Friday, 25 November 2011

O' 13th Avenue, Where Art Thou??

12th Avenue within Toowong Cemetery - amongst all other Avenues, this Avenue has always held a special place in my heart as I have family buried there.  At the bottom of the hill, alongside 8th Avenue & almost in line with 12th Avenue, the first wife of my great grandfather, who died in childbirth, is interred (mother to 5 children, half-siblings to my grandmother - 4 of them are interred nearby).  At the top of the hill, just past the end of 12th Avenue at the intersection of 2nd & 3rd Avenue, my grandfather's aunty & family are interred.  My great great grandparents & 6 of their children are interred within an area known as "the grove" alongside 12th Avenue, an area heavily overgrown with Bunya Pines & Camphor Laurel trees, & populated with amazing monumental masonry that has always fascinated me.   Most importantly, which will become apparent shortly, another grave housing my great great grandparents & 1 of their children, lies alongside 13th Avenue.  Needless to say, I know this section of Toowong Cemetery incredibly well, given the number of family interments within its confines.

Searching for stories of Brisbane ghosts & hauntings as I regularly do, my interest peaked recently whilst reading an article published in the City South News, reporter unlisted, on the 13th of September 2010 entitled, "Tour issue dead and buried."  The article itself was unengaging aside from a sadly downplayed parting comment by the Greater Brisbane Cemetery Alliance Vice-President Kelvin Johnston, stating more should be done to prosecute cemetery trespassers - only one year prior, vandals had gone on a rampage through a section of the cemetery, resulting in the destruction of over 80 graves.  Sadly, after a protracted court case, the 4 individuals were acquitted of charges on the back of inadequate cemetery laws.  However, my interest was instantly drawn to a public comment posted about the piece by "Jason" - "Just compare a Ghosts of Toowong map to a real one of Toowong Cemetery to see how Mr. Sim has relocated 13th avenue." 

So, what of these claims of a "relocation" of Toowong's 13th Avenue??  A quick Google search on "toowong cemetery 13th avenue" brought up a blog site, which stated, "At the corner of 12th and 13th Avenue it is said that the Angel of Death stands and hisses whoever comes near."  From this lead, various related search strings pulled up further hints, including testimony from one of the tour guides of the Toowong Cemetery tour  - "While I waiting on the hill alone above the intersection of 12th and 13th Avenue (the place where The Angel is said to appear) I heard a male voice whispering to the right behind me."  Yet another personal blog site stated, "At the corner of 12th and 13th Avenue, said to be the middle point of the graveyard (there is no street sign to mark 13th Avenue as it is the most stolen street sign in Queensland) we joined hands and summoned the Angel of Death.  He must have been taking a night off."  Here, another very important factor wades into the mix - the 13th Avenue sign, allegedly "the most stolen street sign in Queensland".  After some more detective work speaking to extended friends who had taken the tour of Toowong Cemetery, I discovered that the intersection of 12th & 13th Avenue was located above the Mayne monument at the high point of 12th Avenue - I was assured that this "fact" was verified by the "angel" story & Toowong Cemetery map in the book, The Ghosts of Toowong Cemetery: Brisbane's Haunted Necropolis.

Seeking out the story & map in said book, I located the section about the "angel of death" on page 23 - there I found the reference again, as clear as day - "At the intersection of two roads - Twelfth and Thirteenth Avenues, a crossroads in the dead centre of the cemetery..."  I then flipped to the associated map of Toowong Cemetery on page 37, which clearly showed the intersection of 12th & 13th Avenue (marked at Figure 8 above). For reference, the photo at the top of this article shows the intersection, complete with 12th Avenue sign & jagged bracket below where the 13th Avenue sign has supposedly been torn free by thieves.  So - you're likely wondering where I'm going with this?  Well, having family buried alongside both 12th & 13th Avenues & knowing the area of the cemetery extremely well, I can categorically state that no such intersection between the two Avenues exists!  A simple search of the Brisbane City Council website provides a link to the official map of Toowong Cemetery - this map clearly shows that the intersection in question is actually between 12th Avenue & 11th Avenue. 13th Avenue exists much further along 8th Avenue at the bottom of the hill, & in no way comes anywhere near the top of 12th.  Furthermore, the intersection is far from the centre of the cemetery, as claimed.  Conveniently, the missing sign at the top of 12th Avenue belongs to 11th Avenue, not 13th.

How such a glaring error could possibly be made (& continues to be made), given the ease with which the Council's official Toowong Cemetery map can be accessed, is anyone's guess.  However, given that the associated ghost tale hinges wholly on the location of the crossroads between 12th & 13th Avenue (which clearly does not exist), one can only call into question the overall legitimacy of the supposed haunting.  There is no doubt that 12th Avenue is an amazing place, made even more so by the almost mystical grove located down its side...changed street names & the attachment of tall tales only aid in cheapening the historic & potentially paranormal nature of the site.  As a final note, one solitary tidbit of information did come to light whilst investigating the "crossroads" claim, found on a forum site - "I know a friend who told me that a certain 13th avenue either disappeared or appeared (bad memory) at toowong cemetery..."  Perhaps this rumour explains my inability to locate the fabled crossroad...or then again, perhaps it is just as fictitious as the intersection itself??


  1. Look, I know the number 13 is supposed to be unlucky and so on and so forth, but for crying out loud why would anybody bother concocting this nonsense about street names? It's not like it makes the story more scary or whatever.

    This guy has been running tours at Toowong for how long? Ten years? He also wrote that book, which you think would involve some basic research. What I don't get is, why aren't the Friends of Toowong Cemetery righting these wrongs? I don't think any other 'Friends of' group would tolerate this stuff. Jack Sim's book is an affront to historians and paranormalists alike, which is quite an extraordinary feat.

  2. On the 4th April 2011 persons found guilty of the abhorant behavior at Toowong and other queensland get a seven year jail sentence for desecrating under the criminal.Good on the greater brisbane cemetery and who would go on a bullshit ghost tour maybe a headstone will fall on the goons and money makers from the dead.

  3. Over my 20 years of working at the Toowong Cemetery, as a Grave digger, Acting Assistant Sexton and as an Assistant Sexton and also used to jog through the place at night and also worked 9 days on and 5 off there. In all that time never has any one told me of any sightings or have seen any sightings although had seen these people dressed up in robes practising rituals or fooling around at night at Gov Blackall's monument. I still visit and still nothing!!!!

  4. Ghosts, spirits, cryptids and demons dont fucking exist. These sights promoting hauntings and paranormal presence in cemetries are all a scam