The cemetery began operations in 1847 and it is here that you will find names and memorials associated with the gold rush, Eureka rebellion, the Great War and more. The Pioneers’ Plot at the Ballarat Old Cemetery is just one example of the rich historical offerings to be found at our Macarthur Street site.
A substantial physical reminder of the earliest days just before and during the famous Victoria gold rushes of the 1850s, some of our earliest pioneers were buried there.
Tangible evidence of the Eureka rebellion still exists, with memorials to the soldiers and gold diggers located not far from one another at the same site. The tombstones and graves of many other participants in the Eureka battle are at both Old and New Cemeteries. Tombstones of Chinese miners, Jewish men, women and children, and other multicultural groups, are evidence of the mix of nationalities that were present on the early Ballarat goldfields. The contribution these groups made to early Australian society and our national identity is enormous.
The Ballarat Old Cemetery was established in 1854 when the first trustees were gazetted. Records show that burials took place from 1848 in the vicinity of the old cemetery, however the first official burial of the trust was dated May 20, 1856.
The site covers seven hectares and, situated in the centre, stands the original rotunda built in 1893. This was used as a meeting place prior to burial services, and has been restored to its original splendour over the years.
Cemetery records show more than 35,000 internments have taken place, although less than five internments occur annually in the present day.
The 1920 gatehouse building was restored in 1997 and houses a wealth of historical information, including material related to Eureka and Ballarat’s early generations.