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Waterfall General Cemetery

Waterfall General Cemetery, also known as Garrawarra Cemetery, was used as a burial site for more than 2000 tuberculosis patients between 1909 and 1949.

Located in isolated bushland north-west of Helensburgh, the cemetery was created as part of the nearby Waterfall Sanatorium, which operates today as the Garrawarra Centre for Aged Care.

The people buried at this site include a wide range of ages and backgrounds. Many had come to Waterfall Sanatorium from across New South Wales and around the world seeking treatment for tuberculosis.

Today, the site is not easily recognised as a cemetery. Some gravestones and markers are still visible, but most burial sites blend into the surrounding bushland.

There is currently no public access to this cemetery.

Scanned copies of the original burial register for Waterfall General Cemetery are listed below.

There are two ways to search the register:

Search by surname

Use one of the alphabetical indexes below to find the surname of the person you are looking for

Next to each name there is a number. This is the page number you need to look for in the Burial Register pages section below.

Search by burial date

Names in the burial register were entered in order of burial date. Browse the documents in the list below or check the date range column to find a specific burial date.

Burial Register pages

DocumentDate range
Waterfall Burial Register pages 1 to 10 PDF, 5503.56 KB18 May 1909 to 9 September 1912
Waterfall Burial Register pages 11 to 20 PDF, 5591.94 KB9 September 1912 to 31 March 1915
Waterfall Burial Register pages 21 to 30 PDF, 5578.57 KB2 April 1915 to 23 June 1917
Waterfall Burial Register pages 31 to 40 PDF, 5288.04 KB27 June 1917 to 22 October 1919
Waterfall Burial Register pages 41 to 50 PDF, 5715.72 KB22 October 1919 to 27 March 1922
Waterfall Burial Register pages 51 to 60 PDF, 5608.49 KB28 March 1922 to 27 September 1924
Waterfall Burial Register pages 61 to 70 PDF, 5684.75 KB4 October 1924 to 1 September 1927
Waterfall Burial Register pages 71 to 80 PDF, 5235.55 KB8 September 1927 to 28 January 1932
Waterfall Burial Register pages 81 to 90 PDF, 5074.08 KB28 January 1932 to 4 January 1937
Waterfall Burial Register pages 91 to 100 PDF, 5381.91 KB4 January 1937 to 11 November 1949

While many of the headstones and markers at Waterfall General Cemetery have been lost, there are 54 that have been identified by researchers. See the document below for details.

Waterfall General Cemetery: A Photographic Index of Identifiable Graves PDF, 5139.84 KB

Waterfall General Cemetery was originally managed by the NSW Government. After the last burial took place in 1949 the site was abandoned.

In 1967, the NSW Government handed responsibility for general cemeteries to local councils. Wollongong City Council was given care of the by-then overgrown Waterfall General Cemetery, as well as other active cemeteries at Scarborough, Helensburgh, Bulli and Wollongong.

For many years, the cemetery at Waterfall remained untouched and largely forgotten. The bushland continued to grow over the graves, and bush fires also caused damage on multiple occasions.

In 2011, local historians brought this site to Council’s attention. Council started looking at options to manage the cemetery and make sure its story would not stay forgotten.

Several relatives of people who were buried at Waterfall General Cemetery have also been found. They have added to the story of this site and have been included in the decision-making process about the care of this cemetery.

Council also asked the local community for feedback to help decide how to best manage this cemetery in the future. Because it has become so overgrown, it was decided that the best option would be to preserve the site as a bush cemetery.

Council has prepared draft plans to care for the site, but progress has been slow due to several challenges. This includes the fact that Council does not have a legal path of access to the site.

Waterfall General Cemetery is listed as a local heritage item under the Wollongong Local Environmental Plan 2009. Council is also working to try and have the cemetery listed on the State Heritage Register. This could help to further protect the site and support any future applications for funding to care for the cemetery.

If you have photographs or information about the history of this cemetery, we encourage you to share it with us.

Please use our Contact Us page to get in touch.

You can also donate historic material to Wollongong City Libraries’ local studies collection.