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Dead Central

Dead Central

Thousands of people travel through Central Station every day, but how many know what once lay beneath it? Dead Central will take you on a journey back to 19th century Sydney, to rediscover a place you thought you knew.

This haunting story is told through a 35-minute audio recording using your own device. We recommend that you bring your own headphones for the best sound experience.

Exhibition
Saturday 25 May 2019 to Sunday 3 May 2020
  1. Today
    1. 9 am to 5 pm
  2. Tomorrow
    1. 9 am to 5 pm
  3. Thursday
    1. 9 am to 8 pm
  4. Friday
    1. 9 am to 5 pm
  5. Saturday
    1. 10 am to 5 pm
  6. Sunday
    1. 10 am to 5 pm
  7. Monday
    1. 9 am to 5 pm
Admission: Free
Accessible Exhibition Transcript

Location

Plan your visit

Dead Central

A vast cemetery once sprawled across the land bound by Sydney’s Elizabeth, Pitt and Devonshire streets — where Central Station now stands. The Devonshire Street cemetery opened in 1820, but the city’s major burial ground filled up quickly in the decades following, only to become overgrown and abandoned. In January 1901, when the state government announced its intention to clear the cemetery, well over 30,000 bodies were buried there.

Thousands of people travel through Central Station every day, but how many know what once lay beneath it? Dead Central will take you on a journey back to 19th century Sydney, to rediscover a place you thought you knew.

This haunting story is told through a 35-minute audio recording using your own device.

We recommend that you bring your own headphones for the best sound experience.

Framed oil painting of gravestones in a cemetery. A city can be seen the background.
The Old Cemetery, Devonshire Street
1894
Julian Rossi Ashton
Digital ID: 
FL5811854
View collection item detail
Large illustration of a city site.
The Sand Hills Burying Grounds, Sydney, illustration to scheme, No.1
1894
Norman Selfe
Digital ID: 
FL10464807
View collection item detail
Black and white photograph of gravestones in a cemetery.
George Bond, John Cadman, Maria Ann Carrod, William Carrod, Eleanor Cork
ca. 1901
Mrs Josephine Ethel Foster
Digital ID: 
FL8502062
View collection item detail
A black and white photograph of a graveyard. The headstone of Samuel and Easter Bradley in the foreground.
Samuel and Easter [Esther] Bradley, Mary Martin
1901
Mrs Josephine Ethel Foster
Digital ID: 
FL8502033
View collection item detail
A sepia photograph of a group of workers, standing facing the camera, shovels in hand - they wear trousers, button up shirts and suspenders.
Devonshire Street Cemetery - Labourers preparing ground for Central Railway Station
c 1901
Royal Australian Historical Society
Digital ID: 
FL8955919
View collection item detail
A watercolour painting of Railway Square - the clock tower can be seen in the morning light. A horse and carriage in the foreground.
Central Railway Station at Railway Square, Sydney
1923
William Young
Digital ID: 
FL11719067
View collection item detail

 

ABC Radio Sydney logo.

 

Hear curator Elise Edmonds in conversation with Cassie McCullagh, ABC Radio Sydney

 

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Photograph of cemetery overlaid with text  Burial files

the Burial Files Podcast 

Thousands of people travel through Sydney's Central Station every day, but how many know what once lay beneath it? Get ready to embark on a journey back to 19th century Sydney, to rediscover a place you thought you knew.

Episode 1: Hidden History

Human remains were recently discovered at Central Station. How long have they been there? 

Listen on:

 iTunes Google Podcasts Soundcloud Visit the podcast website

 

Meet the curator

Photographic portrait of a smiling blonde woman wearing a white jacket.

Elise Edmonds

Elise is a senior curator at the State Library of New South Wales. With a background in Australian history and Museum Studies, Elise has worked with the Library’s maps, pictures and manuscript collections; acquiring, writing and promoting these to a variety of audiences. In 2009 she received a staff fellowship to research and scope the Library’s First World War collections. This led to curating several exhibitions highlighting the Library’s nationally significant First World War collections; Life Interrupted: personal diaries from World War I in 2014 and Colour in Darkness: images from the First World War in 2016.

Dead Central: the Devonshire Street cemetery

Established in 1820, this cemetery became the final resting place for many Sydney-siders throughout the 19th century. The land was finally cleared in 1901 to make way for Sydney's new Central Station.

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