Exploring Irish Heritage: Toowong Cemetery Tour for St Patrick’s Day

In preparation for St Patrick’s Day festivities, the Queensland Irish Association has joined hands with Friends of Toowong Cemetery to present an enriching Irish History Tour. 

Read: Stalled Development at Toowong Site Sparks Community Debate

Scheduled for Sunday, 10 March 2024 10:00 a.m., the guided tour promises an insightful walk through the final resting places of notable Irish figures, including founding members of the Queensland Irish Association. 

Participants can anticipate captivating narratives during the two-hour exploration. Attendees are advised to wear comfortable, enclosed shoes and attire suitable for the weather. The meeting point is set at the flagpole located at the Frederick Street/main entrance to the cemetery. Parking is available within the cemetery premises, with convenient bus stops nearby. 

Donations in cash are welcomed on the day to support the preservation efforts of Friends of Toowong Cemetery.

St Patrick’s Day Parade Participation

As the countdown to St Patrick’s Day begins, preparations are also underway for the annual St Patrick’s Day Parade, slated for Saturday, 16 March 2024 10:30 am. 

The Queensland Irish Association extends an open invitation to all enthusiasts willing to partake in the parade and represent the Association. Participants will be honoured to march behind the QIA float, carrying none other than Saint Patrick himself.

Photo Credit: Queensland Irish Association

Those interested can simply assemble at the City Botanical Gardens on Alice Street gates from 10:00 a.m. onwards on the event day.

Grand St Patrick’s Eve Dinner at Brisbane City Hall

Mark your calendars for the most anticipated St Patrick’s Day celebration event – the St Patrick’s Eve Dinner hosted by the Queensland Irish Association at the grand Main Auditorium of the Brisbane City Hall. Members are encouraged to secure their spots early for the event, which promises an unforgettable evening filled with merriment and tradition. 

Priced at $160 per person, the dinner includes a generous five-hour drinks package featuring beer, Guinness, red and white wines, and soft drinks, served from 6 pm to 11 pm.

Guests will also indulge in a delectable three-course dinner, courtesy of Epicure at Brisbane City Hall, accompanied by lively entertainment provided by the QIA Dancers and the Queensland Irish Association Pipe Band. 

The event will feature a toast to Australia Our Nation proposed by Father Frank Brennan SJ AO, alongside esteemed Irish and Australian guests. The evening will culminate in a heartwarming community sing-along of Irish favourites. 

For booking enquiries, email stpatricksevedinner@hotmail.com 

About the Queensland Irish Association

The Queensland Irish Association (QIA) traces its roots to March 23rd, 1898, emerging from the collective resignation of Irish volunteers in response to government interference. Led by former commandant Major PJ Stephens, ex-members joined forces with the Hibernian Australasian Catholic Benefit Society to establish the association, embodying the principles of its predecessors.

Despite facing financial challenges and declining membership during wars and economic downturns, the QIA remains Queensland’s longest continuously operating national association. Non-sectarian and non-political from its inception, the QIA aims to unite Irish individuals and their descendants, fostering national freedom and community.

Over its century-long existence, membership has evolved to include women and has expanded to encompass various cultural activities such as a library, pipe band, dancers, singers, and theatre groups. The association hosts annual dinners and events, attracting prominent figures including Irish presidents and ambassadors.

Today, the QIA continues to be a beacon of Irish culture and heritage, guided by the vision of its founding fathers and embraced by Irish Australians who uphold its traditions. Stay connected to the QIA to celebrate Irish identity and heritage.

The Curious Case of ‘The Temple of Peace’

In the heart of Toowong Cemetery, a grand and enigmatic mausoleum stands, occasionally referred to as the “Temple of Peace,” defying the Australian tradition of modest gravesites.

Read: Toowong to West End Green Bridge Design Phase to Start Soon

It is a truly imposing sight, characterised by a towering structure adorned with a concrete urn and its walls adorned with stained glass. The heritage-listed memorial, located at the corner of Frederick Street and Mt Coot-tha Road was designed and built by Richard Paul Carl Ramo.

Upon initial inspection, the Temple of Peace appears to be a heartfelt homage to a father’s departed sons and a beloved pet. Welcoming visitors is a lintel bearing the same title, along with marble plaques inscribed with the names Fred, Gordon, Victor, Henry, and “I.”

Inside the chamber, one encounters marble tablets, whilst the ceiling bears the names and places of death of two of Richard Ramo’s sons. A statue of a little dog guards the entry, signifying a painful loss brought on by deliberate poisoning, and stained glass panels at the back honour Victor’s passing.

Recent investigations, however, have uncovered a complicated history for this extraordinary mausoleum. Although Richard Ramo did not leave any writings behind, it is now thought that many claims made about the monument are either untrue or misleading.

The absence of their real names from the tomb suggests that Ramo may have made up the existence of three of his alleged sons who died in World War I. He did have two other sons, Percy and Cecil. The latter enlisted whilst the former did not; however, neither died during the War.

Intriguingly, there are hints of a connection between Ramo and the Industrial Workers of the World and the Rationalist Society, suggested by references to the Red Flag and other inscriptions.

Read: St Ignatius School Unveils Two New Murals, Celebrates 120 Years

On December 6, 1924, the Temple of Peace was dedicated in a ceremony attended by thousands, primarily from socialist and pacifist communities. A casket said to contain the remains of Ramo’s “adopted son” Fred, who had tragically taken his own life, was placed inside the mausoleum. The dedication was presided over by the president of the Rationalist Association.

The question of how Ramo, who was not considered wealthy, financed this grand monument remains a puzzle. Ramo’s story concluded with his death in 1951, and his ashes were interred alongside the ”alleged” sons he had honoured.

Published 9-September-2023

Silent Waters, Silent Secrets: The Tragic Fate of Elizabeth Dale at Toowong Cemetery

On one fateful day in February 1905, grieving widow Elizabeth Dale was found lifeless, floating in a creek at the Toowong Cemetery.

Before the ill-fated day, the creek in the cemetery had been dammed to provide water for the beautiful flowers and grapes in Portion 10. The installation of taps to control the dam’s water level was in progress when destiny intervened.

Every day, Elizabeth would faithfully pay a visit to her late husband’s grave, following a familiar routine. Clad in a heavy black mourning gown and a veil, she walked along a path now referred to as Elizabeth Dale Walk.

Making her way across the walkway spanning the dam wall, she eventually reached the vicinity of the Blackall Monument. From there, it was a short distance to her brother’s burial site.

Her brother, Henry Harris Dodd, rests in Portion 11. One day in early 1898, Henry, who worked as a warder at St. Helena switched shifts with another warder, William James Downie. As fate would have it, while unlocking a cell door, a prisoner named William Archer mistakenly stabbed him, causing his untimely death. The prisoner had actually intended to harm the other warder.  

During the summer, Elizabeth would occasionally pause at the water’s edge, leaning over to scoop up a handful and refreshingly splash it across her face before proceeding uphill to her brother’s final resting place.

Tragically, on one fateful day, it is believed that Elizabeth met her demise. Unable to swim, especially burdened by the weighty attire she wore, she met an untimely end after inadvertently falling into the water.

Elizabeth Dale, a resident of Rosalie’s Baroona Road, was born in Dublin. She was forty years old when she died.

Although the newspapers neglected to mention Elizabeth’s husband’s first name, they did disclose the anniversary of his passing. They recounted that Elizabeth visited the cemetery to commemorate the eleventh anniversary of her husband’s demise. 

Interestingly, within the grounds of Toowong Cemetery, two individuals by the surname of Dale were buried in 1894. Among them was Thomas Dale, laid to rest on 2 February. It was on this very date, eleven years later, that Elizabeth would also be interred, sharing the same grave with her husband.

Eyewitnesses shared the chilling discovery of Elizabeth’s lifeless body. Constable Walsh, along with visitors John Littlechild and Kenneth Cooper from New South Wales, noticed her floating in a pool. They quickly alerted the cemetery attendants, who promptly arrived at the scene.

Thomas Francis Dodd, Elizabeth’s grief-stricken brother, identified her body.

As the investigation unfolded, peculiar details emerged. Grace Thomson, a trusted friend from the Salvation Army, revealed that Elizabeth’s departure that morning seemed unremarkable. However, she had experienced unconsciousness just two nights before, hinting at a hidden fragility beneath her brave facade.

Subsequent enquiries into her life and death revealed that Elizabeth had a frail disposition. She had delicate health, poor eyesight and was prone to fainting spells. An official report revealed traces of morphine in her system, likely from her dependence on Kay’s Compound, a medicinal tonic containing morphine.

Thomas Henry Brown, an assistant overseer at Toowong Cemetery, recounted the eerie moment he discovered Elizabeth’s body. After receiving reports of something amiss in the pool, he retrieved her lifeless form. The cold, stiff body lay approximately twenty feet from the pathway, adding to the enigmatic circumstances surrounding her demise. 

In the annals of Toowong Cemetery’s history, Elizabeth Dale’s story stands as a poignant reminder of the fragility of life and the eternal bonds that connect us to our loved ones, even in death.

Published 14-June-2023

Who Should Fix Damaged Headstones at Toowong Cemetery?

Observations of damaged headstones at Toowong Cemetery have raised questions about who is responsible for fixing them after some locals called on authorities to intervene in repairing them.

Read: Historian Asks For Preservation Of Burial Sites In Toowong Cemetery

With a history dating back to 1875, Toowong Cemetery is now already home to around 117,000 graves. Many of the headstones at the cemetery have fallen and a number of the grave surrounds have collapsed.

Finding graves at the cemetery can also be extremely difficult. Since most of the graves at the cemetery are quite old, the majority of headstones do not have numbers markings on them. This is due to the fact that the practice of marking numbers on headstones was not introduced until the late 1900s.

Toowong Cemetery
Photo credit: Robert Garvey/Google Maps

Under the Queensland Cemeteries Act 1865, the burial rights holder and their descendants are responsible for maintaining individual graves.

There are locals who believe this law should be updated; however, others believe taxpayers’ money would be put to better use providing housing for the ‘living’ instead of being spent on graves.

Jack Sim, a historian and member of Friends of Toowong Cemetery, noted that repairing and maintaining headstones can be very expensive, highlighting the fact that the cemetery is home not just to hundreds but thousands of headstones needing repair.

Mr Sim, who is famous for his ghost tours at Toowong Cemetery and other cemeteries across the city, said in 2021, that restoring deteriorating burial places would require Brisbane City Council to have an emergency fund, since the cost of repinning a headstone is estimated to be around $3,000.

Toowong Cemetery
Photo credit: Mark Boltman/Google Maps

Meanwhile, Council has made it clear that maintenance of headstones and plaques, including the restoration of old and dilapidated headstones, is the responsibility of the family and descendants.

BCC currently maintains 12 cemeteries across the city and this includes Toowong Cemetery.

Whilst Council is working with community groups like Friends of Toowong Cemetery to improve the cemetery’s condition, they are only responsible for maintaining the cemetery grounds.

Read: What You Need To Know About the Toowong Cemetery Ghost Tour

Council’s responsibility for the cemetery, according to law, only includes mowing, whipper snipping, tree care, topping-up dirt levels in graves, lifting and levelling subsided plaques, and cleaning-up old and unwanted flowers off gravesites.

Historian Asks For Preservation Of Burial Sites In Toowong Cemetery

A Queensland historian is calling on authorities to restore the deteriorating burial places at Toowong Cemetery, in honour of Brisbane’s past and the people buried there.

Read: Toowong Local Named Finalist For Prestigious Women In Technology Awards

Jack Sim, a member of the voluntary organisation Friends of Toowong Cemetery believes Brisbane City Council would need an emergency fund to promptly repair the broken sites, as the cost of repinning a headstone is estimated to be around $3,000.

Jack Sim after donating funds to restore the graves at Toowong Cemetery in 2014 (Photo credit: Haunted Heritage/Facebook)

Whilst some headstones survive, many have been smashed and there are slabs that have been cracked open. Some graves have been overrun with weeds. With thousands of dollars needed for one headstone alone, the extent of damage at the cemetery could amount to multi-millions of dollars.

Yet under the Cemetery Act 1865, a grave and its monuments belong to the dead person’s family. Although the Council is in charge of Toowong Cemetery, they cannot touch damaged graves regardless of whether the damage is because of time, nature or human activity.

Photo credit: Beachcoma/Google Maps

BCC maintains 12 cemeteries, including the one in Toowong and whilst they allocated $12 million in the financial year for the maintenance of the cemeteries’ lawns and gardens, they will not pay to fix the graves.

There are approximately 117,000 people buried at Toowong Cemetery, including politicians, sporting legends, poets, soldiers, and celebrities.

The heritage-listed cemetery contains the war graves of 270 Commonwealth service personnel of World War I and 117 from World War II, besides two sailors of the Dutch Navy from the latter war. 

Grave of Walter Vardon Ralston (1846-1920), general manager of the Queensland National Bank (Photo credit: Vic Bushing/Google Maps)

One of the most notable graves here is where Sir Samuel Walker Griffith rests. Sadly, the crucifix on his monument was left broken. He is one of the founding fathers of Australia’s Federation, author of the Constitution. Aside from being a former Queensland premier and first chief justice of Australia, he’s known for being one of the greatest jurists produced by Australia in the 19th century.

Photo credit: Cate/Find A Grave
Grave of Bancroft family, who are among Queensland’s most notable medical families (Photo credit: Toni Hughes/Facebook)

It also serves as the final resting place of John Petrie, first mayor of Brisbane, who was buried with his wife in their plot in the cemetery.

Read: Dovercourt: Stunning Heritage Landmark in Toowong to Undergo Makeover

Mr Sim, who has been donating funds for Toowong Cemetery’s grave restoration through the years, believes Toowong Cemetery deserves to be preserved because cemeteries are all about our history and our people. 

Toowong Cemetery Open House: Learn the Mystical Stories of Brisbane’s Largest Burial Site

If you’re curious about the mystical stories of the Toowong Cemetery then here’s your chance to hear about it from those who know it best. On Saturday, the 12th of Oct 2019, the Council is sponsoring an open house and a bus tour of Brisbane’s largest burial site.

Cemetery staff will be sharing what they know of the Toowong Cemetery’s rich and fascinating history, from tales told and passed down to them for generations. Happening from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., this event should be an unforgettable weekend of fun, what with Halloween celebrations coming up soon!

Since this massive burial ground on Frederick Street opened in the mid-1800s, there have been hundreds of stories about the Toowong Cemetery. Some are true and some don’t make a lot of sense, whilst the rest have become urban legends that should be interesting to hear directly from the workers. 

Photo Credit: Vic Bushing/Google Maps

The tour will also highlight the burial grounds of notable personalities in Queensland, which includes politicians, sportsmen, war heroes, and even notorious murderers. 

The open house is free for all but you’ll need to register for tickets ahead of the event.  

The guided tour is part of Brisbane City Council’s intiative to showcase significant sites that celebrate the architecture, engineering and history of the city. Follow this link to find other walking tours during the open house, which has been carried out since 2010.

Did You Know that the Toowong Cemetery is the Largest Cemetery in Queensland?

Toowong Cemetery has been and remains to be an icon in the suburb. Established in 1866 and formally opened in 1875, it is currently the largest cemetery in Queensland.

The heritage-listed cemetery is a prominent landmark in Queensland not only because of its size but also for the history it carries and the personalities buried in the premises.

History of Toowong Cemetery

Brisbane General Cemetery (Toowong) – General plan, 8 July 1909 Photo credit: CC-BY/Queensland State Archives/Flickr

The Toowong Cemetery has quite an interesting beginning. Initially, Augustus Gregory, the Surveyor-General in 1866 did not particularly favour the Toowong site. However, he found it to be the only locality to present the necessary requirements for a general cemetery. Actually, the choice of that particular parcel of land was made by default rather than by design.

The appropriateness of the Toowong site for the purpose of a general cemetery was an issue that was actively contested for around two decades after the choice was announced. Its isolation and doubts about its suitability plus the lack of access to public transport fuelled the dissent and debate. Although the cemetery was already established, the public continued to use the cheaper, more accessible familial grounds at Milton.

In 1868, a further portion of Crown land, some 53 acres in the area north of the cemetery reserve was added to fulfil of the Trustee’s requirement for the entire cemetery to be surrounded with public roads.

The cemetery reserve of 250 acres 1 rood was gazetted and the Cemetery Trust was established in October 1870. Its honorary trustees were amongst Brisbane’s most prominent political and business figures including James Cowlishaw, John Hardgrave, William Pettigrew, Samuel Walker Griffith, George Edmonstone, Alexander Raff, John Petrie (Chairman), Michael Quinlan, and Nathaniel Lade.

Read: How Toowong Got Its Name

Brisbane General Cemetery Grounds

Photo credit: Vic Bushing / des.qld.gov.au

In December 1870, trial sinking at the cemetery found the ground to be unsuitable, but this did not prompt the government to secure a more appropriate location. Queensland’s second governor, Samuel Wensley Blackall had been a supporter of the Toowong site. In his ill health, he indicated his desire to be buried there.

Samuel Wensley Blackall. Photo credit: John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland. Image number: 147063

Governor Blackall was buried on the highest knoll on 3 January 1871. His memorial is the largest and most prominent in the cemetery with commanding views of the city and surrounds.

The Surveyor General, the Trustees, and the Colonial Secretary still haven’t favoured the Toowong Site. Even after the burial of Governor Blackall on its most prominent peak, the Trustees still sought other more suitable prospects for a cemetery site.

Trustee George Edmondstone’s property on Enoggera Creek was identified as being most suitable, however, the Colonial Treasurer could not reach an agreement on price.  Because of this, the Toowong site was finally accepted as the Brisbane General Cemetery grounds.

Read: Three Historical Memorials in Toowong Cemetery

Notable People Buried at the Toowong Cemetery

Headstone of Walter Thomas Porriott, a possible Jack the Ripper suspect. Photo credit: Rocketrod1960/Wikimedia Commons

Being one of the most prominent burial grounds in Queensland, it is no surprise that the Toowong Cemetery is now home to several notable personalities. These include, but are not limited to, a Prime Minister, two Queensland Governors, 13 Queensland Premiers, 11 Queensland Labor leaders, at least 15 Brisbane Mayors, and many other prominent political, religious, sports, arts, and business figures.

As a general cemetery ground, Toowong cemetery has been the burial place of individuals from all walks of life. Interestingly, it has been rumoured that this is also where the notorious Jack the Ripper was buried.

Read: Is It Really Jack the Ripper’s Grave in Toowong Cemetery?

Toowong Cemetery Now

Toowong Cemetery – War Memorial from South-East (2015). Photo credit: Vic Bushing/des.qld.gov.au

Toowong Cemetery is still an operating cemetery. It currently features a number of cultural areas, historical trails, and memorials.

Today, Brisbane City Council has been working with the Friends of Toowong Cemetery (FOTC), a voluntary organisation of people with a special interest in the historic landmark to maintain and improve the cemetery’s condition.

The FOTC holds guided walks in the cemetery every first Sunday of the month at 10:30 a.m. (except January). On their upcoming Toowong Cemetery Heritage Walk, they will be exploring the political and non-political events of one hundred years ago at the graves of some of the people who were involved.

The “1919, The Year of Peace?” heritage walk will be on Sunday, 3 February 2019 from 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and meeting point for participants is at the flagpole, Canon Garland Place, Toowong Cemetery.

Apart from the historical walks, Toowong cemetery is also popular for its weekly ghost tours. The Original Toowong Cemetery Ghost Tour features a two-hour visit highlighted by thirteen ghost stories of real haunted graves within the cemetery.

Another ghost tour is The Other Side Tour which also lasts for two hours with a similar format. However, the tour starts at a different location, follows a different route, and has a different set of ghost stories.

However, locals are warned of unlicensed ghost tours without proper permissions and insurances to hold a tour in the cemetery. As a guide to those who are interested to bravely tour the cemetery at night, only Brisbane Ghost Tours, Friends of Toowong Cemetery, and Friends of South Brisbane/Boggo Road Historical Society are licensed to conduct tours in the Toowong cemetery.

Read: Beware of Unlicensed Ghost Tours in Toowong Cemetery

Dig, Eat, & Catch An Outdoor Film At Toowong Cemetery As Part Of Archaeology Week 2018

Unearth buried headstones in the Toowong Cemetery as part of the Archaeology Week happening on 24-26 May from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

The cemetery is the largest in Queensland and is heritage-listed. The annual excavation event is made possible through the partnership of the University of Queensland and Friends of Toowong Cemetery. The event is designed to recover buried headstones from the North Brisbane Burial Grounds, which is currently the home of Suncorp Stadium.

On the last day of the excavations happening on a Saturday, families and residents are encouraged to attend and be part of the digging process. Who knows what you might discover?

To keep participants energised throughout the whole day, juice, smoothies, coffee and protein bars from Juice Power will be served. If you can’t make it in the morning, you are welcome to attend in the afternoon for a sausage sizzles, scavenger hunt that will begin at 4:00 p.m.

You can also get a chance to win a family pass to the Planetarium. After that, catch The Goonies for an outdoor screening at 6:00 p.m. at Canon Garland Place within the cemetery.

BYO blankets, chairs, or rugs!

No bookings are required for this event.

Address: Frederick St, Toowong QLD 4066, Australia

Beware of Unlicensed Ghost Tours in Toowong Cemetery

Every week, ghost tours take place in Toowong Cemetery, the largest cemetery in Queensland. Each ghost tour is accompanied by licensed operators such as Brisbane Ghost Tours. However, recently a report about unlicensed operators holding ghost tours here and in other areas in Brisbane has resurfaced, angering existing operators.

It all started on Facebook when a group started advertising that they hold “tours” to the deserted Wolston Park asylum. This asylum has long been abandoned. It is not open for tours because the place is falling apart, making it unsafe for tour participants and even the operators themselves.

In fact, trespassers will be fined if caught within the park premises. The group later on took back its announcement and said that they were still getting permission to conduct ghost tours in the asylum.

The illicit ghost tour was planning on charging each person $50. People who had inquired said that the operator talked about not having any official permission at all for tours which include the Toowong Cemetery, the cemetery in Goodna and the Wolston asylum.

Licensed operators were astounded saying that a legitimate operator of ghost tours would need a license, proper permissions and insurances.

The Brisbane City Council will take action against unauthorized operators by charging infringement notices of up to $630 to unlicensed ghost tours.

Only Brisbane Ghost Tours, Friends of Toowong Cemetery and Friends of South Brisbane/Boggo Road Historical Society are licensed to conduct tours in the Toowong cemetery.

Related article: Toowong Cemetery Weekly Ghost Tours Offer Scary Weekends For the Brave

Is It Really Jack the Ripper’s Grave in Toowong Cemetery?

Toowong Cemetery holds a lot of mysteries — with the rows and rows of tombstones that hold interesting stories and mysteries waiting to be unraveled. One particular tombstone in the cemetery seems to be part of speculations regarding one of the most notorious criminals responsible for some of London’s most horrific killings.


All Signs Point To…

Photo credit: Wikipedia

A Walter Thomas Porriott, known to police as Andrew John Gibson, is buried in Toowong cemetery. There is speculation that Walter Thomas Porriott is Jack the Ripper.

Who “gave him away?” His own great-grandson, Steven Wilson in 1997. What made Mr Wilson think it? Apparently, his great-grandfather lived in Limehouse, near Whitechapel in Eastern London where the killings took place.

Mr Wilson also revealed that his great-grandfather had an abhorrence for prostitutes. Jack the Ripper killed five prostitutes during his “killing spree.” It seems that Mr Porriott wrote about his hatred for prostitutes. Mr Wilson saw the writings and believed that his great-grandfather’s handwriting is very much similar to Jack the Ripper based on the alleged letter the killer sent to a London newspaper during the killings.

This is not the first time that Mr Porriott was speculated to be Jack the Ripper himself. Reports about him have surfaced over the years. Still, there is no concrete evidence for this.



Photo credit: Travelling Type

Mr Porriott died in 1952. He was a self-proclaimed “doctor” with no medical background or education. From the manner of killings, Jack the Ripper was theorised to have some medical background or knowledge.

Another point of circumstantial speculation is the timing. The killings of Jack the Ripper stopped at around the same time that Mr Porriott left for Australia.

Mr. Porriott married a woman named Bessie and was buried with her. In fact, the gravestone doesn’t even bear his name. Instead, it reads “Bessie, died 25th June 1957, and her husband.”

Suggestions for obtaining a DNA sample have actually been made. However, since the basis exhuming the remains from the grave for DNA testing remains purely speculative, such suggestions have remained as merely that.

The identity of Jack the Ripper, up to this day, remains a mystery. Still, the grave in Toowong remains an object of speculation. What if…?