THE LEGENDS OF TOOWONG CEMETERY IN AUSTRALIA

By Cameron Trost (https://camerontrost.com)

My short story The Shortcut in Rayne Hall’s anthology Among the Headstones features a fictitious Australian cemetery.  The inspiration for this was a real graveyard. Glimpses of Toowong Cemetery were in my mind as I wrote this chilling tale. If you know Brisbane, Australia, you’ll know exactly what I mean. For everyone else, take my hand on this darkest of nights, and let me guide you.

Toowong Cemetery is a heritage-listed cemetery on the corner of Frederick Street and Mt Coot-tha Road in the suburb of Toowong, Brisbane. It was established in 1866 and formally opened in 1875. This sprawling hillside cemetery with tree-lined avenues is the largest in the state of Queensland, covering forty-four hectares, and it is one of the most haunted.

Toowong Cemetery, Brisbane Australia
RIP

There are a number of legends connected to Toowong Cemetery, and one even involves the most infamous serial killer of the Victorian age—that’s right, Jack the Ripper! Walter Thomas Porriott, known to police as Andrew John Gibson, is buried in Toowong Cemetery, along with his wife, Bessie. He was a convicted killer who lived in Limehouse, near Whitechapel, London, at the time of the Ripper murders. Some Ripperologists believe he was the man responsible for the horrific slaying and mutilation of five women. Letters found by his great-grandson show that Mr Porriott’s handwriting greatly resembled that found on an alleged letter written by Jack the Ripper to a London newspaper at the time of the killings, and Mr Porriott’s letters disclosed his hatred for prostitutes. The killings stopped around the same time Mr Porriott left for Australia. Despite having no medical background or education, he proclaimed himself a doctor. As we know, Jack the Ripper is believed to have had some medical knowledge. The evidence is purely circumstantial and we’ll probably never know for sure, but if you venture to Toowong Cemetery, stop by the headstone that reads “Bessie – died 25th June 1957 – and her husband” and perhaps the truth will be whispered in your ear.

SPOOK HILL

The other popular legend concerning the cemetery is about Twelfth Avenue, which is more popularly known as Spook Hill. The avenue is a sloping road in the cemetery grounds and it’s purported to have a very special property. It is said that if you park your car facing uphill and take off the handbrake, it will roll uphill instead of downhill. Is that a chill you feel crawling up your spine? It’s understandable! What dark force is at play here? Is it the devil himself? Well, no, according to one version, it’s arguably much more sinister than that. There is a grave belonging to two young sisters who were killed in a car accident on top of Spook Hill, and they drag unsuspecting cars uphill so that the people in the car will meet the same fate!

After hearing about these two legends, you might be having second thoughts about visiting Toowong Cemetery, but you needn’t worry—just make sure you visit on foot and you don’t look like a Victorian prostitute. Go on—take my hand—you’ll be fine! 😉

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cameron Trost is an author of mystery and suspense fiction best known for his puzzles featuring Oscar Tremont, Investigator of the Strange and Inexplicable. He has written two novels, Letterbox and The Tunnel Runner, and two collections, Hoffman’s Creeper and Other Disturbing Tales and The Animal Inside. Originally from Brisbane, Australia, Cameron lives with his wife and two sons near Guérande in southern Brittany, between the rugged coast and treacherous marshlands. He runs the independent publishing house, Black Beacon Books, and is a member of the Australian Crime Writers Association. You can find out more about him at https://camerontrost.com and read more of his strange and creepy tales by grabbing a copy of his latest collection, The Animal Inside.

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ABOUT THE BOOK

Among the Headstones: Creepy Tales from the Graveyard edited by Rayne Hall, presents twenty-seven of the finest – and creepiest – graveyard tales with stories by established writers, classic authors and fresh voices.

Here you’ll find Gothic ghost stories by Robert Ellis, Lee Murray, Greg Chapman, Morgan Pryce, Rayne Hall, Guy de Maupassant, Myk Pilgrim, Zachary Ashford, Amelia Edwards, Nina Wibowo, Krystal Garrett, Tylluan Penry, Ambrose Bierce, Cinderella Lo, Nikki Tait, Arthur Conan Doyle, Priscilla Bettis, Kyla Ward, Edgar Allan Poe, Paul D Dail, Cameron Trost, Pamela Turner, William Meikle and Lord Dunsany who thrill with their eerie, macabre and sometimes quirky visions.

You’ll visit graveyards in Britain, Indonesia, Russia, China, Italy, Bulgaria, Thailand, USA, Australia, South Africa and Japan, and you can marvel at the burial customs of other cultures.

Now let’s open the gate – can you hear it creak on its hinges? – and enter the realm of the dead. Listen to the wind rustling the yew, the grating of footsteps on gravel, the hoo-hoo-hoo of the collared dove. Run your fingers across the tombstones to feel their lichen-rough sandstone or smooth cool marble. Inhale the scents of decaying lilies and freshly dug earth.

But be careful. Someone may be watching your every movement… They may be right behind you.

Purchase Link: mybook.to/Headstones

The ebook is available for pre-order from Amazon at the special offer price of 99 cents until 31 January 2021. (After that date, the price will go up.)  A paperback will follow.