J is for Broome’s Japanese Cemetery and Jimbour

Join me on my Cemetery Searching expedition for the 2023 A to Z Blog Challenge. I’ll be re-visiting some cemeteries and preparing for a wish list of others. Some family members will be mentioned but I also have an interest in German family graves as well as those of people born in Co Clare Ireland.

Japanese Cemetery, Broome, WA

In the late 19th century, Japanese divers were employed as pearl divers off the coast of Western Australia, near Broome. It was a very dangerous occupation as the many graves in the Japanese Cemetery testify. We visited back over New Year in 1998 and all my photos must still be printed photos which have yet to be scanned. However, the image here is a Wikimedia image via Creative Commons, and gives a sense of how different the memorial stones are.

Image: Martin Kraft (photo.martinkraft.com) License: CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Former Administrator of the Northern Territory, Ted Egan, is also a bush balladeer who incorporates historic events into his songs. You can listen to Sayonara Nakamura, at this link: https://g.co/kgs/ifJM3G.

Cemetery Searching Wish List

Jimbour Cemetery, Jimbour Station, Queensland

The Darling Downs Gazette of 3 Nov 1866 documented a “melancholy and fatal accident” with the death of two boys at Jimbour.[1] Three children, Michael Gavin 12, Bridget Gavin, 9 and Michael Gavin 6, drowned on Monday 29 October 1866 at the Main Camp Station about three miles from Jimbour station. They had gone to the creek hoping to catch fish, but the ground was slippery due to the falling creek levels. They slipped, lost their footing and slid into the water. The little girl, Bridget, managed to escape by grabbing some rushes. However, she could not see the boys, only bubbles where they had been. Although the older Michael could swim a little it was thought the younger lad had grabbed him and dragged him underwater. Poor little Bridget ran to the hut to fetch her mother who ran to the washpool three miles away for assistance. A man called George Perkins returned with her and found the body of the older boy and the next day an Aboriginal man recovered the six-year old’s body. The inquest referred to the parents of Bridget and the younger Michael as Stephen and Anna (aka Honora Mulkerrin) Gavin. Twelve year old Michael was the son of Mark and Anna Gavin. 

There is a memorial plaque at the historic Jimbour cemetery which includes the names of Michael Gavin 6, and Michael Gavin 12. Visiting it is on my wish list and I’m hoping to get there next month. These Gavins were in much the same areas of Queensland as my own, but they came from Galway while mine were from Kildare. It did take a while to untangle the two of them.

Jerry’s Plains, New South Wales

At least one of “my” Dorfprozelten immigrants was buried there and I would like to see the cemetery and get a better sense of its geography. Sometimes maps just aren’t enough.

[1] The inquest into the death of Michael Gavin (12) and Michael Gavin (6) is in Queensland State Archives at JUS/N13 66/174. Also in the Queensland Times of 6 November 1866, page 4. http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article123334122, taken from the Dalby Herald.

17 thoughts on “J is for Broome’s Japanese Cemetery and Jimbour

  1. I visited the Japanese cemetery at Broome in 1987 – I remember being struck by the very different feel – all cemetries are different but … It would be fascinating to know some of the stories of those who died so far from home.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. HI Pauleen

    I am going to Jimbour on the weekend of 6-7 May for Opera at Jimbour. If I can help by going to the cemetery for a photo, let me know, but you might be planning a drive out there with Mr Cassmob anyway.



    Liked by 1 person

  3. When in Broome last year we visited both the Japanese and Chinese cemeteries. They are both beautifully maintained and give a wonderful insight into the area’s history. (I may have several photos in my collection)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And I wonder how long it took for the families to be told, and even if they were “officially” advised. It may have been left to the other divers to write home.


  4. Such a sad story about the Gavins. To have lost two children, and so young. The Japanese cemetery is very moving — a monument to the need for safety and health regulations for every type of occupation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s not a grassy kind of area as we might expect in more urban environments. Broome is known for its red cliffs, white sand and very blue ocean and is in the far tropical north west of Australia.


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