PIONEERS REST PARK, WOLLONGONG

PIONEERS REST PARK, WOLLONGONG

Pioneers Rest Park is situated on the south-eat corner of Kembla and Bank Streets, Wollongnong. It is a significant relic of early European settlement in Wollongong.  Beneath its green and pleasant surface are the graves many early settlers. When Wollongong was surveyed in 1834, a non-denominational burial ground was provided on the south-east corner of Crown and Kembla Streets.  A graveyard in the middle of town was considered unsuitable and only 2 burials are known to have occurred.  From 1839, the site was home to the first government school in NSW.  

Local Anglicans had a dilemma.  There was insufficient space within the acre reserved for a church at the junction of Market and Church Streets.  In 1834, the land south of Stewart St was unallocated Crown Land, and a two-acre plot was appropriated. The cemetery, on the site of the current rest park, was probably used from the end of 1837. 

The list of known burials in the old cemetery includes two individuals who died in 1834.  Captain Charles Waldron died on 28 January 1834 at his home, Spring Hill, south of Wollongong.  Two female convict servants were charged with his murder but later acquitted on the evidence of his doctor.  Waldron was probably buried near his home and later re-interred when the cemetery was consecrated.  Catherine Glover the wife of Dr Montagu Glover, died on 20 September 1834.  She was interred in the burial ground on Crown St.  Her body was moved to the Pioneers Rest Park when the Crown St site was needed for the school.

Bishop William Broughton consecrated the cemetery on 13 January 1848.  125 individuals are known to have been buried.

The cemetery became dilapidated.  Decline was hastened when land in south Wollongong bounded by Swan and Kenny Streets was dedicated for Anglican burials on 3 March 1889.   St Michael’s parish council closed the cemetery to further burials in 1931.  By 1940, the cemetery had not been used for two decades and was seriously neglected. Legislation was passed to converted it into a public park with ownership by the Wollongong City Council. 

WCC proposals 2022 a
WCC proposals 2022b
Park upgrade and history 2022

In 2022, Wollongong City Council commenced upgrading the park to meet accessibility standards while retaining the heritage of the park.