Sunday 30th October was a great day for ducks but perhaps not the ideal weather conditions for a cemetery tour. Nevertheless, 25 people braved the elements and joined us for a walk around the Pakenham Cemetery. The weather was kind to us in the end, only a shower here and there during our walk and most people employed their umbrellas for those few minutes. They’d come prepared, umbreallas, raincoats and gumboots!
We had a great time, visiting the graves of four of the first five trustees of the cemetery, the fifth trustee is buried in Melbourne General Cemetery. We also explored the origins and accomplishments of early settlers in the Pakenham / Nar Nar Goon area like the Bourke, Dore, Connor and O’Brien families. We listened to the many accomplishments of James Joseph Ahern and wondered how he ever got time to sleep! We were entranced by the expoits of Oscar Smith and saddened by the loss of Flying-Officer Andrew Fisher Chalman.
We wondered and marvelled at the strength and tenacity of women like Mary Frawley, Annie Ritchie and Jean Fortune. All widowed at a young age and left to raise children on their own in the days before widow’s pensions and goverment assistance. And most of us truly admired Mary Jane Ellett – 15 children in 20 years and all but one reaching adulthood.