Community & Business

2 December, 2023

Community comes together to restore pioneer graves

THE old adage “many hands make light work” has come to fruition at the Mareeba Pioneer Cemetery.

Some of the graves restored at Mareeba’s Pioneer cemetery. BELOW: Just a few of the community members who have been volunteering their time for the project.
Some of the graves restored at Mareeba’s Pioneer cemetery. BELOW: Just a few of the community members who have been volunteering their time for the project.

Over recent years, the historic site has been subjected to damage and vandalism and maintenance of the cemetery is under the Corrective Community Services supervisor Malden Bosnic who leads a team, providing much needed mowing, weeding, whipper snipping and tidying up, with only limited hours to do so.

During the pandemic the cemetery had no upkeep, which presented a challenge to get it back to a presentable standard. 

In recent months, Mareeba History Facebook page administrator Michael Musumeci and a team of volunteers started a quest to return the important iconic site to its former glory.

While more than 170 graves have now been refurbished, he said there was many more to go and more volunteers and materials needed to complete the project.

“In early 2023, we recognised that the cemetery was in dire need of care and attention so we instigated particular days to help relatives locate unmarked graves, as well as commence cleaning and painting of many pioneer graves,” Mr Musumeci said.

“From that day forward, the project has continued to progress, with Crimestoppers and the Old Boys Club jumping on board.

“We went from 21 graves being painted on a weekend to a grand total of already 171 graves completed. 

“Most of these graves, are over 100 years of age. They now look absolutely phenomenal and the cemetery is slowly coming back to it full glory.’’

Mr Musumeci said watching volunteers clean and paint the graves had truly been inspirational. 

“Every grave is treated with the utmost of respect,” he said.

“The increase in volunteers has also been quite overwhelming with so many jumping on board and dedicating their Saturdays. 

“One weekend alone, we attracted some 36 volunteers, and nothing was stopping them - they cleaned and painted for hours and in total, a further 71 graves were completed.

“None of this could have been achieved without the generosity of the in-kind support from our growing number of volunteers, businesses and individuals who have also donated money, paint and their valuable time towards this project. 

“Everything donated or in-kind support is deeply appreciated and certainly put to good use,” Mr Musumeci said.

“We have at least a further 300 plus graves to go and are still in dire need of paint, supplies and of course our most valuable asset, volunteers.”

The Pioneer Cemetery is the heart of Mareeba’s history, filled with so many pioneers ranging from explorers, veterans, iconic business people and their families, aboriginal people and so many young children. 

“All deserve to be respected,” Mr Musumeci said.

If anyone can donate materials or assist, make contact with Mr Musumeci on 0429 60 1942.

The Mareeba History Facebook page is dedicated to sharing the town’s rich history, from pioneering days up to, and including, current historical events. The page shares historical information and unites old friendships. It currently has more than 8200 members.


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