The town of Mudgee was gazetted in January 1838 and the first allotments of land were released for sale in August 1838. Soon afterwards a Protestant cemetery was established on land just outside the original town boundary between Gladstone and Mortimer Streets, while the Catholic cemetery was established on Allotments 19 and 20 of Section 8 opposite what is now Robertson Park. Ironically, the land for the Catholic cemetery was donated by William Blackman, an Anglican, a prominent landowner in the early days of Mudgee.

In 1880 a new general cemetery was established to the north-east of the town on the Cassilis Road. Gradually the old cemeteries fell into disrepair and ultimately all headstones were removed. The only grave remaining in the former Protestant cemetery, now called Blackman Park, is the pioneer Blackman family vault. The park also contains a good example of a mature Bunya pine (araucaria), which were common plantings in larger private gardens and in public parks in the nineteenth century. A number of surviving early headstones have been assembled and installed in what is now called Pioneer Park, formerly the Roman Catholic cemetery, on the north-western corner of Douro and Mortimer Streets. A list of the headstones is held by the Mudgee Historical Society Inc and their inscriptions reveal great tragedies: epidemics often resulted in multiple child mortalities within families. The Dean family (see headstone) lost a mother and four children in a short time in 1867; the family had endured the loss of another child the previous year.

The Mudgee Historical Society Inc also holds a computerised database (2009 version) of all burials in the Mudgee General and Lawn Cemetery; however, an accurate up-to-date map does not yet exist. Since 2009 the Society has also obtained access to extensive burial records from local undertaking firms Eastaugh and Carroll and Macquarie Valley Funerals. The co-operation of these firms in expanding our burial archives is greatly appreciated.

John Broadley

Mudgee Museum