Birubi Cemetery book funded after Port Stephens Council approves $136,000 worth of grants

TRUE TALES: Tomaree Family History Group author Marilynne Cullen at Birubi Point cemetery, which is the focus of a new book that was approved for a council grant. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts
TRUE TALES: Tomaree Family History Group author Marilynne Cullen at Birubi Point cemetery, which is the focus of a new book that was approved for a council grant. Pictures: Ellie-Marie Watts

A light will be shone on the lives and deaths of the 120 people known to be buried in the Port's oldest cemetery, at Birubi Point, in a new book by the Tomaree Family History Group.

The book, called Birubi Cemetery, has been six years in the making and is the first solo project by the group's secretary, Marilynne Cullen, who said it was a way to "honour these remarkable people".

"There's no true record of who is buried here. That needed to be righted," Ms Cullen said.

Ms Cullen was involved in research and writing a 2010 book by the history group about the pioneers of Port Stephens.

It was while researching the pioneer families, those who lived in and shaped Port Stephens in the early 1800s to 1900s, that Ms Cullen realised there was a gap in information about where many were buried.

Her focus then turned on to the Birubi Point Historical Cemetery, which originally belonged to the Worimi people pre-1788.

A roll of names denoting who is buried in the Birubi historical cemetery. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

A roll of names denoting who is buried in the Birubi historical cemetery. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

Following the death of John Blanch's wife in 1876, he donated the land to be used as a cemetery.

People buried in the cemetery were men and women born in England, Scotland, Wales and Finland, as well as native-born Australians.

According to Port Stephens Council records, there are three unknown sailors buried at Birubi Point.

Ms Cullen said that many of the people buried at Birubi died of natural causes. However, there was at least one death that resulted from a shooting and another due to a fall from a horse.

The last burial in the Anna Bay cemetery was that of Annie Blanch in 1994.

It is now closed and is classified as a historic cemetery. The harsh environment, vandals and neglect have all played a part in the destruction of many grave markings, Ms Cullen said.

"This book has been produced so those buried there will not be forgotten, and is dedicated to their memory," she said.

"There's some very sad stories and some very remarkable stories. It's all very interesting.

"It's important people know their local history. Without its history, if you drive into Nelson Bay it looks like any other seaside town.

"The history here is amazing and needs to be preserved and told."

The book will be released on March 7, 2020 to coincide with the history group's 20th anniversary.

The group received $4000 in Port Stephens Council's annual grants, which were approved at last Tuesday's council meeting, to help meet printing costs.

The book was one of five community projects approved for a grant under the heritage fund and one of 20 under the cultural projects fund. The group was approved for $2000 in both funds.

More than $136,000 worth of grants were approved by councillors last Tuesday, also spanning Aboriginal, environmental and community projects.

"Our annual grants are a great way to give back to the community," Port Stephens Mayor Ryan Palmer said.

"Grants have a ripple effect - a small amount can get an idea off the ground, boost an ongoing initiative, attract other funding sources and have a positive impact on many people."

Soldiers Point Public School principal Simon Parson said he was proud to be a recipient an Aboriginal Projects Fund grant, worth $2500, for its Teach us Gathang project.

"This grant will enable up to 30 students of Soldiers Point Public School to develop a greater sense of belonging and pride in their Aboriginal culture," he said.

"Students will have the opportunity to learn about Aboriginal culture, including dreamtime, artefacts and the Gathang language.

"This is an exciting project which will be expanded in the future to every student at the school through the development of a unit of work highlighting the cultural significance of Soldiers Point."

Irrawang High School's application for a $10,000 grant under the Aboriginal Projects Fund was approved.

With it, the school will create an Indigenous culture learning space in an unused section of the grounds.

Jeanette Antrum, president of the Seaside Singers community choir, said her group was pleased to be a Cultural Projects Fund grant recipient.

The group will receive $3000 for its Universal Harmony project.

"This funding will allow us to continue what we started last year in promoting Port Stephens as a cultural destination," she said.

"The Choral Festival will attract eight choirs from the Hunter region and one international choir - the Kirara Chorus from Tatyama in Japan.

"It will be the core entertainment of a wider Tomaree Arts Festival over the weekend of October 25-27."

Tomaree Family History Group author Marilynne Cullen at Birubi Point cemetery, which is the focus of a new book that was approved for a council grant. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

Tomaree Family History Group author Marilynne Cullen at Birubi Point cemetery, which is the focus of a new book that was approved for a council grant. Picture: Ellie-Marie Watts

2019 annual grant program recipients

Heritage Projects Fund

  • Raymond Terrace Bowling Club to establish a garden bed and protect heritage listed Norfolk Pine trees - $2000
  • Tomaree Family History Group Nelson Bay for the publication of a book about the lives of those buried at the heritage listed Birubi Cemetery - $2000
  • St Johns Anglican Church Raymond Terrace for works to prevent deterioration of sandstone blocks and interior rising damp - $1128
  • Glenn Short and Deirdre Hall for a management plan and works for State heritage listed trees at Tanilba House - $944

Aboriginal Projects Fund

  • Hunter Region Botanic Gardens for Worimi Art - $5000
  • Karuah Indigenous Corporation for Warm Winter project - $5000
  • Port Stephens Surf School for Indigenous Surf Safety and Awareness program - $9370
  • Soldiers Point Public School for Teach us Gathang project - $2500
  • Irrawang High School for the Ngarralbaa Learning Yarning Circle project - $10,000

Environmental Projects Fund

  • Lemon Tree Passage Parks, Reserves and Landcare Group to plant koala feed trees to restore links - $2000
  • Corlette Reserves and Landcare Group to purchase and plant local endemic species - $500
  • Tilligerry Landcare Group for ongoing regeneration program at Tilligerry koala forest - $2000
  • Tilligerry Landcare Group for planting koala feed trees at Tanilba Point - $1400
  • Anna Bay / Birubi Community Hall and Landcare Group to extend and strengthen the Hannah Reserve wildlife corridor - $2000
  • Soldiers Point Salamander Bay Reserves and Landcare to remove invasive coral trees at Bagnalls Avenue and replace with native vegetation - $2000
  • Iona Public School for a vertical garden - $1000
  • Hinton Public School Preschool for native stingless bee hives - $1000
  • Medowie Christian School to build a new shed to raise and care for chicken - $1000
  • Soldiers Point Public School for the construction of vegetable and fruit garden - $1000
  • St Brigid's Parish School for the creation of a school garden - $1000
  • Wallalong Preschool for their Hand Water Pump for Preschool playground - $1000
  • Bob's Farm Public School for the redevelopment of their school garden - $500
  • Allocated to buying trees for schools interested in Schools National Tree Day on 26 July 2019 - $500

Cultural Projects Fund

  • Seaside Singers for Universal Harmony project - $3000
  • Port Stephens Sister Cities for Tateyama Sister Cities 10th anniversary cultural exchange - $3000
  • Port Stephens Community Arts Centre trust for Skills Development Workshops 2019 - $3000
  • Soldiers Point Lions Club for Street Art Bus Shelters project - $3000
  • Tilligerry Community Association for 2019 Tilligerry Festival - $3000
  • Little Brandy Hill (Bronwyn White) for I Walk, I Run, I Drum project - $3000
  • Tomaree Family History Group for the Birubi Cemetery Book event - $2000
  • PCYC NSW Port Stephens branch for the Community Band Development Project - $2550
  • Alisha Fewster for Story Maps project - $3000
  • Hunter Region Botanic Gardens for artist in residence Voyage of Discovery project - $3000
  • Lions Club of Medowie for 2019 Medowie Art and Craft show - $1000
  • Tomaree Business Chamber for the Nelson Bay Civic Pride mural project - $3000
  • Lions Club of Raymond Terrace for their 2019 Cultural Events Program (Celebration of Words Festival, Seaham Carols, Rhythm in Rotunda) - $3000
  • Tomaree Youth Community Action for the Code Movers project - $3000
  • Raymond Terrace and District Historical Society for the What a Drama Historical Interactive Walk Project - $2000
  • Thou Walla Family Centre for the Banners of Blessing project - $3000
  • Up & Up (Shane Kennedy) for the Salt Ash Bus Stop art project - $3000
  • Bayway Strummers Ukulele Group (Michael Sinclair) for their self-titled project - $1000
  • Tomaree Youth Community Action for the Rubbish into Art Youth Competition and Robinson Reserve event 2019 - $3000
  • Port Stephens Celtic Association for the Clans on the Coast 2019 event - $3000
  • Tilligerry Adult and Community Education (TACE) for the 2019 Port Stephens Literature Awards - $500

Community Projects Fund

East Ward

  • Corlette Reserves Landcare Group - wayfinding maps for bushwalks in Corlette - $1400
  • Shoal Bay Tennis Club - contribution to maintaining and upgrading tennis courts and equipment - $1000
  • Port Stephens Sailing and Aquatic Club - contribution to purchase personal floatation devices - $500
  • Nelson Bay Junior Cricket Club - contribution towards purchase of synthetic nets - $1000
  • Tomaree Neighbourhood Centre - contribution to delivery of course to help children with anxiety - $1915
  • Nelson Bay Girl Guides - contribution to installation of lighting and electric fans at the Guide Hall - $2000
  • Hunter Horse Haven - contribution to delivery of project to enable mentally handicapped people to interact with horses - $1000
  • Community Drug Action Taskforce - contribution towards delivery of drug awareness seminars - $2000
  • Greater Port Stephens Dragon Boat Club - contribution towards the purchase of a trailer to transport dragon boats to the water - $1000

Central Ward

  • Hunter Horse Haven - contribution to delivery of project to enable mentally handicapped people to interact with horses - $1000
  • Medowie Assembly of God - contribution towards the Food Way program - $2000
  • Port Stephens Church of Christ - contribution towards community meals program - $1250
  • Rotary Club of Williamtown - contribution to Rotary Medowie Christmas Carnival - $2000
  • Mallabula Anglican Church Dog Club - contribution towards the purchase of a lawn mower - $2000

West Ward

  • Hunter Region Botanic Gardens - contribution towards purchase of air conditioner for cafĂ© kitchen - $2000
  • Hunter Region Botanic Gardens - contribution towards purchase of tools - $2000
  • Raymond Terrace Writers Group - contribution towards the publication of a selection of writings by the group - $1200
  • Rivergum Grandparents as Parents Support Group - contribution towards production of a video to advertise sporting activities for disadvantaged children - $1900

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