Park honours memory of pioneers
AFTER more than 160 years, Grafton’s earliest settlers have finally been laid to rest in peace.
In a touching gesture, the ministers of multiple religions banned together on Sunday to bless the Pioneer Park site during the opening of its redevelopment. The park, on the corner of Fry and Turf streets, was the original resting place for 70 of Grafton’s pioneers.
However, there were never any records kept for the site, which indicates the remains were never given a religious burial.
Sesquicentenary committee chair and the redevelopment’s project manager, Shirley Adams, said the site held a lot of historical significance.
“It was selected as the most historical section of the city and the Clarence Valley,” Mrs Adams said. “It had never, ever been recognised as such.”
Mrs Adams said the highlight of Sunday’s commemorations was when the Anglican, Catholic and Presbyterian ministers joined to bless those who were laid to rest there all those years ago.
“It really gave a very nice, gentle touch to the opening,” she said.
Three years’ work to acquire enough funding and the park now includes a large rotunda, beautiful rose-filled gardens and lighting from wisteria-covered wooden bollards.
Wall of Remembrance plaques, purchased by the pioneers’ descendants, add to the now fitting tribute to the Valley’s earliest settlers.
“If people take care and look after it properly, it will blossom beautifully,” Mrs Adams said.
Mrs Adams said the redevelopment was made possible by a $50,000 grant from the Federal Government; another $50,000 raised from community, business, industry, commerce and group and individual donations; and a further $50,000 in donated work.
“It was an absolutely fantastic community project,” she said.
About 400 people – many from other states of Australia – attended the opening.