Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell
2 October 2004
An opera star's humble Melbourne grave will be turned into a memorial to mark her contribution to the Australian arts, the Minister for the Environment and Heritage, Senator Ian Campbell ,announced today.
Gertrude Johnson OBE, who once sang with Dame Nellie Melba and was a catalyst for setting up the Australian Ballet and Opera Australia, is buried in St Kilda Cemetery.
"Her simple dirt grave, marked only by a commemorative plaque, does not do justice to her legacy to Australia," Senator Campbell said.
"Gertrude Johnson's new memorial will reflect the significance of this talented Australian and dedicated creative spirit."
He said the Australian Government's Commemoration of Historic Events and Famous People grants programme would provide $3415 to the Australian National Memorial Theatre to place a monument on the grave.
Senator Campbell said the project was one of seven to be funded through the programme, which provides small grants to commemorate nationally significant people and events and to maintain the graves of former Australian Prime Ministers and Governors-General.
"The commemorate programme is a way of acknowledging and thanking those who have given us so much and to whom we owe our gratitude," he said. "These memorials will also remind us of how we became the distinctive nation that we are today - through hard work, inspiration and dedication."
He said the other projects were:
- Refurbishing the graves of former Prime Minister William Morris Hughes, and former Australian Prime Minister, John Curtin and former Governor-General, Sir Paul Hasluck (Grant of $21 234 to the Office of Australian War Graves)
William Morris Hughes (1862-1952) was Australia's seventh Prime Minister (1915-1923) and Australia's longest-serving federal parliamentarian (from 1901-1952). Before entering Parliament his varied worklife included jobs as a rock breaker, boundary rider, well sinker, farm labourer, ship's cook and umbrella repairer. He helped to found three political parties -the Labor Party, the Nationalist Party and the United Australia Party- and was expelled from them all. Through the programme, his headstone at Macquarie Park in Sydney will be levelled and the sandstone kerbing around the grave will be replaced.
John Curtin (1885-1945) was Australia's 14th Prime Minister and died in office only six weeks before the end of World War II. He saw Australia through the most difficult years of the War, and although once jailed as an opponent of conscription during World War I, he introduced limited overseas service for conscripts during World War II. When he died in July 1945, an estimated 100 000 people - a third of Perth's then population - lined the streets to say farewell. The programme will fund the refurbishment of the sunken monument which marks his grave at Karrakatta Cemetery in Perth.
Sir Paul Hasluck (1905-1993) was Governor-General of Australia from 1969 to 1974 following a career as a journalist, university lecturer, diplomat, politician and Federal Minister for Territories, Defence and External Affairs. He was made a Knight of the Garter (KG) in 1979. A state funeral was held to mark his death. The programme will fund the re-setting of the base of the partially-subsided monument marking his grave in the Karrakatta Cemetery in Perth.
- Installing a foreshore marker and mounting a museum display to commemorate the voyage of the HMS Supply and its discovery of Lord Howe Island in 1788. (Grant of $4545 to the Lord Howe Island Historical Society and Museum)
HMS Supply was the first ship to enter Botany Bay with Captain Phillip aboard as part of the First Fleet. Within a month, Governor Phillip realised the difficulty of growing food for the colony and sent the Supply to Norfok Island to form a settlement to help the new colony. On its voyage there, the Supply sighted Lord Howe Island for the first time. On its return trip it started the first official charting of the island. It was 50 years before the island was settled.
- Construction of a monument in Howlong, NSW, to commemorate the first man to overland cattle from New South Wales to Adelaide - ‘the first overlander'. (Grant of $4545 to the Howlong Community Forum)
This was Joseph Hawdon who, in January 1838, set out from Howlong in southern New South Wales to take 340 head of cattle across uncharted land to the meat-starved settlement of Adelaide. When he arrived in April that year, the whole town, including Governor Hindmarsh, went to the outskirts of the settlement to greet him, his fellow drovers and the long-awaited cattle.
- Creating a memorial plaque for the grave of a member of the first Australian Parliament, James Ronald Black, at the Oakleigh Pioneer Memorial Park in Melbourne. (Grant of $2410 to the City of Monash)
James Ronald Black was elected to the first Australian Federal Parliament in 1901, representing the seat of Southern Melbourne. He came to Australia in 1889 and after studying theology served as a Presybterian minister for eight years. Leading up to Federation, he worked with Justice HB Higgins on the Federal Bill during the constitutional Conventions debates.