Running Creek (Havilah) Cemetery


The small township of Havilah is located about ten kilometres off the Ovens Highway between Myrtleford and Bright, near Eurobin. The township, originally known as Running Creek, was formally a gold mining and farming area.. Gold was discovered in the Happy Valley area in 1855 and this attracted miners and families to the area.

In November, 1889 a number of inhabitants living in the area sent a petition to the Minister of Lands requesting that a cemetery reserve be proclaimed on approximately one acre of land in the township for the purposes of a public cemetery.

The petition noted that:

* the land requested to be reserved had already been used in earlier days as a burial ground,

* the area is rendered sacred to many of the inhabitants, and

* until the site is protected the inhabitants do not feel justified in spending any money and labour on the site .

The area requested was surveyed in November, 1889 and found suitable for a cemetery. The surveyor noted that an area of three acres be approved and on 21 October 1889 the Governor-in-Council approved three acres to be temporarily reserved for a cemetery and this approval was gazetted on 28 October, 1889 . The Trustees for the cemetery in April 1893 were G Greene, J. Newman, J, Black, G.O. Woolley and J. Treffry. In June, 1913 the Trustees were listed as: George Outrim Woolley (C of E), James Black (Presbyterian), Robert Spiers (Presbyterian), William Alfred Greene (C of E) and Godfrey Greene (C of E).

By the early 1900s most of the miners and families had left the area and all that remained were a small number of farmers.

On 11 March, 1926 a request was made by G. B. Greene on behalf of the Trustees of the cemetery for the cemetery be called the Havilah Cemetery as “there has been a Postal Receiving Office opened here and has been called Havilah.” This name change was accepted by the Public Health Department on 23 March, 1926 . On 17 October, 1936 , G.B.Greene, Secretary of the Cemetery Trust wrote to the Public Health Department noting that upon the death of G.O. Woolley, there was only two trustees left and he had requested the President of the Shire to convene a public meeting to elect additional trustees for the cemetery. The meeting was held on 10 October, 1936 and John Gordon Woolley was elected as a Trustee.

In November 1950 J. G. Woolley wrote to the General Health Department noting there was only one Trustee now for the cemetery as the Secretary of the Trustees had passed away and the other Trustee had left the area. He also noted that there had only been three bodies buried in the cemetery in the last 15 years. The Secretary of the General Health Office wrote to the Shire Secretary, Shire of Bright requesting if the Council would be prepared to accept the trusteeship of the Cemetery. The Shire Secretary replied on 18 December, 1950 stating that the Council had considered the request and, “ Í have to advise you that it is considered opinion of the Council that the Cemetery is no longer necessary.”

Following this advice from the Shire the Department of Health proposed that the notice of closure of the Havilah Public Cemetery be published in the local paper. The notice also stated that “such closure, if approved, will not preclude interments in respect of which the right of burial has already been purchased.” In April 1951 the Trustee Secretary wrote to the Bright Shire Council requesting a stay of closing the cemetery as a number of families who have relatives buried in the cemetery were concerned that they would like to buried in the cemetery “when their time comes”.

On 24 June, 1951 J. G. Woolley wrote to the General Health Branch requesting that the cemetery remain and that the following four people were prepared to serve on the Trust; George Greene, Augustus Ward, William George Wheildon and John Gordon Woolley. These four were approved and appointed in 1952.

In 1986 the Public Health Department contacted the Shire of Myrtleford to find out about the Havilah Cemetery . The Shire advised that they did not know anything about the cemetery but suggested they get in touch with the Secretary of the Myrtleford. Cemetery. This was undertaken and in a letter from the Secretary, it was noted that:

* Trustee Mr J. Woolley had died on 3 April 1986 ,

* the last burial in the cemetery was believed to have been in 1942 and

* the one before that in 1930 .

In September 1990, two members of the Cemeteries and Crematoria Unit of the Health Department of Victoria visited the Havilah Cemetery along with the Secretary of the Myrtleford Cemetery Trust and her husband. The Executive Officer wrote to the Secretary of the Myrtleford Cemetery Trust on 4 December, 1990 noting that it would be difficult to know what could be undertaken to ensure that the cemetery was not lost forever. In April 1991 a letter from the Cemeteries and Crematoria Section to the Shire of Myrtleford noted that it would appear that a committee would be formed in order “to regenerate interest in the site”. This request came from the Happy Valley Hall Committee.

Burial records for the old cemetery have been lost and work is being undertaken to try to compile the list of burials in the old cemetery. There are five memorials still in the cemetery. It is unsure how many burials there were in the cemetery but estimates range from 20 to 100. One of the earlier burials was for See Att , a miner, aged 63 years who died on 17 September, 1884 at Running Creek. There was a Magisterial Inquiry into his death on 19 September, 1884 . He was noted as being born in Canton, China; had been 32 years in Victoria and married; but information on his marriage and any children was unknown. He was buried in the Running Creek Cemetery on 19 September, 1884 .

Other burials identified to date include, George Greene (1904); Godfrey Greene (1944); Jacob Newman (1897); George O. Woolley (1936); Marion Woolley (1948) and Alice Woolley (1935).

The cemetery is now included on the Heritage Inventory, which protects archaeological sites in Victoria .

Information in the old cemetery file held by the Department of Human Services does not note that the cemetery had been officially closed. This is another old cemetery that has been nearly forgotten.


Dept of Human Services Cemetery File H-CEM-240; Havilah Cemetery . (1889-1991).

Dept of Sustainability and Environment Historic Places: Havilah Cemetery . Cemetery Datasheet.

Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages: Indexes, Death Certificates.


David Weatherill
27 October 2008
Bundoora, Victoria, Australia



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