Bonang Cemetery



East Gippsland Family History Group Inc.


Bonang is located on the Orbost to Delegate Road ; just before the N.S.W. Border. It was once a gold mining town but over time it has become one of the small towns in the area. A school was established in the town in May 1887 in a leased building.

The Shire Secretary, Shire of Orbost, on 5 February 1901, wrote to the Board of Public Health in Melbourne informing them of “ the urgent necessity of establishing a cemetery at Bonang and one at Cabanandra”, noting that the areas were both becoming settled and there was a need for a cemetery in each town. The requests were for an area of ten acres at Cabanandra and “a piece of land, say about five acres, on the North West of the Township of Bonang would be in the Councils opinion a suitable place for a Cemetery at Bonang.” The area was next to the land owned by D. Fulmer.

The Public Health Department requested of the Shire that a Shire Engineer's report and an Officer of Health report be commissioned and forwarded into the Department. Two reports were prepared and forwarded to the Department on 8 March 1901 . A further report was forwarded by the Shire on 18 September 1908 . The reports noted of the suitability of the land for a cemetery. It was also identified that an area of ten acres would be a better size for a cemetery. Several years later ten acres of land for a “ Site of a Cemetery at Bonang ” was approved by the Governor in Council on 1 October 1918 , and Gazetted on 9 October, 1918 . [VGG 1918/3039].

The Shire of Orbost wrote on 26 May 1926 to the Department of Lands and Survey at Melbourne noting that as no Trustees had been appointed to the cemetery since it was gazetted, that the Shire Council be appointed as Trustee of the Cemetery. On 30 June 1926 the Orbost Shire Council was gazetted as Trustees for the Bonang Public Cemetery [VGG 1926/1918]. It would appear that the cemetery sat for many years never being used when in 1940 an application was made to the Department of Public Health from the Department of Lands and Survey that approximately five acres of the old cemetery be reserved as a site for a rubbish depot. On 20 August 1941 the government gazette noted that five acres of the Bonang Cemetery was revoked from the original ten acres approved for a cemetery. [VGG 1941/2925].

The Shire wrote on 3 August 1941 noting it no longer wished to be Trustee of the cemetery and requested that the following people approved and gazetted as Trustees for the Bonang Public Cemetery : Frederick Corker Minchin, Henry Ingram, Robert Henry Ingram, Frederick Charles Edwards and David Cant . In correspondence from the Shire secretary on 29 July 1941 it was recommended to the Public Health Department that the five men noted above be approved as Trustees for the Bonang Cemetery it also noted that, “ It is reported that one Burial took place many years ago but no record is in this Office.”

In February 1948, F.C. Minchin, Secretary of the Bonang Cemetery Trust, wrote to the Department of Health advising them that they had no funds in order to maintain the cemetery and how could they obtain any funds to provide for the cemetery's cleaning and upkeep. In April 1948 a Department of Health Officer on a visit in response to the letter noted that that as the population of the district was not likely to increase and therefore there was probably no need for a cemetery and that it was recommended that the cemetery be closed. He also noted that it would be of value to seek advice regarding closure from the Orbost Shire Council and local opinion on the issue. On 9 June 1948 the Orbost Shire Council replied noting that it was opposed to the closing of the cemetery.

In January 1949 the Shire wrote to the Public Health Department recommending that the following Trustees for the Bonang Cemetery Trust be approved:

- Frederick Corker Minchin (Farmer, Bonang),

- Henry Robert Ingram (Farmer, Bonang),

- Andrew Reginald Ingram (Storekeeper, Bonang)

- Charles Frederick Edwards (Prospector, Bonang), and

- George Owen Walsh (Farmer, Bonang)

These people were elected at a meeting held in the Bonang Public Hall on 27 November 1948 . The Department advised the Shire that the first four of the nominees had been approved in 1941.

On 7 February, 1962 the following were gazetted as Trustees for the Bonang Public Cemetery – James Vincent McKinnon, Victor James Ingram, Jack William Legge, Stanley Edward Bryant and Archie Desmond Camm [VGG 1962/305]. In September 1965 a new scale of fees for the cemetery was submitted to the Commission of Public Health and approved.

In February 1976 the Commission of Public Health wrote to the Shire of Orbost noting that all the Trustees for the cemetery had died and requested from the Council any recommendations regarding who should be Trustees of the cemetery. The Council replied in March 1976 noting that there was no interest in the cemetery as all deaths in the area now were buried in Delegate, N.S.W. and that the Council was not interested in being the Trustee. Nothing more is noted regarding the cemetery until November 1992 when a Cemeteries Officer from the Department of Health visited the cemetery and after discussing the cemetery with the local council member and a local identity noted that as there is no interest in the cemetery and that, “ It was therefore decided that the site would be left as is and no further action is warranted.”

A review of death records held by the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages noted the following burials in Bonang. Of interest is that these burials are from 1870 to 1910, before the cemetery was gazetted

* LUFF, John (18 years) – Buried 15 May 1870, Bonang Cemetery .

* FRANCIS, William (40 years) – Buried 15 August 1876, Bonang.

* WELSH, James (70 years) – Buried 2 September 1889, Bonang.

* HOBBS , Ernest Edwin (5 years, 6 months) – Buried 7 July 1890 , Bonang Cemetery

* HOBBS , Matthew (11 years, 11 months) – Buried 15 July 1890 , Bonang Cemetery .

(Both were noted as passing away from Russian Fever).

* CLANCY, Joseph (6 years, 41 weeks) – Buried 28 July 1890, Bonang Cemetery .

* CLANCY, Mary Ann (4 years, 40 weeks) – Buried 30 July 1890, Bonang Cemetery

(Both children died of Inflammation of the Bowels).

* COPPIN, John (80 years)- Buried 26 June 1910, Crown Land Bonang, known as Old Bonang Cemetery .

So whether any, some or all of these people were buried in the land finally gazetted as a cemetery in 1918 is still to be ascertained. Only one, John Coppin, is listed as passing away after the land was recommended for being approved as a cemetery; so perhaps he might be in the cemetery site.

Any further help regarding this cemetery would be greatly appreciated.


* Department of Human Services, Cemeteries and Crematorium Unit Archives Files:

•  H-CEM-61; Bonang Public Cemetery .

* Department of Sustainability and Environment (Historical Places); Bonang Cemetery Reserve.

* Education Department of Victoria : Vision and Realisation , Volume : 3, 2808: Bonang; page 1102: 1973.

* Ministry of Planning, Victoria : Cemeteries of Victoria . A National Estate Study ; Report prepared by L.P. Planning, Parkville , Victoria . Circa 1982/1983.- Bonang Cemetery , Bonang Parish: Class D Classification.

* Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages; Victoria . Death Certificates.

 June, 2009

David Weatherill
Bundoora, Victoria, Australia

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