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John Conway BourkePrint Page Print this page

(Date of photograph is unknown)
(Date of photograph is unknown)
Photographs supplied by Barb Angell

A headstone over the grave commemorates Victoria`s first mailman, John Conway Bourke (1815-1902). The headstone was erected by the Historical Society of Victoria. Annual pilgimages were made to the grave. 

In 1836 Joseph Hawdon joined John Gardiner and John Hepburn in overlanding cattle to Port Phillip. The enterprise was successful and the three men remained in Victoria. Hawdon took up land near Dandenong and also secured a contract at £1200 a year to carry the overland mail fortnightly to Yass, at which point his post-boy passed it to the mailman from Sydney who transferred the south-bound mail to him. This was a pioneer service; hitherto the mail had gone by sea. Hawdon`s first post-boy was John Conway Bourke; in 1838 he rode 11,000 miles (17,703 kilometres).

Between 200 and 300 persons, including many veteran coach-drivers, paid tribute in the Melbourne General Cemetery yesterday to the memory of John Conway Bourke, who in 1838 carried the first mail between Melbourne and Sydney. Bourke had to ride as far as Yass (N.S.W.) on horseback, through almost virgin bush and in constant danger of wild blacks. The pilgrimage to Bourke's grave was instituted eight years ago. Each year an original Cobb's coach is taken from its shed at the police barracks, St. Kilda road, and old coach-drivers ride in it to the cemetery. The veteran driver, Mr. Frank Smiley, was again in charge of the proceedings yesterday. He was accompanied on the coach by several of his colleagues of the early days, and two women who had been passengers in a Cobb's coach. Tributes to Bourke and other early drivers were paid at the graveside by various speakers. Members of the Old Coach-drivers Association will be entertained at dinner tonight at the Motor Show at the Exhibition Building.
The Argus (Melbourne), 28 May 1934. 

 

Location

Address:College Crescent , Catholic Section, Melbourne General Cemetery, Carlton North, 3054
State:VIC
Area:AUS
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -37.791667
Long: 144.962222
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Details

Monument Type:Grave
Monument Theme:People
Sub-Theme:Industry
Monument Manufacturer:Historical Society of Victoria

Dedication

Actual Monument Dedication Date:Saturday 11th August, 1928
Front Inscription
JOHN CONWAY BOURKE 
Victoria's First Mailman 
(January 1838)
Born at Rathkeale, Limerick,
    Ireland
24th June 1815,
Died At Flemington
5th August 1902.


Erected By
Historical Society of Victoria.
Source: VMR,MA, RHSV
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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