Tours of FTG Cemetery resume
By Teresa Cannon
For many, cemeteries speak of death. For Karin Orpen, who conducts regular tours of the FTG Cemetery, the cemetery tells stories of our ancestors, our history, of life. ‘It’s their peacefulness, their history and their beauty which speak of life, she says.
For Karin, the involvement of community in establishing, maintaining, researching and recording the history of the cemetery is a crucial and precious characteristic, one that makes the FTG cemetery very special. It was the local community that petitioned the government in 1873 to set aside land for a cemetery. Five acres were granted and the first burial occurred in 1885. From then, the village gradually grew around the cemetery. ‘It’s always been that the community has valued the cemetery. They’ve shown such love and feel connected to and protective of it’.
As Ward Councillor for 20 years and Chair of the Cemetery Trust for over 15 years, Karin is well aware of community appreciation for the cemetery. In the year 2000, the cemetery was extended. Applications were prompt and the new plots were assigned very quickly.
Around seven years ago Karin, and Tricia Kirk began night tours of the cemetery. Titled ‘History and Mystery’, they are a joint venture by the Knox Historical Society and the FTG Arts Society. Proceeds are shared by the two organizations. During the tours, Karin beguiles the participants with stories of pioneer settlers, unsolved murders, scandals and loveable eccentrics. There’s history and intrigue. Of course she speaks of one of the cemetery’s most famous residents, the artist, Sir Arthur Streeton. She’s also keen to speak of the less known. There’s the poignant poem of loss from the heartbroken mother who buried her 14-year-old son. Later she buried her husband and then her second son killed in WW1. Now she lies beside them all, in an unmarked grave.
Karin is ably assisted by Tricia, whose dedicated research continues to elicit new information and photographs which illustrate well the stories of the cemetery. Tricia’s work means that tours can evolve. There are always new stories to be discovered.
The tours are fun, informative and always conducted with respect.
Begin: The Hut Gallery, 157 Underwood Rd, FTG
COVID regulations apply
Visit: over 20 graves for approx 90-120 minutes
Bookings at: email@example.com
Next tour: Friday 18 March 2022
Cost: Tickets $20
Numbers are capped. Tours sell out quickly so be quick.