Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Opinion

Canberra’s Leading
Relationship Lawyers

Bodies in Lake Burley Griffin

By Alexandra Craig - 26 May 2015 23

lake burley griffin

Lake Burley Griffin has had its fair share of bodies, acting as a watery grave for several unfortunate souls in the last century. Some met foul play, one woman’s body was found 14 years later and ruled as a suicide. She was still strapped into her car, basically a skeleton, but her clothes were still mostly intact and even some flesh remained.

However, legend has it that there are still some bodies down there. The people that once occupied these bodies did not meet foul play, nor was Lake Burley Griffin their first resting place.

The 1976 floods in Queanbeyan hit the Riverside Cemetery pretty badly, pulling coffins out of the ground and washing them away. It’s said that these coffins went all the way upstream and now reside in the depths of Lake Burley Griffin.

I’m not aware of any official record confirming their existence, however, I presume that if in fact they are down there they are probably decomposed and not ‘coffins’ anymore.

I’m not 100 per cent sure how many coffins were washed from the cemetery, or how many made it to the lake. I’ve heard varied numbers, some people told me they thought it was between 10 and 20, others are confident it was over 50.

I’d be curious to know if any of these coffins were spotted after they made their way to the lake, or perhaps spotted on their way to the lake, and whether any photos of exist.

As I said, I suspect they are no longer intact so even if someone went on a diving mission I think it would be highly unlikely that anything would be found – perhaps some bones could be salvaged from the mud.

Adding to the grisly history of the lake, I’ve heard stories about human waste from the morgue in Kingston being released into the water in the mid-1980s due to a plumbing mix up.

All in all, and paired with the blue-green algae and abundance of carp, the lake is looking less and less appealing… and some people swim in there!

What’s Your opinion?


Post a comment
Please login to post your comments, or connect with
23 Responses to
Bodies in Lake Burley Griffin
Alexandra Craig 8:35 am 28 May 15

dungfungus said :

Alexandra Craig said :

curlylocks said :

Like Tulip, my Grandmother’s Grave also was washed away with the floods. And my mother too still has a very hard time over it. No where to go to say hello no where to go to just stop and reflect what could of been, no place for me to go to say hello to my Grandmother I never knew.

That’s very sad 🙁 In one of the articles linked in the comments it says an estimated 200 graves washed away – that is a very large number, and a lot of sadness for 200+ families.

If you don’t mind my asking, do you know if there was any support provided by the local government to the affected families?

The lake should have been drained after the flood and the remains recovered, with dignity. It is probable that a lot went over the spillway into the Murrimbidgee and beyond.

From what I read, they recovered around 63 bodies for reburial. But, – and this isn’t meant to be insensitive, so I hope no-one takes offence – is it possible that the majority of the 200 were so decomposed by the time they got to the water in the first place that it was pretty much impossible to recover them? I couldn’t find any information on specifically which graves were lost and how long they had been buried for, so it’s hard to tell.

dungfungus 5:57 pm 27 May 15

Alexandra Craig said :

curlylocks said :

Like Tulip, my Grandmother’s Grave also was washed away with the floods. And my mother too still has a very hard time over it. No where to go to say hello no where to go to just stop and reflect what could of been, no place for me to go to say hello to my Grandmother I never knew.

That’s very sad 🙁 In one of the articles linked in the comments it says an estimated 200 graves washed away – that is a very large number, and a lot of sadness for 200+ families.

If you don’t mind my asking, do you know if there was any support provided by the local government to the affected families?

The lake should have been drained after the flood and the remains recovered, with dignity. It is probable that a lot went over the spillway into the Murrimbidgee and beyond.

Conan of Cooma 11:02 am 27 May 15

Don’t forget the remains of the local Aboriginal population, there are extensive cave networks that were flooded by the lake and by all accounts the area was high in spiritual significance.

Alexandra Craig 9:09 am 27 May 15

curlylocks said :

Like Tulip, my Grandmother’s Grave also was washed away with the floods. And my mother too still has a very hard time over it. No where to go to say hello no where to go to just stop and reflect what could of been, no place for me to go to say hello to my Grandmother I never knew.

That’s very sad 🙁 In one of the articles linked in the comments it says an estimated 200 graves washed away – that is a very large number, and a lot of sadness for 200+ families.

If you don’t mind my asking, do you know if there was any support provided by the local government to the affected families?

curlylocks 10:13 pm 26 May 15

Like Tulip, my Grandmother’s Grave also was washed away with the floods. And my mother too still has a very hard time over it. No where to go to say hello no where to go to just stop and reflect what could of been, no place for me to go to say hello to my Grandmother I never knew.

Alexandra Craig 9:39 pm 26 May 15

Dame Canberra said :

Tulip said :

The coffins/bodies/skeletons (however you would like to word it) of my grandparents were lost in the 1976 floods and were not recovered. It affected my Mum greatly at the time and still does. As stated by another rioter I am also unsure of the purpose of the article. I think that you will find that it has the opposite response to what you are expecting – a bit of fun? a laugh? Certainly not.

Sorry to hear that happened to your grandparents, Tulip. How awful.

I didn’t read Alexandra’s article as trying to poke fun or have a laugh about a sensitive topic. I think she’s simply exploring a side of the lake’s history (including the urban legends) that many Canberrans, even those who’ve lived here for many years, aren’t aware of.

Dame Canberra is correct – article was intended to explore the history of the lake and the urban legends, with the hope that some commenters might be able to share some knowledge or memories of past events. Because most of what I mentioned happened long before the internet was widely used, it’s difficult to find out more information on past events so a forum such as this can be really helpful. The article wasn’t at all intended to poke fun or be humorous so I apologise if it was read in that context.

carnardly 8:36 pm 26 May 15

and between Friday night and Monday 2 bunches of flowers appeared at the centre of the southbound lane of the bridge.

coincidence? Another jumper? person with depression? someone knows. we probably won’t. remember, bodies are people with families and loved ones.

Hacketthead 7:26 pm 26 May 15

I can remember when the skeleton was found in the car. It was so long ago, maybe 1994? I didn’t realise it was a suicide. The story I remember hearing was it was somebody who had too much to drink at a Christmas party in the 1970s and vanished without a trace, until the car was found.

Dame Canberra 4:20 pm 26 May 15

Tulip said :

The coffins/bodies/skeletons (however you would like to word it) of my grandparents were lost in the 1976 floods and were not recovered. It affected my Mum greatly at the time and still does. As stated by another rioter I am also unsure of the purpose of the article. I think that you will find that it has the opposite response to what you are expecting – a bit of fun? a laugh? Certainly not.

Sorry to hear that happened to your grandparents, Tulip. How awful.

I didn’t read Alexandra’s article as trying to poke fun or have a laugh about a sensitive topic. I think she’s simply exploring a side of the lake’s history (including the urban legends) that many Canberrans, even those who’ve lived here for many years, aren’t aware of.

Tulip 4:04 pm 26 May 15

The coffins/bodies/skeletons (however you would like to word it) of my grandparents were lost in the 1976 floods and were not recovered. It affected my Mum greatly at the time and still does. As stated by another rioter I am also unsure of the purpose of the article. I think that you will find that it has the opposite response to what you are expecting – a bit of fun? a laugh? Certainly not.

dungfungus 3:11 pm 26 May 15

I think you mean the coffins went downstream.

MERC600 2:05 pm 26 May 15

The dear old Queanbeyan cemetery, has over the years, lost a number of its clients due to floods.
The ACT needed someone to be vigilant ‘ Turn back the coffins ‘ could have been the catchcry

http://www.interment.net/data/aus/nsw/southerntablelands/quean_river/

Jenny Tiffen 1:31 pm 26 May 15

Oh geeez! I’d never heard these stories before. Yikes. I will still enjoy walking around Lake Burley G but will say a little prayer for that poor lady next time 🙁

Amy Birchall 11:53 am 26 May 15

I used to do dragon boating on the lake and would cringe every time my paddle hit something unexpected in the water. It was usually a shopping trolley or piece of driftwood, but you know, you never want to be the person who unwillingly discovers a body…

That said, I’ve swum in the lake loads of times, fully aware that there may be more than carp in the depths!

golden_youth 11:02 am 26 May 15

Not sure what the purpose of this article is (possibly to elaborate on urban legends?) but in recent times, less carp have been pulled out of the lake and a lot more native fish (cod, perch etc) are being caught which is a sign of good water quality. No doubt there are still high numbers of carp getting about but it’s great to see natives thriving.

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2017 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
www.the-riotact.com | www.b2bmagazine.com.au | www.thisiscanberra.com

Search across the site