Devonport City Council is seeking community input on its draft Don Congregational Cemetery Master Plan 2022-2032, which is aimed at sustainably managing the site for current and future community needs for the next 10 years.
Council sought community feedback on the top priorities for management of the cemetery through a survey, which attracted 90 responses earlier this year.
Devonport Mayor, Councillor Annette Rockliff said Council was pleasantly surprised at the level of interest in the historically significant cemetery, with the majority of respondents based in Devonport and 9% from interstate.
Cr Rockliff said the cemetery is considered to be one of the oldest congregational cemeteries in Tasmania, with more than 700 known recorded burials and several unmarked sites. The first recorded burial was on 17 October 1865 of Elizabeth June and Jane Hodgkiss.
“The cemetery is culturally significant to many visitors as a source of genealogy and the resting place of many prominent individuals in Devonport’s history,” Cr Rockliff said,
“The survey revealed that 92% of respondents ranked conserving of the cemetery’s heritage values as a ‘high’ or ‘very high’ management priority. This presents a maintenance challenge for Council, as Council has no legal obligation to maintain or conserve headstones and plots unless elements pose a risk to public health or safety.
“We’re asking the community to assist Council conduct research to find the descendants of those buried to assist us coordinate plot maintenance or restoration.”
respondents were asked for their suggestions to improve the cemetery. The top
three improvements suggested were:
• General maintenance (weed control, clean).
• Historical and interpretive information (on site and online).
• Plot maintenance/restoration.
Cr Rockliff said in response to community feedback and staff input, the Master Plan outlines three guiding principles with seven actions aimed at preserving the cemetery’s heritage value, while allowing Council to sustainably manage the site. Actions will be undertaken over a 10-year period at an estimated cost of $87,000.
“I encourage cemetery visitors and interested community members to complete our short two-minute survey to see if Council is on the right track,” Cr Rockliff said.
The Don Congregational Cemetery survey closes at 9am on Monday, 31 May 2021 and can be completed online through Speak Up Devonport via Council’s website.
A hard copy is also available at Council reception or by contacting Council at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 03 6424 0511.