Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Taphophile Tragics # 7 - Though flesh may decay, ego remains


Within South Head cemetery, these plots are within spitting distance. Sydneysiders will recall both men readily, one with begrudged admiration, the other with genuine affection.

The mausoleum is the crypt of the Packer family. I have no idea how many billionaires there are in Australia, or even if the Packers are in that category. But they are up there close. The men are media tycoons; the women, handbags! (Sir) Frank Packer was the one who set it all up for his son, Kerry (who is buried on his polo/horse stud in Scone), and the current family head, James. Although James is more into casinos than newspapers. The interesting thing about Sir Frank, was his tilt at winning that blue water classic, the America's Cup back in the early '60s. He over-spent his allowance on two yachts, Gretel I and Gretel II. Which brings us to his wife, Gretel. This was the only image I could find of her, which is instructive. That portrait of Frank is by Judy Cassab, who must have been bedazzled, as he was nowhere near that attractive!

The second marker belongs to (Sir) Roden Cutler. Totally different kettle of fish. He was a war hero: won a Victoria Cross; lost a leg. Both in Syria. Big bloke, impeccable manner, self-effacing. After the war, he became a diplomat, and eventually was appointed as the Governor of NSW, where he remained for 15 years. Did a good job, I reckon. A state governor in Australia is not like a state governor in the USA. Here it is a ceremonial role, and relates back to Australia's foundation as a constitutional monarchy within the British Commonwealth. So lots of pomp and circumstance, but no power. He also is buried with his wife, although she died in her 60s (he in his 80s), quite suddenly from the affects of meningococcal septicaemia. I suspect he was gutted. Could not find a single image of her to show you. She was attractive, but not flouncey.

Both men married again in their aged widowerhood, after very long first marriages.

This is my contribution to the Taphophile Tragics community.

21 comments:

Abraham Lincoln said...

I suppose it really doesn't make much difference who you are in life, you are dead when you are dead. Lifeless. No ambitions. You can't even hear.

hamilton said...

The contrast between these two monuments is very illuminating - especially after your description of the men! Not many media moguls are well loved are they?

NixBlog said...

Yes... Amazing what ego and bloated self-importance is capable of even after death, Julie. I bring to mind anther post int his meme today - the Pyramid of Cheops...
Great post!

Mo said...

I hear more billions are going into the Americas Cup again. Interesting post.

Jim said...

How interesting.

Ann said...

I remember watching Sir Roden Cutler's funeral cortege pass through the city. Big crowd. Packer, however, is nowhere near in the same league. Don't think much of the mausoleum - rather ugly.

Walk 13k, you're joking surely? Maybe 10 years earlier but not on that trip - taxi from memory, or perhaps bus.

Julie said...

Ann. the mausoleum IS ugly and tasteless - goes with the territory!

Kay L. Davies said...

I remember Gretel, the first Australian challenger to the America's Cup. In fact, I was a passenger the first day she was put out to pasture as a day-sailer, and a member of the original crew was onboard.
Speaking of pasture, I don't even want to know how the horse came to be dead at the same time as Kerry Packer in order that they be buried together, but I cringe for the gravediggers who had to remove enough dirt to accommodate a man on a horse.
Ugh.

Julie said...

... *chuckle* ... ummm ... Kay! ... stud ... he was buried on his polo/horse STUD ... oh gawd, maybe I should rewrite that bit.

diane b said...

I like the statement....ego remains. It is ugly though matches the family. I giggled at kay's comment too. I had to read it twice before I realised "on his horse stud" not "on his horse". hee hee

The other bloke was bonza sort of fella.

Joe said...

I also like the reference to the artist who painted Frank Packer as being "bedazzled" as Frank was not that handsome. Great post Julie.

Joan Elizabeth said...

Buried with his horse, now that's a great new rumour about the Packers and I have to agree, not the most attractive men ... but Cutler is another story with his film star looks.

s.c said...

It for sure gives a good inside in the in the deceased persons. What a contrast.

Gemma Wiseman said...

Not sure why, but somehow Roden Cutler always reminded me of the Rhett Butler character in "Gone With the Wind". Even the manner of talking seemed similar! Just the quirky twist at the side of the Rhett mouth didn't quite release on Roden's mouth! But it whispered there at times!

Back to the images! That mausoleum seems so pretentious/bombastic in contrast with the quiet style of Roden's gravestone!

Intriguing post as always!

Mark said...

Sir Roden Cutler was a hero and a true gentleman. Agree with the other comments about the ugliness of the Packer crypt. Great contrast Julie.

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biebkriebels said...

The mausoleum is rather bombastic, but it suits the family I think, they must have liked it. The second man look handsom with his moustache he must have had his whole live long.

Gene said...

I don't think I've seen that much text on the single face of a grave marker before. They certainly packed in a lot of info.

tapirgal said...

The older I get, the more I like those big MEMORABLE monuments :-)

Julie said...

The older I get the more I do not want just to be scattered. Not through ego, I think, but just so that family history is not lost.