The picturesque Alberton Cemetery is one of Victoria’s oldest and most historically significant graveyards.
Commissioner Charles Tyers surveyed the site in 1846 however, the first recorded burial at the cemetery was that of Robert McClure who died in 1842.
Folklore has it that older carved wooden grave markers dated 1823 & 1833 existed on the banks of the Albert River. These most likely came from the whalers and sealers who plied the wilderness of Bass Strait at the turn of the century, long before discovery of Port Albert in 1841.
During early years of settlement burial parties arrived by boat on the Albert River , consequently the majority of earlier grave sites are close to the waters edge.
The elements have taken their toll, eroding many of the old headstones which are now indecipherable. Wooden fences and memorials have decayed and others, undermined by turbulent flood waters have collapsed into the river.
Messages on the headstones are poignant reminders of the isolation and hardship endured by settlers struggling to survive on the edge of a hostile wilderness frontier. Perhaps none more so, than William and Anges Howden who tragically lost four children in little more than a month.
Florence died 7.5.1860 aged 6 weeks
William Alexander died 14.1.1872 aged 10 years
Franklyn died 17.1.1872 aged 5 years
Percy died 15/1/1872 aged 6 weeks
Walter Henry died 18.2.1872 aged 20 months
Other members of the family fared little better.
Arthur Rutherford died 2.1.1900 aged 19 years
Frederick died 27.10.1908 aged 35 years
William Ballany Howden survived until 78 years of age and died 11 November 1894. His wife Agnes Elizabeth died 9.9.1896 aged 55 years.
Another memorial is Robert John McKenzie who died in 1855 aged five weeks and five days. His father was struck by lightening two years later when returning from Little River in his boat.
Vaino Armas Balhorn, a colourful character, born in Finland in 1888, sailed three times around Cape Horn before the mast and served with distinction in both world wars. He died in Yarram in 1970, interred at Alberton Cemetery.
Between 1841 and 1895, twenty major shipwrecks occurred near Port Albert. ‘Saracen’, ‘Macclesfield’ and ‘Eclyptic’ recorded loss of life. Epidemics, drownings and accidents also took their toll.
The cemetery is not only an important record of difficult times, but a monument to the courage and tenacity of the early settlers.