HUNDREDS of bodies could be buried below a Bendigo car park near Rosalind Park, according a member of the National Trust and a local historian.
Historian Rita Hull has extensively researched burial records for the site.
She said 229 registered burials took place in the area, with a similar number possibly taking place prior to official record-keeping.
“It was Bendigo’s first cemetery and between 550 and 600 people are still buried there,” she said.
“There are lots of rumours floating around that the bodies were removed and reburied.
“But we can find absolutely no proof the bodies were removed.
“They are still there.
“We know that up until the 1890s they were still there and nothing’s been done since.”
A plaque at the site says remains had been re-interned to other cemeteries, but Ms Hull said records suggested only two or three bodies had been reburied.
She said most of the deceased were gold prospectors and said the site had been covered sometime in the 1890s with dirt from the law courts precinct.
National Trust Bendigo and Region Branch president Gary Hill said he was keen to see the site kept as is.
“It’s a very important site that documents the very beginnings of settlement in Bendigo,” he said.
“Those bodies need to be treated with respect by leaving them there in situ and by not building a structure over the site.
“If approval is ever given for construction on the site, then full excavation and proper respectful treatment of the remains has to be undertaken.”
The City of Greater Bendigo is seeking input into a master plan for Rosalind Park, which covers the burial ground.
Councillor James Williams encouraged people to have their say.
“While there’s a feeling we require more car park spaces, there’s a feeling there’s too much car park space which could be rationalised to have a much smaller footprint in the park,” he said.
“People should have their say sooner rather than later.”
Ms Hull will provide an insight into the burial ground at the site from 2pm Sunday.