Since the very early days, when the grieving Patrick Reid laid his beloved wife Agnes to rest on the hilltop which she loved so much, the pioneering families have buried their deceased nearby. When the area was gazetted as a public cemetery, trustees were appointed from dedicated local men who considered it both an honour and a privilege to serve the small community in this way. They were volunteers and performed their duties through good seasons and bad. Often sons took over trusteeships from their fathers, perpetuating this unsung but vital community service. One after another these trustees passed away and were themselves laid to rest in this beautiful and tranquil place. Examples of exceptional service include members of the same family who have collectively served the Trust for total periods in excess of eighty years. Also Trust Secretaries, with phenomenal memories, who did not need written records to bring to mind the location of particular graves and stories of many of the folk buried in the cemetery.
As the local population grew, it became apparent that at least basic amenities were needed at the Arthurs Creek Cemetery. A pan toilet block was constructed by a dedicated Secretary and assistant, after completing a short course in practical brick laying. More growth and more progressive ideas followed. The Trust decided to make provision for the placing of ashes for those who favoured cremation. Trust funds were not equal to this expense. A handsome financial gift contributed to the construction of a bluestone niche Wall of Remembrance and landscaping of the area with suitable boulders and native plantings.
A generous donation made possible the construction of a Pioneers Memorial Chapel, with an adjoining modern septic toilet system. Construction was completed to the lock-up stage. The work was completed by volunteers under the supervision of the Trust Secretary, including all serving Trustees with painting inside and out, planting of gardens and so on. The Trust Secretary, a wood work enthusiast, built the unusual table and lectern and fitted out the kitchen and two washrooms and toilets. Because of the very high cost of bringing mains water and electricity in from the main road, a tank filled with rain water from the roof and bottled gas, provided the necessities to allow refreshments to be served.
The Chapel is unique in its design and situation, with towering windows framing uninterrupted views across rolling farmland to the distant hills. It engenders feelings of peace and tranquillity and somehow offers special comfort and condolence to those who mourn. It is fittingly named the Pioneers Memorial Chapel. It thus honours all the district’s pioneers, no one family being given prominence over others.
Jim H. Barr was the Arthurs Creek Cemetery Trust Secretary from 2001 to 2007