Cemetery greening under way

Sean Car

Project Cultivate, a long-awaited initiative aimed at enhancing the natural environment within the grounds of the Melbourne General Cemetery while championing the use of locally native plants, officially sprouted last month. 

The beginning of the new pilot horticultural project at the cemetery was marked with a smoking ceremony and Welcome to Country conducted by Traditional Owners, the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung of the Kulin Nation. 

Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries Trust (SMCT) CEO Laz Cotsios said listening to Traditional Owners and understanding the types of flora that existed in the area pre-colonisation was critical to inform the project. 

“We’re listening to what the land needs. We’re working with our neighbours, our colleagues, with Traditional Owners and with community to explore what could be and how we can re-imagine a more sustainable future together,” Mr Cotsios said. 

“We can’t start again, but we can bring back some of the plants and hardy foliage that came before us.” 

The smoking ceremony, performed by Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung Elder Aunty Joy Murphy Wandin, was attended by the teams delivering Project Cultivate. A Golden Wattle, significant in Aboriginal culture, was also planted to mark the occasion. 

SMCT’s collaboration with the Traditional Owners at Melbourne General Cemetery represents a significant step towards strengthening relationships, fostering cultural understanding, and honouring the rich heritage of the land. 

By prioritising this relationship, the Trust said it aimed to create a lasting and inclusive environment that reflected the values and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. 

Visitors can continue to access Melbourne General Cemetery throughout the pilot horticultural project and will be provided with detours for any temporary path closures while works are under way. 

Neighbours of Melbourne General Cemetery and holders of rights of those interred have been notified of upcoming works and asked to share their ideas in a survey to inform the project rollout. •

For more information: smct.org.au/project-cultivate

Like us on Facebook