Gore Hill Cemetery was established on 19 May 1868 by the New South Wales politician William Tunks. The first body was interred in 1877, and until its closure in 1974, 14,456 burials took place. Most of which took place between 1900 and 1930.
Several local councils administered the cemetery until 1875, when trustees from various denominations of churches took over the role. Scattered throughout the cemetery are remnants of the much older Devonshire Street Cemetery, which was cleared in 1901.
The Cemetery is situated on the Pacific Highway in St Leonards with the entrance in Westbourne Street and occupies an area of 5.81 hectares, which was laid out, as a formal Victorian/Edwardian garden. Many of the pioneers of Sydney’s north shore are buried in the cemetery and there is a monument to Saint Mary MacKillop who was buried there from 1909 to 1914. There are 17 war graves of Commonwealth service personnel of World War I, registered and maintained by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.
The last burial in Gore Hill took place in 1974, but the cemetery is still open for the deposition of ashes. Gore Hill Memorial Cemetery was established as a historic site with the Gore Hill Memorial Cemetery Act in 1986, and was given State Heritage status in 2001.
Gore Hills Memorial Cemetery’s Cheerful Coreopsis
Gore Hill Memorial Cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries remaining in metropolitan Sydney.
Established in 1868 its design, beautiful monuments and glorious plants demonstrate the religious philosophies and changing attitudes to death and its commemoration of the late Victorian and Edwardian eras.
As with many historic garden cemeteries, the original ornamental plantings at Gore Hill Cemetery were evergreen species of trees and shrubs, many with symbolic meanings associated with religious beliefs such as everlasting life, victory over death, undying love, eternal friendship, mourning and remembrance. In the language of flowers, Coreopsis means to be always cheerful.
Coreopsis was among the garden specimens planted in the original cemetery and have been retained today – providing a glorious sea of yellow around November. Used as nectar and pollen for insects, the sunny, summer blooming, daisy-like flowers are popular in gardens to attract butterflies – a symbol of hope.