery placed upon a satisfactory basis". [Yass Tribune-Courier, Monday 8 September 1930, p 2]

In 1945 the NSW minister for lands promulgated in the NSW Government Gazette detailed regulations 'for the management of the Methodist portion of the Hall cemetery', beginning with the announcement that 'This burial ground shall be for the purpose of burying the dead of the Methodist Denomination' and ending with the injunction: 'Permission for the exhumation of any corpse must be obtained from the Department of Public Health'. Those identified as Trustees were Colin H. Southwell, C. R. K Southwell, S. J. Southwell, A. C. Kilby, K. K. Kilby.

Hall cemetery is now administered by the ACT Public Cemeteries Authority, an independent, self-funded statutory authority, which reports to the ACT Government through the Minister for City Services.

In addition to their prime purpose, cemeteries are known to be a very useful reserve for plant species. Most of the good quality woodland remnants are found in little used country cemeteries. This is because they are the only pieces of land that were fenced from livestock more than 100 years ago, when the country was being settled. Hall cemetery is home to the endangered Tarengo Leek Orchid (Prasophyllum petium) known from only this site in the ACT and two other sites in NSW - Captains Flat Cemetery and the Tarengo Travelling Stock Reserve near Boorowa. Both Hall Cemetery and Murrumbateman Cemetery are thought to contain populations of the rare grasshopper, Keyacris scurra. Regulating of the mowing of Hall Cemetery was adopted in 1994 to help the survival of the orchid.

Related Photos

< Rediscovering Ginninderra