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!