Building on top of cemeteries

A city park with a large tree in the foreground

Two graves have been unearthed during school construction works in Tasmania. The Queenborough Cemetery was closed in 1934 and, about 25 years later, The Hutchins School’s sporting fields were built on top of it.

The cemetery was the resting place of about 3,000 people. At the time, the government would have told everyone that the graves were exhumed and the bodies relocated. (Lol. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my cemetery wanderings, it’s that all the bodies are never relocated.)

We build over cemeteries a lot in Australia. For example, though hundreds were exhumed, graves still remain under Lang Park/Suncorp Stadium. And not far from there, at Roma St, people drive over graves every day.

The road between William Jolly Bridge and Roma St and the adjacent park was once a cemetery in the 1830s. The cemetery at Skew Street was established in 1825 with the relocation of the Moreton Bay Penal Settlement to Brisbane. It operated until the North Brisbane Burial Ground opened in 1843 in Paddington/Milton (now Hale St and Suncorp Stadium). During that time 265 people died in Brisbane and most were buried in this cemetery.

Thousands of cars drive over intact graves near Roma St in Brisbane daily.

The cemetery land was converted to freehold and auctioned in 1875. In 1881, at least three burials were exhumed from the cemetery and removed with their monuments to the Toowong Cemetery. These were all the remains of children who had died at the convict settlement.

⚰️⛏️ I spoke with a Qld archeologist who says she surveyed the site near Roma St just a few years ago and, yes, there’s clear evidence of intact graves there.

A plaque shows the location of Brisbane’s first settler burial ground, established in 1825.

It’s going to be interesting to see how many more graves are found under the school in Hobart.

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.

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