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Building on the Heritage of Ballarat Cemeteries – calling for the stories of 150 Women over 150 Years

Ballarat takes pride in those who have come before us as shown in the booked out Tours at the Ballarat Cemetery over the Ballarat Heritage Weekend.

Talking about history and who of our past reside in the grounds at the Ballarat New Cemetery reveals many locals who have helped build Ballarat into what it is today. The Ballarat Cemetery would like to be able to highlight those people.

Over the last 12 months Ballarat Cemetery has been collecting stories of The Women of Ballarat and in particular 150 stories for the 150 year celebration of the Ballarat Cemetery.

The stories are of well-known figures identified by the Cemetery to date include entrepreneurs Eleanor Lucas, Matilda Thompson and Mary Sutton, artists Helen Noonan, Gertrude Healy, Alma Matthews and Rosalie Bonighton, educators Mother Bonaventure and Mother Hilda, political activists and politicians such as Aileen Palmer, Mary Morrison, Jessie Scott and Karen Overington, and health care reformers Alice Pittard and Helen Gardiner.

There are also marvellous stories of mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunties and friends like Martha Clendinning who was known as the ‘lady who walked to Ballarat’ because she was tired of the bumpy travel on the cart when she came to Ballarat. Martha was present on the Goldfields with her sister and became prominent members of the Ballarat community during and after the Eureka Uprising.  Martha and her sister opened a store from their tents to supply the women in the Goldfields with homely comforts and went on to establish a response to what Martha viewed as the growing issue of destitution among women of the Goldfields. This was the first institution of its kind for single mothers on the Goldfields.  Today, Martha’s legacy is ‘Clendinning House’ in Berry Street, Ballarat Central.  This institute continues to assist modern women in crisis.

“There are some wonderful stories coming through, of everyday women who have made a contribution to Ballarat in a big or small way; they are truly the fabric of what Ballarat’s foundations are built upon. Women who loved, laughed and lived in our streets, next door to us, who made an impact on lives and their families and loved ones. Their stories have been recorded and entered   into the Ballarat Cemeteries database to be recognised as part of the 150 Women over 150 Years project,“ Sarah Lia, Chair of the Ballarat Cemeteries Community Advisory Committee commented.

“We encourage the community to detail their family’s amazing lady who resides at the New Ballarat Cemetery by completing the online form for publication as part of the project for the Ballarat Cemetery. Details can be completed on the Ballarat Cemeteries website.

“It’s a very easy form to complete to capture the details of your special lady and I encourage you to take 10 minutes to recognise your inspirational woman for our 150 Years of 150 Women.”

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