Father Therry and the Balmain Catholic Cemetery

As Australia’s pioneer priest, Father John Joseph Therry stepped ashore in Sydney in May 1820, little would he have imaged that thirty seven years later, as parish priest of the parish of St. Augustine at Balmain in Sydney’s inner west, he would ‘do a deal’ with one of Sydney’s leading Protestants to acquire four acres in a remote part of his parish to establish a Catholic cemetery. The cemetery was known as the Balmain Catholic cemetery and for the next half century many Balmain pioneers were laid to rest there. The cemetery closed around 1905 and over the following 100 years, all traces of this cemetery disappeared and today’s visitor to the site would have no inkling that a cemetery ever existed there. The location has become one of Catholic Sydney’s least known historic sites. The cemetery land now houses St. Columba’s church, presbytery and primary school plus a convent for the Sisters of St. Joseph.