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Pioneer's Graveyard

Anonymous, South Austrlia
June 2011

About 11 years ago my wife and I lived in a small mining town on the Tasmanian West Coast. Queenstown was a world apart from what we had known. A populous of 2500 people all working on this or supporting an Old Copper mine. Half the town looked like a moonscape with no trees or life and the other was engulfed in a large rain-forest.

About 6 months into living in Queenstown my mother came to visit. Now up to this point we had worked all week and spent our weekends away in the nearest built up area 200 plus kilometers away. So with my Mum in town we tried to show her our little town and surrounding tourist attractions. One thing my Mum likes to do is visit Pioneer grave yards to see if it has people of similar names or how they passed.

We took a short drive maybe 2 minutes from our house to this old Pioneer grave yard. My son aged 4, my wife, my mother and myself. We eventually found it as the sign pointed to a person's house. You have to walk down the side of their house and up a small track before you actually enter the yard.

We were stunned by the age of the graveyard, it housed the first settlers and generally for my first (and last) grave tour I was impressed at the history. My son was extremely bored plus because of the terrain and smashed graves with wrought iron broken about I had to carry him so he was less than impressed.

After several protests to get down and play he eventually started crying but as quickly as he had started he stopped. He then calmly asked if he could go and play with the boy and the girl. We assumed he meant two children who were playing down on the street below with a bouncy ball. I told him they were too far away and Granny wanted to look around some more. He said, "No not the girls, the boy and the girl over there."

He pointed to a line of broken graves the concrete tops smashed in. I asked him again where and he replied, "Over there with the lady holding the baby."

My wife and my mum stopped in their tracks. Of course it became my job to take the walk down into the area he had pointed to.

As I approached the graves it got even more strange. The first grave was that of a young lady who had died with her newborn. Next to that grave was that of a young boy who had died in a mining accident aged 11. The next grave was his sister a 13 year old who had died of tuberculosis ( I think that's what it was). We hurriedly picked my son up and made our way back out. My son asked if he could say good by to the other lady we said no very firmly and continued on. Now my mother, who suffered from polio when she was a child, couldnt make it down to the three graves we were running from but she had already made it to the exit path. My son looked up straight to where she was standing and said, "Bye Mary."

My mum turned white there in front of her with the headstone facing her was the grave of Mary Thomas. Suffice to say we never went graveyarding again...

Anonymous, South Austrlia
00:00 / 01:04
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