An Inside Look: Waverley Cemetery

    Waverley Cemetery is one of the smaller and more historic cemeteries in Sydney.  Established in 1877 it is also one of the most beautiful places in Sydney, able to compete with Hyde Park or the Harbour Bridge.  It is unfortunately under appreciated as many just write it off as a cemetery.  In doing so they either avoid it or give it special meaning it does not have.  Instead we should all appreciate it for what it is, a beautiful place with a rich history.

    The scenery is amazing, with glistening white angels and crosses backed by a pure blue sea it is a sight worth seeing.

    Waverley is council owned and operated.

    Waverley Cemetery's address is St Thomas St, Bronte.  It does not have an actual street number or address.

Getting there:
    Putting the address into a GPS can be tricky as Waverley does not have an actual address or street number, so you should go the intersection of St Thomas St and Trafalgar St.

    The main gate is located on the corner of Trafalgar St and St Thomas St, almost on the corner itself.  Many times we have had to do a funny right from St Thomas St with the hearse and cortege to get into the gate.  While it appears illegal (and probably is) most police will understand so long as you do it safely.

    The gate is relatively easy to get into.  It looks tricky at first, being a slightly narrow gate on a tight corner, but it can be done in one go with a hearse or truck.  So you have no excuse if you are in a normal car.  The only issue is sometime when driving in the cortege people panic and think they will lose the hearse in the cemetery.  So they blindly follow it and end up cutting off a car.  To get into Waverley just relax, look and wait.

    The cemetery is small, one of the smaller in Sydney.  So if you are lost or lose the cortege just drive about and it should not take too long to get back on track.  The only issue is the narrow streets and random dead ends.  If you know the size of your car then you'll be fine.

    There is a bus to the cemetery, the 378, which will drop you at Waverley itself.

The Beauty:
    As I said earlier Waverley is perhaps one of the most spectacular sights in Sydney.  What stands out about this cemetery is the historic and pure white angels with the perfect blue sea behind them.

    Too many people get stuck on certain ideas and attitudes about cemeteries.  They give aspects to these places that they simply do not have.  I have talked with people almost scared of the cemetery as it is a place for the dead.  A special place to be avoided unless visiting or burying the dead.  But why?  I will not delve into this idea here as that is not the point of this post.  But I will say go to Waverley even if you have this idea.  Take a camera or just go there, either way do not go to a cemetery.  Go to a beautiful place and you will have a beautiful time.

    As for the scenery there is plenty to see.  Every time I go to Waverley I notice something new and different.  The Eastern side of the cemetery ends abruptly at a cliff.  With the water loudly thrashing at the botom of these cliffs and the graves silent waiting at the top it makes for good atmosphere.  There are also nice parks to walk through around the cemetery.  Overall it makes for a good day out.

    I would recommend starting just South of the main round about in the centre of the grounds.  Then working your way East towards the coast.  This should give you a good view of what there is to see at Waverley.

    Waverley is also best at sunset or sunrise as the slope of the cemetery and open sea make for wonderful lighting and colouring.  This is when you will be the best scenes and photos.

    One of the visuals to Waverley is the 'White Angel' as I call it.  This is a gravestone in the shape of an angel with her hand outstretched.  She is towards the top of a hill and has the sea behind her.  See if you can find the 'White Angel' next time you are there!

    Waverley offers little in terms of services.  They focus on one thing, the cemetery, as that is basically all they have.

The Cemetery:
    The cemetery is quite lovely.  But it is very old, originally designed before cars many roads are steep, narrow and turn sharply.  Our long duel-cab hearses can get about but I notice many mourners had trouble navigating the roads.  There are also many dead ends with no real turning circles.  So know your car before you enter!

    As an undertaker I hated it when we were trying to do a funeral and a random visitor would get int he way with their car.  Either they would park on a corner making it impossible for the hearse to get past or they would try and drive up a narrow road with us.  Then worry too much about not being able to fit past the hearse.  And I can tell you now, a hearse will not reverse for anyone.  It is difficult, dangerous and they do not want to.  A few hearse drivers would rather scrape the side of your car than go backwards.

    If you doubt driving about the cemetery just park outside and walk.  Unless you are with a cortege or funeral there is no hurry and the cemetery is small which makes walking quite possible.

Useful Links & Information:

Main Gate:
Hours 07:00am until "dusk" - between 17:00 and 19:00 depending on the time of year.  In other words the gate is open while the sun is up.
However due to low walls one can enter the cemetery by foot at any time, day or night.

Main Office:
Hours: 09:00am to 17:00pm Monday to Friday.
Phone: (02) 9665, 4938.

Main website - a depressingly uninformative site, do not look to it for much information.

Getting there - although this is not very helpful as I provide more detail and information.

Cemetery Map.

Events & Tours.

Wikipedia page.


1 comment:

  1. NB: Waverley remains a full service cemetery.
    Burial and cremation allotments are always available.

    The staff at Waverley Cemetery.
    Ph: 9665 4938.


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