Cemetery under Queen Victoria Market

Queen Vic Market taken from Sammylicious

                                                               

The Queen Victoria market makes for an unusual archaeological site.  It is built on top of a cemetery referred to in documents as ‘Old Cemetery’.  Literally just beneath the bitumen, as little as 1.5 metres below the car park and adjacent market stalls are the remains of 9,000 settlers including Aboriginal remains. Figures vary according to different historians but 9,000 is generally the most estimated and accepted figure. Hundreds of vehicles park on top of their bodies. 

Cemetery on Market Site from Kirsty Murray

The Cemetery was established in 1837  and existed  officially till 1922. The last burials were in 1917 according to old documents at the State Library  i read a few years back. It is generally believed that as Melbourne was expanding  it was decided that the site was no longer suitable. Many of the bodies were moved to Melbourne , Fawkner and Kew Cemeteries.  Its not  known exactly why so many bodies were still left on site. No documentation for this seems to exist.

The  only known existing plan of the cemetery below clearly shows the burials were in segregated areas.   These show that it was  divided up into several sections like Roman Catholic, Wesleyan and Presbyterian.  Sadly  Aboriginal people were seen as second class citizens so were buried outside the parameter walls. The right hand side of the map shows their place.

 

1fcae-oldcemplan

Map of Old Cemetery taken from Melbourne Walks

I often go to the market on my lunch break from my work nearby and I wonder whose remains im walking on top of. It gives a whole new meaning to the saying ‘walking on someone’s grave’. Here at the market you really do walk on someone’s grave unintentionally of course.

Shoppers walking upon the dead taken from Shopping in Focus

It’s always surprised me at how many people don’t even know about the existence of the cemetery at the market.  I’ve asked various people and they all appear surprised and somewhat shocked at this fact. Then again most people sadly don’t know about the history of this city. It’s a sad reflection i believe of the state of our history education.  Out of all the people in my circle of friends and family the only ones who knew about the cemetery were my mother’s friends Lina and Wilma who happen to be funeral directors.  Anything to do with death and burial they generally have good knowledge of.

 One stall holder I spoke to a while ago on my lunch break in the fruit and vegetable section is convinced his  section of the market is haunted by a ghost of a bushranger. He told me that after dark the ghost makes itself known.  I must say that i have seen the stalls after hours from the road and they do look rather spooky.

Friut &Vegie section taken from 120 Dollars Food Challenge

This Cemetery  is a vital part of our history. It needs to be told more. Reporters need to cover it more. I believe  we need to show our respect to all these early Melbournians just like we show respect when we visit places like Gallipoli.  The city of Melbourne is expanding at an incredibly  fast rate and new development is taking place daily that its important  that it doesn’t overshadow this  history completely.

High Rise Buildings near Market taken from Kati & Mattes Blogspot

On Thursday the 31st of October 2013 Victorian Premier Denis Napthine and Lord Mayor Robert Doyle announced  that a new parkland and underground car park will be constructed under a proposed redevelopment of the market. It was stated that the bodies will not be disturbed for the works. I question this personally.

In addition i think there should be  proper  signage explaining the true history  of this site. Currently there is the most ineffective signage in existence. Its disrespectful.  Next time your  buying your fruit and veggies spare a thought for all those people  your walking on top of. What were their stories? , Who did they love? What were their aspirations in life ? Surely they never envisioned a market being built on top of  them.

Extra info;

http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/bodies-under-queen-vic-haunt-market-revamp-20110311-1bqsp.html

http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/bodies-to-stay-in-queen-victoria-market-plan/story-e6frf7kx-1226567061831

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: