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Introducing Yaugher Cemetery, Forrest

Introducing Yaugher Cemetery, Forrest

Geelong Cemeteries Trust is pleased to welcome Yaugher Cemetery to the Trust. Yaugher Cemetery is located near Forrest, Victoria, and has been operational since 1888. We are pleased to help it continue supporting its community well into the 21st century.

Some Details:

Yaugher Cemetery – Crown Title ID is 6H1- A\PP3978,

The site backs on to State forest, and the full property size is approx. 4 hectares. Of this, the existing cemetery site is approximately 0.3 hectares.

It has a Heritage Overlay, Bushfire Management Overlay and Native Vegetation Sensitive Area.


Below is a short history by Dr Peter Mansfield, OAM:

A cemetery, a trust but no trustees; this was the strange birth of a small cemetery in the middle of a state forest in Victoria’s Otway Ranges.

Yaugher was the name of the Parish within the Shire of Colac. The ‘township’ came to fruition in the late-1870s when the state government issued permits to timber cutters, and then built a railway line connecting the logging camps to the Birregurra railway station. In 1885 a school was established in Yaugher and this too was seen as another sign of civic progress.

In July 1887 residents met in the Yaugher school house to identify a site for a cemetery. The Rev. H Carr chaired a meeting at which two possible sites were discussed. One site was rejected because it was too close to the river so the residents of Yaugher formally petitioned the state government to allocate the alternative block of land for use as a public cemetery. Almost a year later, on 7 September 1888, the ten-acre site was ‘gazetted’ and the same residents were instructed to nominate three, five or seven residents to act as trustees of the Yaugher Cemetery Trust.

But no-one wanted to be a trustee and, after a series of public meetings that failed to persuade any volunteers, the interim committee resolved to ask the Shire of Colac to manage their cemetery. However the Shire refused to assume control of the Yaugher Cemetery because of the likely costs that would be incurred and the belief that cemeteries were not ‘core business’ for local Councils. The lack of local ownership of the cemetery probably explains why there are no records of the Trust securing government grants for fencing or Shire assistance with roads and paths.

By now the civic hub had gravitated from Yaugher to Forrest – a village about two kilometres away and named in honour of John Lamond Forrest, a Shire councillor and politician. In spite of Forrest replacing Yaugher in the municipal sense, the cemetery remained the ‘Yaugher Cemetery’.

In July 1902 the Victorian Government Gazette announced that the Trustees of the Yaugher Cemetery were Messrs Alexander Sanderson, Charles Porteous, Charles Fletcher, Harry Grenness, John Hannigan and John Henderson. Four years later the Trustees were James Henry Grant, Robert Lewis, Alexander Gourley, Alexander Curtis and Robert Mulhane.

The finances of the Trust were simple. In 1904 the Trust collected £4 in burial fees and spent £1.11.0 on grave digging and office expenses. In 1912, when the name of the cemetery changed to the ‘Forest Cemetery’, annual income was £18 and expenditure was only £2. In 1944 the Trust was surviving on its cash reserves or borrowings because burial fees only generated £3 whereas the Trust spent £15 on general maintenance.

In 1969 five new trustees were appointed when it was realised that more than half the ‘gazetted’ Trustees were deceased.

Records indicate that there are about 270 headstones in the cemetery. In spite of Pam Jennings’ excellent research into the names and circumstances of those interred in the cemetery in Forever Home: a history of the Yaugher Cemetery, little is known about the aspirations and achievements of Yaugher / Forrest Cemetery Trust.

Learn about other cemeteries of the Geelong Cemeteries Trust

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