Friday the 13th turned out to provide perfect weather for visiting a cemetery. We enjoyed Goldilocks weather, not too hot and not too cold, a little bit overcast but with the Sun making guest appearances throughout the day. Eighteen of our members joined the bus and travelled down the freeway to Sydney. On arrival at Rookwood we stopped at Reflections cafe for a refreshing cuppa and something to eat before moving in to the cemetery and on with the tour.
I’m reluctant to mention that a certain person forgot to pick up the portable step before we drove out of Toukley shopping centre car park, and there was an altercation between bus and step.........the step lost and we spent the remainder of the day physically bracing what was left of the step with our feet so that the less mobile could alight the bus in safety. The step has now been replaced with a metal folding one.
A special thanks to our driver Garry Lee, who spent most of the day driving around the maze of roads spreading throughout the 720 acres of Rookwood. With all that practice I’m sure Garry could now navigate around that cemetery blindfolded.
We were expertly guided by that doyen of the cemetery, “Harry (just try keeping me away from Rookwood) Johnston-Lord” who gave an illuminating running commentary about the various occupants of the graves, some of the history of the cemetery and the role the railways played within the grounds. Many thanks to Harry for providing his expertise on this trip.
Throughout the day members left and rejoined the bus as they searched for their relatives graves and I reckon that some of the more enthusiastic members must have covered more ground on foot than the bus covered.
Around about the middle of the day after we had rounded up all those who were on foot, we moved on to the Chinese Pavilion to partake of an enjoyable lunch before some of us recommenced the tour whilst the remainder re-entered the hunt for lost graves, on foot.
About 3:00pm we made our final stop on the tour with a visit to the Australian War Graves site before we departed the cemetery and headed for home, arriving back on the Coast before 5:00pm.
The conversations on the bus during the return journey led me to believe that most members who went on the trip found who/what they were looking for and everyone had an enjoyable day
Personally I rediscovered my brother’s grave which we couldn’t find during last year’s bus trip, probably because we had been misdirected by cemetery staff to the wrong area last year. I also located a family plot containing 7 relatives from my maternal grandmother’s branch of the family. Pre-trip research made it so much easier to find this grave, so it pays to do your homework before you go.
Rookwood cemetery will be holding an open day on Sunday 14th September 2014 but at this stage WHFG has not put in place any arrangements to run a bus trip for this event