The Drayton & Toowoomba cemetery has served Toowoomba and the surrounding communities since the mid 1800s. It continues to meet the needs of the present generation.
Location: Corner Anzac Avenue and South Street Toowoomba Google map - new window
Hours of operation: Office hours are 9am–4pm Monday to Friday. Cemeteries are open to the public from 6 am - 6pm every day.
Contact: 131 872
In 1864 a Deed of Grant in Trust was issued over an area of two acres (0.8094ha) to the Trustees of the Church of England for a Toowoomba cemetery. A later deed, issued in 1867, expanded this to eight acres (3.2 ha) and extended the trusteeship to various religious denominations. The dimensions of today’s cemetery were laid down in 1882 when an area of 67 acres (27.11 ha) was gazetted for the Drayton & Toowoomba cemetery. Control of the cemetery was passed from the Trust to Toowoomba City Council in 1974. Since the 2008 local government reforms, we continue to provide residents with a high level of service.
Since the first registered burial in 1866, the Drayton & Toowoomba cemetery has been an integral part of Toowoomba’s history. It contains the graves of pioneers, previous Mayors and other prominent people who shaped our local history. A walk through various sections gives you insight into the way people lived in different eras, the hardship they faced, their life expectancy and even prevalent diseases at the time. In 2009 the Drayton & Toowoomba Cemetery was listed in the Queensland Heritage Register.
We maintain the cemetery to ensure the grounds are beautifully presented and interments are respectfully performed.
Section CE1, Block 3, Allotment 45
In 1893, the first appendectomy in Australia was performed on Emma Webb on the kitchen table in her residence at the rear of her husband’s bakery on the corner of Ruthven and Piper Streets. She recovered well from her ordeal and went on to outlive her doctors. The main building of the Toowoomba Hospital is named in her honour and features an informative display about her procedure and its historic significance.
Section CE 13-18 Block 15 Allotment 37
Josiah Dent was probably the first European to live in "The Swamp," later to be known as Toowoomba. He was found living in a tent where the entry to the Myer store is today. After his marriage he built a house near the present CWA Rooms in Margaret Street. His daughter Pamela was the first female child christened in Toowoomba.
Section CE 19-24 Block 19 Allotment
In 1903 the poet George Essex Evans was the driving force behind the formation of Toowoomba’s Austral Society. His poems ‘The Women of the West’ and ‘The Nation Builders’ were well known to Queensland school children who learnt them from their reading books. Essex Evans died in 1909 at the age of only 46 and this "life cut short" is commemorated in the broken column design of his headstone.
Section Old CE Block R3 Allotment 5
William Henry Groom arrived in Australia in 1849 as a boy of 16 years, convicted of stealing in England three years previously. He became an auctioneer in 1858. Over the next 43 years he became respected and influential in Toowoomba and could be named the father of Toowoomba. He was Toowoomba’s first mayor elected in 1861. He led his council acquiring land for the town hall and funds for the establishment of the General Hospital and Willowburn Hospital, now Baillie Henderson. He died of a combination of ‘bronchial catarrh’ and heart failure on 8th August 1901.
Section Old CE 1 Block R1 Allotment 15
Nell was the first woman mayor in Queensland after her election in April 1967 and held the position for almost 15 years. Nell studied dramatic art in London then returned home to help in the War effort, later teaching at Fairholme. She was awarded an OBE in 1979.
Section Old CE 2 Block R1 Allotment 8
William Beit married Mary Kellett and to mark the occasion they resolved to build a homestead. John McLean (Colonial Treasurer of Queensland) and William Beit bought the land in 1853, on which Westbrook Homestead was eventually built a kilometre from the main Pittsworth highway just beyond Westbrook Creek.
Section BAP1 Block 5 Allotment 67
Thomas Trevethan was born in Cornwall, England and died 21st September, 1891 aged 47 years. He was a coachbuilder, Alderman and became Mayor in 1888. Thomas Trevethan junior, with his uncle Walter, built the first Queensland car in their Neil Street factory in 1902. It was a single-cylinder 6hp Dion engine buggy.
Section Jewish Row 3
Henry Spiro, the only German/Jewish speaking Mayor of Toowoomba was elected in 1873 and died on 10th December 1876, aged 36 years and two months. He was instrumental in building the first Jewish Synagogue in Toowoomba situated in Neil Street. His monument is inscribed in Hebrew and English.
Section Old RC2 Block R1 Allotment 24
The brothers William and Peter Gentle were Toowoomba hoteliers. Peter’s hotel, The Horse and Jockey, is now known as the Shamrock. William owned land where the present Gentle Street is located.
Section Old RC 2 Block R4 Allotment 4
In 1869 the brothers Patrick and Thomas Perkins constructed a large brewery in Margaret Street now occupied by Grand Central Shopping Centre, then one of the largest in the southern hemisphere. It produced more than 25,000 gallons of XXX beer per week. Thomas died on the 10th August 1876 from injuries accidentally received at the age of 35.
Section Pres 1 Block 4 Allotment 42
James was a part owner of the Darling Downs Gazette and also a parliamentarian. His sister, Helen (Ella) Tolmie was the first probationer engaged at the Toowoomba General Hospital was said to have assisted at Emma Webb’s appendectomy. She was appointed to matron of the General Hospital in 1897.
Section Pres 1 Block 7 Allotment 35
Sir Hugh Nelson was the President of Legislative Council, Lieutenant Governor of Queensland, Queensland Treasurer and State Premier. Sir Hugh Nelson lived at historic Gabbinbar, which was built in 1863. Gabbinbar is situated at the South end of Ramsay Street. Sir Hugh Nelson’s father was the Rev. William Lambie Nelson, the first minister of St. Stephens, Presbyterian Church.
Section Pres 1 Block 11 Allotment 3
John, Sarah and their three children arrived in Brisbane on the ‘Lady Douglas’ in June 1874. John Devine and his wife Sarah farmed in the Vale View area south of Toowoomba until he became Sexton of the Drayton and Toowoomba Cemetery in 1875 on 1st March. This began 86 years of continuous service by three generations of Devines to the cemetery. Mrs. Davison (nee Devine) pointed out that John’s surname was originally Diffin but on leaving the ship, which brought them from Ireland, his surname had changed from Diffin to Devine. No apparent reason is known for this but Mrs. Davison mused that it may have been on account of pronouncing the name ‘Diffin’ as ‘Devine’.
Section RC 4 Block 1 Allotment 22
Michael was the founder of Pigott and Co. and established a retailing business in Toowoomba after he broke away from his Brisbane partner Bierne.
Section RC 4 Block 1 Allotment 22
John McKinney left Ireland in 1881 at the age of 19, for Australia. In 1885 he established the House of McKinney that began as a tobacconist and hairdresser at the top end of Ruthven Street. Even over the war years the business grew. By 1927 John McKinney passed the reins over to his son. Toowoomba’s store used to extend from Ruthven Street over Duggan Street to Victoria Street.