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The 4 Spookiest Urban Legends in Brisbane

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by Sean Goedecke (subscribe)
Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published June 24th 2012
Crocodiles in the Brisbane River

Every city has its legends: implausible tales of conspiracies and the occult set in familiar streets and tailored to a familiar culture. British urban legends tend to be unsettling and understated, like pale men or ghosts seen in the mist. American ones are a bit more brash – think inbred human-hunting cannibals, or serial killers with a severed limb in one hand and a bloody knife in the other. Brisbane's no exception: it's full of local tales and folklore to terrify even the most hardened skeptic.

This terrifying picture taken by Tomαs Castelazo.

It's no urban legend that the beautiful Brisbane River is full of hidden danger. Apart from the usual risk of drunken revellers falling in and drowning, there's also the possibility of being eaten by a bull shark: an aggressive, hardy species of shark that's been responsible for three, possibly four deaths so far. However, confirmed reports of sharks aren't scary enough for Brisbane types, so they claim that there are crocodiles in the river as well. With swimming strongly discouraged, nobody's brave enough to get in there and disprove – or possibly prove – that theory. As for the lack of flashy crocodile-shark fights, zoologists say that the two species would be unlikely to attack each other. Scientists remain silent on the possibility of them forming an unholy alliance to rid the earth of us filthy land-dwellers.

Spook Hill's Satanic Antigravity

As one of Brisbane's oldest cemeteries, Toowong Cemetery has been the subject of too many myths and legends to count. Aside from the usual cookie-cutter haunting ones that you can find in any cemetery in the world (and the occasional tombstone damage, which is more likely the work of teenage Goths than angry ghosts) Toowong Cemetery has its own unique urban legend. Twelfth Avenue, more colloquially called 'Spook Hill', is a sloping road in the cemetery with a special property. Many people have reported that if you park your car in the middle of it, facing uphill, and let it roll, the car will actually roll uphill rather than downhill.

toowong cemetery
It's very likely - not kidding - that Jack the Ripper is buried here, as well.

Unfortunately, there haven't been any actual ghost sightings on Spook Hill – which is spooky in itself, given the ubiquity of hauntings in Toowong Cemetery – but that hasn't stopped enterprising ghost-hunters from telling stories of their own. Apparently a tombstone near the top of the hill marks the grave of a child who died in a car accident. His spirit draws all cars towards it, with such a powerful attraction that it overcomes even gravity. The 'scientific' explanation isn't much better: there's a natural magnetic lodestone at the top of the hill, strong enough to drag even large metal objects (like cars). Sorry, scientists, but that's too outlandish even for us – we're going to have to go with the car-pushing ghost kid.

Gold in Indooroopilly

While Victoria and NSW were getting all the gold rush attention in the 19th century, Queenslanders were quietly mining gold from scattered places around the state. Canoona, Gympie, Cooktown – and maybe Brisbane. Indooroopilly, a western suburb of Brisbane, carried a silver mine for over ten years, producing over two hundred thousand ounces of silver. What about gold? Well, there's no actual evidence of this, but some people claim that the land under the Coonan Street Bridge is a hidden gold mine. Despite numerous secret attempts by businesses to buy the bridge from the government, it won't sell, because as soon as the title changes hands the bridge would be dynamited and the river underneath it dug out.

gold digging
Edwin Stockqueler, An Australian Gold Diggings, oil on canvas, ca. 1855, National Gallery of Australia.

Why hasn't the government moved in itself on such a lucrative opportunity? Bureaucratic incompetence? A desire to leave well enough alone? The best part about urban legends like this is that the logical holes leave room for even bigger urban legends. Like this one: every assayer sent in to evaluate the mining opportunities under the bridge has mysteriously vanished, stalling government plans. Whether this is due to alien activity or evil trolls is unconfirmed – so why not go down there yourself and check it out?

Goodna Cemetery's Ghost Hands

Found on Stuart Street in Goodna, Goodna Cemetery is very peaceful during the day. It's split up into two sections: a modern area at the front for recent burials, and a much older original section further away from the road. While the newer ghosts are reported to be very well behaved – so well, in fact, that nobody's seen them at all – the older ghosts are by all accounts a rough lot. For some time, Goodna Cemetery was the cemetery used by Woogaroo Asylum, and the conjunction of ghosts and the criminally insane has produced stories too horrible even to mention.

You can use your imagination.

What is particularly terrifying about Goodna Cemetery, however, is the physical effects of the hauntings: visitors have been known to leave with scratches and bruises all over their body. One man jumped into his car in an attempt to escape, and although the engine started the car shuddered in place without moving. When dawn broke, the man, who had huddled inside his car all night, drove to his friend's place and got out. There were deep scratches down both sides of his car, larger than human fingernails, as if something had been holding it in place. Here's a trick that ghost hunters swear works every time: cover your car in flour and drive slowly past (not even in, just past) Goodna Cemetery at midnight. When you get home, examine the flour on your car – now covered in hundreds and hundreds of fingerprints.
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Why? Because the truth is out there.
Where: All around Brisbane.
Your Comment
Well that's kind of the whole point of urban legends, guys - they're most likely untrue stories that nonetheless are fun to pass around.
by Carly Ogborne (score: 3|4626) 3372 days ago
Isn't Goodna a suburb of Ipswich????
by gidge (score: 0|5) 3371 days ago
Well as to crocodiles in the Brisbane river, there is (or was a few years ago) the tanned skin of a crocodile on display in the QSPGA history display window. The crocodile was captured in the Brisbane river.
by Jennifer (score: 1|21) 3370 days ago
Sorry, there are no crocodiles in the Brisbane river. My mother grew up at West End and I spent many years sailing on the river and we have never seen one. If they were there you would see them basking on the banks. Please do not write rubbish like this as it scares people off our beautiful river which is used for many water sports like sailing, rowing and water skiing.
by Sandr (score: 0|2) 3374 days ago
Goodna one is true believe it or not my freinds and me have witnessed it ourselves I lived in Ipswich my whole life so I should know
by aasti (score: 0|2) 1563 days ago
My cousins buried in goodna cemetery,Also I have lots of ancestors in toowong cemetery. Great article by the way, I really enjoyed it. Thanks.
by Paula (score: 0|2) 2069 days ago
in goodna there is also a ghost called the red angel i know a few people who have seen it and been chased by it it lives in a statue and i walked pass it it had no head no arms a few weeks later i walked passed it again it had a head and one arm ive nevwe been at that part ever since
by gumbi (score: 0|2) 2678 days ago
I have parked my old 1985 Pajaro 4x4 on the spook or magnetic hill in toowong cemetery and your car really does roll up hill
by djmut (score: 0|2) 2689 days ago
I have somebody who has experienced/seen satanic rituals being performed,weird stuff like fresh warm organs being placed in the same path up to the church and cemetery at Mundoolins old gothic church. Decades ago when they were young and overly confident. Now the church has changed as if religious groups have taken over and stopped this occurance happening,???,I don't know for sure.?????????but I know that this urban myth is 100 percent REAL!!!!!!
by rahni (score: 0|2) 2755 days ago
Visit the gold mine on Mt Coot-tha. Still some interesting remnants of activity.
by don.k (score: 0|6) 3059 days ago
im afraid of gold
by l (score: 0|2) 3117 days ago
I call bullshit on the Goodna story and the crocs in the river story.
by frankyboi (score: 0|4) 3374 days ago
what have you witnessed?
by Jason (score: 0|2) 1305 days ago
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