The Daylesford Cemetery, just on the immediate outskirts of town has serviced the district since the earliest known burial of a child in 1861. White settlement began in 1838, so the first occurred 23 years after white settlement.
Since 1861 The Daylesford Cemetery has provided the district with an important and essential service. The cemetery is governed by a Trust and overseen by the Victorian Department of Health. Few think about the services until the time comes when those appointed to care for the final aspects of death carry out their responsibility.
The responsibility is a serious one often undertaken at a time of usually great emotion. Hopefully, those who have this responsibility have discussed final wishes with those who have departed. For recently retired Secretary and Trustee of the Daylesford Cemetery Trust, Jack Adriaans, it must have been a difficult decision to set aside the responsibility he had taken on for over 40 years. He dealt with his responsibilities with care and respect for all – relatives, friends and colleagues – managing their shock, sadness and grief.
For this reason, Jack softly and gently presses all of us to make our wishes clearly known, verbally and in writing to the appointed executors and family, letting them know where necessary documents can be found.
One situation, for example, was that of a wife undertaking the necessary arrangements for her husbands’ body to be moved to a family burial plot in Tasmania only to find sometime after the burial a hand written note from her husband in a filing cabinet, stating he wished to be buried in the town of their farm and residence in another state. These wishes had not been discussed and his death had been sudden and unexpected.
The site on the north side of Daylesford-Trentham Road is almost full. Land across the road was recently acquired and now provides additional space which should be sufficient to the end of the century.
At Daylesford Cemetery relatives can select a specific gravesite. Some request a sunny location, others a cool location depending on the deceased or relative’s feelings. The Cemetery can accommodate people with different religious beliefs. In fact, in the early history of the cemetery, there was an area named “Heathen” for those with no religious belief. That has now been changed to “No known religion”.
A tree on site is sometimes a request but it requires careful monitoring, selection of species and commitment, to ensure management of roots and other issues. Decisions about trees are generally guided by available space around the grave. An alternative enhancement of the site is planting bulbs that will flower in spring year in year out or less invasive plants. Options can be discussed with Verey Funeral Services in Daylesford or Creswick.
A “natural” burial can be conducted consistent with relevant laws. In these burials, the deceased is wrapped in a shroud or a simple sheet for burial. The Law states that the body needs to be transported in a coffin to the grave site. That can be of recycled paper and chemical free substance or by a rented coffin returned by the undertaker.
Maintenance is the single most vexing financial matter for the Cemetery Trust. Funds for maintenance come from income derived from burials alone. Families can make donations for maintenance purposes or or take on the responsibility themselves for the grave of loved ones.
The cost of burials can be negotiated for those in financial difficulty and depends on circumstance. Plots in Daylesford are relatively inexpensive $960) compared to Ballarat or Springvale cemeteries.
The Trustees of the cemetery are there for discussion and advice. And please remember Jack’s gentle but fervent message – know the wishes of your loved ones before time.