Gibson Island Plague Cemetery

Gibson Island Plague Cemetery

Stage Number: MBSH.03.04.01

Group: Southern

Local Study Area: Murrarie-Cannon Hill

Epoch: Early 20th Century

Street Address: Gibson Island, Brisbane River

Latitude & Longitude: -27.43033333,153.12694444

Time Link: 1901

Map Link: 1904

Image Time Point: 1904

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Gibson Island was selected as a burial ground for bubonic plague victims in 1900. It was isolated, unused at the time, and not too far downriver from the plague At least 14 people were buried on high ground at Gibson Island during 1900, and in April 1901 a decision was taken to cease the practice on the grounds that it was ‘cruel and unnecessary’ and ‘bitterly resented by relatives of the victims’. The funerals were also felt to take the medical officer away from the quarantine station for too long. Families were now able to make their own arrangements, but only after the bodies had been carefully coffined by Health Board officials. After this time plague victims were buried in different Brisbane cemeteries, including at least three people in South Brisbane Cemetery. After 1909 there were 12 plague-free years in Queensland, and after a 1921 outbreak that caused 63 deaths, the last reported case of plague in the State was in 1922. Any remnants of the cemetery would have been destroyed by subsequent industrial development on the island, including the construction of major power stations.


Friends of South Brisbane Cemetery, ‘Brisbane’s Lost Plague Cemetery’ (, sighted 15 July 2017).

Image Citations

Gibson Island Power Station, 1953. John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Record number: 420094.

Map References

QSA. QSA Series ID 2043 City of Brisbane and Suburbs Maps – A1A Series. 4 chains to the inch. Brisbane and suburbs. Sheet 1. 4 chains to the inch. Brisbane, Survey Office.. 634532