Back in 1869, rail travel was all the rage... but one train trip you definitely did not want to take was aboard Sydney’s Mortuary Railway.
In the mid-19th century, as Australia aged, an increasing number of its residents were beginning to kick the bucket, and in order to deal with the growing number of dead bodies, 250 acres of land was purchased outside Sydney and became known as the Rookwood Necropolis, or the “city of the dead”.
Of course, since the Rookwood Cemetery was so far out from the city, they needed a way to transport bodies out... and it was decided that a train station would be built in the center of the cemetery, and that a spur line would connect the Rookwood Necropolis to what is today known as Lidcombe Station.
Between the years of 1868 and 1930, nearly every single body that was buried at the Necropolis boarded the train at the Regent Street Mortuary Station.
Today this train station is part of the Permanent Conservation Order and is just around the corner from Sydney’s Central Station. Visitors to the monument get an eyeful of the beautiful gothic style architecture, tall arches, and the amazingly well-preserved history.
Families of departed loved ones were invited to take a ride out to the Rookwood Necropolis for 40 shillings a pop. Eventually, thanks to new inventions like the automobile, the "train of the dead" took its last ride around the end of WWII.
Rookwood remains the largest Necropolis in the Southern hemisphere, with 915,000 people buried over 314 hectares. There are many monuments and memorials here, as well as gardens and ornate headstones. They also put on an art show each fall, featuring sculptures tucked away among the landscaping.
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