Early newspapers in Brisbane frequently carried reports of tragic deaths by drowning in the surrounding waterholes. Many sank to the depths by accident, unable to swim. Others stumbled in to the water drunk or committed suicide.


Nundah Cemetery – the final resting place of Reverend John Gregor

A sad story was posted in a local Newspaper in 1848. Reverend John Gregor was found dead in a Nundah waterhole. John Gregor, ordained as a minister of the Church in Scotland made his way out to New South Wales in 1837. Licensed as minister of the district of Moreton Bay, he arrived in Brisbane on 17 January 1843 with Captain John Wickham, the first resident police magistrate. Gregor was responsible for the whole inhabited area around Moreton Bay, a huge area for one man to manage.

He worked out of a crude church attached to a lumber yard. Under constant financial strain, supervising so many people and day schools his work started to wear him down. His first report, ‘Two Journals of Missionary Tours in the Districts of Maneroo and Moreton Bay, New South Wales in 1843’ (S.P.G., The Church in Australia, London, 1846), was enthusiastic, but the next indicated his growing discontentment. From 1845 he lived at the German station at Nundah, and this further distanced him from the flock.
Theodore Franz, a witness said that Reverend Gregor had been complaining of a headache and the heat, watching him walk down to the waterhole he assumed it was just to bathe and cool off.
“About ten minutes afterwards, I heard Nicquet calling to me and asking if Mr. Gregor could swim. I answered “No” and hurried to the place where he was. I did not see Mr. Gregor there. I undressed myself and sprang into the water and swam to the place where I thought Mr. Gregor might have sank— Mr. Nicquet also came into the water. He felt the body of Mr. Gregor with his feet, but could not succeed in raising him; but after another attempt he did succeed. I assisted to draw the body to the land—there was no appearance of life, although the body was warm. We did all we could to restore life, but without success.”

Do you think it was just an accident? Find out on Australia’s longest running true crime show “True Crimes” – presented by Jack Sim on 4BC Nights with Walter Williams. Thursday evenings 9.35pm on Radio 4BC.

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