Potted Histories

Old Harvey Cemetery, South Western Highway, Harvey

By Heather Wade, 2022.

Prior to the opening of the Harvey Cemetery in 1916, most people were buried at the Cookernup Cemetery, as that was the area of greatest settlement in the early years in the northern part of the Brunswick Road Board. In the southern part of the district, Australind had a cemetery where the first burial took place in 1842. Closer settlement occurred in the area around Harvey from 1896 with the development of the Korijekup Fruit Settlement, and with that came the call for a cemetery closer to home. The role of a Road Board in those early years was the provision of roads and the collection of rates and rubbish, so it fell upon the citizens of a district to run the Cemetery Board, and that is what happened in Harvey.

The Vestry committee of the Harvey Mission [Methodist] District passed a resolution in October 1902 urging the allocation of land for a cemetery in Harvey.[1] There was a flurry of activity in the following year. In January 1903 the Lands Department requested that the Road Board recommend a site for the cemetery. Messrs Sutton and Birch were to inspect the locality proposed and report to the next meeting.[2] At the July Road Board Meeting in a letter  from Mr Christison, the Manager of the Harvey Estate owned by Drs Harvey and Hayward,  said that it had been decided that the site selected by the Board be adhered to.[3] In September 1903 the Lands Department asked if the Road Board recommended the purchase of the site chosen for a cemetery at the price quoted. It was resolved to recommend the purchase.[4]

The newspapers didn’t report on the matter until the July 1909 Road Board Meeting when a general discussion took place. Some work had been done in the interim, as the Secretary had received a letter from the Government to the effect that the Department must have control of the land before they would advance any money for a cemetery, but nothing further had been done on the matter since then. The Secretary also said that the land had already been surveyed, and that Mr Hayward and he had located the blocks. The piece surveyed was 30 chains past Mr Palmer’s on the Bunbury Road. About an acre had been surveyed but it was felt that an acre was not enough and that at least five acres were required. Mr Hayward had offered to sell land for £1 per acre. Mr. Cook, a councillor present at the meeting, advised the Road Board against having a cemetery at Harvey. He said that he was one of the trustees of the Cookernup Cemetery and although the Government was supposed to find the funds to maintain it, the trustees never got any money and they were absolutely bankrupt. The Government invited settlers to go on the Board as trustees and then left them in the lurch, and they had to battle along the best way they could. Mr. Cook said that it would not be a Board but trustees, and as soon as they were appointed they would be in trouble. Despite Mr Cook’s negative comments, the Road Board decided that an application should be made to the Government for funds for a cemetery at Harvey.[5]

There was further clarification at the August Road Board Meeting when a letter was read from Messrs Harvey and Hayward. They considered they had already given enough land for public purposes at Harvey, but were prepared to sell five acres of land at the location for £5 an acre. It was decided to forward the matter on to the Public Works Department for consideration.[6] The Department replied that they were not willing to purchase more than two acres at that price. The Secretary said that two acres would suffice for the requirements of Harvey for a long time. Messrs Harvey and Hayward were to be asked if they would be prepared to sell the land for the price mentioned.[7]

It was a long drawn-out process. Ten months later, the Road Board had not received a reply from the PWD, so it wrote again.[8] Another six months on, in January 1911, the Surveyor-General’s Department notified the Road Board that instructions had been issued for the survey of the Harvey cemetery site.[9] In June that year the Department of Lands and Surveys wrote stating that steps were being taken to have the survey of the Harvey cemetery completed and suggested that the Road Board form themselves into a Cemetery Board.[10] A public meeting was held and a committee appointed.[11] In December 1911 the Department of Lands and Surveys officially appointed Rev V. Binet, Messrs. G. G. Gibbs, R. Clifton, A. O. Larsen, E. Roesner, G. Horrocks and J. Handley to the Harvey Cemetery Board to control and manage the cemetery.[12]

In early November 1913 when the cemetery was still not in use, the Harvey Road Board received a letter from Mrs. H. G. Palmer, stating that the Harvey Cemetery site was now cleared, and she considered it a disgrace to civilisation that settlers and others should have to put up with the strong odour that came from the nearby sanitary site, when they visited the cemetery. The depot odour was also a menace to the health of people travelling along the Perth Bunbury Road, and she trusted in the interests of public health and decency that the sanitary site would be shifted before the summer.’ The Secretary (Mr. Jas. A. Stewart) declared that the Central Board of Health Inspector had said that the sanitary site was an ideal one. It was 20 chains away from the Cemetery. The Roads Board had just paid £30 for a well and buildings and it would be costly to move. There was a possibility of getting a sanitary site at Billygoat Hill, which was much further awav. The Road Board members were of the opinion that the problem was not as serious as Mrs Palmer alleged.[13]

In May 1915 Harvey Cemetery was still not ready for interments. Mrs Caroline Larsen collected donations to provide improvements to the cemetery as the Cemetery Board did not have sufficient funds to prepare it for interments. With the donations, Mrs Larsen proposed clearing and fencing the ground and planting it with evergreens.[14]  By July 1915 the Cemetery Board had made considerable improvements and to complete their plans asked the Road Board to form a roadway with the roadmaking machine. Road Board Members generally considered the Road Board had no power to do the work and it was decided to see which authority could do so.[15]

Cemetery opened

The cemetery was opened in early 1916 for interments, but there is no mention of the occasion in the newspapers. However, the first burial supposedly occurred on 4 February of Mrs William A Hansen, when the following announcement appeared in a local newspaper:

The death at Harvey on Friday of Mrs Wm. A. Hansen, from internal trouble. Her three sons are at present at the front. The remains were interred in the Harvey Cemetery on Sunday morning, when the Rev. Harris officiated. A large number were present at the obsequies.[16] [Note: Mrs Hansen’s burial record can’t be found at Harvey or Cookernup cemeteries, nor her death in the WA Birth Deaths and Marriages Index under ‘Hansen’.]

The first ten recorded burials

  1. Section 1 No. 1, 5 February 1916, Susan M Anthony, Anglican, aged 49 years.
  2. Section 1 No. 2, 24 March 1916, Vivienne Boronia Rowe, Anglican, aged 2½ years.
  3. Section 1 No. 3, 15 April 1916, Maria Sands, Anglican, aged 81 years 10 months.
  4. Section 1 No. 5, 1 May 1916, Baby Atkins, Anglican, aged 2 weeks.
  5. Section 1 No. 5, 4 May 1916, Florence Atkins, Anglican, aged 3 weeks.
  6. Section 1 No. 6, 13 June 1916, Frank Kirby, Anglican, aged 6 years.
  7. Section 68 No. 2, 12 Sept 1916, Catherine McMillan, Wesleyan, aged 32 years.
  8. Section 1 No. 10, 12 September 1916, Douglas Harris, Anglican, aged 2 days.
  9. Section 1 No. 7, 11 October 1916, Bernard Henry Woodward, Anglican, aged 70 years.
  10. Section 1 No. 11, 8 April 1917, Baby Pepper, Anglican, stillborn.

No. 1 – Susan M Anthony

IN MEMORIAM. ANTHONY. – In loving memory of our dear wife and mother Susan Anthony, who fell asleep in Jesus on February 5 1916, after long suffering patiently borne.

It is just one year ago today,

Since my dear wife and our dear mother passed away;

But her memory is just as fresh to-day

As in the hour she passed away.

Gone but not forgotten.

Inserted by her loving husband and family.

Susan Anthony’s headstone

No. 2 – Vivienne Boronia Rowe – no headstone

No. 3 – Maria Sands

See her obituary on this website.

Maria Sands’ headstone.

Nos 4 & 5 – Frances Constant [?Constance] Atkins and Ethel Elizabeth Atkins.

[Note: The cemetery records have ‘Baby Atkins’ and ‘Florence Constance Atkins’.

The girls are registered as Frances C Atkins and Ethel E Atkins for their births and deaths in the WA Birth Deaths and Marriages Indexes.]

Atkins twins’ headstone plaque erected many years after their deaths.

 No. 6 – Frank Kirby – no headstone

No. 7 – Catherine McMillan – no headstone

McMILLAN. – The Friends of Mr. Andrew McMillan, of Wokalup near Harvey, South West, are respectfully informed that the remains of his late dearly beloved wife, Catherine, will be interred in the Wesleyan portion of the Harvey Cemetery, THIS (Monday) AFTERNOON. Friends wishing to attend the Funeral may proceed by the 7.42 a.m. train leaving Perth.

C.H. SMITH and CO., Undertakers, 281 Newcastle-street, Perth. Tel. A1211.

(West Australian, 11 September 1916)

No. 8 – Douglas Harris – no headstone.

No. 9 – Bernard Henry Woodward – no headstone.

WOODWARD. – The Friends of the late Mr. Woodward, of Harvey, are respectfully invited to follow his remains to the place of interment, the Harvey Cemetery. The Funeral will take place TOMORROW (Thursday 12th inst.) after the arrival of the 7.42 train from Perth.

(West Australian, 11 Oct 1916)

See obituary on this website.

No. 10 – Baby Pepper – no headstone


Road Board takes over

By December 1921 the Cemetery Board was in disarray and the Road Board was asked to take control. Mr Ward, the undertaker, said that for years the committee had not held meetings and had practically been defunct. The cemetery committee had handed over the management of the cemetery to him and had given him certain powers to collect fees, with the result that he had something like £45 in hand. Mr Driscoll the Cemetery Board Secretary said that when trustees dropped out they were not replaced and as the secretary, he had no records of the graves.  The Government auditor required the books to be sent to Perth for audit which was done but there were practically no entries in them and the books were sent back. It was noted that at this time the cemetery was in a disgraceful condition. Although the Road Board was not keen to take over the management of the cemetery because some believed it was the responsibility of the community and it would add enormously to their responsibilities, it did so to secure continuity of control.[17] A year later the Lands Department formerly vested the control of the Harvey Cemetery in the Road Board.[18]

With access to newspapers until 1955 through TROVE we can read what was happening at or near the cemetery.

The problems were:

  • Waterlogging in 1926.
  • Vermin – traces of rabbits reported in the cemetery in March 1931 and in March 1942 the reserve east of the cemetery was seen as a harbourage for a few rabbits which would be disposed of.
  • Rubbish being dumped on the reserve behind the cemetery in 1946 – it was littered with rotten vegetables and thick with flies. Loose papers from the nearby rubbish tip were blowing into the cemetery in 1954.
  • Fires or the potential of them.
  • Ongoing maintenance.

An unusual event was reported in 1927 titled ‘Cemetery Reserve Scrap, When Harvey Citizens Went Wild’. A boxing match between two lads took place on the cemetery reserve, where a large crowd of generally respectable citizens had gathered. The Chairman of the Cemetery Board issued summons to the two combatants but by the next Road Board meeting, common sense had prevailed and the summons had been revoked.[19]

Cemetery improvements and extensions

The cemetery was extended a number of times. Plans were drawn up in 1939.[20] In 1945 an additional portion was surveyed and laid out in sectors for the various denominations.[21]  The Bishop of Bunbury consecrated a new section in the Harvey cemetery for the Church of England in October 1946.[22] And there were further extensions in 1948.[23] In reply to a question by Mr. C. J. Hanks in June 1954, the Road Board Secretary advised that as long as the Road Board had control of Reserve 17805, extensions of the Harvey cemetery would not be difficult as there was plenty of suitable land available.[24] In June that year plans were being prepared to extend and bring the cemetery up to date.[25]

The problem of maintenance of the cemetery was solved temporarily with the employment of Mr Len Wilson as caretaker before October 1946. During his tenure the cemetery was kept in excellent condition.[26] By October 1947 he had left.[27] He was unable to be replaced by April 1948.[28]

Ornamental trees donated by Major H. G. Palmer and Messrs. Syd Hymus, Hedley Moore and H Evans were planted by volunteers in May 1947.[29]

The Road Board entered into an agreement with the Imperial War Graves Commission in 1947 to maintain war graves for a cost of 5/- per grave per annum. At the time there were two graves in the cemetery.[30]

There was consternation in late 1953. A proposal by the Lands Department for the removal of the Harvey cemetery, the rifle range and the sale yards to other sites so that the land could be used for a housing project, met with strong protests at a Harvey Road Board meeting in November 1953.[31] Finally the matter was resolved in September 1955 when in answer to his question in Parliament, Ivan Manning, MLA, was told by the Housing Minister that no resumptions of land at Harvey were planned by the State Housing Commission.[32] [The sale yards were on the site of the current Harvey Senior High School and the rifle range south of that.]


Harvey Shire Cemeteries in 2022

There are no new plots available within the Old Harvey Cemetery, however the cemetery continues to be used with prior reservations or for current Grant of Right holders.

The Harvey Lawn Cemetery was established in 1973 and is located on Forestry Road, Harvey. The Cemetery has options available for both burials and placement of ashes in either the Niche Wall or Rose Gardens.

Cookernup and Australind Cemeteries continue to operate. At Cookernup only burials are available while at Australind burials and placement of ashes are available.[33]

For more information see ‘Shire Burial Records’ on this website.


[1] Bunbury Herald, 10 June 1903, p. 3.

[2] Ibid., 7 January 1903, p. 3.

[3] Southern Times, 14 July 1903, p. 5.

[4] Ibid., 12 September 1903, p. 3.

[5] Ibid., 6 July 1909, p. 4.

[6] Southern Times, 10 August 1909, p. 2

[7] Ibid., 6 November 1909, p. 2.

[8] Bunbury Herald, 7 June 1910, p. 2.

[9] Ibid., 10 January 1911, p. 3.

[10] Southern Times, 6 June 1911, p. 3.

[11] Bunbury Herald, 4 July 1911, p. 2.

[12] Ibid., 19 December 1911, p. 2.

[13] Southern Times, 4 November 1913, p. 2.

[14] Ibid., 15 May 1915, p. 3.

[15] Bunbury Herald, 15 July 1915, p. 3.

[16] Southern Times, 8 February 1916, p. 5

[17] South Western Times, 6 December 1921, p.1.

[18] Ibid., 14 January 1922, p. 8.

[19] Manjimup and Warren Times, 13 October 1927, p. 3.

[20] Harvey Murray Times, 14 December 1939, p. 2.

[21] Ibid., 15 November 1945, p. 7.

[22] Harvey-Waroona Mail, 18 October 1946, p. 14.

[23] Ibid., 16 April 1948, p. 1.

[24] Harvey Murray Times, 18 June 1954, p. 16

[25]Ibid., 18 June 1954, p. 11.

[26] Harvey-Waroona Mail, 18 October 1946, p. 14

[27] Ibid., 10 October 1947, p. 2

[28] Ibid., 16 April 1948, p. 1.

[29] Ibid, 23 May 1947, p.1.

[30] Harvey Murray Times, 18 April 1947, p. 10.

[31] West Australian, 20 November 1953, p. 6.

[32] Harvey-Waroona Mail, 30 September 1955, p. 2.

[33] https://www.harvey.wa.gov.au/facilities/cemeteries, viewed 27 January 2022.