Lost graves immortalised on St Lawrence memorial wall

Steven kemp completed the smoking ceremony on behalf of the koinjmal people

More than 100 lost graves at the St Lawrence cemetery has intrigued many locals over the years.

Many wondered what the life stories were of those lost souls and others wondered who would remember them.

More than 100 lost graves at the St Lawrence cemetery has intrigued many locals over the years.

Many wondered what the life stories were of those lost souls and others wondered who would remember them.

One St Lawrence woman made it her mission to find answers to these questions.

Judy Baldwin with the assistance of close friend, Norm Hannan, spent more than five years researching the 101 unmarked graves in St Lawrence cemetery.

The unmarked graves were difficult to identify on the ground surface, either because they were never marked, or the grave markers have decayed, been removed, or been destroyed.

With the help from Isaac Regional Council and the Queensland Government, these lost graves are now immortalised on a stylish but respectful memorial and is installed under a timber shade structure within the cemetery grounds.

Acting Mayor Kelly Vea Vea said Judy worked tirelessly to restore and repair grave markers at the St Lawrence cemetery, and keeping the community informed of important events and the history of the area.

“Without Judy's photos and stories, which she spends a lot of time researching, many of us would be unaware, or have forgotten, people and events making up the rich history of the St Lawrence area,” Cr Vea Vea said.

“The effort in the past few years, with the assistance of another resident, to design and make a headstone for a long-gone child, is beautifully remarkable and reverent.

“The intention of the memorial wall will face the easterly direction, ensuring those names immortalised will always face the morning sun.”

Division 8 Councillor Viv Coleman said this had been a passion project for Judy and the Isaac coastal community.

“Some lost graves date back to the 1860s where St Lawrence was known as Queensland’s most northerly port which served as an access route to mines in the Clermont and Peak Downs district,” Cr Coleman said.

“We’re very proud to see this respectfully honoured in a way that will forever be immortalised in our community.”

The total project cost is $88,452 with $74,894 provided by the 2020-21 COVID Works for Queensland. The St Lawrence Cemetery Shade and Memorial Wall project is a joint initiative of Isaac Regional Council and the Queensland Government. The memorial was unveiled on Saturday 12 June 2021 at St Lawrence cemetery.

Published: 15th June 2021