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Brisbane's Buried Secrets

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by Tristan Hill (subscribe)
I'm a 27 year old uni student who loves to keep busy in this great city. Follow me as I show you my favourite little places and things to do!
Published June 18th 2012
What if the things you were taught at school about our history weren't entirely correct? What if there was evidence to show that modern scholarship may not be on the right track? Conspiracy theories and mysterious findings have always managed to spark interest in people for generations but if you thought you needed to travel to Europe and America to begin searching for answers to such questions then think again. Brisbane itself is the home to many a tale of mystery and intrigue that have polarised academics and raised the eyebrows of sceptics everywhere. Here are some of my favourite buried secrets of Brisbane that, if you're feeling adventurous, you may wish to try and uncover.

Wikimedia Commons

1 The hidden tunnels of Boggo Rd

Steeped in Brisbane folklore, the Boggo Rd Gaol is undoubtedly one of the most significant (and creepy) historic sites in Brisbane. Housing prisoners from 1883 up until the late 20th century, the prison is allegedly home to a number of ghosts that walk the halls after dark. More intriguing though is the network of secret tunnels that was said to have snaked their way under the unsuspecting inhabitants of Dutton Park and Annerly. Some of these tunnels have been located and proven to exist like the prisoner tunnel connecting the No.1 and 2 Division blocks used to transport prisoners between sites without allowing the opportunity for escape. However, questions still remain about other tunnels such as one that linked the gaol to a convent that cleaned the inmate's laundry and one that was said to link the gaol to the Lord Alfred Hotel. More information on the Boggo Rd Gaol can be found at the official Boggo Rd website . However as far as finding information on the mysterious tunnels, you may have to dig a little deeper.

Image by Commander Keane - Wikimedia Commons

2 The Vampire of the Toowong Cemetery

As the story goes, late in the 19th century a body was exhumed from the Toowong Cemetery 20 years after she was buried. The strange thing was that her body showed no signs of decay, and the casket, which in those days was always nailed shut, had had the nails pushed out allowing the lid to open. According to the legend, Lily as she is known can sometimes be seen roaming between the trees of Twelfth Avenue where she is still buried. Toowong Cemetery is believed to be one of the most haunted cemeteries in the world with many unexplained and downright creepy occurrences happening there every so often. So if you fancy a late night rendezvous with Lily and her other freaky friends then you may want to check this out but don't forget your garlic and your crucifix!

Wikimedia Commons

3 American WWII machinery and weapons buried around the city

This is one of the more believable buried secrets of Brisbane that I uncovered when researching for this article. Apparently at the end of WWII, the American army, that had various military bases dotted around Brisbane and surrounds, chose to discard and bury their unused and unwanted military equipment rather than paying out the massive expense needed to dismantle and ship the machines back to the United States. The most exciting and fascinating thing about these secret burials is that there is believed to be machines and equipment buried in nearly every suburb in the South East.

Some sites have been proven to exist such as a munitions dump in Nundah which was uncovered during construction work but others have not been found and may be nothing but urban myth. Oz At War has a full list of all the alleged burial sites along with information about what may or may not be under the ground of some of your favourite Brisbane locations. You may be surprised at some of the places that may well be the final resting place for the weapons that protected our boarders in WWII.

Wikimedia Commons

4 The Spanish Galleon of Stradbroke Island

Now, if this buried secret is in fact found to be true, then Australian Colonial history as we know it may well have to be re-written. Stories of forgotten voyages and lost maps are a common occurrence when examining the history of world exploration. From Gavin Menzies' controversial books 1421 and 1434 that claim to provide evidence for a 15th Century Chinese circumnavigation of the world to other theories that state that Australia was discovered not by Captain Cook in 1770, but in fact by either Portuguese or Spanish explorers as early as the 17th Century.

The specific claim of believers of this buried Brisbane secret is that the galleon, buried beneath the waters of 18 Mile Swamp on the eastern side of North Stradbroke Island, is that of a Spanish galleon shipwrecked after a severe storm off the Eastern Queensland Coast and that the indigenous inhabitants of North Stradie may well have even traded with white settlers using gold and silver Spanish doubloons recovered from the wreck. For information on the pre-Cook explorations of Australian waters click here , and for information regarding the buried galleon of Stradbroke Island head here.

Regardless of the how factual these buried sites and stories may be. The fascination with the unknown and the unresolved remains an intriguing part of the history of Brisbane. I'm not prepared to put my reputation on the line and say that these stories are all true but I love the idea that our history is more colourful than the old colonial and convict stories would have us believe.

Happy hunting.
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Why? Brisbane itself is the home to many a tale of mystery and intrigue that have polarised academics and raised the eyebrows of sceptics everywhere.
Your Comment
I thought I knew my Brisbane history pretty well but I hadn't heard of any of these. What a fascinating read, thanks Tristan! I'm off now to find the galleon on Stradbroke Island.
by Carly Ogborne (score: 3|4626) 3222 days ago
Great article! Loved it.
by Debra Lidster (score: 2|851) 3222 days ago
Really interesting article - thanks!
by Julie Mundy (score: 3|1738) 3220 days ago
there is an old bomb shelter in the dog park at New Farm, next to the Powerhouse. very obvious doorway to the underground. However cant find any info on it.
by alann (score: 0|3) 3221 days ago
It is already known that Captain Cook did not discover Australia. It was first discovered by the Dutch long before any other country and it was recorded. Then the Portuguese and Spanish found the land, hence the name Torres straight Islands, 'Torres' being a Spanish name.
by julio (score: 0|2) 2394 days ago
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