Retracing the lives of women in history at the cemetery

TIme capsule: Ray Welsford will retell the stories of prominent Warrnambool women during his cemetery walks which start this week.
TIme capsule: Ray Welsford will retell the stories of prominent Warrnambool women during his cemetery walks which start this week.

The stories of notable women in Warrnambool’s history will be brought back to life during a series of cemetery tours this month.

From nurses to doctors, early pioneers and political forces, Warrnambool women played a major role in shaping society today.

Ray Welsford, from the Warrnambool and District Historical Society, has been researching the history behind the women and will run the tours during January.

“It is a challenge but we’ve come up with a pretty good batch,” Mr Welsford said.

“After several years of focus on World War I soldiers, in 2018 we will concentrate on notable women who are buried in Warrnambool Cemetery or who have family buried there.” Mr Welsford said that in 2012 his cemetery tours focused on women, from the famous to the infamous.

“This tour focuses on the good things women were able to achieve,” he said.

Among the stories to be retold are those of artists, nurses, a doctor, teachers, musicians and leaders of community organisations such as the Country Women’s Association and Red Cross.

One of the graves on the tour is that of Doris Annie Swinton who was one of Australia’s most decorated World War II nurses.

She served under the shell-fire of battle during bitter European winters and the blistering heat of the Middle Eastern deserts.

She received an MBE for military services and an OBE for her contribution to health.

The tour will also visit the graves of Lillian Foyle’s family members.

She was Warrnambool’s first female photographer who went on to marry a Labor Senator and also played a big role in the eight-hour work day movement.

“Her mum and dad and brother and sister-in-law and infant sister are all buried in the Foyle grave here. We don’t know where she is,” Mr Welsford said.

The hour-and-a half tours start on Wednesday, January 3 at 6pm.

Others will be held on Saturday January 6 at 10am, Sunday January 7 at 2pm, Wednesday January 10 at 6pm, Saturday January 13 at 2pm, Sunday January 14 at 6pm and Sunday January 28 at 2pm.

A donation of $5 is appreciated.