20 September 2023

Historic Eurobodalla cemetery restoration work set in stone as joint effort targets aesthetics and safety

| Claire Sams
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cemetery overlooking coast

Moruya Rotary and NPWS have partnered for upcoming works to make the historic Toragy Point cemetery look its best. Photo: Moruya and District Historical Society.

There is a small cemetery that overlooks the sea, its weathered and even damaged headstones marking the final resting place of several early settlers.

Many may drive past or even visit, but the historic cemetery at Toragy Point, at South Head Moruya in Eurobodalla Shire, is set for some tender love and care.

Moruya Rotary member Chris Manahan said that despite the passage of time, the cemetery remained popular with the public.

“It’s such a well-visited site, with people coming to Toragy Point Lookout,” he said.

“People often visit and look at the headstones and read the stories that are on the back of some of them.”

The Moruya and District Historical Society reports burials at the small headland cemetery date from 1858 to 1909.

Across the decades, it became the final resting place of families and individuals, including many who are now well known in the region’s history.

Two of the men buried at the cemetery were Scottish-born Joseph and John Louttit, who settled in Moruya and opened a quarry that would supply granite for several of Sydney’s iconic attractions, such as the Harbour Bridge.

Mr Manahan said the upgrade would address several issues at the site.

“Some of the marble headstones have been pushed over, so they’ve fallen back and cracked,” he said.

“We’re not sure, but we think that maybe some rabbit warrens have undermined some of the headstones over the years and tilted them.”

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Two years ago, Moruya Rotary partnered with the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) for restoration works at the cemetery.

“They were happy that a community group, like Rotary, were happy to take this project up,” Mr Manahan said.

“Each time we get a response from National Parks, we make a bit more progress.

“The latest thing that needs to be finalised is the conservation risk assessment – and that paper is almost complete and then we can start work.

“We have labour and materials for the work – timber and such – and we hope to start in the next few months.”

Mr Manahan said the restoration project would involve cosmetic work and safety improvements.

“It had been vandalised a long time ago,” he said.

“What we hope to do is lift the broken pieces of the headstones and just lay them atop the gravesite, directly over where the coffin would have been.

“We will also fill in the site with some topsoil to make it easier for visitors to walk around.

“It is part of the heritage plan that National Parks want to change the fence to a more traditional-type fence, made out of hardwood, as well.”

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Mr Manahan said the planned works followed other projects undertaken by the club.

“We’ve worked with [Eurobdalla Shire] Council to erect some signage at two cemeteries nearby to Moruya, with the name of the cemetery and the years that it was in use,” he said.

“Then we thought that we would continue with the project at Toragy Point cemetery, but we saw it was in disrepair.”

Mr Manahan said the Toragy Point cemetery was one of many in the Eurobodalla shire.

“Rotary Moruya was doing some work on cemeteries in the Eurobodalla, and we discovered that there are over 30,” he said.

“The majority of those cemeteries are not in use and getting a bit run-down.

“Moruya Rotary is involved to beautify the [Toragy Point] cemetery and make it safe for the public to visit.”

The cemetery area is part of Eurobodalla National Park.

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