Melbourne, Photography

Ashes to Ashes, Dust . . .

Yesterday, in the heat of the late afternoon, I went to visit the Heidelberg Cemetery.  It is quite an old cemetery and some information I found on the internet says that the first recorded burial was in 1858.  It does go on to say that they believe the first burial was around 1853.  I saw some very old graves, but the oldest I found was 1859.

It is a strange cemetery.  The old is mixed in with the new.  There isn’t an old section and a new section.  I don’t know how it has been worked out.  Wherever you go it is all sorts of different graves.

Long Time Residents

It was strange also, that some very old graves had brand new headstones.  I am not a fan of the new ones.  I love how the really old ones look.  I wish you could still always read them, but I suppose if no one is around to look after them then they will deteriorate.

Blooming Forever

This is in the first line we walked down.  I loved the china flowers on the grave.  It appears that no one has tended the site for some time, but the lovely china wreath will always be in bloom and will always add colour to the spot.

The Old Remodeled

This is one of those ones that has people who died a long time ago, but the headstone is fairly new.  It must have been done by the family.  One of things with this image is the view behind it, you see how high up on the hill it actually is.

Plot 22This plot, marked only with a steel peg and the number 22.  No clue as to who is buried here, just the peg.  It is sad that someone has died and the only thing to represent them is the steel peg with 22 on it.

Walking around the cemetery is a humbling experience.  We know how life was for the pioneers of Australia.  It was hard, it was hot.  We read about their lives and their struggles, but there is nothing like actually seeing their graves and what is written on them.  It brings reality.  The young age they died, how many children are buried there.  We think about how sad it is for us when children died, yet back then, it was almost common.  I find it so gut wrenching when you see the graves with four or five children who all died before they were 12 months old.  

HIgh on a Hill

Heidelberg Cemetery sits on hill, the same hill that the Austin Hospital sits on.  Handy having a cemetery next to a hospital for the incurables.  Though, one thing that surprised me about the place is the way the people were buried.  I always thought graves were place East to West,  is it, feet facing east so the person who see the sun coming up, or is the other way around?  At this one, they face South.  I wonder if it is has something to do with the hill.  It is quite a steep one.

It is a strange thing to do, but not a mad thing, to go and look around a cemetery.   I know Melbourne Cemetery in Carlton/Parkville is huge and has so much history there.  It also offers night tours, that would be fun.

The images have all been processed with Camera Raw and then put through Nik Software’s Silver Efex Pro 2.  I have used different presets and tried different things on each one, so they would all be different.


  1. Leanne you have captured this beautifully, with a touch of mystery especially the 22 peg. It makes one wonder as to the story behind it.
    thank you. :-)

  2. Wow.

    [We know how life was for the pioneers of Australia. ]

    Actually, I didn’t really get that. Now I do.

    This was very moving as well as beautiful and that touch of humor is great (handy… for the incurables.)


  3. inspired creativity on memorials using silver efex. I’ve been using color efex but really like your grayscales. Be well.

  4. These a great Leanne. I find old cemeteries fascinating. The old headstones are easier to read. Some how they seem detached from us today.

  5. We have a wonderful similar cemetery not far away and these great pix have reminded me that I must take a camera and some B&W film up there sometime soon.

  6. My husband and I love wondering around old graveyards and reading the headstones too – so many stories under those stones. Atmospheric pics, these.

  7. Ashes to ashes dust to dust! Yes yes yes. I once snuck into a cemetery in New Orleans, LA at 5 am … We roamed around and then left as the sun rose. It was an every feeling. Death is always running behind our beating hearts!

  8. I enjoy visiting cemeteries, and I’m staying in Carlton at the moment, so I’ll have to look out for the Melbourne one.

    I love the way you have worked the images in black and white, Leanne.

  9. I also think that B&W suits cemetery shots really well, and this series proves it. Graveyards are always worth visiting, both for their photography potential and for the emotions that they stir.

  10. Beautiful images. I enjoy visiting cemeteries too. You have inspired me to get out to one next week and do some new mono’s.

  11. What a great post! We had a writing assignment in college to visit the cemetery in Visalia, and then write about what we saw. It was much like your pictures and descriptions here. I think all of us were amazed at how interesting it was, and we all learned to be a little better writers because of it. We had to describe what we saw, but in that you can’t help but imagine what was. Very, very wonderful piece. :)

  12. Cemeteries are fascinating places where the living and dead meet, clasping ghostly hands across two worlds. As always, a gorgeous testament from your eye, through the lens of your camera and into our collective brains.

    PS… there will be no ground dedicated to my life. The ashes which remain will be mixed with the water that sustained me throughout. It is my hope that a few, gazing out across the sea, will remember me thus.

    • I feel the same way, I know I won’t rest in peace if that happens to be. I want my ashes scattered on top of a tall hill on a very windy day, no place to mourn me.

  13. We have some very old cemeteries around here like this. I found in one where Uniun and Confederate soldiers were buried side by side (by coincidence I assume). Can’t imagine they’d be happy anout that.

    Amazing photographs. Very creepy.

  14. Thanks for your post. I actually learned a little history about Australia while enjoying your beautiful photography. There is just something about black and white that adds a little to the story you see in a photograph. I have to agree about liking the older headstones. There is a cemetery in Williamsburg, Virginia that has some of the most amazing headstones. It gives one a sense of history.

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  16. Whenever I imagine taking photos at a cemetery, I imagine the mystery and graveness you’ve shown in yours. You e inspired me to try again! Maybe this time I’ll get it.

  17. I think these are some of my most favorite photos–you have captured the poignancy and melancholy of this site. The photos are simply wonderful-

  18. Cemeteries are always fascinating…thought provoking to say the least. I like rambling through old cemeteries also…sobering to see how short some of the lives from long ago were! ~ Sheila

  19. I’m sure this is obvious, but I’m immediately brought into a Tim Burton movie through these pictures. I’m not even sure if there’s a cemetery in Edward Scissorhands, but it definitely brought me back. Great pictures!

  20. Phoport says

    Marvelous, especially the first one. Lighting and contrast is perfect.

  21. Great shots. I find the stones fascinating too! Especially the older ones. They all have such a story to tell.

  22. Very nice! Cemeteries have always been my fave subject to photograph. I find them to be very soothing places, in an eerie sort of way. I have a mission to go out and shoot cemeteries around the world. But right now I just have to settle for the ones in my city!

  23. These are beautiful and very thought-provoking. The image of the china wreath is spectacular. So beautiful and also sad in a way. But not sad, too. Which makes no sense … argh.

  24. mhartcultivation says

    Wow. I’m completely in love with that top black and white photo of the gated grave yard. It’s just so…crisp I guess if that’s the right word. It defiantly makes an impact.

  25. I’m not often one for photos of grave yards … but you’ve managed to do this one justice. Nice work …. once again! D

  26. I’m so glad you were drawn to this subject and place… it entirely fits the post apocalyptic feel you are so talented at. I find old cemeteries quite peaceful (and new ones somehow depressing) and the stories in the head stones and inscriptions fascinating. The china flowers images is very good but the 22 image is striking in that you’ve caputured that desolateness of the marker being something but not enough.

    • I feel the same way about the new cemeteries. They are all flashy and too much gold. They don’t seem to have any respect, except to show off. I don’t know, I just don’t like them, maybe in a couple of hundred years they will age and start to look good.

  27. saymber says

    Wow Leanne – these appeal to the goth in me lol — I’ve always loved cemetaries, the most peaceful places on earth lol. I love how you kept the color, (with a soft filter?) in the ceramic wreath in contrast to the black and white. Awesome series of pictures!

  28. lmarea3070 says

    I love the 22 tomb stone. At least you will remember 22.

  29. Beautiful photographs of this cemetery. I spend a fair amount of time photographing cemeteries, actually…maybe it is a bit mad, but then in the US at least they were often created with the intention of giving people a pretty, peaceful, park-like place to picnic (!) and enjoy nature. The older ones, though, as you and others have noted, are so much better at this than the new ones. The headstones are lovely, with so many interesting graceful touches…and you can’t help but wonder about the people buried there. Every cemetery I’ve photographed has had a couple of really amazing stories within.

    Too, by photographing them…when the words are gone…there’s still going to be *something* to go on.

    Again, beautiful work. Haunting…poignant.

  30. Cemeteries are fascinating places. I agree with you. The hardest headstones to read are those of children, especially when there is more than one from the same family.

  31. This series is truly masterful. There’s an eerie grace about them without being predictable. The second image in particular for me displays a cinematic quality – maybe because of your lens choice. They have a profound tactile sense too, tons of texture in that stone. Absolutely excellent work.

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