Trust plans 1000 rail land graves

Wodonga Cemetery Trust chairman Allen Cummins says the rail land could accommodate 1000 graves. Picture: DAVID THORPE

Wodonga Cemetery Trust chairman Allen Cummins says the rail land could accommodate 1000 graves. Picture: DAVID THORPE

UP to 1000 graves would be added to Wodonga’s cemetery on former railway land, under a plan that has the city’s council’s backing.

The Wodonga Cemetery Trust is negotiating with VicTrack to buy land at the northern end of the graveyard that dates back to 1861.

The council has issued a planning permit for the land.

Cemetery trust chairman Allen Cummins said it was hoped the deal was done before the state election in November.

“It’s in the hands of the government,” he said.

“We’re in the Health Department and it has to go through processes.”

He declined to discuss the price the trust was prepared to pay because he was concerned doing so could affect other deals involving the former rail corridor.

Mr Cummins said the extension would accommodate 1000 grave sites and extend the cemetery’s “life”.

“It will extend it for 10 years or more,” he said.

A state government report said in 2012 that Wodonga’s 2344 plots were expected to fill in 14 years. The trust has looked to the long term by buying land near the Kiewa Valley Highway at Baranduda for a new cemetery.

But Mr Cummins said there was no timetable for a cemetery on the land it bought in the 1990s.

The cemetery is one of the North East’s oldest administered graveyards.

It originally was known as Belvoir General Cemetery. The first interment took place in June 1861 — that of 11-month-old William McFarland.

Other early burials included an unidentified 11-month old baby girl and Irishman William Ramsey, 30, who was run over by a dray.

It cost a pound ($2) to bury an adult and five pounds ($10) to have a family vault.

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