Berwick and Harkaway cemeteries have received $20,000 of state funding to help maintain and improve their facilities.
With about $40,000 required for current works, the grant will contribute towards 200 linear metres of concrete edging, and the excavation and construction of a concrete crossover near the second entrance.
Berwick and Harkaway Cemeteries Trust treasurer Richard Garvey said the funding grant was timely.
“The grant will support our small works program. We plan to relocate the main entrance to the cemetery,” he said.
“Our most recent work has involved creating memorialised beams, with a lawn grave and plaque, as an alternative to the more traditional monumental grave.”
Some of the oldest graves in the cemetery date back to the late 1800s and there are many unmarked graves believed to belong to early settlers.
Mr Garvey recalled a community-led tradition of ringing the bell at the Harkaway Lutheran Belfry every New Year’s Eve during his childhood.
“Future plans often don’t include cemeteries, so it’s nice to see them being given some recognition. There’s a lot of history associated to the area so it’s good to have that connection between future generations and some of the early pioneers in the area who were laid to rest at Harkaway,“ he said.
“I think it’s good for the community.”
The funding grant comes as part of a State Government investment that will benefit 97 rural cemeteries across the state.
Cemetery trusts will share in $900,000 to carry out general maintenance work, facility renovations and equipment upgrades to ensure the grounds are safe for staff and visitors.
Member for Narre Warren North Luke Donnellan said Victoria’s cemeteries offered “unique insights into how Victoria has grown and developed”.
“Smaller volunteer cemetery trusts often need assistance and I am proud to be supporting our volunteers and cemeteries in rural areas,” Mr Donnellan said.
“Family and friends deserve to be surrounded by a pleasant environment when saying goodbye to a loved one or visiting their graves.
“These grants will help our local cemeteries better preserve the sites of our loved ones into the future.”
Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.