Historic Talia Cemetery desecrated

Police are investigating damage to headstones at the historic Talia Cemetery.

More than 20 grave sites at the cemetery between Elliston and Port Kenny were desecrated by vandals last weekend.

The vandals broke, smashed and knocked down headstones with damage costs to fall back on the families of those buried at the site. 

The historic cemetery holds over 60 burial sites for past residents and returned service people.

Elliston District Council chief executive officer, Phil Cameron said the vandalism was malicious and senseless.

“In my 30-odd years of working for local authorities in country South Australia, I haven’t been this stunned by such pointless acts of vandalism,” he said.

“I spoke to one of the family’s late yesterday [Monday] about the vandalism, they were pretty upset and disappointed.”

Mr Cameron said the council lodged a formal report with SA Police in Wudinna, who examined the crime scene on Tuesday morning.

“One of the plaques ripped off was from a returned soldier,” he said.

“It’s extremely disappointing and upsetting.”

Police have confirmed that they are investigating the vandalism, which they believe occurred sometime between 1pm on Friday, October 5 and 4pm on Monday, October 8.

Lock resident, Nita Kay, who has a father and two brothers buried at the cemetery said her family visited the cemetery on Tuesday to view the damage.

“It’s pretty bad to say the least,” Mrs Kay said.

“I read the information on the Elliston Council website and my heart sunk.

“My mum rang me that afternoon to say that they had been damaged.”

Mrs Kay said her family’s headstones had been pushed over and the pictures smashed.

“We don’t really know the costs yet, but one of my brothers headstones was made in Italy,” she said.

“It can never be replaced.”

The cemetery was founded in the late 1890s and continues to operate.

Mr Cameron said in total 26 graves were vandalised and he urged family members with anyone interred there to contact the council.

He said it did not seem like a random attack as the cemetery was somewhat isolated.

“The Talia cemetery turn-off is marked with a road sign, but the criminals needed to go through a paddock and two gates to get to the cemetery gates,” Mr Cameron said.

 “It holds the graves of those who cleared and toiled the land for generations, the memorials of returned soldiers and relatives of the living who today will [be] devastated by this barbarous act.”

Anyone with information that can assist police is asked to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000, or online at www.crimestopperssa.com.au.