On 1st August, 1864 the citizens of Bellbrae received a gift of five acres from the Governor of Victoria to be reserved for a cemetery. Subsequently, 5 Trustees were appointed by the Governor on 17th October, 1864.  The cemetery continues to be successfully managed by a group of local community volunteers.

The first Trustees were Joseph Gundry, Alexander Butler, Andrew Edwards, George Helyar and John Wood.  Many of our early settlers and pioneers are resting in this beautiful cemetery.

In 2014 The Trust, with support from a Surf Coast Shire Community grant, produced and installed a series of historic plaques commemorating seven pioneer and community graves.  We also have a number of “unmarked” graves where unfortunately records of the folk buried there are not available.

As funds become available the Trust will look to extending the number of plaques as a way of sharing and celebrating our local history. In the meantime, please feel free to take a stroll and “soak up” the rich history our Cemetery holds.

Bellbrae Cemetery History

Early settler families buried at Bellbrae include Joseph and Mary Gundry, whose son Charles Edward, was the first born white child in Jan Juc (Bellbrae) in 1844. Joseph Gundry arrived in Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) from England in 1832. By 1843 he had moved Bellbrae from Tasmania after Batman opened up the land south of Geelong for farming. He was firstly a squatter to the Port Phillip District with his wife Mary and three children. With John Kiddle, Joseph Gundry took up the six square miles of land known as Ironbark Station. He ran sheep and cattle and bought more land as it became available. Joseph also established the Bellbrae School, firstly attached to his house on Spring Creek, and in 1861 the Jan Juc National School was built using bricks from his property. He built a large home and called it Llanberis House.

Bellbrae Cemetery History

Other Pioneer family graves at the Bellbrae Cemetery include members of the Ashmore, Hunter, Bubb and Bone families. Ernie Bone served as a Trust Member from 1925 to 1970.

George and Susan Cunningham ran the post office from 1874 to 1914, and Felix Rosser was the first person to sight the “Joseph H. Scammell on the rocks at Point Danger.

There are of course many more, and we will endeavour to do stories on some of our Pioneers and legends as time goes by.

Bellbrae Cemetery History

More recent but just as notable community legends include Owen Yateman, also known as a cray fisherman and a jazz musician of note, John Pettigrove, Maurie Raynor, Vic Tantau and Community Health Dietitian Jill Carey.

Follow the history markers to create your own self-guided cemetery tour to find out more.

Our Heritage

The Trust is responsible for, among many things, maintaining the cultural heritage of the cemetery.  So as you explore the Cemetery grounds, or scan the map in our shelter, you will notice reference to historical religious precincts as well as section identifiers e.g. Baptist – Lawn A.

These “religious” precincts were put in place when the cemetery was first established in the mid 1800’s.  This practice is found in most Australian and many international cemeteries.  The precincts form part of the cultural heritage the Trust is charged and mandated with maintaining.

Cemetery maps have continued to respect this heritage, although in practice the religious aspects are not in active use as it is generally accepted that all plots and garden memorials, regardless of precinct, are non-denominational.

The area markers are in place to further assist visitors locate family or individual plots.

Therefore, all religious precincts are available to and in use by families of varied faiths.  For example, within the lawn beam areas you will find denominational, non-denominational or multi-denominational burials.

Our Records

Cemeteries are rich in history and a great source of historical & genealogical data / information. Bellbrae Cemetery is no exception. A simple walk around its grounds will provide visitors with a trove of valuable information. Of course, not everyone can actually visit the cemetery, so please use the Contact Page to get in touch with us.

Currently our records are paper based however we are scoping an important and exciting digitisation project that will help us preserve and manage our history and records. There are conditions and regulations in place which may limit what information we can provide in order to respect individual’s privacy and personal details. Our current fees are listed on this website.

Under s. 60 of the Act, Cemetery trusts must make the information contained in their records (as required by the Act) available to the public for historical or research purposes. Cemetery Trusts may charge a fee for providing the information sought or for making copies or extracts of information from the records. This fee is gazetted by the department.

We have an Alphabetical Listing which lists all recorded burials at the cemetery. It is available for viewing on both this website as well as in our shelter at the cemetery.

We are aware that burials occurred in our cemetery which have not yet been traced. If, in your research, you access death certificates or documents referring to our Cemetery, please forward the information to bellbraect@gmail.com so this information can be added to our records. Any details will be gratefully accepted.

Bellbrae Cemetery also hosts a Facebook page as a further way to keep in touch with our community. Please feel free to join it too as it is a great source of historical information.

In addition their are many excellent community resources that assist the community to explore their family history. It is well worth a visit to the Torquay Historical Society’s centre in Price Street, Torquay.

An internet search will provide further sources of information – but it is important to note that content on these sites has not been directly provided or validated by the Bellbrae Cemetery Trust.