Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Crook as Rookwood

Rookwood Necropolis Posted by Picasa

There's a saying in Sydney that goes , "Crook as Rookwood." Crook meaning sick and Rookwood referring to Rookwood Necropolis which is the largest cemetery in the Southern Hemisphere. So if you are "Crook as Rookwood"...... you're pretty ill!

From Strathfield local council there is the following information about the site.

Rookwood Necropolis, at 283 hectares (700 acres), is one of the largest burial grounds in the world and one of Australia’s oldest cemeteries. It has been in continual use since it was established in 1868 and over 800,000 people have been interred within the grounds. The headstones and monuments reflect the history of the colony Of New South Wales and the development of the city of Sydney. The heritage values of the cemetery are protected by an act of Parliament.

The word Necropolis is derived from Greek roots Nekros, meaning dead body and polis, meaning City, , hence City of the Dead — another word for cemetery.

It is a rather interesting slice of Sydney's history since Victorian times. Lovely masonry work, wonderfully laid out gardens, decaying and long forgotten tombstones, some prominent Sydney names and others since lost in the ravages of time.

A bonus is some of the Victorian cottage plants growing in the area. A horticulturist told me that some of the best Freesia and Agapanthus tuber stock could be found at Rookwood. The Freesias, Wisterias and Wattles were in abundance at this time of year giving off some rather nice fragrances amongst the sombre setting, reminding me of the wheel of life and its cycling from death to re-birth.

The colours of the place are something else too. White marble carving shine out from a century of Sydney's black soot and grime, green and yellow lichen sticks to some surfaces, sandstone worn away from acid rain giving off some brilliant hues..... there was even some red coloured lichen shining out of the darkness which you will see further down the page.

I've found the Catholic section a rather peaceful area to contemplate life and realise that we're not down here for too long. As one sage puts it, "Mankind would do a lot more in the now and not plam to 'do something in the future' if he realises he will one day die. He would treat his fellow man more favourably if he realised this will occur to them as well."..... or words to that effect.

All these forgotten people once had loves, lives and families and now they sit pretty well forgotten except for some old headstones leaning precariously as gravity, time, erosion and decay takes it's toll. Visiting a cemetery (especially an old one) can be an excellent motivator!

Anyhow, enough of my musings mortal.... here's some photos and a small description where needed of photos around Rookwood.

Oh and there were a few crows around, what would a place called Rookwood be without a few rooks?

Click all these photos for some finer detail, some are worth it.


  • A great walk with you. Why does it still strike me, somehow, strange, that different religions have different sections? I donna' know.

    It also tickles my funny bone, to hear your joy at spring creeping over, while here there is the slight tinge, a crispness of autumn barely threatening.

    There have been a large amount of noisy, critical crows about, lately. Always makes me think of The Hawks and Sparrows by Pier Paulo Pasolini, one of my most favorite movies.

    By Blogger Peter (the other), at 1:29 am  

  • I'm glad you enjoyed it Peter. I don't go there that often but when I do, I tend to find something different.

    I should try a few other sections sometime. There's a section callled "General religion" with Freemasons, atheists and the like which looks sort of interesting. I also came across a Maori (native New Zealander) section believe it or not.

    And yes, Spring is GREAT!!!!!

    By Blogger Johnno, at 6:51 pm  

  • Good one. I love stopping at old graveyards when I'm out in the country. Must take a peak at Rookwood one of these days.

    By Anonymous JtH, at 11:24 am  

  • Johnny it's well worth a look, especially on the western side where I took most of these photos.

    By Blogger Johnno, at 4:37 am  

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