Outback Graves Poem

Outback Graves

Beneath Red soil and spinifex
Down winding Western trails
Lie many untold stories
In unmarked Outback Graves

Tales of lonely travellers
Hapless journeys unfulfilled
Of folks who sought another life
Their lifeblood harshly spilled

Some had died from natural causes
Bad weather, despair and thirst
Some from misadventures
Or circumstances worse

They were Pioneers of this country
People young and old
From different lands and cultures
Best efforts not resolved

And their graves have gone unnoticed
And their stories left unheard
Till these modern-day explorers
...... spread their word
Of the people of this country
How they lived and how they died
To mark their final resting place
Where others may have cried

If you travel through the Outback
Down winding Western trails
Look beneath the soil and spinifex
At the freshly remarked graves
It is there you'll find the stories
Of the Pioneers of old
Of their struggles and their fortunes
No longer left untold

Beneath Red soil and spinifex
Down winding Western trails

Lie the rich and vibrant stories
Marked by friends of Outback Graves

Outback Grave Markers Song - Youtube

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To record details on an internet based database and produce and install permanent aluminium marker plaques on outback graves that are in poor condition.

Develop the ability to generate reference numbers to link such grave sites to our database.

To develop a web site and data base that can include photos, stories, cross references and links to other genealogical societies.

To foster like minded people across Australia to form active teams with the ability to mark and record pioneer and outback graves. All costs and responsibility to purchase and maintain a suitable portable engraving machine will be born by those people. No financial support is available from outbackgraves.org. However, we will provide all possible systems, knowledge and back up we can.

To maintain integrity of information and to avoid attacks against our database, all information, data and input from authorised teams must be emailed to Alex Aitken to be uploaded to our website.

Our aim is to identify and recruit suitable research persons to assist in this process.

Such groups will be scrutinised and if approved, authorised to function under our “banner” and receive our support.

We will pre – engrave blank plaques with our web address and a reference number and develop a format that can easily be used to engrave all other details on the plaques on the spot.

Donations and financial assistance may be accepted at the discretion of outbackgraves.org and full acknowledgement will be made on our website. Such donations will be used solely to further the activities of our enterprise. All personal costs and trip costs are to be paid by individuals. Pre-engraved plaques with reference numbers will be provided at a minimal base cost to other teams, sufficient to cover the replacement purchase of more blanks. Other material, such as posts and special bolts will also be supplied at a base cost to participating teams.

We will be seeking support from Shires and other organisations in regard to their official endorsement and promotion of our activities, access to historical records and access to property.

Participants on any field trip must be fully self contained and not ask or rely on support from land holders, other than for potable drinking water.

Ideally, only two vehicles are to visit any property, but a maximum of three will be allowed.

We will ensure that no graves are marked unless solid proof of the identity of the remains has been attained. Any graves which cannot be positively identified, will be recorded with a reference number and position in our data base and a plaque installed showing the position as an “Unknown Person”, or “Unknown Person, thought to be the remains of …….” Any anecdotal or unconfirmed information can be recorded as such in our data base.

Our vision is to create a constantly updating data base which will be available free to anyone who visits our website.

Our website will identify and thank all individuals, property owners and organisations who have supported our cause.

The website, intellectual property and any assets involved with outbackgraves.org remains the property of Outback Graves Inc.



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16 JUNE 2019



This year we have implemented one major trip to install plaques and that was in early April to Leonora, Lake Raeside, Malcolm Kookynie Road, Yundamindra and Mt Sir Samuel. We also installed plaques at Emu Creek Station. A total of just over 100 plaques in that trip.

Commencing 30th June, Blue Mullumby and Sue and Trevor Tough will embark on another trip to install more plaques at Lake Raeside, 2 at Mt Sir Samuel. 5 at Milgun Station, 1 each at Muccan and Yarrie Stations, 2 at Derby, 3 on the Gibb River Road, 4 at Napier Downs Station and 1 at Mt House Station. It will be another 8000 kilometre journey.

We have currently made 55 plaques for Lake Raeside, but should produce another 25 to 30 before we go. That will leave about a further 25 to make for that location.

In August, Alex and Julie are planning a trip to Bardoc to install 19 plaques there.

Mark and Debbie Bogaers will be doing a trip in September around the Siberia area to install approx. 12 plaques and to find the grave of James McHugh.

Blue and Mary Mullumby will also be on the road around then, with about a dozen plaques to install.

This amounts to an estimated 20,000 kilometres of self funded itineraries this year alone. If you consider the multiple vehicles involved, you can safely double that. This is an enormous and generous investment by our members in our Outback Grave Markers project.


If we were to brag about the amount of effort the stalwarts of Outback Grave Markers put in to make it all work, then the past 3 or 4 weeks must surely have set an astounding record. Alex tells me that our fantastic website team have put in more than 450 hours between them in the last 2 weeks to prepare and load our data. And that doesn’t include the months of work Cherie and Lorraine put in to get us to the start line. You are soon to be stunned by the result of their efforts. Sincere thanks to Julie, Alex, Glennis, Lorraine and Cherie.

It is fact that no plaques would be made and no progress would occur without our research team. Glennis McDonald has put in at least 5 hours per day since August last year. That is more than 1500 hours for her alone! She averages about 3 hours or more of research for every plaque we make. When we make a plaque now, we are confident that every last detail is correct. That is something we did not have before Glennis came on board and she has found lots of mistakes we have made in the past. She has spent countless hours and days going back over every plaque we have made, to ensure that our records are correct. Glennis is something special, having also endured a very difficult time with the death of her beloved husband Pat.

Engravers. Well, with the help of Blue Mullumby and Adrian Malloy, we have produced more than 200 plaques so far this year. Blue and Adrian have made this possible, because their “back up” makes it possible for me to just get on with the engraving. We reckon we will probably produce at least another 150 this year. Can you imagine the results of this output in 5 or 10 years time? Between us, we have logged over 350 hours since the end of January 2019. In reality, we have put in much more.

We have just made plaque number 550. Not bad for a bunch of old volunteers!

A great part of how we manage to produce these plaques is because Suzie keeps up the smokos and  lunches and she races into Midland when we need something. And she backs up and supports our project and everything I am doing here. Thanks Suzie, the quiet achiever.

Of course, all these plaques incurs cost. Cost of material, maintenance of machinery and expendables. I want to thank Glennis for a huge and generous donation to cover the purchase of more blank plaques and steel for posts, at a time when the alternative was to stop production. Also, Blue Mullumby and Adrian Malloy who quietly just pay for bolts, paint, mineral turps, etc. Thankyou sincerely.

I also want to thank Adrian Holdaway for maintaining our engraving machine, sharpening cutters at no charge and then supplying us with a second engraving machine with a “pay me when you can” generosity. This second machine has given an enormous boost to our volume of production.


We continue to attract like minded people to our project. The Eastern Districts 4WD Club have agreed to work with us and we have allocated the area from Norseman to Esperance as their “patch”. Their representatives are here today and they will be coming along on a trip in early September.


I have been in discussion with the ABC office in Geraldton about them filming a program about us installing some plaques. One of their current people is leaving the ABC at the end of June and she wants to come along to write an article for Outback magazine. We plan to do this in early September at Gullewa cemetery, about 80 kilometres south of Yalgoo, on the Morawa road.


Well, what is possible depends on the decisions of various Shire Councils to financially back our project. New capabilities. Laser engraving. Hosting Shire burial records. Ground penetrating radar. The new financial year will reveal what these Shires have in mind for us. But you can be confident that the Shire of Leonora will continue to back Outback Grave Markers.

But we certainly will be doing:  

More research

More plaques

More trips

A new Outback Grave Markers branch in South Australia. Mark “Tracker” Prance has sent us $10,000 for us to purchase for him an engraving machine which matches ours and to supply him with an initial 100 blank plaques, cutters etc. We have found a suitable machine for him and are negotiating to buy it. He will come over to stay with us for a few days and learn how we go about every aspect of our project from research, engraving, recording and installing our plaques. He will use our back up and all his South Australian work will be loaded in his State section of our website. This is another step towards our becoming a truly National project.



Developing new management and systems to make sure we don’t lose or forget contacts, opportunities or requests.

The rate of growth is testing us all and we need to consider that we are all volunteers with our own lives and we need to keep the workload under control. There are many individuals amongst us who need protecting from overload. I see the management of this issue as crucial.


Shire involvement and financial support.

Achieving incorporation.

New website of a scale and data capability we never dreamed of having.

Our own poem and song.

Research excellence which is probably unmatched in any like organisation.

Producing plaques of better quality and in great quantity.

Strong management committee with great experience and capability.

A list of ideas in the pipeline.

Our first interstate office.

A growing number of people joining us.



Yvonne and Kevin Coate, whose continuing generosity allows us to access and use their lifetime’s work. Their Lonely Graves work remains the start point of our research activities.

Thanks to all you people who give us your approval and show your enthusiasm for our efforts. Without you, we would not have the same fire and drive.

And sincere thanks to all of our Committee, who inspire and amaze me with their combined talents, imaginative ideas and dedication. Alex and I could hardly have imagined what Outback Grave Markers has become.


Trevor Tough




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Media and Announcements

Outback Grave Markers - Youtube

  • ABC Midwest & Wheatbelt

    The lonely graves of thousands are strewn across outback WA.

    Most are long forgotten. Until now.

    A group of volunteers called Outback Grave Markers are remembering these lost souls by finding graves and marking them with plaques.

    In the process they are not only bringing dignity to these long-dead souls, but capturing their stories for posterity.

  • ABC Kimberley

    Scattered across Western Australia are thousands of graves.

    Many of them have long been forgotten or neglected but they all have a story; some are tragic tales of sickness, murder and the unforgiving nature of life a century ago, others are courageous or inspiring.

    Outback Grave Markers is a group of volunteers who travel to remote places to place an engraved plaque on the gravesite after researching its history.

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  • Volunteers leave their mark on lonely graves

    Shannon Verhagen - Kalgoorlie Miner 10 April 2019

    Volunteers leave their mark on lonely graves

    Three piles of white rocks, which provide a stark contrast to the surrounding orange gravel, have been arranged to resemble crosses on an unmarked burial.

    A message on a rusty drum provides the only information: buried there, just north of Kookynie, are a mother and her two children.

    This is one of hundreds of unmarked burials in outback WA known as the lonely graves.

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Grave markers’ work available on website

Shannon Verhagen Kalgoorlie Miner

A not-for-profit group working to put names and stories to unmarked or “lonely” graves in the Goldfields have launched a new website dubbed a “brilliant research tool”.

The Outback Grave Markers have spent the past four years travelling across remote WA preserving the region’s history, placing plaques at more than 500 graves, including 100 in Leonora.

Their new website, launched at the weekend, will allow the public to access everything they have found — from photographs, to old news stories and birth and death records.

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June 2019

It is with great pleasure that I present this report to the meeting as it has been a year of massive growth and filled with challenges at every turn.

The first milestone was the on the 28th May 2018 when we were granted Incorporation by DMIRS.  Our Constitution had been accepted and those who had put up their hand to fill positions at the April meeting were then to be confirmed and would hold office until the AGM today. 

The latter part of 2018 was devoted to the development of the necessary guidelines and planning for the major projects that were to be undertaken, with very limited field activity happening.

From our meeting with the Shire of Leonora in March 2018, the work on the “Leonora Project” began in earnest with Mark producing a Project Plan that, when presented to a committee meeting, blew our socks off!!

The scale of the project was daunting.  What had started off as 225 graves recorded by local historians, grew to a massive 635 graves in cemeteries, on stations and other scattered locations.

The Shire of Leonora has been exceptional in its support of the Project and has continued to rally support for OGM from neighbouring Shires.

Trevor and his band of merry men have continued to produce the plaques for Leonora while Glennis beavers away to provide the detail for the inscriptions.  The pace of production has been somewhat frenetic and Glennis has been kept very busy.

The culmination of all this work was the visit to Leonora by a team of OGM volunteers at the end of March 2019 to install the first 100 plus plaques in the areas of Malcolm, Yundamindra and Mt Sir Samuel. The Shire treated us to a reception on the Friday evening and then it was off to work with the joy of seeing a fantastic result.

While all this was going on, the back-room stuff of administration such as banking, websites, Facebook, funding and the like have been happening with the decision to pursue a new website at the top of the list.

 After the success of Lorraine and Cherie’s East Perth Cemeteries website, Lorraine negotiated with the web-builders for OGM to purchase a similar site at a reasonable cost, ($18,000 – 20,000!) and the committee embraced the idea.  The new website will give OGM the opportunity to provide a fully searchable website which will include the hosting of data on Shire burials and provide an opportunity to enhance the profile of OGM.

It sounded simple at the time (!) and Noah and his team at Joomstore took up the challenge.  It was a foregone conclusion to appoint Lorraine and Cherie as supervisors of the project.

The Shire of Leonora provided $14,500 in funding for OGM, which was used as a deposit on the website.  With some generous donations from individuals and the Leonora RSL, we are nearly there but still a couple of thousand short at this time.

That was the easy bit.  The loading of data revealed the need to review and verify the data from the old website as many errors were discovered.  A mammoth task.

The OGM researchers have been diligently trolling through all the data and with the assistance  of Moya Sharp’s Outback Family History and many other resources, the job is almost complete.

I have not been given the total hours it has taken to review and upload the current information but from personal experience I would believe the verification and updating of the 500 plus entries would be in excess of 450 hours, a sterling effort by all concerned.

At this point I would like to thank all those involved in developing invaluable relationships that extend far and wide throughout the state with individuals, organisations, pastoralists, local governments and the general public. Well done all.

Trevor and his team have now passed the 500 plaque mark and are breaking all production records with the support of Adrian Holdaway, who has supplied a second engraver we have yet to pay for.  This is a fantastic effort and will also require financial resources for the engraver and the materials as the cost of materials for each plaque is approximately $8.00.

We are at the stage now, where the organisation is in need of management systems to provide the controls that will see it survive well into the future.  These include the updating of the business plan developed by Mark Bogaers, finalisation of all protocols for volunteers and a Code of Conduct for field work.  Much of this work is underway. Negotiations are also underway with Microsoft to gain access to applications that will allow the Committee to have access to, and be able to share, documents, calendars and planners.  This will enable work to be carried out in a collaborative environment which will avoid the silo effects that can hamper organisations.

Being involved with OGM is a most humbling experience and the response from the general public to the Facebook and Website posts from the Leonora trip was fantastic with in excess of 7,500 responses to all the items posted. Well done all.

I must single out Lorraine and Cherie and their team of researchers for their outstanding effort which ensures the information we post to the website is correct and as accurate as possible. For the guidance and support of our researchers, for the Research Workshop which ensures a standard protocol of research, and for the support I have been given on this journey, thank you.

Where to now?

The first cab off the rank is to secure some on-going funding.  To this end, OGM is in the process of producing a Memorandum of Understanding to be signed by supporters as well as Letters of Support, for inclusion in funding submissions.

A presentation has been produced and is available to anyone who would like to use it for the purpose of gaining financial support for OGM. 

OGM will be making approaches to as many Shires, Mining Companies, Pastoral Groups and other parties with whom we interact, seeking financial support. A submission to Lotterywest will be made in the coming months.

To make a successful submission to Lotterywest, we will need all our volunteers to keep records of the time spent on OGM work.  That includes travel for installation of plaques, research, making plaques, meetings and presentations, administration etc.  These hours are used to calculate the “In kind” value of the voluntary contributions by the group.

In closing, I would like to once again say a big thank you to all for the support each and every one of you give to the cause, as it is the heartbeat that makes this organisation something very special. With your continued support, there will be great steps made in recording, researching and publishing, and the making and installation of plaques which will give to the wider community a valuable resource with which to learn about the colourful past of this great country.

Alex Aitken

President, Outback Grave Markers Inc., 2018-2019

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Special thanks to...

Research Consultants

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