Stories behind the stones returns

GRAVE MATTERS: Port Augusta Public Library Manager Tina Dunemann with tour guide Paul Smith during a twilight tour of the Carlton Parade Cemetery. Photo: supplied.

GRAVE MATTERS: Port Augusta Public Library Manager Tina Dunemann with tour guide Paul Smith during a twilight tour of the Carlton Parade Cemetery. Photo: supplied.

A peculiar grave stone in the Carlton Parade Cemetery serves as an intriguing reminder of a largely forgotten chapter in Port Augusta's history.

Triangular in shape and inscribed with Chinese characters, the grave of Law Wing Git is one of the more memorable stories from the Port Augusta Library's 'Grave Matters' tour.

When Chinese phosphate miners were evacuated from Nauru and Ocean Island after the Japanese bombings in World War II, there some 600 men billeted at the Port Augusta race-course for several weeks.

They were welcomed in the town, joining in sporting events and even volunteering to dig air raid trenches to serve the main part of the town.

Eventually, most of the men left by train to work in tungsten mines in Central Australia.

Sadly, 30-year-old boatman Law Wing Git did not leave with them.

The headstone of Law Wing Git born in Taishin City, Guandong Province, China.

The headstone of Law Wing Git born in Taishin City, Guandong Province, China.

He passed away in the Port Augusta hospital as the result of a bacterial abscess in his throat, which spread and caused his blood cells to explode. Undoubtedly a very painful death.

The funeral was a big affair with 450 men carrying banners in procession from the hospital to the cemetery.

At the graveside a few words were spoken in Chinese and then everyone filed past the grave, stopping to throw a handful of earth on the coffin.

The story of the triangle tombstone is just one of the many strange yarns told by Paul Smith on the twilight tour.

"The whole point of the tour is to bring awareness to the history of the people of Port Augusta of our early dignitaries and pioneers of the town," he said.

"Its a quirky way to get people interested in history."

Tour-goers learn of the lives, mishaps and accidents that happened to the everyday people of Port Augusta.

The cemetery is lit up by torchlight and images of the deceased are cleverly projected onto poster boards by the relevant grave site.

"We do a lot of research through old newspapers and most of the stuff we find is on public record anyway, but its just a matter of bringing the history to life," Mr Smith said.

"You look at a headstone and there's a big story behind everyone of them, it's someones entire life.

The tour is a way of making sure the history of our town is passed on to other people so that they are made aware of what we have got."

The Grave Matters tour is ran as a Port Augusta Public Library initiative to mark the History Month of May.