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The beautiful South Brisbane Cemetery is a wooded riverside park, a holy place, and a museum all in one. It opened in May 1870 and is the oldest surviving municipal burial ground in Brisbane, Queensland. Located in the suburb of Dutton Park, it is home to around 100,000 'residents'. You can use this website to explore the fascinating history of this heritage-listed place, and learn all about the people, graves and monuments that lie within it.

2018 Tour Schedule

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9 March: The Women of South Brisbane Cemetery. SOLD OUT

23 March: A Cemetery by Torchlight. SOLD OUT

13 April: The Ghosts of South Brisbane Cemetery. SOLD OUT

13 April: The Ghosts of South Brisbane Cemetery (2). SOLD OUT

27 April: Hangman's Walk: South Brisbane Cemetery. SOLD OUT

11 May: Gruesome Graveyards. SOLD OUT

25 May: Moonlight Tour. SOLD OUT

8 June: The Ghosts of South Brisbane Cemetery SOLD OUT

22 June: Charity Fundraiser night: The Women of South Brisbane Cemetery. SOLD OUT

22 June: Charity Fundraiser night: Gruesome Graveyards. SOLD OUT

30 June: Private tour. SOLD OUT

13 July: 'The Haunts of Brisbane' Night Tour. SOLD OUT

13 July: 'The Haunts of Brisbane' Night Tour (2). SOLD OUT

27 July: The Ghosts of South Brisbane Cemetery SOLD OUT

5 August:  Hangman's Walk: Toowong Cemetery. SOLD OUT

10 August: Hangman's Walk: South Brisbane Cemetery. SOLD OUT

24 August: Moonlight Tour. SOLD OUT

14 September: Guardian Angels Tour (cemetery volunteers only)

2…

General History of South Brisbane Cemetery

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(The following information is adapted from the Queensland Heritage Register)

The South Brisbane Cemetery was established in 1866 as a general cemetery, occupying land on the Brisbane River adjoining Dutton Park.


The area now known as Dutton Park was originally thickly timbered and cut by steep gullies. A rough track from Woolloongabba to Ipswich passed through it. Some farms were established in the 1840s, the road was surveyed, but there were few houses.

In 1863 the area around Dutton Park was surveyed. A large recreation reserve was set aside, and then divided into recreation and cemeteries reserves by a later survey. The Cemetery Act of 1865 provided for the government to set up general cemeteries under the control of local trustees and South Brisbane Cemetery was established in 1866 under Trustees TB Stephens, AJ Hockings, WT Blakeney, WM Baynes and J Mooney. The first burial took place in July 1870 and was that of Jane Hockings.

The South Brisbane Cemetery was one of several gove…

Articles About South Brisbane Cemetery

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Celebrating the the Trees of South Brisbane Cemetery, & Killing Their Children. A look at the impact of trees on the cemetery, both good and bad. (June 2014)

Arrividerci Roma, a Guardian Spirit of the Cemetery. Farewell to a remarkable cemetery volunteer. (December 2013)

The Story of the 'Executed Prisoners' Plaque. The drama behind the installation of a historical marker in the South Brisbane Cemetery. ( July 2013)

Chinchilla Jones and his Unlucky Legs. The remarkable story of a South Brisbane Cemetery resident. (October 2012)

In Heavenly Garb: Secrets of the Cemetery. A new book on headstone symbolism is launched. (August 2012)

Four Good Reasons to Take a Moonlight Tour. (February 2012)

History Murdered: Conveyed to South Brisbane Cemetery morgue for post-mortem. Exposing the claim that there was a morgue in the South Brisbane Cemetery. (December 2011)

Brisbane's Lost Plague Cemetery. An island on the Brisbane River was once used for victims of bubonic plague. (December 201…

Moonlight Tour

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Scroll down for bookings

Next tour
Friday 24 August 2018, 7.15 - 9.15 pm SOLD OUT

Description
This is a family-friendly tour in which your guides will chat about general cemetery history and the stories of some of the 'residents' laid to rest within there.

This is a great way to comfortably explore the cemetery at night with people who know what they are talking about. The guides are happy to chat with you and answer your questions.
While the content of this tour is suitable for children aged 8 years and over, we do ask guardians to consider that this can be a late night event and a challenge for young children.

Guides
Tracey Olivieri and Chris Dawson

Duration
2-2.5 hours, from 7.30 pm*

Price
$15 full, $10 concession and children. Discount family bookings also available. See below to book your place.

Tour numbers
20 people per tour max.

Private tours
We can organise a tour just for your own group of friends. You can select any tour type you want. Minimum cost is $150 for up to 15 p…

Headstone Symbolism

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When looking at headstones, it is usually the words and numbers of the inscriptions that first attract the attention, and so the variety of symbolism on those stones is often missed. At first glance much of it seems like nothing more than fancy peripheral decoration, but in reality the headstones are rich in religious and historical symbolism and provide an insight into the Victorian-era culture of death and remembrance. Middle-class families were expected to spend as much as they could afford on grave monuments appropriate to the social status of the deceased, and these monuments usually contained symbolic indicators of religion, professions, or mortality. Many headstones and monuments are also superb works of public art, making the cemetery an open-air museum and testament to the immense skill of the local craftsmen who created them.

Some symbols found in the South Brisbane Cemetery
Anchor: Early Christian symbol of hope; deceased had maritime connection.Angel: Messengers of God.Brok…

'Hangman's Walk' Night Tour: South Brisbane Cemetery

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Scroll down for bookings

Next tour
Friday 9 November 2018, 7.15 pm SOLD OUT

Description
You will visit the grave sites of various people associated with the history of hanging in Queensland, including the hangman and all the people he hanged, as well the judges, gaolers, under-sheriff and doctors who all had a hand in the process.

You will hear the fascinating backstory to hangings - how they were carried out, how they changed over time, and why Queensland became the first part of the British Empire to stop them.

'Hangman's Walk' will be led by Christopher Dawson, one of Queensland's leading capital punishment historians. He is the author of several publications and journal articles on hanging, has presented public talks on the subject, and was the history consultant for the executed prisoners' plaque in the cemetery. He is also happy to take your questions during the tour.

Please note: This is a 'real history' tour of the cemetery and will not mention anythi…

'The Women of South Brisbane Cemetery' Tour

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Scroll down for bookings

Next tour
Friday 12 October. SOLD OUT

Description
A tour we first ran to mark International Women’s Day in March 2018, and which proved to be so popular that we added it to our roster of regular tours. During this tour we visit the graves and tell the stories of several women who were laid to rest in the cemetery, and tell how their lives and deaths reflect the history of women in Queensland.

Suitable for ages 12 years and up. Contains adult themes.

Guides
Tracey Olivieri and Chris Dawson

Duration
2-2.5 hours*

Price
$15 full, $10 concession and children. Discount family bookings are also available. See below to book your place.

Tour numbers
20 people per tour max.

Private tours
We can organise a tour just for your own group of friends. You can select any tour type you want. Minimum cost is $150 for up to 15 people (extra people $10 per head).

Testimonials

Tour information and conditions
These tours are not-for-profit and run by the Friends of South Brisbane Cemetery (In…

Why is the Cemetery Heritage-Listed?

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South Brisbane Cemetery is listed on both the Queensland Heritage Register (Queensland Government) and the Brisbane Heritage Register (Brisbane City Council). This offers the place certain protections, and also regulates what can be done in the cemetery regarding headstone repairs, etc.

Please note that certain headstones restorations will require permission from the relevant heritage body.

The following information is reproduced from the Queensland Heritage Register.
South Brisbane Cemetery, ID #602406. Principal Period of Significance: 1870-1990s (fabric) 1870-1990s (Historical use)

Criterion A

South Brisbane Cemetery is one of the earliest cemeteries in Queensland. It was established in 1866 and has been in use since 1870. In its form, memorials and plantings it provides evidence for the history of Brisbane and of European burial customs in Queensland.

Criterion C
South Brisbane Cemetery has the potential to reveal information on changes in burial customs of the 19th and 20th centur…

The 'Ghost Stories of South Brisbane Cemetery' Night Tour

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Scroll down for bookings
Next available tours
Friday 26 October, 7.15 - 9.15 pm SOLD OUT
Friday 26 October, 9.30 - 11.30 pm SOLD OUT
Description
This is NOT the kind of garden-variety 'ghost tour' seen in so many places around the world. On this tour, you will walk around the cemetery with the guides (a cemetery historian, a paranormal historian, and a sceptical professional historian) as they discuss the folklore of ghost stories, highlight some examples from the cemetery, place the stories in cultural and historical context, and explore some possible explanations.

The guides value the integrity of historical accuracy, and you can chat with them and ask them questions - they know their stuff.

Remember - this is not one of those tours with actors in black costumes telling scripted stories. If that's what you want, please look elsewhere!
This tour is suitable for ages 12 years and up.

Guides
Tracey Olivieri (leading expert on the South Brisbane Cemetery)Liam Baker (author and d…

'Gruesome Graveyards' Night Tour

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Scroll down for bookings
Next tour
TBA
Description
Take a walk through this beautiful and historical cemetery at night, and hear macabre tales of murder, grave robbing, executions, suicide, the Plague, and even couple of ghost stories. All our stories might be true and historically accurate (except maybe the ghosts), but they are stranger than fiction.  
Suitable for ages 12 years and up.

Guides
Historians Tracey Olivieri and Chris Dawson

Duration
2-2.5 hours, from 7.30 pm*

Price
$15 full, $10 concession and children. Discount family bookings also available. See below to book your place.

Tour numbers
20 people per tour max.

Private tours
We can organise a tour just for your own group of friends. You can select any tour type you want. Minimum cost is $150 for up to 15 people (extra people $10 per head).

Testimonials

Tour information and conditions

BOOK HERE

Next tour TBA

These tours are not-for-profit and run by the Friends of South Brisbane Cemetery (Inc.) in partnership with the Boggo Road Gao…