Who are we?
The Friends of Balmoral Cemetery Inc. (or FOBC) was established on 28 July 2001 to preserve and enhance Brisbane’s historic Balmoral Cemetery. We are a small but high energy group with a vision to work to preserve and enhance the Balmoral Cemetery.
The History of Balmoral Cemetery
Balmoral Cemetery was originally called the Kangaroo Point Burial Ground. It had various other names including the Bulimba and Balmoral Cemetery, the Bulimba Cemetery and the Morningside Cemetery before the name Balmoral Cemetery was adopted some 40 years ago. SEE MORE
Balmoral is Gaelic for “beautiful residence” or “majestic castle” and is the name of one of the Queen’s castles in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. It has been said that the surveyor John Watson gave the area the name Balmoral, after the town of his birth in Scotland. Balmoral was part of the area Aborigines called “Tugulawa” which means “place of the heart”. This was possibly a reference to the heart-shaped piece of land that constitutes Bulimba and Balmoral.
Following the general growth in Brisbane’s population, limits of exiting burial areas and lobbying from residents of the eastern areas, an area, originally 55 acres, was surveyed for the cemetery in 1864.
Pioneers came to this area of Brisbane to farm small crops, cotton, bananas, and later sugar. Until the construction of the bridge over Norman Creek in 1856, the only way to get to much of the area was by ferry across the river to Bulimba, or by travelling from Kangaroo Point to Stones Corner. Most of the subdivisions in the area took place during the land boom of the 1880’s.
In 1865 a public meeting was held in Kangaroo Point when the site selected for the Cemetery was announced and the initial Trustees nominated. These were; Mr. McDonald (Secretary ) , Mr. Elliott (Church of Scotland), Mr Douglas (Church of England); Mr. Darragh (Church of Rome), Mr. Augstein (German Lutheran), Mr. Cairncross (Church of Scotland), Mr. Lyons (Church of Rome) and Mr. Male (Wesleyan).
It was not until July 1869 that the land for the cemetery was officially gazetted.
The first burial was believed to have taken place in 1874. Sadly, it was that of George Wilson Pointon, a 6 year old lad who had drowned in Norman Creek on 26 June 1874. His brother William was disinterred from the Brisbane Cemetery (Lang Park) and reinterred with him. Their parents William Pointon (7 May 1842 - 11 July 1923) and Annie M. Pointon (26 October 1842 - 15 January 1928) are also buried in the same grave, which is located very close to the cemetery gates off Bennetts Road entrance.
The first funeral at the Cemetery to be advertised in local newspapers was Mrs Thorpe on 7 March 1877. In the same year the trustees were Wilhelm Wendt, Andrew Joseph Thynne and Robert Jamieson. The Cemetery was at this stage was still called the Kangaroo Point Cemetery.
In February 1879 the Brisbane Courier published an advertisement for tenders for the stumping and fencing of ten acres at the “Kangaroo Point Cemetery”. Tenderers were asked to apply to J. Male, Grocer, opposite Kangaroo Point School near Quinton Street. Mr Male was one of the original Trustees and the Male family grave is in Section 1/128.
In 1891 the original 55 acres set aside for the cemetery was reduced to around 15 acres due to the extension of the rail line to Cleveland. The remaining acres to the south west was designated for use as a recreation reserve now known as Balmoral Park.
Another early Trustee was Frederick Wecker. Wecker was said to love the area and indicated that he wished to be buried there. His impressive grave is situated at the highest point of the cemetery. Wecker Road at Mansfield was named for Frederick Wecker, and the suburb of Greenslopes was named for “Wecker’s green slopes”, a phrase which locals coined to describe Wecker’s property near Stones Corner, where he grew lucerne on the sloping land. Frederick passed away, aged 82 in 1910.
The stone wall, which runs the perimeter of the site, was believed to have been built during the depression years as part of a work labour program.
Early administrative arrangements through the Trustees were the subject of ongoing criticism culminating in local newspapers and possibly explains the inaccuracies in early Cemetery records. In July 1911 the Trustees of the Cemetery endorsed the transfer of management and control to the Balmoral Shire Council and this was given approval by the Queensland Executive Council in early 1912. In 1924, the Queensland Parliament passed the City of Brisbane Act to set up a single government in Brisbane, absorbing the existing 20 local authorities and joint boards. Hence the Cemetery transferred to the Brisbane City Council and administration has remained with the Council since that date. Council manages nine other historical cemeteries.
The Brisbane City Council has records of over 15,500 interments in the Cemetery, however there could be more given the poor state of many early burial records together this transcription errors over the years.
The Brisbane City Council and the State Archives hold some original burial registers dating from 1888 to 1949. Hemmant Cemetery office holds the original portion books dating from 1875. FOBC maintains a list of monumental inscriptions.
The Cemetery contains famous, infamous and ordinary (but often extraordinary) folk of the area south and east of the Brisbane River. The cemetery was an active place for burials from the late nineteenth century through to the 1960s. The cemetery continues to be used for burials, ashes internments and memorials, mainly on family graves. A few new plots have been sold in recent years.
Sadly, the ravages of time, erosion, pollution and vandalism have taken their toll on some the graves of Balmoral Cemetery. However, many families are rediscovering their ancestors and resuming the care and use of their graves. In 2019 a columbarium was built on the top of the hill and referred to as Balmoral’s Memorial Wall.
What The Friends of
Balmoral Cemetery do?
Since 2001 there have been many projects researching the history of the cemetery and the lives of people buried there. In recent years we have had a particular focus on the First World War; both the men who died overseas and are memorialised on graves in the cemetery and also those who served and returned to Australia and are buried at the Cemetery. This project has identified approximately 360 people buried and memorialised in the Cemetery who served in the First World War. The project produced an initial book, ‘Into the Fire’ launched on Anzac Day 2018. A second book, ‘After the Fire’ was released on Armistices Day 2018 in a special event which included a memorial walk at dusk around the Cemetery. This Armistices Day event was a joint project with the Morningside Scouts. In 2019 FOBC launch the Headstone Project which aims to place a headstone on all unmarked First World War veterans’ graves. Also during 2019 regular trails and clean-ups will be held and advertised on FaceBook.
We have three formal meetings each year, a start-up meeting in March, an Annual General Meeting in August and a Planning meeting in December. These meetings are held in the meeting rooms under the Bulimba Library at 7.30pm – all welcome. In between we meet, generally at the Cemetery, as required.
Contact the friends
Write to us at PO Box 257, Bulimba Q 4171 Australia, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Become a friend
The Friends of Balmoral Cemetery is a voluntary organisation and we invite community members to become involved. For more information about the Friends, or to join, contact us, please download our membership form.