When Governor Stirling arrived in the Swan River Colony in 1829, one of his first acts was to set aside land for public needs including the practical requirement of a cemetery. In November 1829, land was allocated for public burial grounds on what became known as Cemetery Hill. Today this is a part of East Perth.

National Trust of Australia (WA) has strong Education & Learning programs that:Activities at East Perth Cemeteries

  • offer unique learning opportunities for teachers, students and families
  • link history and heritage with the historic, natural and Indigenous environment
  • deliver Australian Curriculum: History and Western Australian Curriculum Framework programs through Values Overarching Outcomes and various aspects of the Learning Areas and
  • instil a commitment to valuing our heritage through visits to National Trust places, incursions, activities, competitions, resources and professional learning.

 East Perth Cemeteries are significant today because they were the main burial grounds for the Swan River Colony from 1829 to the end of the 19th century. The site is a remnant of what originally comprised seven independently owned and managed cemeteries. It has been estimated that there were 10,000 burials in the East Perth Cemeteries. To date 775 graves have been identified.

Visiting East Perth Cemeteries will bring to life the experience of death in the early days of the settlement of Western Australia. Your students will learn about the history of the site, discover the graves of early settlers and pioneers and explore the symbolism of headstones.


Try one of the following education programs:


suitable for years 2 to 7

Gravestones can give us a great deal of information about specific periods of history.
At East Perth Cemeteries students will learn about the history of Perth and the Cemeteries site in the early days of the Swan River Colony. They will be given a tour of the Cemeteries and use the Reading Rocks Trail workbook to discover more about the people buried there.


suitable for years 5 to 10

Students are introduced to the historical and heritage significance of this site and St Bartholomews Chapel. They will explore the cemeteries and graves. Extend your visit with an art or drama activity. Resources are available for students to continue their introduction to one of Australia's last remaining Colonial Cemeteries in the classroom.


suitable for years 9 to 12

Adopt-A-Grave brings together the skills of research and website technology with gardening and maintenance.
Students taking part in the program are given the opportunity to research and interpret an important person, period or theme of local history and are empowered to present this information in a meaningful way to their peers and others.
They are introduced to East Perth Cemeteries by expert guides, trained in maintenance of the graves by curatorial and heritage staff, taught research skills at the State Library of WA and finally create web site information pages that are made available to the public through the National Trust website.



With heritage as a central theme and using Western Australian history as a base, teachers are able to engage students in a variety of fun activities. The curriculum linked activities in the Webquest relate to Tranby, The Old Mill and East Perth Cemeteries. They are suitable for primary students and relate to the Tour Through Time CD resources to supplement teaching and learning.


For more information about these education activities please visit http://www.valuingheritage.com.au/