This was the media release that went out to local Northern Rivers media, in regards to my very first published book - A Bend in the River - Uncovering Woodburn's Tales from the Grave.
When journalist and Woodburn resident, Samantha Elley, saw the Woodburn cemetery for the first time, it was from a distance.
“I wondered what the strange shapes and objects were,” she said.
“When I got closer, I realised I had stumbled onto a real treasure trove.”
A self-confessed taphophile, that is, a lover of cemeteries, Sam has been doing family history for over 30 years and runs the website Tales from the Grave (talesfromthegrave.org), which shares the stories of those buried down under.
“When I started researching some of the ‘residents’ of the Woodburn cemetery, I knew I wanted to know more about the place where I lived and decided to write the book,” she said.
Thus began a project that would continue for more than five years.
“I would have published last year, but a small event, known as the worst flood in Australian history, kind of got in the way,” Sam said, "and our house and cars went under."
“However, it has been serendipitous as this year, it is exactly 150 years since the cemetery was officially established in 1873.”
During her research, Sam uncovered many unique stories, some closer to home than others.
“While I was researching one of the very first pioneers to the area, I realised there was a connection to my husband’s family,” she said.
“Ann Francis, the niece of a many times great-grandmother to hubby, was married to William Cravigan, the first station manager in the area.
“They are both buried in the cemetery.”
If you live in or are visiting the Northern Rivers you can buy a copy at:
Hemlocks books & coffee, River Street, Woodburn
Visitor Information Centre, Woodburn
New Italy Gift Shop, New Italy Museum, New Italy
The Northern Rivers Times, Walker Street, Casino
Clay be Smegg, Barker Street, Casino
Visitor Information Centre, Casino
Mid Richmond Historical Society, Adams Street, Coraki
Visitor Information Centre, Evans Head
If you would like a copy of A Bend in the River posted to you, retail price is $35 including postage and handling.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with details of your address and I will send banking details.