wilcanniacemeteryWilcannia cemetery, set amongst gnarled gum trees and saltbush on the outskirts of town, has an estimated 700 graves.

The burial records have long been lost and in many cases any earthly inscriptions that once existed, such as wooden crosses, have vanished over time.

Of the headstones that sprout from the red outback soil, some are in good repair.

 

But a great many are wearing away and the details of those that lie beneath them are slowly being lost.

"Finance is the biggest challenge," said Shirley Evans, a stalwart of the cemetery committee.

"For 30-odd years we've been trying to get finance to get the old graves restored before they fall down."

The cemetery committee has tried for years to find descendants or family who may be able to fund or oversee the grave's preservation. But the task, like so many of the graves here, has proven fruitless.

Restoring old monuments can also be very expensive.

"To get them restored back to originality is almost impossible," said George Zanon, a monumental mason from Broken Hill whose work takes him to the small bush cemeteries scattered throughout the region.

"The cast iron kerbing, it's impossible to source that. The old marble is far too expensive, so to restore them, you've just gotta restore them to basics.

"As long as you can keep the original headstone, I think that's the main thing."

Mr Zanon believes Wilcannia's historic graveyard deserves some special attention, such as federal heritage grants if it is to preserve many of the decaying, historic graves.

"There's no state or federal government funding," Mr Zanon said.

"The local government hasn't got the finances to put into restoring old monuments.

"If the families don't do it, they'll just continue to get run down until perhaps they're lost forever."

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