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South Brisbane Cemetery

  • 602406
  • 21 Fairfield Road, Dutton Park


Also known as
Dutton Park Cemetery
State Heritage
Register status
Date entered
1 October 2003
Burial ground: Cemetery—public
1.4 Peopling places: Family and marking the phases of life
Costello, FG
Wilson, Alexander Brown
Reid, W
Construction periods
1870–1990, South Brisbane Cemetery (1870 - 1990s)
1888–1891, South Brisbane Cemetery - Boundary Wall and Entrance Gates (1888 - 1891)
1941, South Brisbane Cemetery - Toilet Blocks (1941 - 1941)
1954, South Brisbane Cemetery - Amenities Block (1954 - 1954)
1958, South Brisbane Cemetery - Store/Office/Garage (1958 -)
Historical period
1840s–1860s Mid-19th century


21 Fairfield Road, Dutton Park
Brisbane City Council
-27.49928002, 153.02510847


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

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

South Brisbane Cemetery has the potential to reveal information on changes in burial customs of the 19th and 20th centuries and on the social fabric of the area it serves from evidence provided by the memorials and inscriptions it contains.

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

South Brisbane Cemetery is a fine example of a public cemetery in use since 1870 and includes memorials ranging from those of prominent early residents to prisoners of Brisbane Gaol. The parklike setting of the cemetery, its elevated location to minimize health risk and its inclusion of all religious denominations are typical of late 19th century cemeteries.

Criterion EThe place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

South Brisbane Cemetery has aesthetic value as a picturesque public area comprising elements of landscape, mature trees, plantings, built structures and memorials. Many of the monuments in South Brisbane Cemetery have aesthetic significance due to the high quality of workmanship and design used in their construction.

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

South Brisbane Cemetery has a special association with the community of Brisbane 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.


The South Brisbane Cemetery was established in 1866 as a general cemetery and occupies an area of land on the Brisbane River adjoining Dutton Park.

Although Christian burials in Europe were traditionally clustered around churches, following the rise of urban populations in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, churchyards became inadequate for the numbers of burials required. After the example set by France, towns in Britain, and in Australia, set aside land on the outskirts of settlement as public cemeteries. This was thought to be healthier and provided a spacious, landscaped environment where monuments and plantings could be attractively set out. Brisbane's first public cemetery of this type was established at Milton in the 1840s though it has since been built over. Nundah cemetery was established in 1846 and Moggill in 1855.

The area now that is now known as Dutton Park was originally called Bloggo or Boggo. It was 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 and a bridge across the river was built in the 1860s, 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 T B Stephens, A J Hocking, W T Blakeney, W M Baynes and J Mooney. The first burial took place in July 1870 and was that of Jane Hocking.

The South Brisbane Cemetery was one of several government reserves in the area. A public park runs along its northern boundary and there were reserves for a pound, a gaol, an asylum and an orphanage in the vicinity. As public transport became available more people moved to the area. A railway station was opened at Boggo Junction in 1884 and the first horse drawn bus service linking the area with the city began in 1890. The main road and the railway pass close to the cemetery, which was important in providing access for funeral corteges and for those visiting graves before private transport was common.

A Caretakers Cottage was built in 1881 and in 1888 handsome entrance gates, railings and a boundary wall were designed by the noted architect AB Wilson and were built by W Reid at a cost of £662. In 1891 R Wilcock carried out additions to the wall to Wilson's design. l.

In 1904 permission was given to add an area of 7 acres on the south side of Cornwall Street to the cemetery reserve. This was an area that had been surveyed for residential subdivision and adding it to the reserve effectively closed a section of Cornwall Street.

In 1908 a tramline reached the area with a terminus close to the cemetery at the corner of Gladstone and Cornwall Roads. The area developed rapidly in the 1900s and in 1914 it was renamed Dutton Park in honour of C B Dutton, Secretary of Public Lands between 1883 and 1887. By the late 1920s, the suburb was considered fashionable.

The Greater Brisbane Council was created in 1925 by amalgamating the metropolitan councils. The Brisbane City Council assumed the management of public cemeteries in the metropolitan area from this time and took control of the South Brisbane Cemetery in 1928. In 1930 the portion of Cornwall Street between the two sections of the cemetery was officially closed.

In 1939 the Brisbane City Council embarked on an extensive programme of works at the cemetery. Over the next few years, concrete paths were laid, internal roads upgraded and kerbing installed. 60 feet of stone wall was constructed within the cemetery and a new chain wire fence erected from the existing iron railings in Cornwall Street to the cemetery corner. Two modern brick toilet blocks were constructed in 1941 at a cost of £500. Frank Costello, City Architect between 1941 and 1952, probably designed these. Alterations and repairs were also carried out to the Sexton's cottage and waiting shed. The landscaping at the cemetery was improved with the planting of many trees and shrubs, including cypress pines and blue gums along the Brisbane River.

Work on the cemetery was halted by wartime shortages of labour and materials, but recommenced in 1945 when a survey of the cemetery noted lavatory blocks for men and women, two shelter sheds, a timber sexton's cottage, a timber tool room, motor shed and men's room. A brick staff amenities block was constructed in 1954.

The memorials in the cemetery range from those of prominent early residents, displaying fine examples of the mason's skill, to those of prisoners from nearby Brisbane Gaol, including that of bushranger Patrick Kenniff, who was hanged in 1902. The memorials in the cemetery reflect post World War II immigration and the cultural mix of the South Brisbane area in the second half of the 20th century. These include Greek and Italian graves and those of the many Russians who first settled around Woolloongabba and South Brisbane in the 1920s, following the Communist takeover in Russia. The cemetery also contains the graves of 50 soldiers who died in World War II.

Regular visiting of graves to tend them has become less common in our society, as has burial itself. In the 19th century cremation was rare, but through the 20th century is has become steadily more common. Cemeteries established since 1950 have been of the lawn cemetery type with plaques laid flush with the ground, precluding the wide variety of memorials in earlier cemeteries such as that at South Brisbane. The cemetery was closed to new burials in 1961-2, but continuing use of family plots is permitted and a small number of new plots were released in 1998-9. In 1996 the Sexton's cottage burned down and the shelter sheds have not survived.


The South Brisbane Cemetery occupies a large area of undulating land sloping from the ridge at Annerley Road, Dutton Park to T J Doyle Memorial Drive on the edge of the Brisbane River. It has gullies in the central section and the layout of graves and plantings is dictated to a large extent by this undulating quality of the land.

The cemetery, as a special memorial area, is bounded by walls and fences. The main entrance is on Annerley Road and has formal gates flanked by iron railings in the form of spears set into a low sandstone wall. The entrance is formed by a pair of wrought iron gates set between decorative sandstone pillars across the carriage way and a pedestrian gate. The gates match the railings and are composed of iron spears overlaid with a sinuous vine-like decoration. The entrance at Princess Street is not marked by special plantings.

Dividing left and right from the main drive are two curving drives. Although there is a formalised area of planting near the main entrance, the plantings are generally informal in layout, conforming to the terrain, and contain a great diversity of species, both indigenous and exotic. The burials are less informally arranged and are set closely in rows, as the land allows, with an east-west orientation. There are concrete paths between them and memorials of a wide variety of type, quality and age mark them. A number of the oldest memorials are large and elaborate displaying Victorian symbolism connected with death, such as broken columns, angels and vine leaves. Jane Hocking's burial, the oldest in the cemetery, is marked by the caved figure of an angel clinging to a cross atop a tapered column.

Service buildings constructed in the 1940s building programme survive. They comprise small brick toilet blocks, a brick building incorporating the walls and floor slab of a 1958 building, which was used as an office, store and garage, and a staff amenities block.

The cemetery contains a Trig marker, which was part of a triangulation survey of the South East region carried out by the government in 1883. This is located on the cemetery hill and is a sandstone block inscribed on top, which is now covered by a concrete path.

Image gallery


Location of South Brisbane Cemetery within Queensland
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last reviewed
1 July 2022
Last updated
20 February 2022