Way to go Australia


So many ways to die…

fire, drowning, fever, poison, lightning, murder, mining, suicide, the list of creative ways Australians have found to die is endless.

This is a harsh land, and one of the best reminders of that is to visit a cemetery.

All over the country, from the capital cities to places with only a name and a few decaying gravestones, stand man-made reminders of the souls who lost battles with this land.

Many gravestones have been lost to the elements, along with the records which proved their existence. Weathered stone markers have fallen, cracked, or been destroyed by lichen. The letters which spell out the last remaining memory of a person have faded and are impossible to make out.

But even those words which are still legible do little to describe the myriad ways people have found to die in Australia.

Newspapers give macabrely detailed accounts of disembowelments, limbs blown off, crispy corpses, often in a delighted tone.

This exploration of how Australians have died gives a glorious insight into who we were and how we lived.

The stories with named deceased are about deaths about 100 and more years old, out of respect for those still living. A few have been commemorated for their contribution to their communities but most are in remote cemeteries, and long forgotten.

The Barringun cemetery is on the border of NSW and Queensland, in the middle of a paddock. The fence has fallen down and stock can roam the barren grounds.

And as time inexorably passes, perhaps these stories may be all that eventually remains.


Lucy and Ted Knight, Cobar NSW
Hannah and William Harris, Cobar NSW

William Glasson, Cobar, NSW

Horses and trains were common causes of death, much as cars are today.

Horses – Archie Bassett, Condobolin, NSW

JJ Evans, Coolgardie, WA

Norman Kimmorley, Goondiwindi, QLD


Alfred Hockey, Orange, NSW

All over the country men paid the price for the riches they hoped they would gain.
Leonard Johnson, Kalgoorlie, WA

Grave embellishments tell so much about the deceased, from spurs and dolls, to boats, booze and footy teams.
embellishments and oddities


John Pedley, Bathurst, WA


William Stamp, Merridin, WA


Sophia Quinn and children, Parkes, NSW

Mark Cavanaugh, Tambo, Qld


Edwin Tindall, Kalgoorlie, NSW

From wanna-be Kelly gangs to interracial tensions…
James Corse, Ophir, NSW

William Wilson, Epping Tasmania

Bernard Muldoon, Ilfracombe, Queensland


James Brennan, Queensland

In the line of duty
Public officials also fell, be they policemen or magistrates travelling long distances.

John Otley Rhodes, Bathurst, NSW
John Kirkup, Parkes, NSW

George Fullerton, Menindee, NSW

First Nations
From colonial time to much more recently, the graves of Aboriginal inhabitants showed much about the patriarchal attitude of the invaders.
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Chinese, Arabic, Italians, the early melting pot showed in different methods of burial and commemoration.
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Special days

Christmas – Charles Huxley, Cunnamulla, NSW


Paddle steamers – Henry Pitcher, Bourke, NSW

Children playing – Alice Leatherbarrow, Strahan, TAS