For decades they have lain derelict and broken in the dirt, stripped of all former dignity and reverence.
Now, the shattered pieces of the Schunke graves at Lyndoch’s Anglican Holy Trinity Cemetery have been resurrected thanks to the passion and vision of Gawler amateur historian and handyman, Paul Westermann.
Having a keen interest in preserving the historical and genealogical significance of graves, Paul first faithfully rebuilt and restored the timber surround of the McDonald and Heinrich grave at Lyndoch earlier in this year (The Leader, February 17).
After completing that, he set his sights on two Schunke graves on the western edge of the cemetery, which had at some stage been broken into several pieces and had the iron surrounds bent out of shape perhaps by a fallen gum tree limb.
“It’s a bit like any renovation you see the possibilities in it, so it’s about looking at each grave site and its potential,” said Paul.
“Particularly with headstones, they are not only a memorial, and they are a historic document, and they do connect us with the past and the present.”
Over the course of about a month, Paul worked on-site at Lyndoch reassembling the broken headstone pieces using pins and masonry cement, and repairing the surround by bending it back into shape with a hydraulic jack and re-finishing the paintwork and edging.
Now he’s appealing to the Barossa community to pay a visit to the cemetery to help interpret the old German inscriptions on the headstones, seen whole again for the first time in years.
“We’ll throw down the challenge to do a translation!” he said.
By doing so, Paul also hopes to continue the momentum and ignite an interest in others to visit local historical cemeteries and find ways to participate in their preservation.
“If we talk about any restoration or renovation, if we don’t do it, it will be lost,” Paul said.
“From a personal point of view, we can always say, somebody should do it, but you have to step up.”
Paul’s next restoration project will be at the Willaston Cemetery. He is also working towards creating a micro-documentary to help generate interest in the projects.