Volunteers are remembering long-dead souls by marking remote graves and recording their stories.

Story + Photos Samille Mitchell 

Alex Aitken and Trevor Tough were old buddies who hadn’t seen each other for decades when they caught up at a school reunion. They got to chatting and Trevor shared an idea he’d had to mark some outback graves in his spare time. It would be an excuse to travel the outback. Alex was keen to join him. 

“Even as a teenager I would see outback graves and realise that once we lose the graves we lose the stories that go with them,” Trevor says. “And it seems to me we need to hang onto these stories – otherwise we’ll lose our history and our Australian identity.”

So, five years ago, they set off. What started as a hobby has morphed into a growing phenomenon called Outback Grave Markers. Since then, they and a growing band of followers have marked 600 graves across WA. They’re now about to take the project nationwide, having already started work planning grave marking in SA. 

To find the grave sites, volunteers research historical records and assess the landscapes around them to work out where people would have been buried, before erecting plaques at what they conclude must be the burial sites.

This story excerpt is from Issue #129

Outback Magazine: Feb/Mar 2020