Grave concerns for small town cemetery
DISRESPECTFUL is how a Bangalow resident has described private landowners' use of Bangalow Cemetery after she has had several encounters with what she described as alarming traffic movements through the graveyard.
Janace Hulbert regularly visits the grounds to maintain garden beds and visit deceased family and told The Northern Star she was deeply saddened about what she has seen over the past 18 months.
"I was at a funeral and a big tip truck came up through the service. 100 people were here, it could just get through the crowd and then another truck came up to access the road,” she said.
"The officiating lady taking the service had to stop twice until the trucks went past, and they returned when we were all still there and I worry that it's happened at other funerals also.
"Another time a Queenslander went up in five pieces and not long before the funeral a semi-trailer came down the road and jack-knifed ... and ended up parallel with the highway (down the embankment), narrowly missing the columbarium walls by about 1.5m.
"The cemetery deserves much more respect than is given to it.”
Mrs Hulbert described the activity as a "misuse of the road”.
"It's a sacred place,” she said. "I've got ancestors here, that is my great-great grandparents, great grandparents, grandparents and late husband as well as other family members. It's dear to me.
"It's not respectful. It deserves quiet, respect and a place for reflection for people and visitors to our town.
"I have spoken to many families, community people and churches involved and all are shocked and dismayed (about) what's going on in our cemetery.”
Mrs Hulbert said on the night of June 9 a party held at a private residence adjoining the graveyard saw 69 cars parked in the cemetery that night, and busloads of people carted to the venue from there.
At the end of the paved public road in the cemetery lies a private gravel road which she said could soon be paved, opening the way for more traffic through the public site.
Beyond the public road also lies macadamia farms.
Mrs Hulbert said she had written at least five letters of complaint to Byron Shire Council over the past 18 months.
The council was contacted but couldn't provide comment before The Northern Star's deadline.
However, in a letter addressed to Mrs Hulbert, dated August 29, 2018, the council's manager of open spaces and resource recovery, Michael Matthews, said "compliance staff found no established grounds for any current compliance action”.
"Staff have reviewed the use of the road through the cemetery that is being used by private landowners and guests to access private property,” he said. "I confirm this road is a gazetted road reserve ... public and adjoining landowners' use of this road reserve as a road including parking is a lawful use.”