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140kph Winds vs the South Brisbane Cemetery


Brisbane was hit by a massive storm in February 2014, with 140kph winds and huge hailstones causing widespread damage, including smashed windows in almost every home in the hail-hit areas and snapped trees strewn everywhere. My house was smack in the path of the storm, but thanks to the luck of timing it just missed the hail zone. The South Brisbane Cemetery was also in that path of destruction and - judging by the number of fallen trees I could see in my area - I knew right away that the cemetery would have been hard hit.

Storm damage to trees in South Brisbane Cemetery, Queensland, November 2014. (T.Olivieri)
South Brisbane Cemetery, November 2014 (T.Olivieri)

A few months back I wrote an article about how great the trees in the South Brisbane Cemetery were, while also noting the damage they could do to the graves. This damage includes large trees and branches coming down in violent storms and then smashing or uprooting headstones. My fears about this storm were confirmed when cemetery historian Tracey Olivieri visited the place last weekend to check on any damage. She posted some photos from that day on the Friends of South Brisbane Cemetery Facebook page.

Some of those photos are shown below without further comment, except to say this is a reminder that when the delicate balance between nature and heritage inside our historical cemeteries is disturbed, it is the heritage that invariably loses out. The sad fact is that very few - if any - of these smashed headstones will ever be repaired.

Storm damage to trees in South Brisbane Cemetery, Queensland, November 2014. (T.Olivieri)
South Brisbane Cemetery, November 2014 (T.Olivieri)

Storm damage to trees in South Brisbane Cemetery, Queensland, November 2014. (T.Olivieri)
South Brisbane Cemetery, November 2014 (T.Olivieri)

Storm damage to trees in South Brisbane Cemetery, Queensland, November 2014. (T.Olivieri)
South Brisbane Cemetery, November 2014 (T.Olivieri)

Storm damage to trees in South Brisbane Cemetery, Queensland, November 2014. (T.Olivieri)
South Brisbane Cemetery, November 2014 (T.Olivieri)

Storm damage to trees in South Brisbane Cemetery, Queensland, November 2014. (T.Olivieri)
South Brisbane Cemetery, November 2014 (T.Olivieri)

Storm damage to trees in South Brisbane Cemetery, Queensland, November 2014. (T.Olivieri)
South Brisbane Cemetery, November 2014 (T.Olivieri)

Storm damage to trees in South Brisbane Cemetery, Queensland, November 2014. (T.Olivieri)
South Brisbane Cemetery, November 2014 (T.Olivieri)

Chris Dawson

* This article was originally published in December 2014.