A Semi -Regular Photo Blog about Life in Northern New South Wales, Australia.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Tucki Cemetery and Bora Ring

Tucki Cemetery, near Lismore, was established in 1891 with the oldest inscription dating from 1898. It follows the traditional Australian method of separate denominational sections, Anglican, Catholic, Methodist, etc, etc (I have always wondered where were the atheists buried in the old days) but amongst the trees in the background is an Aboriginal Bora Ring.

A Bora Ring is a series of raised earth rings, usually pairs sometimes 3, that were used to initiate Aboriginal  boys into men/adults. They are found in South Eastern Australia but mostly in Northern NSW and Southern Queensland. To read more about them click here. Of course most have been destroyed since the coming of Europeans, usually ploughed up for farm land.
The entrance to Tucki Bora Rings faces to the south west but the winding ceremonial path up from the valley floor no longer exists. In the centre is a depression which apparently once held rocks and gravel. I wish my picture could do greater justice to its construction but it is difficult to photograph.
I often call into Tucki, intrigued by the juxtaposition of dead Europeans and sacred Indigenous space. At first I was outraged that a cemetery could be built on such a spot, however, I have come to realise that the cemetery is the reason that the Bora Ring has survived over the last 120 years. I'm not sure if the local Aboriginal Nation, the Bundjalung People, still use it but it's sheer existence suggests hope for the future.

On the eastern side of the Bora Ring there is a solitary grave; Ivy Greber who died in 1900 aged 15 months. I have often wondered why it is not in the main cemetery that is situated on the western side of the Bora Ring?


  1. Hmmm, that solitary grave does give one pause to wonder...

  2. I don't know what is more interesting here the cemetery, the lone grave or the bora ring ... all fascinating. I was not aware that the bora rings were a male initiation place, I had more assumed them to be a more general corroboree place, there is always something new to learn.

  3. Fascinating post, Mark. You are probably right re its continued existence, which says a lot about our peoples. I have only experienced one other Bora Ring which was at O'Reillys Rainforest Retreat in southern Queensland. I suspect Bora Rings are akin to the Roman relics over England - they are best photographed from the air.

    As for young Ivy, give me a couple of hours and I will research here on Ancestry.com and see if we can 'flesh' her out, so to speak.

    Thank you so much for contributing to 'Taphophile Tragics'.

  4. The Bora Ring is an interesting story. It is sad about Ivy dying at such a young age of 15months. Thanks for sharing your post and photos. Happy New Years.

  5. What a fascinating post and captures for the day, Mark! I want to do some more reading about it! Blogging has lead to me learn so many interesting things about so many places that I knew so little about!! I've traveled a great deal in my life, but never been to Australia or India and now I'm learning so much about both places and I love it!! Wishing you and your family a very Happy New Year!


  6. To flesh out your Ivy Greber.

    Her father, Phillip (1848 -1911) was born in Germany with the surname Gruber.

    Her mother, Mary (1856 - 1926), nee Keen.

    They were married in 1876 in Patricks' Plains, the old name for Singleton.

    They had 12 children, three of whom did not make it into adulthood (John 1878, Annie 1884, and your Ivy May, 1899).

    The others were:
    1877 Mary
    1880 George
    1881 William
    1886 Walter
    1889 Louisa
    1891 Arthur Phillip Victor (I can locate photo of this gent)
    1894 David
    1897 Edward
    1901 Daisy

    They lived at Tuckurumba, SE of Lismore. They cannot have been too poor, even though they had such a large family. Otherwise, why give a child such a grand (comparatively speaking) gravestone?

    Arthur Victor Phillip's descendants seem to live in the Wauchope/Wingham area.

    Ancestry.com is a very useful site.

  7. Some friends, with whom I had coffee yesterday here at Five Ways, live at Jiggi out of Lismore. When I visited them up there last July, they took me to the Alstonville Cemetery, on the way down to the Ballina Airport. I have some photographs of that visit (funny that!). I must move them into my Taphophile folder for future use.

  8. What an interesting post - I had never heard of bora rings, and am fascinated.

    I am also intrigued by little Ivy Greber - the information Julie found is amazing.

  9. Thank you for teaching me something that I did not know before; thanks as well for the interesting link.

    Please have a good Tuesday.

  10. I think it's kinda nice to have the two sacred, spiritual sites next to one another. Kinda shows we are all the same, but in our own way (I'm not sure that even makes sense!).

  11. Fascinating. Never heard of a bora ring before.

  12. Nice atmospheric shots, Mark! Lots of history in those old cemeteries.

  13. The Bora ring is a fascinating concept. Thanks for the education.

  14. 15 months is way too early for little Ivy to have departed this life - and why she is tucked away in a corner I guess we will never know ! A very interesting taphophile post Mark.

  15. Perhaps the little mite buried in the lone grave had not been christened and so was excluded from the main cemetery. So sad to see the lonely grave.

    I must say the bora rings are really interesting, nothing like them exists, as far as I know, as far south as we are.

    Wishing you a most Happy New Year!

  16. I knew of bora rings but had no idea that any still could be viewed! The child separated may not just be unchristened, but perhaps born out of wedlock! Whatever the reason, somehow it seems small these days! The sadness lingers about the separation! But perhaps today it makes the little one extra special!

  17. Nice to find your blog from not too far away. The bora ring and cemetery details are very interesting. Julie's research is extraordinary.

  18. Little Ivy looks as if she has been buried in eternal crib.

  19. Lismore City Council has a cemetery search facility.


    Young Ivy's predicament is puzzling when you realise both her parents, Phillip and Mary, were buried in Tucki Cemetery, but in the Anglican Section (10/15 and 19/16). Maybe it was WHAT she died of ...

    The response to the first week was really pleasing, considering I had reckoned upon 5. and so many people have said to me that they're 'gonna'. I did not realise how much work was involved, I suspect. I do not mind that, seeing it is so interesting.


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