Respect for Bendoc Aboriginal Historical Cemetery

More than 20 years of overgrown vegetation had hidden the Aboriginal Historical Cemetery at Bendoc so successfully that no-one could find it. A recent concerted effort eventually located it 100 metres from the public cemetery. 

Burials of significance at the cemetery include ‘Tonghi Jimmy’, a well-known Aboriginal identity who passed away in 1903. His grave is now protected by the Moogji Aboriginal Council in Orbost.

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) Cultural Heritage Officer, Gerry Laughton said: “The public cemetery had been well managed over the years, allowing visitors to access the gravesites easily but the Aboriginal cemetery had become neglected.”

“The DELWP Gippsland Cultural Heritage Team and First Custodians Network visited the site recently with local Elder, Uncle ‘Buzzy’ Hewat and decided to organise a much-needed clean-up of the area,” Mr Laughton said.

“Staff from the Bendoc DELWP office helped out, providing tools and a small crew to clear debris, saplings and weeds and create safe and easy access to this important cemetery.

“They also repaired the existing fence and re-sheeted the pathway into the cemetery – work that was very much appreciated by Uncle Buzzy, his son Nic and the Cultural Heritage Team.

“The results are exceptional and everyone should be proud of their efforts and their contribution to building partnerships with the local Aboriginal community, making sure their ancestors are not forgotten.”

Uncle Buzzy said he was very happy with the work that’s been done at the cemetery: “It’s a joy to see it being done after so many years and helps towards the healing of our community,” he said. 

Rachel Dawkins |Media and Communications Adviser| Gippsland
Forest, Fire and Regions | Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning