Here we have an odd one, a peaceful and gentle reflection on a cemetery, of all things.  As one who knows this cemetery very well I understand exactly why Margie is so taken with it, and I can absolutely recommend you to visit it yourself.

Samsonvale Cemetery – Reflections 

Yesterday, an overcast grey day,  I visited Samsonvale Cemetery, some 35 kilometres northwest of Brisbane. The cemetery is down Golds Scrub Road, off Mount Samson Road, the main road from Samford to Dayboro. It’s set in a nature reserve.

When Lake Samsonvale was created by the construction of the North Pine Dam, which Brisbane’s then Lord Mayor Frank Sleeman opened in 1976, Golds Scrub Road came to an abrupt halt. I have been unable to find its original destination, but know that much valuable agricultural land was flooded — along with homesteads (maybe one belonged to the Gold family), the original village, a church, and many memories no doubt — during the dam’s construction.

The Joyner family (after whom the local suburb is named) owned a large tract of land; many other families earned their living there dairying, raising vealers, growing pineapples and other crops. The local Indigenous people called the area Tukuwompa; there is a bora ring located nearby so the place must have held significance for them.

Enough of the history lesson; you, too, can Google any information regarding the place if you wish to.

I had been to visit someone in one of the picturesque isolated little valleys (this time Laceys Creek) in the mountainous area behind Dayboro and I wanted to walk my old dog, Zac, on the way home. I thought we’d call in at the cemetery and see what we found.

What we found was solitude, peace, calmness and a sense that all was right with the world. Zac, who normally does the rounds when visiting an old haunt, a new place, or somewhere with interesting smells, stayed close by my side. We walked under a pergola down the little avenue covered, I think, with star jasmine. If I am correct the scent in the spring would be intense and memorable.

On the left of this covered walkway is the columbarium, a wall in which are placed the urns containing the ashes of the cremated. There are many spaces still available, so hopefully this lovely modest place will continue to receive the ashes of loved ones. Reading the plaques stilled my busy mind.

Then we walked around the graves in the small cemetery. There were names of many local families; the pioneers, presumably, and others — familiar — who have roads named after them. The surnames were varied: German, English, Welsh, Irish, Scottish, Jewish, Islander… Some of the graves still have space for the spouse or partner to be buried beside the one who’s gone before. The scripts and engraving were of their time, but one in Celtic lettering was particularly striking.

The headstones reflect, as is right, the dates of the deceased’s birth and death. I find it easier to accept the message of love and bereavement when the person who died was old. The ones I always find harder to process are those of the young. One mentioned someone whose family wished him the life of freedom he’d always sought. I hope he’s found rest and peace.

Then the guineafowl arrived. Someone must have decided that, along with many snakes locals are reputed to relocate to the nature reserve, it would be a good place for these noisy, inquisitive birds to live. Too raucous to have around despite their propensity for gobbling up nasties in the vegie patch? They are well-known locally and no-one would be able to sneak into the area unannounced. While we strolled round, they came to see what Zac and I were doing in their home and to let us know that we were intruding. When we wandered off, they continued towards the water presumably in search of food, or perhaps they thought there was someone else who needed a good talking to. There are now chooks who live there too. One of the roosters is a particularly handsome fellow with glossy feathers and a spectacular tail.

I hope these interlopers — only there because people must have released them — enjoy the peace and quiet when there are no visitors, I hope someone might come and scatter grain for them, I hope the foxes and feral cats are kept at bay. Maybe one day someone will come and collect them to provide them with a ‘proper’ home. Until then, may they continue to wander and guard the cemetery and its surrounds.

Copyright  Margie Riley


Speaker/workshop presenter



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