Not the end of the line

Sydney Metro represents a $20 billion investment in Sydney’s 21st-century public transport infrastructure. Along with many existing rail lines, key Metro routes meet at Central Station. While this iconic station opened in 1906, most Sydneysiders are unaware that Central was built on the site of the early colonial Devonshire Street Cemeteries. Developers Laing O’Rourke, however, realised that bulk excavation might risk uncovering historical human remains.


The Sydney Metro City & Southwest project was declared Critical State Significant Infrastructure by the NSW Minister for Planning. With Central Station pivotal to the Metro network, Laing O’Rourke and Sydney Metro appointed Artefact to manage all Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal historical archaeology for the deep excavation between existing platforms. During the dig our team uncovered nearly 50 grave cuts associated with the former Devonshire Street Cemetery, sensitively handling the recovery of centuries-old human remains.


Working with Sydney Metro, the NSW Coroner, Health Department and Heritage NSW, Artefact revised the project’s Exhumation Management Plan. Artefact’s Excavation Director, Dr Iain Stuart, then managed the exhumation of all remains and archaeological recording of the graves.

 Sydney Metro later adopted the amended Exhumation Management Plan across its entire network. Artefact has since worked closely with Sydney Metro to assist with reinterring the recovered remains in consultation with relatives where possible.

Image credit: Headstones at Devonshire St Cemetery, Courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales.


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