article and documents contributed by John Stewart
The origins of the cemetery at Mount Duneed lie in a petition from local residents. The petition, dated 7th October 1861, was signed by Joseph Williams and about 25 other "residents in East Duneed and in portions of the parish of Puebla and Connewarre". They sought to have portion of the Mount Duneed Reserve set aside for a cemetery because "The nearest existing cemetery is at Germantown, distant upwards of three miles; its area is small and sufficient only for the probable requirements of the population of its neighbourhood."
The relevant items of correspondence to the Board of Land and Works, to whom the petition was addressed, are held in the files of the Department of Health at the Public Record Office, Victoria. Although there is no outward correspondence, the response of the Board can be inferred from file notes made on the original letters.
The Board response to the petition, dated 21st December 1861, was to point out that the cemetery at Germantown was within three miles of the Mount Duneed Reserve and so the request was denied.
On May 19th 1862 Joseph Williams wrote back, saying "We have since ascertained that the Germantown cemetery is private property, purchased and used exclusively for the German population, and that no reserve has been made by Government in this portion of the country."
After considerable delay, in early 1863 the Board decided to establish a public cemetery at Germantown and proposed that it consist of three acres in the North-East corner of the Connewarre Reserve at Germantown. (This is the land which the Grovedale Fire Brigade now occupies). The land was formally set aside by an announcement in the Victorian Government Gazette of 20th February 1863.
The next letter on the file is from the South Barwon Shire Council, dated 31st March 1863. The Council didn't want another cemetery at Germantown (which they would have to maintain) and asked that the proposal be cancelled. Joseph Williams also wrote (on 14th May) saying that the Germantown proposal wasn't what was desired and repeated the plea for Mount Duneed Reserve. Presumably not getting a reply, he repeated the plea on July 13th.
It seems that the local residents were frustrated at the delay, or concerned that they were to be denied. Another petition, this time with around 130 signatures, was sent to the Board on 18th September, reiterating their desire for a cemetery at Mount Duneed. The Board relented and, on the 28th September, decided to withdraw the proposed Germantown site and set aside land on the Mount Duneed recreation reserve, the site of the present cemetery. This decision was Gazetted on 9th October, 1863.
The next letter, written on 31st December 1863, was from William Landale, "one of the Trustees." It appears that Trustees were "appointed by the inhabitants of the neighbourhood, at a public meeting". Landale wanted to know if their appointment "is confirmed or not". But the real reason for Landale's letter became apparent in his second paragraph:
"The reason we are anxious about this matter is because there are two bodies already interred in the open grounds granted for a cemetery and four in the Wesleyan Chapel grounds near at hand. These last will be removed to the new grounds as soon as the arrangements are completed, and further, if there should be much more delay, great inconvenience and confusion may be the consequence on account of the ground not being laid out."
Following prior advertisement in the Geelong Advertiser an official public meeting was held at the Yarborough Inn on 26th January 1864 for the purpose of appointing Trustees. The cemetery was surveyed in July, 1864.
We will probably never know who were the first two people buried in the cemetery grounds before the end of December, 1863. Early church burial registers have not survived. An attempt was made by the Geelong Cemeteries Trust in the 1990s to identify early burials from headstone inscriptions, and from hospital, undertaker and newspaper records. However not all burials were identified or correctly located.
The Geelong Cemeteries Trust has for some time (to August 2019) stated that the first burial at Mount Duneed was on 23rd October, 1864. The person concerned can be identified in their database as Henry Brien. It turns out that Henry Brien actually died a year earlier,. As this is soon after the cemetery ground was Gazetted, it could be inferred that he was one of the first two burials. His death certificate states that his burial was on the 26th October, 1863, in “cemetery Duneed” which could mean either the existing Duneed cemetery at Mount Moriac or the new cemetery ground at Mount Duneed. However, as there is evidence that the family were Wesleyans, and as Henry is said to be buried in the Methodist (Wesleyan) Section, he may have initially been interred in the Chapel grounds.
The only other local 1863 death found to date is for Hannah Williams, on 19th December. As Hannah’s headstone is towards the centre of the Methodist section, it is possible that she, also, was first interred in the Wesleyan Chapel grounds. On the other hand, the instigator of the first petition was her husband, Joseph, which seems to increase the likelihood of her being interred in the new cemetery ground.
 PROV, VPRS 14836/P0001 unit 97, item H.CEM.350 MOUNT DUNEED Public Cemetery, General Correspondence Files, Department of Health.
 Geelong Cemeteries Trust (http://www.gct.net.au/our-cemeteries/Mount-Duneed-Cemetery/). Accessed 5th Dec. 2017.
 PROV, VPRS 28/ P2 Probate and Administration Files. Henry BRIEN: Date of death: 23 Oct 1863; Occupation: Farmer; Residence: Duneed
 Justice Department, State Government of Victoria, "Births, Deaths and Marriages, Victoria," database(https://online.justice.vic.gov.au/bdm/indexsearch.doj). D. cert. [Extract] Henry Brien, 1863. Accessed 5th Dec. 2017.
 Geelong and District Churches database CD, 2012. Ed. Susie Zada, Geelong and District Historical Association. BRIEN, William, Freshwater Creek, baptised 1865, Wesleyan Circuit.
When Ewing Blyth was 21 in 1853, he left Norwich England to come to Australia on the Earl of Charlemont. His name on the passenger list was Ewing Bligh. He had been accused of shooting the squire's bullock and was in fear of being deported as a convict. He had allowed his name to be incorrectly used so his whereabouts could not be easily traced. After the ship was wrecked, he repeated this event by shooting a bullock to feed the survivors off the ship. This beast belonged to James Tait who had settled at Tait's Point on Lake Connewarre and who later became his father-in-law.
Ewing Blyth gained work in the district and two years later married Agnes, the 16 year old daughter of James Tait at Connewarre. They spent all their lives living in Lake Road on the banks of the Barwon River. Their family of five boys and six girls were:
James Tait Blyth — born 20 September 1860 in Connewarre, died 26 Jun 1943 in Preston aged 83, buried in the Presbyterian section of the Mount Duneed Cemetery
Frances Blyth — born 31 July 1862, married William Spencer 1888, died 19 March 1940 Geelong
Ellen Blyth — born 29 October 1864 in Connewarre, married John Elijah Kempton 1888, died 19 May 1953 Geelong
Benjamin Blyth — born 1 April 1867, married Ann Ford 1895, died 24 November 1918
Ewing John Blyth — born 1869 at Connewarre, married Emma Isabella Taylor 1905, died 26 October 1951 at Flinders
Robert Ewing Blyth — born 1872, married Elisabeth Ann Martin Cameron 1896, died 1949
Mary Ann Blyth — born on 5 November 1874, married John Ford 1897, died 1945 in Geelong
Elizabeth Blyth (Bessie) — born 1877 at Mount Duneed, died 1898
Agnes Blyth — born 1879 at Mount Duneed, married Charles Marriott Burt, died 24 November 1952
Annie Blyth — born 1882 at Mount Duneed, died 22 May 1914 at Geelong
Alexander Tait Blyth — born 1884 in Mount Duneed, married Esther Hannah Challis in 1910, died 1970 in Connewarre
Ewing was a South Barwon Shire councillor serving from 1874 until 1875.
Agnes died on 25 February 1920 and is buried in the Church of England section of the Mount Duneed Cemetery. Ewing died on 1 June 1925 and is buried with her. Their daughter Annie who died on 22 May 1914 is buried with them. Ewing Blyth Drive, a road which runs south from the Barwon Heads Hotel, is named after him. Many of their descendants still live in the district.
The Mount Duneed Post Office was on the crest of the hill in Torquay Road, Mount Duneed. The house was named Kirriemuir after Jane's birth place in Scotland — photo contributed by Russ Preston
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