Alice Springs Memorial Cemetery

Spread out across the red earth of this cemetery in the Central Australian desert, the Memorial Cemetery at Alice Springs is where many much loved Territorians of Central Australia have been laid to rest. Wander around  and it won't be long before you come across the graves of some people of significance in Australian history including Albert Namatjira, the Internationally renowned Aboriginal artist.

Location: Araluen Cultural Precinct, Memorial Avenue, Alice Springs

Albert Namatjira

Namatjira, was born (Elea) on 28th July 1902 at Hermannsburg Mission, west of Alice Springs. He was taught to paint with watercolours by Rex Battarbee in 1936 Two years later in 1938, Albert’s first exhibition, held in Melbourne was an immediate success, and followed with exhibitions being sold out in every capital city of Australia. Albert’s fame became widespread, and his paintings sought after by state and national galleries and collectors in Australia and overseas. Today his watercolours and prints are still sought after by art lovers.

On 8th August, 1959, after a heart attack, complicated by pneumonia, Albert Namatjira died in the Alice Springs Hospital, and was buried in the Alice Springs Cemetery. During his painting lifetime Albert taught his children and many of his tribal brothers the secret of transferring their love of the beautiful Central Australian landscape onto paper, leaving a legacy that is now available through his paintings, prints and the work of the Hermannsburg artists.

Harold Bell Lasseter

Nearby is the grave of Harold Bell Lasseter (1880–1931), a man who achieved great fame but alas not fortune. At a time when the outback need to attract settlers and was badly in need of a 'gold rush' Lasseter claimed to have made a significant strike. He marked the spot he could never find it again, though he did die trying.  Lasseter perished in the western desert in search of a reef of gold he was convinced existed somewhere west of Ayers Rock. 

Some years earlier, Lasseter had staggered into a surveyors camp, parched and exhaustred, and clutching a bag of gold nuggets and samples, claiming to have found a reef of gold. It has subsequently been sought by several well equipped expeditions but has foiled even the best attempts to locate it from Lasseter's obscure directions. Some have made money from the fabled reef which has become the subject of several books, among them 'Lasseter's Last Ride' by Ion Idriess which is an excellent read.

Lasseter's headstone in the shape of a prospector will be found just inside the main gate of the Alice Springs Memorial Cemetery.  The words of Theodore Roosevelt were placed on his grave as a tribute to the man's pioneering spirit. Against the southern fence of the cemetery is a large sandstone rock with a simple plaque remembering Bob Buck, Bushman. Bob Buck was the bushman who eventually recovered Lasseter's body from its sandy grave, and was a well known character in Central Australia.

Olive Pink

Also buried here are anthropologist Olive Pink  (1884–1975), (central north section), who in 1970 instigated the gazetting of a flora reserve just across the golf-course causeway, for the preservation and display of Central Australian plants. The reserve now bears her name. Olive Pink was a well- know Alice Springs identity. A campaigner for Aboriginal rights, is buried facing the opposite direction to the others – a rebel to the end.

To the southern side of the central section is the grave of Dick Gillen, aboriginal aid to the Rev. 'Skipper' Partridge, AIM patrol padre who covered vast areas of Central Australia in his work.

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Edward John Connellan

Edward John ("EJ" or "Eddie") Connellan AO, CBE (1912 –1983), an Australian aviator who founded Connellan Airways and was a pioneer of aviation in the Northern Territory, is buried here. Adjacent to the cemetery is a museum dedicated to Connellan and Connellan Airways. Having negotiated an air mail service contract with the government and a contract for an Alice Springs based Royal Flying Doctor Service in 1939, Connellan consolidated his air services, which had grown viable and included more routes, and registered Connellan Airways on 23 July 1943. In 1963 Connellan Airways became a regular public transport operator.

In 1970 the name was changed to Connair. Connair faced financial difficulty in the 1970s and was sold to East-West Airlines on 14 March 1980. In 1953, for services to aviation, Connellan was awarded the Queen's Coronation Medal. In 1957 he was made an Officer of the British Empire in the New Years Honours List, "for services to civil aviation in Northern and Central Australia". In 1965 he was awarded the Oswald Watt Gold Medal for his "outstanding contribution to general aviation". In 1978 he was promoted to a Commander of the British Empire, and in 1981 appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia "for services to aviation and the community".

The cemetery is no longer used, although some plots remain reserved. Location: Memorial Avenue, Alice Springs, NT

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