WA Sikh Cremation Site - Adenia Reserve

The WA Sikh Cremation Site (also known as the Fmr Sikh Cemetery) in Adenia Reserve (Ferndale, City of Canning) has been on the State Register of Heritage Places since 1997 and has been on the City of Canning’s Municipal Inventory since 1995. The site was officially gazetted in 1932 as Reserve 20968 for the purpose of a cemetery.

Cremation was not legally recognised in Western Australia until the Cremations Act 1929, although many cremations are known to have taken place before this date. The Adenia Reserve site was gazetted in response to the recognition of the religious needs of the Sikh community.

Cremation (Mount Lawley). - (1) - There is no crematorium in Western Australia. (2) An Indian hawker was cremated in a reserve at Canning on May 4, 1929. At that time Sergeant Campbell, who was in charge of the Dongarra police district for some years recalled two similar instances. In one case the body was exhumed after having been buried for twelve months and then cremated, and in the other case the body was cremated on the beach and the ashes case into the Indian Ocean. Mr Arthur Henderson.

The reserve was vested in two members of the Sikh community, Bulla and Massa Singh. In 1971 the Sikh community sought to have the vesting altered as neither Bulla Singh or Massa Singh were still alive. They also sought to have the size of the reserve extended. The reserve was cancelled in 1977 and reverted to public open space.

Mirror (Perth, WA : 1921 - 1956), Saturday 30 June 1934, page 8

Landscaping and earthworks took place in the late 1980s, when the Canning Regional Park was developed. The site is within the Canning Regional Park and is located within a residential area. The local community uses the site for recreation and exercise. The site is currently marked with a large rock with a bronze plaque commemorating the Sikh pioneers who helped to open up the State.

The Australian Sikh Heritage Association Inc. is working with Lotterywest, the City of Canning and various other organisations/stakeholders on an enhancement/redevelopment project at this very site. Stay tuned for more updates on this site!

Kalgoorlie Miner (WA : 1895 - 1950), Tuesday 16 July 1929, page 4

Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954), Tuesday 16 July 1929, page 7

Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 - 1954), Sunday 14 June 1931, page 2

Rediscovery of the WA Sikh Cremation Site in the late 80's and early 90's

Due to a number of wonderful interactions in the late 80's and early 90's between the WA Sikh community (represented by the Sikh Association of WA) and a number of interested local historians and associations, a special function was held at Adenia Park in 1992 to unveil a commemorative plaque at the old Australian Sikh Cremation site.

A special mention of the following people (outside the WA Sikh community) who we understand are shown in these photos:

  • Geoff Gallop - Former Premier of WA and at the time of the photo, Minister for Fuel and Energy
  • Judyth Watson - At the time of the photo, Minister for Multicultural and Ethnic Affairs
  • Ugo Gianatti - who made the discovery of the WA Sikh Cremation Site (see news article from "The Gazette" above)
  • John Parker - from the Canning Districts Historical Society and now also a honorary member of SAWA.

We are in the process of documenting not just the petitioning in the 1890's for cremation rights and the allotment of the cremation site in the 1930's, but also the rediscovering and honouring of the early Sikh pioneers by marking this site in 1992. If you have any family members who are shown in these photos that may remember this event or have some leads for us to follow up on, we would love to hear from you. Please click here to contact us.

Other WA Sikh Cremations

Spoon Singh's funeral in Cunderdin, WA. Spoon Singh had a 2,500 acre farm in Cunderdin in the early 1900's.