Greg Bray buries the ashes of an 87-year-old man whose family did not make provisions for him.
Greg Bray buries the ashes of an 87-year-old man whose family did not make provisions for him. Emily Blatchford

Giving the dead a dignified end

HE works with the dead. But Greg Bray still has faith in the living.

"I think there are a number of reasons why people may choose not to come and bury a family member or old friend," the cemetery director said.

"They might be living overseas or too far away or (the dead person) may have outlived all their family. I hate to think things went so bad (between a family who lived close together) no one came to say goodbye. I'd hate to think their family was still living in town."

Saying goodbye is something Mr Bray does more often than most.

"Think about it, you've lived a whole life, you deserve to have a resting place, and you deserve to have someone to see you off," he said.

"It's difficult to explain. How do you get to the end of a life and have no one who wanted to take the time of day to come and say goodbye? Everyone deserves a goodbye."

Mr Bray believes in giving all those who come into his car a dignified send-off, no matter who they are.

"We're all equal in death. We're all in the same place. Whether you're the mayor or a pauper, it's all about dignity. I like to make sure everyone who comes through here gets it."

Nestled by the Boyne River, in a quiet patch of earth, is a corner of this world reserved for pauper's graves.

It is a place created especially for the ashes of those who have passed away and are either unclaimed, unwanted or have outlived their family and friends.

This unassuming patch, rarely disturbed, can be found at the Boyne Tannum Crematorium.

Mr Bray hopes someone comes to bother it one day.

"In the past, we've scattered ashes over the garden bed, but we wanted to create this just in case someone turns up in a few years and says, "I think my Uncle is buried here." Then we can say, 'We know exactly where he is.'"

Mr Bray and colleague Dave Pearsen chose the patch and have cleared it from long grasses, but have further plans for its development.

"We selected this bit of the park because it's not too shabby, but not the prime real estate either," Mr Bray said. "It's hard to word it. It wasn't an out-of-the-way spot; it's still in a nice place."

The area sits at the top of a slight slope, overlooks the Boyne River and is frequented by pretty-faced wallabies.

The ashes of its first inhabitant were buried there last Wednesday.

"We want to eventually plant a garden here later and put some little plaques down," Mr Bray said. "I'm not a big fan of unmarked graves."

Cemeteries in Gladstone

The following areas contain cemeteries in our region:

  • Gladstone
  • Port Curtis
  • BoyneIsland/ Tannum Sands
  • Calliope
  • Mt Larcom
  • Nagoorin
  • Builyan
  • Rosedale
  • Miriam Vale
  • Bororen
  • Targinie
  • Raglan

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