TOMB LEFT AS DRAIN COVER
One of the strangest culvert covers in Brisbane is a
tombstone bearing the inscription of one of the city’s
earliest pioneers. Positioned from the footpath to the
shoulder of the road in Gooburra-street [Goburra Street
today], Rocklea, the tombstone bears the following
inscription: “Louisa Duesbury Coote, wife of William
Coote, born October
1827, died October 10, 1870.” The rest of the
inscription is almost unreadable, because it has been
worn away by the weather, or by people’s feet.
During the pioneering days, settlers were to be found in
isolated places and lived, died and were buried on their
properties, and near their homesteads.
Early in the 19th century, a man named
William Coote, arrived in Brisbane from England, and
took up property at Rocklea, then known as “Rocky
Waterholes.” His main occupation was rearing silkworms,
and he was the first man in the colony to produce silk
from the worms.
On Ipswich-road, he cultivated a large area of mulberry
trees, on which the silkworms fed. His enterprise was so
useful to the community that he was (it is said) granted
a bonus by the Government of the day, to encourage his
To-day, the property¾or
some of it¾that
was owned by William Coote, is in the possession of Mr.
Herbert Pegg, who successfully grows tomatoes and other
small vegetable crops.
“The tombstone which you see on the footpath leading to
the roadway in Gooburra-street, in front of Mrs.
Richardson’s house, was placed there five years ago by
my brother, at the request of the Council, who promised
to remove it to a cemetery site,” Mr. Pegg told “Truth.”
“The grave of the late Mrs. Coote was about fifty yards
from where the tombstone is at present lying, and was in
portion of this property where these tomatoes are now
“As far as we know, the remains of Mrs. Coote have never
been removed from the grave.”
Pointing to an old-looking house, “Truth” asked, “Is
that the old home of Mr. Coote?” but Mr. Pegg said, “No.
The old home, and all its surrounding buildings, have
long since been demolished or removed.
In the records of the Registrar General, the death
certificate of Mrs. Coote shows that she died at “Rocky
Waterholes” and was buried there.
The records also show that there were three children:
Louisa Frances, William Jonas and Eva Marion.
Other details reveal that Mrs. Coote came to Australia
from Middlesex, England, only nine years before she
died. [This does not take account of the time she and
her husband spent in Tasmania and Victoria].
The actual site of the Coote property was about 200
yards from the New England-Pacific Highway turn-off, and
is on the Oxley side of the main Ipswich-Brisbane road.
Many new homes have been erected in that portion of
Rocklea during the last 12 months, and many residents
were of the opinion that the tombstone had originally
been shifted from the old Lang Park Cemetery, when the
old Water Board put the sewerage main through the park
Louisa’s distinguished husband made his mark as an
‘engineer, architect, journalist, pamphleteer, political
organizer and sericulturist’. He died in the Townsville
Hospital on 1 October 1898 after a minor operation and,
with the Reverend AE Coote presiding (a relation?), was
laid to rest in the Townsville Cemetery two days later.
The following brief death notice dated 3 October 1898,
reporting news from Townsville, appeared in The Week,
the weekly edition of the Brisbane Telegraph:
Mr. William Coote, who was well known in North
Queensland as a great writer in favour of separation,
died in Townsville on Saturday [1 October] and will be
buried today [3 October].