William Tipple Smith Memorial Project

A project to erect a memorial to William Tipple Smith came to a satisfactory conclusion on Thursday 3rd September 2020. The efforts to achieve this are detailed below.


About 40 family and friends enjoyed the occasion on a glorious spring day. After speeches by Shelly Hancock (NSW Minister for Local Government), Lynette Silver (read it here) and Bill Hamburger, the memorial was unveiled by Bill. (click image to enlarge)

The event received good coverage by the media, both here in Australia, from Brisbane to Adelaide, and also in England in Tipple Smith's birthplace.

The grave is conveniently located next to a roadway so that a plaque describing the significance of the grave can be easily seen. It is now one of Rookwood Cemetery’s historic attractions.

A selection of newspaper reports follows:
Sydney Morning Herald
Illawarra Weekly
Daily Telegraph
East Anglian Times

Also an interview with Lynette Silver on BBC Suffolk.

And a nice article in the Spring 2020 edition of the Orange and District Historical Society newsletter "History Alive".

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History of the project

William helped to establish the first iron works in New South Wales and was the first person to discover payable gold in NSW, although never officially recognised. He was originally buried in Devonshire Street Cemetery, but when the cemetery was resumed for the expansion of Central Railway Station his remains were exhumed and relocated to Rookwood Cemetery. His children Mary and Alfred were also exhumed and buried in the same grave. At present his grave is unmarked and his final resting place deserves to be appropriately honoured.

For any alteration to a grave Rookwood Cemetery, permission is required from the owner of the grave, which in this case is William's daughter Jane Tipple Smith. This is not possible because she is deceased, but Rookwood will accept consent from her "rightful heir" which is defined as the eldest child of the eldest child of ..... of Jane.

It took a while to satisfy this requirement but was eventually achieved, and the next stage was to seek finance to pay for the memorial.

Because William was one of the founders of the iron industry in Australia an approach was made to Bluescope Steel using a short video which concentrated on his involvement with the Fitzroy Iron Works. Bill Hamburger, who is interviewed in this video, is a great-great-grandson of William and is the instigator of this campaign. This resulted in a donation of $2000 from Bluescope. Another approach was made to the State government to acknowledge the injustice suffered by William when his claim of finding payable gold was rejected by the Colonial Secretary. A further $2000 donation was received.


Bill Hamburger had just turned 91 and was anxious to see this memorial erected within his lifetime. Accordingly, he underwrote the remaining cost of the memorial so that work on the headstone could commence without delay. However, a GoFundMe campaign, together with a very generous contribution from Rookwood Cemetery, was successful in raising money to reimburse Bill. There is not a lot of choice for the style of the headstone because the grave is in a heritage portion of the cemetery. This is the headstone selected, being sandstone with a marble plate.

There has been some recent publicity in this matter. Firstly Bill was interviewed by Ian "Macca" McNamara on his "Australia All Over" radio program.

Then there was another mention on ABC news which was followed up by an interview with Lynette Silver (author of A Fool's Gold), which was a succinct but comprehensive account of William's story.

The headstone has been completed, and is now in place.

The public is welcome to visit the memorial.