Land for the Greta Public Cemetery was first ‘Gazetted’ in July 1869. The number of settlers in the district had grown, and with the closest cemetery for families to bury their loved ones being Oxley, the need for a local burial ground was evident. Land was selected, and an application was made to the Government.
The first Trustees of the cemetery were made up of two representatives from each of the prominent religious denominations. A public meeting was held at the residence of John Woods, and the minutes read …
Episcopalians: John Dennett & Henry Ainge, Presbyterians: Duncan Bauchop & John Woods, Methodists: Thomas Smith & John Bryson … Michael O’Connell and William O’Brien were appointed to represent the Roman Catholic Body.
The land was cleared of trees and laid out in sections for each denomination. There was a ‘drawing of straws’ to determine which section would be allotted to the four religious bodies. Tenders were called for the fencing and improvements.
The first burial occurred in March of 1871, three-month-old baby Ellen Gunn, the child of Alexander and Annie (nee Kelly) Gunn.
Life in rural Victoria was full of natural perils. In November 1871, 22-year-old Mounted Constable John Alexander Duff left the Greta Police Station to collect the mail. He was thrown from his horse on the return journey and killed. He was buried in an unmarked grave in the corner of the new cemetery on 11 November. In February 2019, a headstone was unveiled and dedicated in a ceremony attended by family descendants, the Victorian Police Commissioner, local members and many district residents. The Victorian Police Historical Graves Committee placed the headstone.
As visitors walk in the gate, they will notice a monument on the right-hand side, dedicated to the memory of William Petty. Petty joined the Victorian Bush Contingent and went to South Africa to fight in what would be known as the ‘Boer War.’ He contracted dysentery, died, and is buried in Pretoria, South Africa. The local community raised money for what is now a recognised war memorial in his name.
The cemetery is the final resting place for veterans from the Boer War, WW1, and WW2. Of note is Joseph Delaney, a WW1 Veteran who was awarded the Military Medal for valour. He returned to Australia in 1919 and joined the Victorian Police Force. He was killed in the line of duty at Swan Hill in 1923, and his body was returned home for burial at Greta.
Amongst the headstones, visitors will see the names of the pioneers of the district; and a large rock with a commemorative plaque stands at the gates. John Dennett was the first farmer to select land in the newly established Parish of Greta. His large handsome headstone is easy to spot.
In 2013 Ned Kelly’s remains were buried in an unmarked grave. The Cemetery is the final resting place for many of his family and friends, and a memorial marker has been placed at the front gate.
As of June 2023, there are now over 600 people buried in the Cemetery, but less than a third have headstones. The cemetery is a ‘working cemetery’, meaning funerals and burials still occur.
Today, the Trust comprises publicly appointed community representatives, all of whom volunteer their time. Of special note is the plaque on the gate to recognise the 50-plus years that Jack Dinning served as Secretary of the Greta Public Cemetery Trust.
The current Trust members are
- David Salau – (President)
- Ken Ellis – (Vice President)
- Noeleen Lloyd – ( Secretary/Treasurer)
- John Tanner – (past President, Life Member and over 40 years of service)
- Anthony Griffiths
- Adrian Younger
- Peter Ryan
- David Dinning
- Tony Tanner
The Trust would like to acknowledge the service of two valued Trust members who died in 2022
- Rex Hartwig (Life member and 51 years of service) and David Tanner (over 10 years of service)
The Trust would also like to acknowledge the valued service of past Secretary Christine (25 years of service) and Neal Magee (Life member and over 30 years of service), who have both retired this year.
The Trust acknowledges the whole of the Greta District Community, who assist them with working bees and keeping the Cemetery looking in good shape.
Please contact Noeleen Lloyd on 0427 276 372 for all enquiries related to the cemetery.