Tuesday 13 March 2012


Melbourne General Cemetery (about which I have blogged before) is a large (43 hectare) necropolis which is notable for the graves of four Australian Prime Ministers: James Scullin, Sir Robert Menzies, Harold Holt and Sir John Gorton. Holt's stone is a memorial as his body was never recovered after he disappeared at sea.  Three of these PMs memorials are in the Prime Ministers' Garden, which is a relatively late addition to the cemetery.
The Melbourne Cemetery Gatehouse is seen in the background (the grey bluestone building) of the Prime Ministers' Garden
The Entrance Pavilion and the Reflecting Pool
In 1992 the then Premier of Victoria, Jeff Kennett, and his close political associate, Ron Walker, became aware of the fact that a memorial had not been established for the late Sir Robert Menzies.  A Prime Minister’s Garden at Melbourne General Cemetery was subsequently established and the cremated remains of Sir Robert and Dame Pattie Menzies interred.
Sir Robert Gordon Menzies, KT, AK, CH, FAA, FRS, QC (20 December 1894 – 15 May 1978) was an Australian politician and the 12th and longest-serving Prime Minister of Australia.  Menzies' first term as Prime Minister commenced in 1939, after the death in office of the United Australia Party leader Joseph Lyons and a short-term interim premiership by Sir Earle Page. His party narrowly won the 1940 election, which produced a hung parliament, with the support of independent MPs in the House. A year later, his government was brought down by those same MPs crossing the floor. He spent eight years in opposition, during which he founded the Liberal Party of Australia. He again became Prime Minister at the 1949 election, and he then dominated Australian politics until his retirement in 1966.  Menzies was renowned as a brilliant speaker, both on the floor of Parliament and on the hustings; his speech "The Forgotten People" is an example of his oratorical skills. Throughout his life and career, Menzies held strong beliefs in the Monarchy and in traditional ties with Britain. In 1963 Menzies was invested as the first and only Australian Knight of the Order of the Thistle. Menzies is regarded highly in Prime Ministerial opinion polls and is very highly regarded in Australian society for his tenures as Prime Minister.
Additional monuments have been added over the years which commemorate Sir John Grey Gorton, the Hon. Harold Holt and Dame Zara Bate. James Scullin's grave is in another part of the cemetery (I seem to have missed photographing this grave, so here is a link where you can see it).

Sir John Grey Gorton, GCMG, AC, CH (9 September 1911 – 19 May 2002), Australian politician, was the 19th Prime Minister of Australia. Sir John Grey Gorton was born in Melbourne, the illegitimate son of Alice Sinn, the daughter of a railway worker, and English orange orchardist John Rose Gorton. On 10 January 1968, John Gorton became Prime Minister in unusual circumstances. He was elected Liberal Party leader to replace Harold Holt, who had disappeared the previous month while swimming off the Victorian coast, and was presumed dead (see below). Gorton also left the job in unusual circumstances – he declared himself out of office after a tied party vote of confidence in his leadership on 10 March 1971
Harold Edward Holt, CH (5 August 1908 – 17 December 1967) was an Australian politician and the 17th Prime Minister of Australia. His term as Prime Minister was brought to an early and dramatic end in December 1967 when he disappeared while swimming at Cheviot Beach near Portsea, Victoria, and was presumed drowned. Holt spent 32 years in Parliament, including many years as a senior Cabinet Minister, but was Prime Minister for only 22 months. This necessarily limited his personal and political impact, especially when compared to his immediate predecessor Sir Robert Menzies, who was Prime Minister for a total of 18 years. Today, Holt is mainly remembered for his somewhat controversial role in expanding Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War, for his famous "All the way with LBJ" quote, and for the sensational circumstances of his death. In the opinion of his biographer Tom Frame, these have tended to obscure the many achievements of Holt's long and distinguished political career.
 A decorative wall recognising all Australian Prime Ministers who have held office is located at the rear of the garden

The Prime Ministers' Wall lists every Australian prime minister living or dead
Beautiful plantings surround the garden including this wonderful magnolia tree.

Another view of the Entrance Pavilion and Gatehouse
This post is part of Julie's Taphophile Tragics meme.


  1. Certainly an impressive sanctuary for our great ones! I am surprised that a memorial wall exists for all prime ministers - living or dead. (I think that I see Julia Gillard's name there already?) The pavilion and gatehouse are delightful! Almost like a little escape!

  2. I have only been to Melbourne Cemetery once and that was back in 1980. I have been meaning to pay it another visit. Thanks for the reminder. It certainly looks like it has changed in the last 32 years.

  3. The memorial seems a rather more sensitive idea than the swim centre!

    Stewart M

  4. This is a nice way to remember your PMs. I believe ours are scattered throughout the country and buried wherever they wished.

  5. It's beautifully manicured, a place to be proud of.

  6. A very modern cemetery. I like the idea of all the PMs being together.

  7. Very interesting the PMs' wall and the magnolia bloom is gorgeous.

  8. What a beautiful place, Nick! Interesting with all the PMs together and it is indeed a very modern cemetery! Your captures are superb as always and I do love the magnolia blossom! Hope your week is going well!


  9. it all looks so huge! but pretty.
    i like the green entrance pavilion. is it only used as an entrance?

  10. I like that black modern looking headstone.

  11. That magnolia blossom is absolutely ravishing!

  12. Beautiful place and lovely magnolia, Nick.

  13. Interesting place. I'm surprised Menzies' memorial is so modest.

  14. Menzies died in 1976 - I remember putting a blanket over my head all week - so where were his ashes held until interred here by Kennett & Walker? I like this idea, although it is a bit derivative of those statues up in Bendigo, or is Ballarat? And really, Joe Lyons' body would not be relinquished by the Taswegians, nor John Curtin's by the Sandgropers!

    I wonder how all the living PMs (Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke, Keating, Howard, Rudd & Gillard) feel about being in a Memorial Garden already?

    However, from what I see of the Melbourne General Cemetery it appears to be a gardener's heaen, Nick. Thank you for all this extra info about the. For starters, I had no idea that Gorton had been knighted.

  15. Nick, I am not sure, even if I travel to Melbourne, I would see all these places!!

    Magnolia flower tree is my fav.

    Thanks.Wonderful view as usual.

  16. It's a lovely, peaceful-looking spot. Like my favorite local cemetery (Mt. View), it looks like a nice place just to spend time, even if you're not visiting a particular grave.


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