NEW LIFE TO OLD CEMETERY The grave of Solomon Wiseman, the 19th Century pioneering settler after whom Wisemans Ferry was named, is once again standing proudly following a major restoration of the cemetery that also bears his name. Heritage grants have enabled Hornsby Council to restore this valuable relic of times past. The cemetery has withstood decades of damage caused by weeds, erosion, bushfires and and even floods. Some of the graves were half-buried by a flood that occurred almost 100 years ago. Much of the work has been carried out by stonemason Sach Killam, who described the restoration of the cemetery as an ‘exhilarating challenge’. “This is the kind of work we like doing,” he said. “With new masonry, everything is made in China and you’re just gluing it back together. But this is the real challenge. When you arrive there’s nothing there and when you leave there’s a nice monument!” The grave of Solomon Wiseman, who died in 1838, is a good example. Wiseman’s headstone had previously been broken and repaired, but that repair failed so it was simply set in a bed of concrete in the ground. Sach and his fellow stonemason Matthew Johnson were able to extract it from the concrete and stand it up again using a “hidden pin” repair that involved fibreglass rods. They also used a lime mortar that came from a quarry in France once operated by the Ancient Romans. Another of the tombs was repaired by marble imported from Italy, which they slotted into place like the final piece of a jigsaw puzzle. Local resident and past member of the Wisemans Ferry Progress Association Nick Vargassof is very pleased with the restoration. “This cemetery is part of our heritage and we’re all glad to see this work taking place,” Nick Vargassof said. Joanne Caldwell from the Bushland Management Committee, which helps oversee the site, echoed those sentiments. “This is history that’s worth preserving. It’s a great reminder of how hard it must have been for the settlers who first came here,” she said. The work has been carried out by Hornsby Shire Council using Heritage Grants from the State Government. Photo: Sach Killam at the grave of Solemon Wiseman and inset statue of Solomon Wiseman at Wisemans Ferry.
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