Heterotopia is a concept of real spaces of otherness conceived by the philosopher Michel Foucault.
The Gundy Cemetery is a fair way out of town. An almost two kilometre drive out on Merrimuka Road, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by paddocks and the Gundy Common. How many cemeteries have a cattle grid?
Merrimuka Road is a dead end. It used to be the original road to Belltrees and Moonan and beyond. Now the major part of it is underwater, flooded by Glenbawn Dam. The current road to Belltrees comes off the original road to Timor.
Why is the cemetery so far from the village? If you look at a map of Gundy online and zoom in, you’ll see a phantom subdivision of building blocks and two acre lots that spreads right out to the cemetery in the east. So it’s at the edge of the town that never grew. It didn’t grow to the north either, with more phantom streets and sites for houses that exist only in a long expired 19th Century imagination.
The cemetery is, according to Foucault, the ‘place unlike ordinary cultural spaces’ that he uses in his article, Of Other Spaces, as an example of his second principle of heterotopia, “that a society, as its history unfolds, can make an existing heterotopia function in a very different fashion…”.
Gundy Cemetery replaced the early graveyard next to St Matthew’s church in the village; a strange outrider relic of which is today across the road from the church, next to houses.
Gundy Cemetery, this cemetery-in-exile from its village, is still in use today.
Please don’t bury me here.