History & Description

An eight acre allotment of land was set aside for cemetery purposes during the 1850s when the first surveys were made for a Berwick township.  An early 1858 map of the Township of Berwick, prepared by the Public Lands Office in Melbourne, shows the cemetery allotment close to the town's northern boundary.  A later 1871 map of Town and Suburban Lots at Berwick, surveyed by M. Callanan, shows the cemetery site bounded by Inglis and Buchanan Roads.  It is located on the north side of Allotment 10, known at first as the Berwick Recreation Ground and from 1978 as the Arch Brown Reserve.

As with other rural cemeteries, the Berwick Cemetery is a memorial to 'the rigours and difficulties of country living - virtually every burial ground has reminders of people who perished under harsh conditions'.

The earliest graves at Berwick include that of George Moore, a 60 year old labourer who died in 1867, and children from the pioneer Brisbane, Buchanan and Wilson families who died in 1868.
 

 

The story of hardship and suffering in those early days is also told in the large number of stillborn babies listed in Berwick Cemetery records.  The graves of members of the Paternoster family last century included William Simon (6 weeks) in 1888, William (5 years) in 1896, Rensalier (8 months) in 1897, and Jack (11 months) in late 1899.  Young Mrs. John Paternoster, who died earlier in 1899, may have been Jack's mother.  However, many settlers survived into their sixties, seventies and eighties.  The oldest death recorded in these records was that of Catherine Buchanan, who was buried in July 1902 aged 106.

Graves of notable resident include those of storekeeper William Brisbane; hotelkeeper Robert Bain; and Dr. Elmes, as well as various members of the Greaves, Kelly, O'Connor, Robinson, Vieusseux and Barr families.  There are a number of German names in the Independent compartment of the cemetery such as Warmbrunn and Meyer, recalling the German Lutheran families who came to the district early last century.  Other compartments set aside for Anglicans, Methodists and Presbyterians are reminders of the important role played by these denominations in Berwick's early history.
 

 

Located at the corner of Buchanan and Inglis Roads, the cemetery can be entered from either road; the Buchanan Road entry has wrought iron gates with timber gate posts.  The cemetery has been divided into compartments separating the different denominations, each identified by ornate cast iron markers.  The area is planted with melaleuca and eucalypt species.  An octagonal shelter with timber frame and simple bracketing and balustrade, and two timber stores are built features of the site.  Today the cemetery covers an area of approximately 3.24 hectares and is managed by the Berwick Cemetery Trust.

Australia's first Olympic champion, Edwin Flack, owned and operated a dairy farm in Berwick and his final resting place is in the Berwick Cemetery.
 
In the Athens 1896 Olympic Games, the first Olympic Games of the modern era, Edwin Flack won the 800 metre and 1500 metre athletic events. Flack was one of the most popular athletes at the 1896 Games and became fondly known as the 'Lion of Athens'.