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
Location: Araluen Cultural Precinct, Memorial Avenue, Alice Springs
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
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.
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.