Local residents say Wagga’s Monumental Cemetery needs urgent attention, after witnessing rain flooding graves and dilapidated tombstones decaying to a state beyond repair.
“It’s just a disgrace, if you had a family-member here and were visiting from out of town you’d be incredibly disappointed,” Ms Ellis said.
Rabbit holes and weeds litter the site, which still bears the markings of last month’s heavy rain, with large crevices snaking down the hill. Ms Clayton has already fallen into the cracks on one occasion.
“It’s a real risk for elderly people,” she said.
“In my generation we were brought up to respect people’s places of rest.
“I don’t know if people care less about cemeteries these days, but to see dogs have defecated all over graves… it’s just horrible.”
It’s council’s responsibility to maintain the grounds, and has been since 1968 when state government legislation unburdened local churches of the responsibility.
Director of Commercial Operations Caroline Angel said council mows around the graves once a week and weeds were sprayed as recently as two weeks ago.
“A contractor is booked to slash the larger open areas in the upcoming weeks,” she said.
However, the monuments are privately owned and their maintenance is the sole responsibility of the families. Graves without any coffins in them are maintained by council.
“Due to the topography of the land, being on the side of the hill and the soil profile, erosion can occur at the Monumental Cemetery during large downpours,” Ms Angel said.
“Council endeavours to back-fill the washouts with the resources available, which most recently occurred about a month ago. There are currently no plans or identified funding for further drainage works.”
However, Ms Ellis believes if left as is, the wash-outs could see graves deteriorate to the extent that remains are exposed, as happened at boxing-legend Les Darcy’s plot in Maitland.
“I get the feeling for council it’s just set and forgotten,” Ms Ellis said.
“While some graves are too far gone, it doesn’t mean you don’t try and do something.
“If the family don’t know the site is in a state of disrepair, they should at least be contacted.
“It wouldn’t kill them to prop up a gravestone here and there.”