Cemetery fairy spreads her wings

AFTER an 18-month hiatus, a cemetery fairy has fluttered 60kms up Denmark-Mount Barker Road at the request of two long-term Plantagenet locals.

In September 2017, Linda Humphries was one of a group of history buffs whose story went global after they teamed up to touch up several tombstones at Denmark cemetery.

Fast forward 18 months and Mrs Humphries has upped stumps to spruce up two headstones for the Drage family.

“I always work from behind the stone because: 1. I don’t tread on a deadman’s space; and 2. My glasses are multi-focal and I have to have my head up too far if I work from the front,” she said of her unorthodox technique.

“Since 2017, the cemetery fairies haven’t had anything more to do until today.

“Fairy-wise, we’ve just been fluttering in the trees.”

The Voice of the Southcaught up with Mrs Humphries at the grave of Ethel M. Drage (1875-1922), where the sole cemetery fairy was spraying the granite headstone with outdoor cleaner to remove algae.

“This one’s actually looking quite good, so all I have to do is patch up the paintwork,” the former primary school teacher said.

“The Denmark work is hanging on pretty nicely.

 “I go up periodically and have a bit of a look, and it’s pretty good.”

Linda Humphries and Mrs and Mr Drage at Mount Barker cemetery. Photo and story: Chris Thomson

Not long after, at the grave of Joseph E Drage (1870-1936), his and Ethel’s grandson Basil says his family has been in the Plantagenet area since 1899.

“I didn’t know them at all,” Mr Drage says matter-of-factly.

“My grandmother died in the 1920s, my grandfather didn’t die until ’36 and I was born in ’34, so when I was two-years-old, I didn’t know a lot, did I?

“People will see this now, before you couldn’t see it very good, but now you can see it pretty good.”

Mr Drage says his grandparents had 13 children, with the last one born in 1918. He is the son of Bill, child Number 9, who is also buried at the cemetery. 

Mr Drage’s wife, Lorna, adds that when their children started school in the late 1960s there were 25 Drages on the local school bus.

Mrs Humphries says Joseph’s headstone is also in pretty good nick, though the lower tip of the ‘J’ needs a touch-up.

“The ones here are easier to clean up than the ones in Denmark, because they’re not as old,” she says.

“Anyone who wishes to have a renovation of this type they need to just get in contact with us through the Denmark Historical Society.”

The tombstones were made by Albany Monumental Masons. 

In 2017, the fairies – which at various times have also included Denmark residents Bev and Ross McGuinness, Ashleigh Murch, Leanne Laurie and Margaret Pomery – received a $200 ad hoc grant from Denmark shire, which allowed paint, brushes and stripper to be bought.

Categories: Denmark, Plantagenet

Care to comment?