Robert Ross Haverfield is noted as one of the pioneers of Bendigo.
But 130 years after his death, his final resting place at Bendigo Remembrance Park is crumbling and in urgent need of repair.
"We believe he was a wonderful man who worked not for himself, but the residents of his town," Mr Haverfield's great-great-granddaughter Shirley Dwyer said.
"We think it is important to restore the grave so it can be there for another hundred years."
Mr Haverfield was born in England on February 26, 1819, but migrated to Australia as a 20-year-old.
He started in Sydney before moving to the Wimmera region where he worked as a drover, and later owned his own cattle and sheep stations.
Read more: Founder of the ‘Addy’ remembered
But in late 1853, when he moved to work at a mine near Bendigo, he was arrested and imprisoned for an hour over a misunderstanding around licence regulations.
The arrest proved to be the catalyst for his work in newspapers and it changed the face of Victorian journalism forever.
After angrily denouncing the Goldfields administration, he invested in a printing plant and worked to produce the first issue of the Bendigo Advertiser and the Sandhurst Commerical Courier.
“In those days, newspapers were very important to get the news across to the miners because there was no television and there wasn’t any radio," Bendigo Remembrance Park volunteer Greta Balsillie said.
"It was word of mouth or something that was written," she said. "So the fact that he published a newspaper was very, very important."
The Bendigo Advertiser was the first newspaper on the Goldfields and grew quickly from a single sheet in its first edition, to four pages only four months later.
With Mr Haverfield as its founder and first editor, the paper followed the strong doctrine, "without fear of favour".
Through his work at the Bendigo Advertiser, Mr Haverfield campaigned continuously for the rights of the miners.
"He evidently was of a kind and generous nature," Ms Balsillie said. "But occasionally he was hard-hitting with his editorials."
Mr Haverfield also established other newspapers in the region, including the McIvor Times in Heathcote and the Riverine Herald in Echuca.
He was also a noted explorer and an acquaintance of Robert O'Hara Burke and William John Wills, who were the first Europeans to cross Australia in 1861. Mr Haverfield then acted as Secretary at the Royal Commission into the two men's deaths.
Shirley Dwyer said her great-great-grandfather was someone who "set the scene for a modern day Bendigo".
“It can be very hard to convince some people of the value of knowing our history," she said. "But if you don’t understand the past, how can you go forward?"
“Our history is our heritage and we should be very proud of it,” she said. “And the people of Bendigo should be proud of one of their founding fathers."
The Bendigo Remembrance Park, where Robert Ross Haverfield was buried in 1889, is over 160 years old. It holds the final resting place of people like politician Sir John Quick, who played an integral role in the Federation of Australia in 1901.
But Ms Dwyer's nephew Graeme Sproul said many of the graves have fallen into a "bad state of disrepair".
"Many are starting to sink and collapse," he said. "Fortunately, Mr Haverfield's headstone is still standing but it is starting to lean to one side. I don't believe it has had any work done on it in the last 130 years."
Ms Dwyer said they want to address the problems at the grave site before they become worse.
"The foundations will eventually move too far and the headstone will fall over,” she said. "The lettering of the grave is also very faint and the old cast iron railing needs to be prepared.”
Mr Haverfield's descendants have set up a GoFundMe page for the restoration works.
They hope to raise $10,000, which would go towards establishing new foundations at the site, a new granite slab, and lettering to honour his wife Marianna Haverfield, who is also buried there.
“It would be nice to achieve it sometime this year because it is 130 years since he died,” Mr Sproul said. “We’ve currently got just under $3000 raised, but once we reach $5000 we can at least start with the works.”
"The $10,000 will barely pay for the restorations, but we're really interested in doing this job properly," Ms Dywer said. "Our wish is to keep the work in the city, so hopefully we can find a Bendigo business that is willing to help out."
Bendigo Remembrance Park volunteer Greta Balsillie said any restoration work was in the control of the family.
“When people are buried, someone pays a burial rite," she said. "If they are paupers and haven’t got any money, the government will pay."
"But if you wish to erect a monument, and you get permission for it, the site belongs to the family," she said. "Whoever owns the burial rite is responsible for the repair of that grave."
"You see so many graves that are falling down because in the Gold Rush days, a lot of graves were here and then the families have moved on," she said. "Nobody knows who owns the burial rite."
Ms Balsillie has worked with Mr Haverfield's descendants with the hope the grave site can be restored.
"Shirley has been very thorough in tracing it back so she could have the grave repaired for her family," she said. "Robert Ross Haverfield really did play a very important part in the growth of Bendigo."
The Bendigo Advertiser staff social club has donated $350 to the fundraising efforts.
Editor Nicole Ferrie said it was important to recognise the history of the Bendigo Advertiser and those who created an institution that has delivered news to central Victoria for more than 160 years.
"Our staff and indeed our city, owe a great deal of gratitude to Robert Ross Haverfield - he was a champion for this community and gave a platform to important campaigns," she said.
"Many journalists, photographers, sales representatives and administration staff have since passed through the doors of the Addy, and how we deliver news has changed, but we have always continued to be the voice our founding editor hoped for us to be."
Anyone who would like to contribute to the funds can do so at https://au.gofundme.com/pioneer-visionary-memorial
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