Mental asylum mass exhumations and missing remains: the tale of Wolston Park’s lost and forgotten patients.

In 1947 a patient of the Brisbane Mental Hospital claimed he’d been forced to dig up the bodies of around 4,000 patients buried in the hospital’s cemetery. What happened to those exhumed remains isn’t clear. This is the story of Wolston Park’s missing bodies.

The Asylum and its cemeteries

The hospital at Wacol has had several name changes over the years including the Goodna Asylum for the Insane, the Brisbane Special Hospital, and Wolston Park Hospital.

Its first incarnation was as the Woogaroo Lunatic Asylum. The Asylum’s first inmates (as they were called back then) were taken by boat to the 450-hectare bushland site, west of Brisbane, in 1865.

The Asylum’s first cemetery was in the very flood-prone south west corner of the site (now the Wolston Park Golf Club). Its location on the banks of the Brisbane River was ridiculed by an anonymous contributor to the Queensland Times (25 Feb 1869) who could foresee problems ahead:

“The graveyard is on the bank of the river, and the first flood will take all the dead lunatics down to Brisbane.”

A 1869 Queensland Times article mentions the flooding potential of the Woogaroo Cemetery.
An anonymous contributor to the Queensland Times writes: “Speaking of burials at Woogaroo. The graveyard is on the bank of the river, and the first flood will take all the dead lunatics down to Brisbane. (The Qld Times, 25 Feb 1869, p3)

The writer wasn’t too far wrong and a second cemetery for patients was soon built on much higher ground. But making room for more hospital building development, according to Vicki Mynott of the Richlands, Inala and Suburbs History Group, less than a decade later in 1910, another cemetery was established. This third and final cemetery sat on the northern outskirts of the hospital site, at the end of what’s now known as Wilga St in Wacol.¹

The estimated location of the Brisbane Mental Hospital Cemetery
The estimated location of the Brisbane Mental Hospital Cemetery at Wacol which was closed in 1945 to improve the outlook from the new Repatriation Pavilion which was opened on 26 Jan 1948. The remains of thousands of patients were removed from this cemetery over a four-year period by several patients who officials say “volunteered” to do the work.

It’s thought thousands of bodies buried in this third cemetery were exhumed between 1945 and 1948. Newspaper reports say 2,800 bodies were removed, though cemetery records have only accounted for around 200 of those which were moved to the nearby Goodna General Cemetery.

Qld Times article 29/11/46 - Mass Exhumation of Bodies
A 1946 newspaper article mentions the exhumation of 2800 bodies from the Goodna Mental Hospital Cemetery to “improve the site of a new block being erected for servicemen suffering war effects”.

The remains were moved because the hospital cemetery was considered too close to the proposed Repatriation Pavilion which included three new wards for “mentally unbalanced” and “war-affected” soldiers returning from the Second World War.

How many people died at the Asylum?

LOTS. About 50,000 people were patients at the hospital in the 120 years between 1865 and the 1980s². The hospital was always overcrowded and there are regular mentions of an “acute shortage of female nurses” in the annual reports.

In 1941/42, for example, 2,466 people were patients. Of those, 214 died during the year. 23 of those deaths were within one month of arrival.

The table below shows that in the ten-year period between 1937/38 and 1946/47 there were 1,828 patient deaths.

YEARTOTAL DEATHSMALEFEMALE% OF DEATHS PER AVERAGE NO OF RESIDENTS
1937/38

192

110

82

11.31

1838/3917410965

9.86

1939/40180
1940/41

159

95648.57

1941/42

214

11599

11.62

1942/43

160

88

72

1943/44

167

104

63

1944/45

17896

82

1945/46

208

104104

10.79

1946/47

196

112

84

10.17

SOURCE: Queensland State Archives Series ID 201, Mental Hygiene Annual Reports.

 Blake’s ‘Wolston Park – Police Academy Cultural Heritage Survey’ states that between 1914 and 1940 approximately 4670 patients died – an average of 155 per year.

With the hospital files locked up tight thanks to the Queensland Government’s Privacy and Right to Information Laws, there’s no way of finding out more information about these deaths or exactly how many of these patients were buried on hospital grounds, and I’m not sure those burial records would even exist these days. Blake estimates most of the dead were buried in the third cemetery.

I believe patients with family who had the financial means were likely buried closer to Brisbane in Toowong Cemetery. Those without family were likely given ‘pauper funerals’ and buried on site until 1945 when the cemetery was closed. Burials were subsequently carried out in the nearby township cemetery, now known as Goodna General Cemetery. And it’s at the Goodna Cemetery where this tale unfolds and it becomes apparent the dead were lost and forgotten in death as they were in life.

The exhumations

There are no available government records that indicate how many patients were exhumed from the hospital’s cemetery to improve the site of a new facility for returned servicemen. However, a newspaper article suggests 2,800 bodies were moved.

  • Exhumations took place over four years: 1945 to 1948 to “improve the immediate surroundings of the new Repatriation Pavilion”. (Hon. T A Foley: Hansard, 11 Dec 1946)
  • While licences costing £1 were required to exhume a body from public cemeteries, there was no such licence requirements to move a body from elsewhere. As such there are no official records. (Queensland State Archives Series ID 20957 – Exhumation Permit receipt Books – Correspondence )
  • In the 1944/45 annual report it was reported the “cemetery has been abolished and burials are now done in the township cemetery”.
  • In Parliament on 25 Oct 1945, Secretary for Health and Home Affairs T A Foley reported that two additional grave diggers were hired in the 45/46 financial year.
  • On 11 Dec 1946, the Minister for Health, Mr T Foley, told Parliament the “work of exhumation is being performed by an employee of the hospital , assisted by four border-line patients who volunteered to assist to do the work”. When asked if he considered it a “suitable activity for the mentally sick”, he responded, “The Director of Mental Hygiene has satisfied himself that the work has no detrimental effect on these patients”.
  • In the 19 June 1947 edition of The Courier Mail, an article disputes claims the patients volunteered. The newspaper says one patient “had to dis-inter and rebury 4,000 bodies from a cemetery “as part of “hard manual labour in the name of occupational therapy”.
  • A front-page article in The Queensland Times (29 Nov 1946) reports, “the mass exhumation of 2,800 bodies from the Goodna Mental Hospital Cemetery to the Goodna Public Cemetery is half completed”. A similar story in The Courier Mail had added, “After removal, a hearse is used to convey the bodies to the Goodna Cemetery, where they are reburied and allotted public grave numbers.”
  • BUT the Goodna Cemetery Trust says the remains of only two-hundred or so patients were re-interred at Goodna and that no records were kept in relation to the positioning of these graves on any of the maps held by the Trust.

The Goodna Memorial

A memorial plaque at Goodna Cemetery
A memorial plaque at Goodna General Cemetery commemorates all those who died at Brisbane Mental Hospital and whose final resting place is unknown. There is no such memorial or acknowledgment on the hospital grounds.
A memorial to those who died at Brisbane Mental Hospital sits in Goodna Cemetery.
More than 55 years after the remains of at least 207 hospital patients were re-interred at Goodna, the original cement grave markers from the Brisbane Mental Hospital cemetery were used to establish a memorial to all those who died at the hospital.

Cement grave markers from Brisbane Mental Hospital are part of a memorial at Goodna Cemetery.
Numbers are etched into each of the markers which originally stood over graves in the Brisbane Mental Hospital Cemetery, less than six kilometres away. The highest number on the grave markers is 2,355.
The Brisbane Mental Hospital memorial sits at the back of the Goodna Cemetery.
The Brisbane Mental Hospital memorial, made up of hundreds of small grave markers, is nestled at the back of the Goodna Cemetery. While there are around 200 hospital patients confirmed buried in the cemetery, the whereabouts of those graves are unknown. According to a 1946 newspaper article, there are as many as 2,800 unmarked graves on the cemetery grounds.

“It doesn’t ring true”: Goodna Cemetery disputes reported grave figures.

The Goodna Cemetery Trust does not believe there are thousands of asylum patients buried in unmarked graves within its boundary.

Cemetery treasurer and trustee Helen Gilmour questions the 1946 newspaper article which claims the exhumation of 2,800 patients and their re-interment at Goodna was half completed.

“Maybe the journo made a mistake. Maybe they accidentally added an extra zero and it’s just 280 graves?” she said.

“Given the records we hold, it’s just not feasible.

“The 200-or-so burials are documented in the Cemetery’s register. Why would they not document them all if there were more?”, she asks.

Having trawled through the Parliamentary records of the time, I’ve found no official mention of the number of exhumations.

Ms Gilmour also queried whether it was physically possible for 2,800 exhumations and re-interments to be carried out in four years. Gravedigging by hand is hard work and time-consuming. It would have required opening 2 or 3 graves per day. However, Ms Gilmour is making the assumption that the exhumed would be re-intered into full-sized graves. This was unlikely to have been the case, with a worker at the time claiming remains were buried in small boxes laid end-to-end in trenches.

Another question to be asked is simply “why?”.

It is common for cemeteries and graves in Australia to simply be abandoned, with markers or headstones removed, leaving no hint of what lies beneath. I’ve lost count of the cemeteries I have visited where councils in previous decades have had a misguided “clean up” and removed grave markers.

(Why were the bodies supposedly exhumed from the Brisbane Mental Hospital Cemetery instead of being left there and the grave markers simply removed? )

A question for society: Does it matter?

Does it matter that patients of a mental institution had their graves disturbed and that their final resting place is unknown? After all, these people died between 75 and about 120 years ago. I’ll let you answer that one for yourself.

The Goodna Cemetery trust’s Helen Gilmour said she is often contacted by people who are trying to find where their descendants are laid to rest.

“I get about two calls a week from people looking for family members who were at the hospital. It’s become more prevalent over recent years with the increasing popularity of family trees,” she said.

“Unfortunately, I have to tell them that I don’t know.”

The Woogaroo Asylum's female wards, built in 1866.
The Asylum’s female wards, built in 1866, are still on site. People were admitted to the institution for a range of psychiatric illnesses and, sadly, for a range of conditions that we know now didn’t warrant being locked up. These include epilepsy, postnatal depression, anxiety, alcoholism, dementia, senility, stammering (stuttering), cleft palate, syphilis, obsessive-compulsive, and simply because they were old and their family was unable to care for them.

If you have any information that may be able to shed light on the hospital’s cemeteries and the location of the remains of patients, you’re welcome to contact me via Lisa@thebottomdrawerbook.com.au or leave a comment on this blog.

UPDATES: See two subsequent blogs that include additional information about the whereabouts of hundreds of remains. A former worker claims they were buried in trenches in the Goodna Cemetery. Click HERE (June 2018).  And a more detailed blog HERE (Jan 2022).

¹ Wacol, Wolston, Woogaroo 1823-2014 (Volume 1). Mynott, Vicki (2014).

² Wolston Park Hospital, 1865-2001: A Retrospect. Mark Finnane (2008).

About the author

Author Lisa Herbert

Lisa Herbert is a death awareness advocate, a cemetery wanderer, journalist and audio producer, and author of The Bottom Drawer Book: the after death action plan – an informative, modern, and quirky workbook and funeral planning guide for those who want to prepare for the inevitable. The third edition is available in Australia for $29.95.  For international buyers, The Bottom Drawer eBook is AU$11.99 on Amazon, Apple Books, Kobo, Booktopia and Google Books. To purchase, click HERE.

52 Responses

  1. Hi, I am a Paranormal Investigator from Brisbane Australia and we’re called TSBU PARANORMAL. I am a great spirit communicator and I give spirits a voice. I spoke with the Spirits of Wolston Park Mental Asylum and Goodna Cemetery. I received many spirits speaking with me through the spirit box. Please go and see my TikTok page TSBU PARANORMAL and my YouTube channel with the same name.
    My husband’s name is Mr G (pseudonym) and he goes along on our Paranormal investigations. We’re also historian journalists. He used to be a sceptic but turned into a believer after I started speaking with spirits.
    I’m 100% sure we picked up on the spirit patients of the abandoned haunted mental asylum which was established in 1865. I can feel and sense the spirits and I am able to feel their traumas or pains.
    Go and watch our full unedited TikTok livestream which was posted on YouTube. This video was taken on Monday 6th May 2024 and I tell you that this was a great livestream with accurate and sad spirit responses. If you have a loved one who was admitted as a patient of Wolston Park Mental Asylum, please watch this full livestream. You may be able to recognise names of loved ones coming through. I always show respect to the deceased and I’ve been approached by many people to do paranormal investigations around Queensland. Wolston Park Mental Asylum has a lot of sad stories from the victim patients and all I asked the spirits was to voice their stories if they wished to do so.
    Thank you
    Marie

  2. My great, great aunt Madoline Richardson died at Goodna asylum in 1905 at the age of fourteen. She had epilepsy. It was said that her family could not be found. This is very strange as her family were well known in Queensland with her father being the opera singer, William Albert Richardson. I can only assume they were away at the time and that Madoline was reported as ‘A missing child.’

  3. My grandmother was there and we have never been able to find any information about her at all.
    Do you know how we would start looking further into this. I hate to think she is just forever forgotten

  4. As a very young child all of I’m guessing 6 years old, I had to visit my sister in Wolston Park, every second weekend. This was up until Fernvale. Try explaining to a child, why to visit your sister you pressed a buzzer on a huge door with bars, walked through a 5m entrance It was cold & very confronting to walk along, in the background hearing screaming & screeching from the staff & patients. While waiting for the next huge locked bared door to be opened.
    The stories and the experiences were way too much for me to understand but certainly gave me nightmares that have haunted me.
    I know about the abortions & the brain shock therapy’s. My sister’s home was Wolston Park from 1976. She became a Ward of estate. She lived a life of Hell. Today she lays in a Garden at Fernvale finally free of the demons of her past. II’ll never forget Osler House & not having a normal sister to play with & look after me. Anyone working there for a period of time would know her.
    🕊️RIP Cheryl Anne Sunner

    1. Hi Narelle I know first hand what your sister lived through in Osler House because at 16 in 1988 I was placed in there for punishment. Is okay to ask you what year did she leave Osler. I still relieve every day of the time I spent in there it is now 36 years ago. The memory of that place will never stop. I am so sorry your sister has passed on but she is in a much better place now.

      1. Hi Debbie,
        Hope you are doing ok.
        Just some useless info for you, i am a gardener who works at the Now Qld Police Campus (formerly the Wolston Park Hospital Complex and many other former names) Qld Health abandoned this area over 20 years ago and the Police took some of their area over for Police training etc.
        I was searching for history info on this place tonight as there is going to be a tour group coming in next week and i come across some of your sad stories.
        The Police Campus has the old buildings, Osler, Pearce, Lewis, Mcdonnell, Noble, Gladstone, Jenner and Kelsey. none have been restored.
        I actually walked through Osler this morning looking for a table as some furniture is stored in there now and is a very Eary feeling going through the old place which is full of graffiti and everything is smashed etc, and very sad seeing all the thick steel bars on all the windows, would have not been a nice place at all to be in, history for this place is very sad.
        Take care Terry

  5. Today October 24th, 2023 I watched a paranormal investigation on tik tok done by Spirit Search Australia, where an apparent connection was made with a spirit. The name “Margaret”was said…then it said “find my grave” or “where’s my grave?” I don’t recall exactly. The investigator was prompted by me to ask for a last name. It next said “Winifred” which could be a last name or another person coming through? Shortly after it said the name “Joseph” and then a bit later “”Constance” and the word “cousin” was said. It left me with a very sad feeling as before all that was said it said “help”. I felt compelled to note this, as maybe someone is researching family right now, and this message is meant to get to them, and it will make sense. I believe the investigator was planning on adding things recorded on her YouTube later. Her equipment was set up on a pavement stone in between two sections of black looking headstones that all looked the same in front of a memorial wall. Hopefully, that might give an idea where that spirit might be maybe found again if you cant find any youtube video. I hope this helps lead someone to more information and maybe to help Margaret find peace.

  6. Today October 24th, 2023 I watched a paranormal investigation on tik tok done by Spirit Search Australia, where an apparent connection was made with a spirit. The name “Margaret”was said…then it said “find my grave” or “where’s my grave?” I don’t recall exactly. The investigator was prompted by me to ask for a last name. It next said “Winifred” which could be a last name or another person coming through? Shortly after it said the name “Joseph” and then a bit later “”Constance” and the word “cousin” was said. It left me with a very sad feeling as before all that was said it said “help”. I felt compelled to note this, as maybe someone is researching family right now, and this message is meant to get to them, and it will make sense. I believe the investigator was planning on adding things recorded on her YouTube later. Her equipment was set up on a pavement stone in between two sections of black looking headstones that all looked the same in front of a memorial wall. Hopefully, that might give an idea where that spirit might be maybe found again if you cant find any youtube video. I hope this helps lead someone to more information and maybe to help Margaret find peace.

  7. when I was in prison in the late seventies prisoners who were violent towards prison guards and a danger to themselves or others were sent to what was then called the s p h , and it stood for special prison hospital. I had a friend who went there and I saw him a year later and he looked lobotomised. I can’t find anything on the internet about it at all. Have you heard of it at all.

  8. I had a great aunt that was in that asylum . She was sent there for what ever reason but her death certificate said she passed from TB . She was there for a number of years . I can’t help but feel she was sent there for some kind of mental illness to begin with and I strongly believe that she was abused like so many others . I have seen letters written by her father whom is my great great grandfather Duncan Urquhart. Her name was Anne Urquhart and she was only 32 and passed on the 6th February 1907. The letters from her father were very sad and I felt sad reading them all these years later . His wife Jessie Urquhart ( Anne’s mother ) died from cancer ten months before Anne and is buried in the old Rockhampton cemetery. I don’t know if she was dug up like the others and shoved in a box or just thrown into a trench . And I would probably never know . I don’t even think I’m able to obtain her hospital records from all those years ago . I feel very distressed about her and I need to make some kind of contact with her . It would put my mind at ease .

  9. I lived at BMH from 1950-1963 when we moved to Corinda. Patients in the Repat Pavillion saw the first release movies “Battle of River Plate” and others. My father was Medical Superintendent (Head Psychiatrist) from 1950-1964. I recall the cemetery at the end of Wilga Street, a classmate lived there. I spent 50 years in Neurology–had enough Psychiatry. I have met other people (non-patients) who grew up in Mental Hospitals. Don’t forget the French Royal Family lived in L’Hospital de Salpetrie–Frances largest Mental Hospital. I always knew I would be a doctor,it did not seem unusual to find human bones in the old cemetery, many of the trainee psychiatrists had a Brain to dissect. I recall one with Dr George Waga.
    Geoffrey M Boyce Retired Neurologist Assoc Prof Uni of Qld

    1. Geoffrey I also grew up in Wolston Park for my first fifteen years along with many other psychiatrists and priests families probably in the same house I imagine… The Superintendent’s House on the golf course that is now the Forensic Psych Area as I’m sure you’d know. My father was a resident psychiatrist there from the mid to late 60’s until the early 80’s and consultant up there until his death in the early 2000’s. What an upbringing wild and fun yet sometimes pretty terrifying. It was like being in a time warp really…. having our milk delivered in buckets from the back of a truck by the patients who’d just milked the cows at the prison farm etc…
      there were some very good people at the hospital a few excellent psychiatrists and nurses and some not so nice and also the amazing Nadia Beer the first Patients Advocate/friend in Australia. There was a real demarcation between the educated and not in terms of staff and the greatest power struggles I recall lay there… The doctors families and the workmen who were I recall really rough and everyone was terrified of them probably the patients too. we had our dogs waited by them at one point because they’d chased one of them who was in our yard. Anyway it was all pretty intense… I still remember every spot in those grounds.

  10. Hi Lisa, How would one find information on a relative that was admitted to the Woogaroo Lunatic Asylum? The wife of my great-great-grandfather was a patient there until her death in 1888.

  11. A story to share…
    Maurice John O’Connell born to William O’Connell (Officer in the Army) and Margarette Laycock in Ireland, 1843. Maurice John’s early life is very sketchy and supposedly the bastard son of William John Bligh O’Connell who was the son of Sir Maurice Charles Philip O’Connell, Lieutenant Colonel of the 73rd Regiment and Lieutenant Governor of NSW. William’s eldest brother was Maurice Charles O’Connell, Governor of Queensland – much research is being completed on these links, but Denis O’Connell, former Mayor of the Gold Coast, believed strongly in these links and this included the possibility that Maurice John may have been the bastard son of Maurice Charles O’Connell and William O’Connell was used to hide this fact. We hold much information, but will we ever discover the truth… much like our chances of discovering the truth of the Woogaroo Asylum I feel.
    Now to information I know occurred: Maurice John O’Connell was married to Caroline Richter and had a family of seven children. Maurice leased 200 acres of land on the banks of Mudgeerbra Creek, Gilston (Gold Coast area), felling timber as a timber getter pre 1882. It cost about 23 pounds to take out this lease, a lot of money in those days. I have always wondered about this as he was a very poor man… so where did this money come from?? (interesting fact that William John Bligh O’Connell was a government representative for lands in Queensland)
    Maurice canvased parliament as a committee of employees of the Moreton Bay Oyster Company to start the Currigee School, Currigee, South Stradbroke Island around 1890. (This is where my grandmother was born in 1908; and Maurice was her grandfather). At this time, in the 1890’s, he worked for the Moreton Bay Oyster Company and this is where his life had a complete twist.
    While completing his paid job as a fisherman for the Moreton Bay Oyster Company, he was hit in the head by the boom of his fishing boat. After this his demeanor completely changed until police intervened and needed to ‘arrest’ him. He was ‘convicted’ to the Woogaroo Asylum on the 15th October, 1894. On the 14th March 1896, at the age of 53, he died of ‘brain softening’ and buried at the asylum cemetery.
    My father attempted to find where he was buried with no avail. The current Wolston Park Hospital wanted nothing to do with my father. In my early days of research, I attempted to talk to officials of the golf course and was put onto a particular person who said they knew nothing of this cemetery. I became friendly with an employee of our current Premier (Her electorate includes the Woogaroo Asylum). This person said if I sent him the background information he would talk to our Attorney General. After the email was sent, nothing was spoken, no comment made to me about this topic.
    From the stories I have heard there seems to me that there is a shroud of secrecy on this topic, or people just don’t care. This is what saddens me, after reading some of the blogs on this site, there seems to have been a complete disrespect for those convicted to the asylum, and a complete disrespect to us who want to know what has happened to our family members.

    1. Hi Anthony. Yes, there’s is very much a shroud of secrecy about Woogaroo. Maurice sadly would have been referred to as an ‘inmate’ in those days.

      I often wonder if the secrecy is because there simply aren’t any surviving records.

      That asylum was home to a very very sad time of our history.

      1. Thank you Lisa. It would be fantastic if the current Queensland Government would respect the supposed three sites of burial with some form of ‘obvious’ memorial at each ‘site’ (if they can be located). I feel this would make most people who have relatives buried ‘at Wolston Asylum’ happy. Our Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, electorate is Inala. This includes the Asylum area we discuss. She could easily take the leading step. I attempted to contact her government through a media representative of hers but received no response after sending my initial email.

        1. I’m certain that that significant survivor abuses that remain hidden by the State will inevitably expose State abuses for what they are.

  12. absolute crap. why would any intelligent person incite such rubbish. it is simply a lie.

    1. Hi Ian. Thanks for taking the time to comment. I’m not about to tell a person what they did or didn’t feel like during their care or treatment at any mental heath facility. Perhaps you wouldn’t mind sharing your experiences of your work and the care of patients. I’m sure we’d all gain something from your insights. Thank you. Lisa

  13. I’ve just discovered that I live directly across the road from one of the cemeteries… Chatting with a neighbour yesterday who told me the tree’d area across the road from my place was once a cemetary lead me to your site 🙂 Fascinating and very disturbing. Can’t say I’m shocked or surprised to be honest. The powers that be have a disgraceful record where caring for vulnerable citizens is concerned.

  14. Can anyone guide me to the website were I can find why the place was shutdown. The hospital sounds like hell. I know by experience that the Barrett Centre that was on the same ground was a complete nightmare. Living in a sewer with rats would have been better than there. It was haunting. And I am glad the government shut the Barrett Centre down. I read recently that three teenagers killed themselves once the place closed down and one of the parents had said if it had not of closed there daughter never would of killed herself. I tell you now, the Barrett centre did nothing for me. I left the place the same way as I went in. And I was nearly there for 2 years. People honestly have no idea what a blessing it was for the Barrett Centre to be closed. We were locked up and treated worse than rats.

    1. Hi there. I’m so very sorry to hear about your experience. I have no doubt you were treated appallingly. I’ve read many horrid things.

      The Wikipedia page for the hospital is actually pretty accurate.

      Modernisation from 1996

      As part of the 1996 Ten Year Mental Health Plan for Queensland, the main hospital became known as The Park Centre for Mental Health and has decentralised its extended care services with a greater emphasis on rehabilitation and recovery. The Park now provides clinical treatment and rehabilitation programs to patients from central and southern Queensland, including care for people with a chronic mental disorder and for people with a mental disorder who are also intellectually disabled, forensic care services and an extended treatment service for adolescents.

      From 1999 to 2002 many new buildings were erected, including a large new maximum-security facility at the eastern edge of the site. Most of the new buildings are domestic in scale and character and include accommodation for patients and medical and administrative facilities. Some replace buildings erected during the 1970s, such as parts of the Barrett Psychiatric Centre.

      In 2001 the hospital was renamed The Park Centre for Mental Health Treatment, Research & Education.”

      Here’s the link: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Park_Centre_for_Mental_Health

  15. My wife’s great grand father was admitted to Woogaroo on 17 January 1884 and died there on 20 February 1884 aged 49. Hogg performed a post mortem on 20 February 1884 and declared that he suffered from “brain softening”. An inquest was conducted. The practice sanction by Challinor was for brains to be cut opened upon death and examined. That was how they used to come to conclusions that a patient died from “brain softening.” There was a huge pit out the back of the old building and bodies were just dumped in the pit and quicklime added. There would have been little left to be exhumed. The families were never notified. The bodies after Challinor had performed his butchery would have been unrecognisable and unfit for a proper burial as there could never be a viewing of the deceased in the circumstances. Butcher Challinor was afforded a proper burial himself at South Brisbane when he died, a courtesy that was never afforded his patients. Please fell free to visit his grave at South Brisbane and spit with contempt on the cross that is almost falling down on top of it- an insult itself to the inhumane and unchristian practices this pig pursued when in charge of unfortunates in his charge

    1. let’s write one francoise with some true facts in it. you and vince know the way it was moving from the horrible to something we were proud of. we could write an encyclopedia, but very ill individuals will di want the truth. flogging, starving, sexual perversion and even murder by staff is the curse of social interaction. they don’t give names of course – my neighbor told me !!!!!!!!!!!!!

      1. Your neighbour told you is hearsay.
        Only someone who experienced this first hand who survived the horrors there and who doesnot exaggerate or fantasize can tell what life there was really like.

  16. I worked at Wolston Park Hospital as a trainee Registered Nurse for 3 years in early 80’s. I certainly have some not so fond memories that will remain with me forever, it was certainly an eye opening and traumatic experience for me in some regards.The training given by the Nurse Educators at the School of Nursing was exceptional though and steered me in the right direction towards my career as a Registered Psychiatric Nurse. I would love to see photos of the hospital (prior to it’s closure) in particular the school. Any suggestions?

    1. Hi Antonella. There are a handful of photos of the hospital itself in the state archives online. https://www.qld.gov.au/dsiti/qsa I wasn’t looking for the school though so some extra digging might be required. Yes, sadly there are many people who’ve contacted me saying they don’t have fond memories of their time at Wolston Park. Thank heavens times have changed.

      1. Times have changed yes. But have we come along in leaps and bounds? Definitely not. A friend’s sister was killed from domestic violence by her husband and he chose to use an unsound mind defence and was sent to The Park. My friend, her mother & family advocated for 3 years to push for him to be subjected to a new trial and prison time because he wasn’t of an unsound mind he was just trying to escape responsibility. They were so upset and felt the system let them and their sister down. After a particularly sad anniversary I couldn’t bear to keep what I knew to myself, for their sake,and I ended up sitting the whole family down and telling it to them straight: The Park is where people are subjected to illegal human testing drug trials, sexual assaults and torture for literally no reason except the fact that a handful of psychiatrists and psychologists enjoy doing it and can do it without the public knowing. It can go on for triple the time period of a guilty plea sentence. I said, do you want your sisters killer to go through untold misery? To which they said yes, and I said well he’s getting it in there. Prison is a piece of cake compared to where he currently is. And if he is one of the staffs ‘types’ he will be kept there indefinitely. They were really surprised by this, as most of the public would be and I think/hope it was helpful in making the lack of justice easier to handle. It’s not something I talk about openly with people unless I feel it could be helpful or they can handle it. I have never stayed there myself, but was treated out in the community, in the private practise by one of the park’s senior staff. I was a teenager at the time and she was older. I really had no idea what I was walking into.I was very blessed and lucky to escape her after 3 years of ‘treatment’ in which I was sexually abused, if I refused I was roofied using drugs that are unavaliable to the public. Every time I tried to leave, she used her connections and understanding of the system to trap me. She still works at wolston. I’m not a one off case. She repeatedly continues to abuse other teenagers and children in her care and if they try to leave, she reports them to the police for crimes/says they are resistant to treatment, that they admit to because they are terrified of her. They are then put on a forensic order, are taken to The Park without ever standing trial where the abuse continues until they can’t take it any longer. She writes government policy to ensure any person can be put on a forensic order without media ever knowing about it until years later. I also met several of her colleagues, two other senior staff sexually enjoyed preying on vulnerable people particularly those with an intellectual disability. And the thing is, how many people are going to have empathy for people who by association, are being held in a place with serial child rapists and serial killers are too? They won’t care because they probably think everyone in The Park is evil and it’s just not the case. Those staff that are a tier below or are just nurses for example, are quite nice, but they turn a blind eye to the human rights breaches. In prison, whistle blowers get fired or have their reputation and career destroyed by speaking out. It’s not worth it to them. There’s a high turnover of lower tier staff and it keeps those at the top protected. It’s really important to understand legally it is NEVER a good idea to plea not guilty by insanity. Any experienced lawyer will tell you that. But they won’t tell you why. It’s not a place I would wish on anyone, and i only saw a window of what it would be like had I not escaped.

  17. Hi Lisa, I have a copy of records of the wife of a 2x greatuncle who was admitted in May 1904 and died there in Oct 1828. I was very upset to find most of the file related to trying to find someone to pay for her time there and includes a letter written by her elder daughter saying she does not have any in in income, has been living with an aunt since she was 5 years old and she does not know of any assets. There is also a note signed by medical supt saying she did not want her wedding ring sold but the public curator sold it anyway as that was all she had. There is nothing to say why she was admitted but I did note the elder girl was 5 when her younger sister was born so presume it was either post natal depression not treated or some other medical issue to do with the birth that had been going on for a long time approx 16 years before she was eventually admitted to Wolston Park.

      1. Lisa, I’ve just read some more of your articles re Wolston Park and thank you very much for the work you have done here. In light of comments that the burials from the last 30 years were reinterred in Goodna General Cemetery and that these are recorded in the burial register there, I would expect the name Emily Murphy should appear since she had died less than 20 years before the remains were exhumed. Have you got access to the burial register records? I do have a copy of the page from a file at State Archives that says she was buried at the hospital. This would have been between D of D 27 Oct 1928 and date of report 30 Oct 1928.

  18. I can tell you the golf club has had numerous sonar session through the place to make sure there is no remains left along the bank and indeed most of the course, the course and it’s surroundings have been checked off by the historical society as well, although in recent times like the 2011 floods (and even the 74 floods) when the clubhouse itself went 6 foot under, it’s sad to think what could of been displaced from the site

    1. David, thanks so much for letting me know! There was a massive flood in the late 1800s too, and lots subsequently, so there’s little surprise there are no signs of a cemetery any more. I’m so glad that people have taken the time to do those sonar sessions. Again, thank you.

  19. My grandma and my dad worked at wolston park for many years and some of the story’s they told I feel sad for all those poor people who didn’t have families and I always felt eerie when I went there for fetes and other events I hated it as a kid

    1. Wow. They must have been hard to hear. Have you ever thought of writing those stories down, Evon? It’s a part of a terrible history that shouldn’t be forgotten, especially the poor souls involved.

  20. Hi Lisa,
    My question has nothing to do with the cemetery or deaths at the hospital, but I’m wondering if you could point me in the direction of where I can find info on the workers at the hospital and in particular the ‘hairdressers’ employed between 1943 and 1953.
    Kind Regards,
    Simone Hohenhaus

    1. Hi Simone. The state archives is your best bet. They have a fantastic computer search system but it takes a bit of getting used to. The staff at the Runcorn facility can help you. Unfortunately Wolston Park records are locked up tight these days (they never used to be) thanks to Right to Information Laws come into play a decade ago. Even if you found record files you may not be allowed to access them, though there is a process you can go through to apply for access. https://www.qld.gov.au/dsiti/qsa

    2. Hi Simone. The state archives is your best bet. They have a fantastic computer search system but it takes a bit of getting used to. The staff at the Runcorn facility can help you. Unfortunately Wolston Park records are locked up tight these days (they never used to be) thanks to Right to Information Laws come into play a decade ago. Even if you found record files you may not be allowed to access them, though there is a process you can go through to apply for access. https://www.qld.gov.au/dsiti/qsa

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