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When ordinary people are caught up in extraordinary events, their stories and lesson should not be forgotten, lest we are condemned to repeat them!

Forty years ago, Juanita Nielsen fought developers who wanted to push the working-class residents out of her street in Potts Point to develop the area; not long after, Juanita disappeared, feared murdered. Today, a housing affordability crisis is pushing key workers out of the city –will Juanita’s fight be in vain?

He was the greatest wartime sniper Australia has ever known and his fellow soldiers were glad that Billy Sing was on their side. But the demons that haunted him after his death, saw Billy die in poverty in West End, Brisbane. Did we as a nation fail Billy; are we still failing our returned soldiers?

“An aged spare little lady, who could almost be blown over in a puff of wind” was how one re-porter described suffragette, fighter and rebel, Emma Miller. A hundred years ago she fought for women’s rights; how would she view where women stand today?

Life on the land, especially during the depression was tough and when a farmer’s wife wrote to car manufacturer, Ford, saying they couldn’t afford two vehicles so they wanted one that could take her and her husband to church on Sunday… and the pigs to market on Monday, Louis Bandt had just the thing. And thus, the Ute was born. Today, do we design for our lifestyle or do we change our lifestyle around designs?

Stephen Hopper and other settlers in Victoria had no understanding of bushfires and the ramifications of the deadly build-up of dead timber and long grass. Ironically our first Australians had managed the land using fire to prevent larger devastating fires for tens of thousands of years. Since then, Black Friday, Ash Wednesday and most recently, Black Saturday, challenge whether we have learnt from Stephen and the settler’s experience.

Maggie Oliver trod the boards all over Australia in the 1860s. But when the curtain fell, her home life was one of domestic violence. On one occasion, her husband, John King, struck her so hard as she was to go on stage, that he rendered her unfit to play the role. His employer, Mr Gougenheim, hearing of John’s shameful treatment of his wife, discharged him immediately. Do we need more Mr Gougenheim’s stepping up as MaleChampions of Change against domestic violence?

All of these people have one thing in common –they rest in cemeteries Australia-wide. Time has not made their extraordinary battles and obstacles less relevant today. Standing at their gravestones, we ask the question ‘have we learnt anything?’

Grave Tales Brisbane Vol. 1 visits five Brisbane cemeteries and features people who may have lived in the same suburbs, streets, and even the same houses as exist now, or unexpectantly came to rest in a Brisbane cemetery. Meet the train driver who died on the Samford Range with 14 of his passengers; the working girl who caught the Pearl ferry and perished in the river; the Jack the Ripper suspect who had 20 wives, mostly all at once; the only woman ever hanged in Queensland; a boxer who should have been world champ but was a victim of the race card; a soldier who wanted to die with Harry ‘Breaker’ Morant; and more.

Grave Tales: Great Ocean Road Country – Geelong to Port Fairy visits established cemeteries and burial places off-the-beaten-track that lie between Geelong and Port Fairy. Meet the ladies of the lighthouse who led an isolated life; the unionist shot in an affray; the stage actor whose career ended too soon; the men who sighted the fabled Mahogany Ship; the two survivors of a shipwreck that everyone wanted to see married, but it wasn’t to be; the inventor of the Ute and what inspired his unusual design; and the lady who rests in a ‘donated’ isolated beach grave.

Grave Tales: Sydney visits cemeteries around this vibrant city to find some exceptional characters, victims, forgotten stars and heroes – actress Maggie Oliver who died a premature death; the inspiration for Charles Dickens’s Miss Havisham; crusader for the ‘little’ people Juanita Nielsen; Australian legend Ben Lexcen who had such humble beginnings and Mr Eternity, Arthur Stace, to name a few. Out April 2018.

Grave Tales: Bruce Highway, produced with the support of the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, will venture into beautiful North Queensland to meet some amazing Australian including two nurses—Cecelia and Rose Wiles—in Maryborough in 1905 who gave their lives to save a town from an outbreak of pneumonic plague; Jose, the migrant who created his dream—Paronella Park—and shared it with generations; Mary Watson and her child who drifted at sea for eight days in a water tank; and we’ll tell you how gold fever changed life into the north; to name but a few stories. Out October 2018.


Journalists, Helen Goltz and Chris Adams have between them spent many decades in the print and electronic media working for network television,  radio, and state and community newspapers. With a joint love of history, digging for a good story and storytelling, they have collaborated to create a series of books that brings our history to life again.

Connect with the authors on the Grave Tales Facebook page.

Buy the paperback book or a gift card from the Grave Tales shop or the book and ebook from Amazon.

BOOK INFORMATION – available in paperback and ebook
RRP: $25 inc postage in Australia only, if purchased directly from the Grave Tales shop. Also available from Amazon (postage cost determined by Amazon).
Trade paperback and ebook
Pages: 298pp approximately
Publication date: 2017 – 2018.
Category: Non-fiction, Australiana, history, modern history.
Atlas Productions