A Grave Event Ride – Sunday 24 August 2014

Report by Michael Lindsay

John Miro, Nancy & David Jones, Rod Charles, Doug Merritt, Rosemary Nugent and Michael Lindsay (Ride Leader) gathered at Balyang Sanctuary for our unique bike ride to Eastern Cemetery, a Grave Event tour.

It was a cold and overcast Sunday morning but the rain held off. We cycled to Breakwater and met up with Sandra at the Break and we pedalled on to Eastern Cemetery. We were greeted by our Tour Guide – Frank de Groot (Deputy CEO of Geelong Cemeteries Trust) and his assistant (young son – Ethan). Heather Howard met us at the Cemetery for the tour, alighting from her car and all rugged up in warm clothes and fighting off a severe cold. She didn’t want to miss the tour and bravely soldiered on with the rest of us as we walked around the older monument areas of Eastern Cemetery.

Frank and Ethan took us on an extremely interesting tour of graves of the early settlers of the Geelong region including the grave of the first ever burial in the Cemetery dating back 175 years this year. It was the grave of Hugh Niven who was buried in 1839 and reports say all the Geelong residents of the time turned out for his funeral.

The tour was a history lesson of the early days of Geelong. We went to the graves of the likes of Foster Fyans, the Austin Family, the Armytage Family, James Harrison, Ann Drysdale, Caroline Newcombe, Sir Charles Sladen, the Chirnside Family and the Rev. Andrew Love.

Frank was a font of knowledge about all these graves and we spent a most enjoyable hour and a half walking with him around the cemetery. The weather was cold and at the end of tour we were ready for a warm cuppa! We decided not to ride on to Drysdale as originally planned and instead rode down to Gobble Café in the Garden Street shopping strip of East Geelong and warmed up nicely with coffee and cake.

All but three of the cyclists then rode back to Balyang Sanctuary and Heather returned to her car. Rod, John and Michael still wanted to stretch their legs some more and rode around to Point Henry, past the recently closed Alcoa and enjoyed the vista of Geelong from the water’s edge.

A most enjoyable ride that was different and very enjoyable.