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Maryborough Cemetery

  • 600689
  • Walker Street, Maryborough


Also known as
Cemetery Shelter; Cemetery Kiosk; Mortuary Chapel
State Heritage
Register status
Date entered
21 October 1992
Burial ground: Cemetery—public
8.6 Creating social and cultural institutions: Commemorating significant events
Powell, Willoughby
Construction period
1883–1884, Mortuary Chapel (1883 - 1884)
Historical period
1870s–1890s Late 19th century


Walker Street, Maryborough
Fraser Coast Regional Council
-25.51603321, 152.67349313


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Criterion AThe place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of Queensland’s history.

Maryborough Cemetery, established in 1873 as Maryborough’s third cemetery, illustrates the growth and development of Maryborough as a major port town in nineteenth century Queensland. It is important in demonstrating the pattern of establishing large public cemeteries in regional centres throughout Queensland following the passing of the Cemetery Act 1865.

The layout of the cemetery and its wide variety of monuments demonstrates the evolution of nineteenth and twentieth century burial practices, as well as providing evidence of the occupations, social composition and demography of the Maryborough district, in particular the diversity of the town's cultural, religious and ethnic groups since the 1870s.

Major improvements made to the cemetery in the 1880s are illustrative of a boom period in Maryborough’s history, with the large and elaborate Mortuary Chapel (1883-84), designed by noted architect Willoughby Powell, surviving as the most prominent reminder of this time.

Criterion BThe place demonstrates rare, uncommon or endangered aspects of Queensland’s cultural heritage.

The Mortuary Chapel is an important example of a building type that is rare. Designed to provide shelter to funeral parties, the structure, with its tall tower, decorative timberwork and four entrances positioned over a main axis of the entrance drive, is unique in Queensland.

Criterion CThe place has potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of Queensland’s history.

Maryborough Cemetery has the potential to contribute knowledge that will lead to a greater understanding of burial practices in a major Queensland centre from the late nineteenth to early twentieth century.

Investigation of the sites of the first (c1873) and second (c1884) Sexton’s cottages have the potential to reveal information about this type of residence and the life and role of the Sexton in the management of cemeteries.

The Cemetery contains monuments and grave surrounds from Maryborough’s second cemetery (1850s-1873) which may be the only surviving evidence of this earlier cemetery and therefore an important source of information.

Maryborough Cemetery also has the potential to reveal unmarked graves, outside the known extent of burial sections.

Criterion DThe place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a particular class of cultural places.

Maryborough Cemetery is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a large public cemetery that has evolved over time. The progressive layering, development and diversity of styles of memorialisation contained within the cemetery, including the establishment of a lawn cemetery in the twentieth century, documents changing attitudes to burial practices and fashions in funerary ornamentation since the 1870s.

The monumental cemetery (established 1873) is an excellent, intact example of a late-nineteenth century cemetery, retaining its original grid layout of driveways and pathways, separate denominational sections, mature trees, remnants of early planting schemes, and a variety of headstones and monuments that reflect the social, religious and architectural history of Maryborough from the 1870s to the 21st century.

The Mortuary Chapel (1883-84), a fine and unique example of the work of architect Willoughby Powell, is intact, and continues to serve its dual role as an ornamental cemetery feature and a shelter shed for funeral parties and visitors. It retains its cruciform layout of four covered entrances, timber bench seating, decorative timberwork and domed tower.

The War Cemetery (1942-45) is a modest, intact example of its type, illustrating the design principles of a Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemetery, comprising uniform marble headstones in a straight row set within manicured gardens, which serve to make a dignified and reverential memorial site.

The Garden of Rest lawn cemetery (established 1960) demonstrates the twentieth century shift in burial practices towards cemeteries that were easier to maintain and more uniform in appearance. Remaining largely intact, it retains is rectangular layout of grassed lawns, regularly-spaced and uniformly-sized plaques set into the lawn or along concrete strips, mature trees, entrance gates, shelter shed and columbarium garden, and amenities block.

Criterion EThe place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

Maryborough Cemetery has aesthetic significance as a picturesque landscaped site that creates an atmosphere conducive to repose and reflection that was, and remains, an essential part of the ritual of honouring and remembering the dead.

The monumental cemetery possesses evocative qualities generated by extensive vistas framed by tree-lined drives and pathways; the formal grid layout and ordered arrangement of monuments and plaques; perimeter plantings of large, mature trees; remnants of early planting schemes; and the variety, age, quality and extent of the headstones and monuments.

The striking Mortuary Chapel has strong landmark qualities, is highly ornamental, and acts as a focal point within the monumental cemetery. Picturesque views of the chapel are obtained along the driveways and from the various denominational sections through gaps in the trees.

Criterion GThe place has a strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons.

As Maryborough’s principal place of public burial since 1873, Maryborough Cemetery has a special association with the community for social and spiritual reasons. It forms an essential component of the ritual of honouring and remembering the dead which continues to be important to the community.


Maryborough Cemetery was established in 1873 in the regional port town of Maryborough in the Wide Bay district. The cemetery demonstrates the evolution of burial practices from the 1870s to the present day, and includes a monumental cemetery (established 1873), a mortuary chapel (1883-84) designed by architect Willoughby Powell, a War Cemetery (1942-45) and a “Garden of Rest” lawn cemetery (established 1960).

Maryborough Cemetery is the third cemetery established in Maryborough. The first cemetery was part of the original Maryborough township (QHR 602393), which was located to the northwest of the current city centre on the bank of the Mary River. The township was occupied between 1848 and 1855 and the cemetery was situated on the high ground to the northeast of the settlement (near the intersection of Alice and Aldridge Streets). In 1850 government appointed surveyor Hugh R Labatt selected a new site for the town further downriver, as it was a more suitable location for a port. Both sites were surveyed in 1850 and the township of Maryborough was declared in 1851. The first blocks of the new town site (near the current Queen's Park, QHR 600708) were sold on 14 January 1852. As trade at the port of Maryborough grew the settlers gradually relocated there and the original township was virtually abandoned by 1856. A second cemetery was established within the bounds of the new town, in Kent Street.[1]

Maryborough was proclaimed a Port of Entry in 1859 and a municipality in 1861. An influx of immigrants, including many of Scottish, Scandinavian and German origin, began with the arrival of the "Ariadne" in 1862. Early exports from the port included wool, timber, tallow, sugar, and coal. Maryborough became the port for Gympie after gold was discovered there in 1867.[2] The sugar industry expanded around Maryborough (a mill was built in 1865), and a large timber mill opened. Sensing an opportunity, John Walker of Ballarat, Victoria, opened a branch engineering works, trusting that his experience with mining machinery would also bring contracts from Gympie.[3]

By 1861 the location of the second cemetery was already considered unsuitable by the Municipal Council, due to the shallow depth of the soil, its small size and its close proximity to the town. According to Alderman Dowser, at a council meeting held on 3 July 1861, the site was “on a rocky ridge, and a very unpleasant odour arose in hot weather”. It was suggested by Alderman Howard that “they should imitate the practise now being adopted in England of removing cemeteries out of town”, and that they should postpose their decision to relocate the cemetery until a Bill for the regulation of cemeteries was passed by Parliament.[4]

During the eighteenth and nineteenth century European cemetery practices changed, with new cemeteries being established separately from churches and located away from town centres for reasons of hygiene and health. Cemeteries such as Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris (1804) were very influential, while in Great Britain a number of cemeteries were established by private companies. Cemetery planning also became important, with the grid plan predominating in Britain by the end of the 19th century. In broad terms, these were the traditions which were drawn upon in colonial Australia when makeshift graveyards were replaced by more planned arrangements. In Queensland the Cemetery Act 1865 provided for the establishment of general cemeteries under the control of local trustees – the model that was used to establish the third Maryborough Cemetery.[5]

A site for the new cemetery was selected in 1863. A report from the Cemetery Committee to the Council recommended section 169 on the north side of Kent Street, approximately 2.5 miles (4km) from the centre of town, comprising an area of 69 acres and 22 perches (approx. 28ha). The site was described as “beautifully situated, embracing as it does both sides of the hill, and having a very regular fall north and south”. The report was adopted after testing of the soil depth was undertaken.[6]

It was not until 1871 that both the second cemetery and the new cemetery were officially gazetted as cemetery reserves. In the meantime, a board of Cemetery Trustees was appointed in September 1970, composed of representatives from the principal religious denominations in Maryborough. Works to prepare the new cemetery were underway by 1872, including tree clearing and plans to construct a “neat and ornamental” lodge for the sexton.[7]

The new cemetery opened in June 1873, with the first burial taking place on 2 June (seven-year-old Ada Purser).[8] The second cemetery was closed by proclamation on 7 June.[9] The new cemetery originally occupied the central portion of the reserve, covering only about a third of its total area.[10] It was laid out in a grid of gravel pathways and divided into sections by denomination, including Roman Catholic, Anglican, Presbyterian, Wesleyan Methodist, Lutheran, and Baptist and Independent. Smaller sections at the rear (northern) end of the grounds were reserved for non-Christians (including Aboriginal, South Sea Islander, Chinese, Indian, Jamaican and Japanese people), paupers, suicide victims and executed criminals. The sexton’s cottage was located near the Kent Street entrance gate at the southern end.[11]

By October 1875 the cemetery was well established with just over 500 burials, and its appearance received praise in the local newspapers. It was described as surrounded by a ‘sightly and substantial’ fence with an ornamental gate at the main entrance from Kent Street. A straight, broad, gravelled path divided the reserve into two parts, with space allowed for cross walks between the alphabetical divisions. Plantings included shrubs along part of the perimeter fence, different varieties of shade trees flanking the main pathway, and flower beds adjacent to the sexton’s cottage. An article in the Maryborough Chronicle commented that it did not have the usual “gloomy grotesqueness” of older cemeteries, conveying instead the impression of “…a cheerful and well-kept garden”.[12] A year later, improvements to the cemetery were carried out, including additional tree clearing, forming of the cross walks with space for trees and flowers along the borders, and the cutting of drainage ditches and a water race. The Trustees made an appeal to the public for donations of trees and plants to ornament the cemetery.[13] By February 1877 a gardener’s lodge had been added to the site, near the main entrance, and space had been reserved for the erection of mortuary chapels within each denominational section.[14]

During the 1880s the colony of Queensland prospered. The population of Maryborough and district grew dramatically between 1876 and 1881, and this continued into the late 1880s.[15] Maryborough's dominance as a regional centre was strengthened when a railway line connecting Gympie to Maryborough's port was completed in 1881.[16] The years 1870 to 1890 were extremely profitable for Maryborough and new commercial establishments, industries and financial and other institutions were established in the town. Many significant buildings were constructed, reflecting the prosperity of the times, including Maryborough Court House (1877, QHR 600714), the Bank of New South Wales (1877, QHR 600711), St Paul's Church of England (1879, QHR 600705), Maryborough Railway Station (1880, QHR 600702), Maryborough Grammar School buildings (boys' in 1881 and girls' in 1883, QHR 600697), the Criterion Hotel (1883, QHR 600719), Maryborough Hospital (1888, QHR 601907), and the Maryborough School of Arts (1888, QHR 600701) - as well as fine, architect-designed suburban villas for wealthy residents.[17]

The 1880s saw significant changes and improvements to the new Maryborough Cemetery. In November 1882 the Maryborough Cemetery Land Sale Bill was assented to in Parliament, allowing the cemetery trustees to sell off the unused portion of the second cemetery for residential development. The land was auctioned in July 1883 and the proceeds from the sale were used to improve both cemeteries, including erecting an ornamental fence around the second cemetery, improving the existing buildings at the new cemetery site, and commencing plans for a mortuary chapel. [18]

An article in the Maryborough Chronicle on 31 May 1883 expressed the Maryborough citizens’ desire for a mortuary chapel to provide shelter for mourners and be “a fitting ornament to the grounds”. In August 1883, plans to construct “a large octagonal mortuary chapel with open sides” were underway, and it was to be positioned “in the centre of the grounds, to where the paths through the different sections of the different denominations all converge.”  In October 1883, tenders for the construction of a mortuary chapel and sexton’s cottage were invited by the architect, Willoughby Powell, and the successful contractor was Clement and Son. Construction of the chapel began in November 1883 and it was completed in 1884.[19]

The architect, Willoughby Powell, was born in Cheltenham, England, in about 1848 and was articled to the Cheltenham City Architect before emigrating to Queensland where he worked for architect Richard Gailey. He joined the Public Works Department as a draftsman in June 1874 but won a competition for the Toowoomba Grammar School and left his government position to supervise the construction works in 1875. He maintained a practice in Toowoomba until 1878 before returning to practice in Brisbane in 1879. [20]

Between 1882 and 1885 Powell worked in Maryborough, and during this time he designed many important buildings including Baddow House, the Royal Exchange Hotel, shops, the grandstand and stables at the Maryborough Turf Club, Tattersall's Hotel, Cafe Royal Hotel and a parsonage in Lennox Street. Powell again returned to practice in Brisbane in 1885 and designed the Warwick Town Hall and the third Toowoomba Town Hall. After the collapse of the local building trade in 1892 Powell remained substantially unemployed until he was again appointed to the Works Department in 1896 where he remained until 1902. Powell designed many fine buildings throughout Queensland and the Mortuary Chapel was one of the most unusual.[21]

Mortuary Chapels are most commonly chapels associated with tombs located in a church, however it is also the term used to describe a cemetery chapel or other structure where “coffined bodies briefly lie before disposal”. As a building type this form of mortuary chapel is relatively rare. In some cemeteries, the mortuary chapel is located at the entrance to the cemetery grounds and is more typically a chapel, although the structure often also served as the vehicular access point. At Maryborough, although services were sometimes conducted in the Chapel, the predominant purpose was to provide shelter to funeral parties and the cortege. In some cemeteries, structures erected for similar purposes are more prosaically known as “shelter sheds”. The William Mitchner Shelter Shed (1926) at the Warwick General Cemetery, although quite a different style of building, shares some similarities with Maryborough. The octagonal structure is a single storey brick and cement building designed with bell tower and seating accommodation. A smaller masonry shelter shed (also dedicated to William Mitchner) was constructed at Allora Cemetery in 1926, with a square plan, gothic arched openings and windows, and a square timber steeple.[22]

The Mortuary Chapel at Maryborough Cemetery was an intricate single-storey timber framed structure, cruciform in plan (two intersecting barrel vaults creating four transepts) with a domed tower (known as a fleche) at the centre. The tall rocket-like form of the fleche stood as a highly unusual folly in the generally flat cemetery grounds. The Chapel straddled the intersection of two cemetery roadways with arched openings large to admit a hearse and mourners. Timber fascias on the barrel vaulted, semi-circular arched openings and a horizontal band on the fleche were decorated with repetitive Gothic patterning and carving. The centrally placed chapel served all denominations, with the four entrances ensuring that each of the surrounding religious sections had equal access and ownership of the small chapel. [23]

In addition to the construction of new buildings the cemetery layout also changed, with the Trustees announcing in October 1883 that they intended to move the main entrance from the south (Kent Street) boundary to the north (Walker Street) boundary. One likely reason for this was the construction of the Burrum Railway extension (formally opened 30 March 1883) which cut off the western end of Kent Street from the centre of town, making Walker Street the more convenient access road. The railway line ran close along the east side of the cemetery reserve and the northeast corner was resumed for railway purposes. Also in 1883, an addition of four acres on the opposite side of Walker Street was gazetted as cemetery reserve. This land was fenced and used as a parking area for visitor’s horses and buggies.[24]

The location of the Sexton’s cottage designed by Powell remains unclear. The two cottages shown on an 1885 survey plan near the Kent Street entrance were probably the first sexton’s cottage and gardener’s lodge, both constructed in the 1870s.[25] Neither of these cottages survives, with one of them sold and removed from the site in 1930.[26] It is possible that the Powell-designed cottage was the one constructed on the north side of Walker Street within the 1883 cemetery reserve extension. Positioned directly opposite the main entrance gate, this residence was a timber building with an L-shaped verandah, surrounded by a fenced yard. It was demolished c1977 and two other residences (constructed between 1964 and 1977), a site office (c1993) and sheds have been constructed in the area.[27]

Ornamental plants were integral to the cemetery’s layout. The cemetery’s reputation as a beauty spot was due in a large part to its trees and gardens, the result of careful planning and maintenance by the sexton and cemetery gardeners. Sexton Harry Nicholas Hansen, who began working at the cemetery as a young man in the late 1870s, was renowned in Maryborough for the rose gardens he created at the cemetery and often exhibited his blooms at local flower shows.[28] When the Governor of Queensland, Sir Henry Wylie Norman, visited the cemetery in 1890 he was presented with a bunch of Hansen’s roses.[29] The cemetery trustees, all members of the Queensland Acclimatisation Society, undertook a planting program in 1886, and in 1891 the cemetery was described as “a paradise of flowers”. Tree plantings focussed primarily on the driveways and the perimeter of the cemetery, with photographs showing palms and pine trees used in early schemes.[30]

The cemetery’s extensive collection of memorials and monuments dating from the 1870s provide important evidence of the social, demographic and cultural history of Maryborough and district.  The early pattern of immigrant settlement is reflected in the numerous Scottish, English, Irish, German and Scandinavian names found on the headstones, as well as the many Chinese graves located throughout the cemetery.

Maryborough Cemetery is the resting place of many notable citizens of the town, such as Edgar Thomas Aldridge (1817-1888), pioneer of the original Maryborough township and owner of Baddow House (QHR 600690); Henry (Harry) Palmer (1822-1916), pioneer and first Mayor of Maryborough; William Simpson Sim (c1854-1929), pioneer of the Maryborough timber industry; Dave Weir (1881-1929), Labor Member for Maryborough; Andrew Dunn (c1854-1934), newspaper proprietor, former Mayor of Maryborough and Member of the Legislative Council; nurses Cecelia Elizabeth Bauer (1883-1905) and Rose Adelaide Wiles (1877-1905) who died from pneumonic plague after nursing a family of sick children; and Martin Geraghty (c1836-1904) and Patrick Brennan (c1845-1914), founders of an important Maryborough trading enterprise (Brennan and Geraghtys Store, QHR 600704).[31]

Other burials are associated with epidemics, accidents and disasters that affected the Maryborough community: victims of numerous industrial and railway accidents, for example seven men killed by a boiler explosion at Pettigrew and Sim’s Union Saw Mills in 1872; drowning victims such as 16-year-old John Barrett (died 1884) whose dinghy capsized in the Mary River; victims of horse and vehicular incidents, such three-year-old Muriel Ross who was thrown from a buggy (died 1897); several victims of an influenza epidemic in 1919; and victims of misadventure, such as brothers William and James Bayley who died in 1932 from accidental poisoning.[32] Graves of soldiers from World War I and later conflicts are also located throughout the cemetery.

Characteristic of late-Victorian cemeteries, Maryborough Cemetery contains a wide variety of elaborate monuments that reflect popular taste at the time. The works of many notable monumental masons (both local and Brisbane-based) are represented, including: Andrew L Petrie (Brisbane); P J Lowther and Sons (Brisbane); J Simmonds (Brisbane); Webb and Gibbs (Kent Street, Maryborough); W Prout (Lennox Street, Maryborough); Henry Brereton (Kent Street, Maryborough); and J Knight (corner of Alice and John Streets, Maryborough).[33]

In the early 20th century the cemetery continued to grow while its condition deteriorated. The Roman Catholic section (in the northeast corner) was extended to the east in 1904 as it had nearly reached capacity, and the (as yet unused) cemetery reserve on the north side of Walker Street was extended by 34 acres, 23 perches (13.8ha) in 1914.[34] In the 1920s the Cemetery Trust found it could no longer afford to maintain and operate the cemetery, and in late 1923 control of the cemetery passed to the Maryborough City Council. This coincided with the retirement of the sexton of 45 years, Harry Hansen.[35]

Between 1907 and 1921, relatives of people buried at the closed second cemetery were given the opportunity by the Cemetery Trustees and Maryborough City Council to relocate headstones and remains to the current cemetery. The second cemetery site was later redeveloped as a public park (now the Elizabeth Park Rose Gardens).[36]

From c1928 a new main road was constructed from the northwest corner of the cemetery (the western end of Walker Street) northwest to Saltwater Creek, and in the late 1930s-early 1940s this road was upgraded to become part of the Northern Highway (renamed the Bruce Highway in 1944). [37] The cemetery reserve on the northern side of Walker Street was extended to the northwest in March 1939, increasing the total reserve area to its maximum extent of 324 acres (131ha), bounded by the Northern Highway to the west and the North Coast Railway to the east.[38]

In 1939 an avenue of tall pine trees lining the driveway from the entrance gates to the Mortuary Chapel were removed due to an infestation of borers. The Maryborough Chronicle described the trees as well-known landmarks and noted that the Council intended to plant crotons and other shrubs in their place in an effort to beautify the grounds.[39]

A war cemetery was established in 1942 on the north side of Walker Street, to the west of the Sexton’s cottage. The original plan allowed for four plots of 64 graves each, however only ten servicemen, all of whom died between 1942 and 1945, were buried there. Initially marked by wooden crosses, these were later replaced with marble headstones of a standard Commonwealth War Graves Commission design. A timber picket fence was constructed along Walker Street in front of the cemetery. [40]

In 1956 preparations for extending the cemetery on the north side of Walker Street began. The new section, covering approximately 30 acres (12ha) was to incorporate the “latest trends” in cemetery layout, based on Brisbane City Council cemetery examples. Rather than upright headstones, only ground-level “Garden of Rest” plaques would be allowed in the area fronting the road, and a “rest-room and hygiene block” was to be constructed within the grounds.[41]

Responding to international trends, a new type of cemetery emerged in the mid-20th century in Queensland that shifted burial practices away from traditional monumental cemeteries, which were difficult to maintain and vulnerable to vandalism, towards garden or lawn cemeteries. In 1949 the Queensland Government approved ordinances which allowed the Brisbane City Council, by resolution, to prohibit the erection of walls, fences, vaults, monuments or other structures in a cemetery. A memorial plaque, laid to ground level, was to become the standard in new burial grounds. Hemmant and Mt Gravatt cemeteries were selected for the new layout, and by the end of 1949 two sections of the Hemmant cemetery with an area for 3000 graves, were under construction. The Hemmant ‘Garden of Rest’ came into operation during the year 1952-53, and was described as presenting ‘a peaceful sylvan setting’.[42] It set the standard for cemetery design in the state, with existing cemeteries creating new “Garden of Rest” sections as they expanded.[43] Dedicated lawn cemeteries (without an earlier monumental section) appeared in the second half of the twentieth century.[44]

Maryborough’s lawn cemetery was laid out in large rectangular sections, separated by driveways and divided into two categories: Roman Catholic and Protestant. Graves were to be marked with regularly-spaced rectangular plaques set into the lawn. Several brick structures were constructed, including a wall and gates at the entrance to the main driveway in the southwest corner, a small gate to the War Cemetery, a brick amenities block in the northwest corner, and a shelter shed.[45]

The Garden of Rest was officially opened in 1960.[46] While it remains predominantly open grass lawns, over time trees of various species have been planted alongside driveways and pathways and within some plots. A columbarium garden now surrounds the shelter shed, with the first columbarium walls constructed by 1969.[47] Over time, to distinguish between the two sections, the earlier cemetery south of Walker Street became known as the monumental cemetery.

Between 1965 and 1980 the extent of the cemetery reserve along the eastern side of the monumental cemetery was gradually reduced by the construction of a road (now Kingston Drive, originally surveyed in 1928) and the excising of unused land for industrial purposes.[48] In 1969 a portion of the reserve was excised along the western boundary of the lawn cemetery as a reserve for a crematorium, which was constructed by 1977.[49] From the 1970s large numbers of trees (including Cadaghi’s, Corymbia torelliana) were planted along driveways and pathways within both the monumental and lawn sections.[50] Due to these trees causing damage to drainage pipes and monuments, as well as interrupting sightlines, many have since been removed.

In 1983, its centenary year, the Mortuary Chapel underwent restoration works, which were funded by a grant of $15,000 to Maryborough City Council under the National Estate Programme. Restoration works included the repair and replacement of damaged timberwork, re-roofing and painting.[51]

Today the cemetery continues to be the main cemetery for Maryborough, with new sections of the lawn cemetery being developed in a variety of configurations. In 2004 approximately 44ha was excised from the northern end of the cemetery reserve, reducing the total area of the reserve to 67.26ha.[52] New signage has been erected at entrance gates and recently erected signage posts at the corners of each burial section in the monumental cemetery assist with navigation and interpretation of the site.


Maryborough Cemetery is located on the outskirts of Maryborough, approximately 4km west of the CBD. It is divided by Walker Street into northern and southern sections, with the southern section known as the Monumental Cemetery and the northern section as the Garden of Rest Lawn Cemetery. The cemetery reserve is bounded by the Bruce Highway and Bright Street to the west, Kent Street to the south, an industrial estate to the south east, Slaughterhouse Road to the northeast and bushland to the north.

Views to both cemeteries are partially screened by perimeter plantings of mature trees. Within the cemetery grounds, views across the individual sections are generally open offering vistas of the burial sites. A variety of fencing types are used to enclose the cemeteries, none of which are early or significant. The Lawn Cemetery has two vehicular access points from Walker Street, while the Monumental Cemetery has three access points – one each from Walker, Bright and Kent Streets. The Walker Street entrance is the main pedestrian entrance and retains its early timber gate posts. This entrance also aligns with the only built structure within the Monumental Cemetery – the Mortuary Chapel.

Monumental Cemetery (1873 - )

The monumental cemetery comprises ten approximately square-shaped denominational sections, each divided into two equal parts by a gravel pathway running in an east-west direction. There are also a number of smaller sections along Walker Street, in the southwest corner bordering onto Bright and Kent Streets, and a small section in the northeast corner. The sections are labelled alphabetically and recently erected, colour-coded posts at the corners of each section assist with identification. Sections A (Baptist and Independent) and B (Lutheran) in the southeast corner are located at the original Kent Street entrance and each have a small rectangular area excised on their southern edge. Section F (Roman Catholic) in the northeast corner extends further to the east than other sections, with sections T and RC at its eastern edge (the extent of unmarked burials along this eastern edge is unclear). The sections are divided by a grid of gravel driveways. Drainage ditches run alongside the driveways in places and may contain evidence of early drainage systems and pipes.

Burial plots all face east and are arranged in straight rows. Many are identified by a cast iron metal peg displaying a number that corresponds with the burial register. The cemetery includes single, double and family burial sites. There are a number of unmarked plots in between the established gravesites, the number varying across the sections. The largest areas of unmarked graves are located in the older sections, with very few headstones in sections G and H (containing non-Christians and paupers). A memorial for the people buried in unmarked graves is located on the northwest corner of Section F.

Mature plantings around the perimeter of the monumental cemetery include very large figs trees (possibly Banyan Figs, Ficus benghalensis), stands of bamboo (Bambusa), and several varieties of pines, including Cypress (Cupressus sp.), Hoop (Araucaria cunninghamii), Norfolk Island (Araucaria heterophylla) and Bunya pines (Araucaria bidwillii). Feature trees and avenue plantings of a variety of species are also located throughout the cemetery, particularly along driveways. The driveway between the Walker Street entrance and the Mortuary Chapel is lined with large, mature shrubs (species undetermined), which are remnants of a former planting scheme.

The cemetery contains many substantial headstones of high quality design and craftsmanship, dating from the 1860s to the present day. Many of these are excellent examples of the design work and craft skills of monumental masons. Materials used include marble, sandstone, granite, concrete and metal. The more elaborate memorials demonstrate a variety of monumental forms, including vaults, ledger stones, obelisks and sarcophagi. Grave surrounds such as concrete curbing and/or slabs are commonly used throughout the cemetery, occasionally decorated with ceramic tiles or painted. Other materials used to surround or fill a grave include stones, gravel and shells. Larger enclosures, such as family plots, are often delineated by low fences of cast or wrought iron, some of which are ornate. Others have low concrete posts with chains slung between them.

A wide range of Victorian and Edwardian-era memorial symbols are also on display throughout the cemetery, including Calvary crosses, Celtic crosses, draped urns, broken columns, anchors, mourning angels and cherubs, figures of Jesus and Mary, carved garlands, flowers (eg, passion flowers, lillies, roses etc.), stars, doves, ivy, clover, grapes, and clasped hands. Some ornamentation references the deceased's occupation, hobby or association with a particular society - such as a circular saw blade, rifle or a square and compass (Freemason’s symbol). There are also a variety of grave ornaments, including immortelles and urns for holding flowers, and large sea shells. Monuments in the mid to late-twentieth century sections tend to be more modest, with mainly upright slabs with concrete grave surrounds or slab-and-desk monuments. There are also a number of soldiers graves with plaques or standard marble headstones located throughout the monumental cemetery.

Headstone inscriptions demonstrate a range of languages other than English, including Chinese and German. Some inscriptions include biographical information about the person's life or the circumstances of their death.

Non-significant elements within the monumental cemetery include post-1970s plantings (particularly Cadaghi trees, Corymbia torelliana) and modern signage.

Mortuary Chapel

The Mortuary Chapel is prominently sited at the intersection of two principal axes, in line with the Walker Street entrance. It stands between the earliest sections of four of the major denominations: sections C (Wesleyan Methodist), D (Presbyterian), E (Church of England) and F (Roman Catholic). The timber building comprises two intersecting barrel vaults, producing four identical round arched entrances. Surmounting the point of intersection of the vaults is a tall fleche, in the form of a tower and dome, which doubles the full height of the building. The vaulted parts of the building are constructed with timber-framed walls clad externally with horizontal timber chamferboards (weatherboards on the sloping surfaces of the tower) and internally with diagonally-laid tongue and groove boarding. The curved roofs of the vaults are clad with corrugated iron. The entrances are ornamented with wide, carved timber fascia boards which rest visually on timber piers flanking the entrances. Internally the ceiling space is lined with regularly spaced timber trusses in the vaulted sections, and lined with timber boarding over the intersection. Low timber bench seats run along the base of each wall.

The timber tower is supported on heavy timber beams with brackets, found inside the chapel at the four corners of the central internal space. The tower has a rocket-like quality, as it tapers from an octagonal base to a narrower octagonal drum surmounted by an octagonal domed roof, clad with flat metal sheeting. On each face of the octagonal base and drum are round arched openings in-filled with small fixed timber louvres. Similar louvred openings are also found in each wall of the barrel-vaulted entrances.

‘Garden of Rest’ Lawn Cemetery (1960 - ), including the War Cemetery (1942-45)

The lawn cemetery comprises rectangular grassed lawns divided by a grid of bitumen or gravel driveways. Access is via a main entrance gate at the western end of the front (Walker Street) boundary or a secondary driveway entrance at the eastern end, which leads to a small car park in front of a site office (c1993) and modern, metal-clad sheds. To the west of the car park along the front boundary are a War Cemetery and a Columbarium Section. To the east of the car park are two brick and fibro-clad residences with pyramid roofs. Both residences stand within a separate fenced yard. The cemetery reserve to the north and east of the residences remains undeveloped with remnant bush vegetation. The northwest corner of the 1960 lawn cemetery extent is a former garden area with a hip-roofed brick amenities and shelter block.

The main entrance gates are constructed from orange brick, with metal gates attached to two high, tiered brick columns with a square profile and recessed ornamental panels. Low brick walls extend from either side for a short distance with pedestrian gates at either end. The metal pedestrian gates feature the lettering MCC (standing for Maryborough City Council).

In five of the six lawn sections the graves are arranged in straight, regularly-spaced rows and marked with uniformly-sized, east-facing plaques set flat into the lawn. Plaques are made from a variety of materials, including granite and brass, and some have tiled borders. A more recently developed section in the northeast corner has plaques attached to concrete strips surrounded by a concrete border and filled in with gravel. Grave plaques in this section are either flat or raised on an angle, and many are ornamented with inset or placed vases.

The War Cemetery is a small rectangular lawn area enclosed by shrubbery with a small brick gateway to Walker Street. The ten marble headstones are standard Commonwealth War Graves Commission designs, arranged facing east in a single row and standing within a continuous garden bed.

The Columbarium Section occupies an oval-shaped area bordered by hedges and garden beds, with a flat-roofed, brick shelter shed in the centre. Standalone columbarium walls radiate out from the shed, the earliest of which are made from brick on a concrete base, while recent walls are of pale grey granite. The Columbarium Garden is a long rectangular area of lawn between the Columbarium Section and the main entrance drive. It comprises a small number of marked plots with concrete edging.

Several avenues and feature trees of various species have been planted throughout the lawn cemetery over time, most dating from the 1970s onwards. Some large gum trees and a pair of mature fig trees (species undetermined) survive along the Walker Street boundary.

Non-significant elements within the heritage boundary of the lawn cemetery include the chain link fence along the Walker Street boundary; the site office and sheds; the brick and fibro residences; recent garden beds; and modern signage, garbage bins and bench seating.


[1] QHR 602393 Original Maryborough Town Site; Riddell Architecture “Mortuary Chapel, Maryborough Cemetery: Conservation Management Plan”, December 2010, p.10-11; The second cemetery reserve was bounded by Kent, Pallas, Sussex and Tooley streets, Survey Plan M2061 Sheet 1, 1860.
[2] Matthews Tony, River of Dreams: A History of Maryborough and District, Maryborough: Maryborough City Council, 1995, pp.17-18; The National Trust Queensland, “Maryborough: A Study of Townscape”, 1978, p.3; QHR entry 601525 Albert State School.
[3] “Queensland Places” website, (accessed May 2015).
[4] Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, 4 July 1861, p.2.
[5] Riddell, Mortuary Chapel CMP, p.10, which included reference to JC Loudon, On the Laying Out, Planting, and Managing of Cemeteries and on the Improvement of Churchyards. London: Longman, Brown, Green and Longmans 1843.
[6] Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser: 8 October 1863, p.1S; 12 November 1863, p.2.
[7] Queensland Government Gazette v.11, 1870, p.1085; Queensland Government Gazette v.12, 1871, p.421; Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser: 13 August 1870, p.2; 21 December 1872, p.2.
[8] Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, 3 June 1873, p.2.
[9] Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, 10 June 1873, p.3.
[10] The Week, 24 February 1877, p.14.
[11] Converge Heritage + Community, “Maryborough Cemetery: Conservation Management Plan”, January 2015, p.6, 29.
[12] Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, 26 October 1875, p.2.
[13] Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, 5 October 1876, p.2.
[14] The Week, 24 February 1877, p.14.
[15] Matthews, River of Dreams, pp.155, 158.
[16] Riddell Architecture, Maryborough Heritage Centre: (former Bank of NSW) - Conservation Management Plan, for Fraser Coast Regional Council, 2009, p.3.
[17] QHR entry 601525 Albert State School.
[18] The Brisbane Courier, 28 July 1882, p.3; Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, 14 November 1882, p.3; 21 March 1883, p.3; 21 July 1883, p.3; 27 August 1883, p.2.
[19] Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser: 31 May 1883, p.2; 27 August 1883, p.2; 3 October 1883, p.1; 10 October 1883, p.2; 23 November 1883, p.2; 29 January 1884, p.3.
[20] Donald Watson and Judith Mackay, Queensland Architects of the 19th Century: A Biographical Dictionary, Queensland Museum, Brisbane, Qld, 1994, p.146-148.
[21] Donald Watson and Judith Mackay, Queensland Architects of the 19th Century: A Biographical Dictionary, Queensland Museum, Brisbane, Qld, 1994, p.146-148.
[22] Riddell, “Mortuary Chapel”, p.28; QHR entry 602152 Warwick General Cemetery.
[23] Riddell, “Mortuary Chapel”, p.15.
[24] Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser: 4 April 1883, p.3; 27 August 1883, p.2; 3 October 1883, p.2; 17 October 1883, p.2; Survey Plan C8154, 1885; Survey Plan C8125, 1883.
[25] Survey Plan C8154, 1885.
[26] Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, 15 February 1930, p.10;
[27] DNRM aerial photographs: QAP1610-16, 1964; QAP2657-60, 1973; QAP2707-204, 1974; QAP3404-2500, 1977; QAP4625-29, 1988.
[28] Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser: 23 September 1898, p.2; 12 December 1923, p.6.
[29] The Queenslander, 4 October 1890, p.659.
[30] The Brisbane Courier, 22 February 1886, p.3; Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, 19 September 1891, p.2; Converge, “Maryborough Cemetery”, pp.10-11.
[31] QHR entry 600690 Baddow House; Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, 19 May 1888, p.2; The Queenslander, 29 July 1916, p.15; The Brisbane Courier, 22 March 1929, p.19; Worker: 25 September 1929, p.6; 2 October 1929; Northern Miner, 30 April 1934, p.2; Townsville Daily Bulletin, 1 May 1934, p.4; Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser: 24 June 1905, p.3; 23 February 1904, p.2; 10 January 1914, p.9; QHR entry 600704 Brennan and Geraghty’s Store and two adjacent buildings and stables; Fraser Coast Chronicle, 26 July 2014, ‘When heroes battled the plague in Maryborough’.
[32] The Gympie Times and Mary River Mining Gazette, 10 August 1872, p.3; The Brisbane Courier, 3 September 1872, p.3; The Brisbane Courier, 4 November 1884, p.5; Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser: 10 May 1897, p.2; 16 June 1919, p.3; The Central Queensland Herald, 10 March 1932, p.34; Townsville Daily Bulletin, 8 March 1932, p.4.
[33] All of these masons names were found on headstones within the cemetery; The Courier Mail, 14 Dec 1938, p.14s; The Brisbane Courier, 30 Nov 1899, p.1; Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser: 29 Sep 1932, p.4; 23 April 1932, p.5; 10 Apr 1901, p.3; 17 July 1884, p.4.
[34] Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, 15 October 1904, p.2; Survey Plan MCH1018, 1913; Queensland Government Gazette, 9 May 1914, p.1214-15.
[35] The Brisbane Courier, 1 December 1923, p.10; Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser: 6 June 1923, p.4; 12 December 1923, p.6.
[36] Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, 17 December 1907, p.3; 23 June 1921, p.2; 1 September 1921, p.8; ‘Elizabeth Park Rose Gardens’, (accessed 2015).
[37] Survey Plan M20171, 1928; Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, 28 April 1928, p.12; Worker, 3 October 1939, p.18; Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, 16 September 1944, p.6.
[38] Survey Plan MCH1018, 1913; Survey Plan M2052, 1866; Survey Plan M20114, 1889; Queensland Government Gazette, 4 March 1939, p.879.
[39] Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, 29 July 1939, p.10.
[40] Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser: 7 January 1948, p.4; 13 May 1950, p.5; Fraser Coast Regional Council, plan “Layout of Cemetery”, 1942, as included in Converge, “Maryborough Cemetery Conservation Management Plan”, January 2015, p.18.
[41] Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, 24 August 1956, p.1.
[42] City Plan, Brisbane City Council – City Assets Branch, “Conservation Management Study”, Stage 1 Report, November 2002: “Hemmant Cemetery” Site Report, June 2001, p.6.
[43] For example, lawn cemetery sections were established at other heritage listed cemeteries, including Drayton and Toowoomba Cemetery (QHR 602718), Warwick General Cemetery (QHR 602152) and Allora Cemetery (QHR 602153).
[44] Converge, “Maryborough Cemetery”, p.48.
[45] DNRM aerials QAP751-146, 1958, QAP1476-5145, 1964; Converge, “Maryborough Cemetery”, pp.18-20.
[46] Converge, “Maryborough Cemetery”, p.19.
[47] DNRM aerial QAP2013-145, 1969.
[48] Survey Plan M20170, 1928; Survey Plan MCH2991, 1965; Survey Plan MCH3091, 1967; Survey Plan MCH3553, 1972; Survey Plan MCH4143, 1980; DNRM aerials QAP2013-145, 1969, QAP2657-60, 1973, QAP2707-204, 1974, QAP4625-29, 1988; A residence within a fenced yard on this part of the reserve was demolished between 1964 and 1969, however its relationship to the cemetery is unknown. At the north end of the eastern boundary the extent of burials in sections T and RC is unclear and may overlap the east boundary, however in 2015 this has yet to be confirmed.
[49] Survey Plan MCH3237, 1969; DNRM aerials QAP2707-204, 1974, QAP3404-2500, 1977.
[50] DNRM aerials QAP3404-2500, QAP4625-29, 1988, QAP5140-257, 1993.
[51] Riddel Architecture, “Mortuary Chapel”, p.19-20.
[52] Survey Plan SP170657, 2004.

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Location of Maryborough Cemetery within Queensland
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last reviewed
1 July 2022
Last updated
14 November 2022
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