Nudgee cemetery is owned by the Corporation of the Trustees of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Brisbane and is part of the considerable estates owned by the Catholic Church in the area.
It is the only major private cemetery in Brisbane, but despite its ownership, it is open to the deceased of all denominations.
The first person to be buried in the cemetery was Bernard McHugh who was interred in 1867.
The cemetery is divided into distinct sections. It has an area for the church religious orders: for example the Sisters of Mercy and the Christian Brothers, among others, have defined areas. Another large section is that set aside for above ground burials which are popular with some European cultures.
There are numerous Italian mausoleums, many with photographs and memorabilia of the deceased. There are large family plots used for generations. Some of these are still in use.
The cemetery has become important to the traditions of Brisbane's Italian community, but it is those of Irish origins which have by far the largest representation both among the religious and the laity.
A stroll through the cemetery to peruse the headstones will reveal many of the deceased had Irish birthplaces. Among the prominent Irish buried here are T.C. Beirne, the department store owner and benefactor of the Queensland University Law School and George Wilkie Gray managing direction of the Castlemaine Perkins brewery during the introduction of the XXXX brand.
Amongst the prominent religious burials is Mother Mary Vincent Whitty, founder of the Sisters of Mercy in Brisbane.
The cemetery's most famous interee however, is Vincent Clair Gair, Premier of Queensland from 1952 - 1957. Born in Rockhampton in 1902, he entered the Queensland Legislative Assembly in 1932 as a representative of the Australian Labor Party. He was expelled from the party in 1957 as a result of a split caused by a right-wing Catholic, anti-Communist group. In 1965, he entered the federal parliament as a Queensland senator and leader of the Democratic Labor Party. That party was instrumental in keeping Labor out of office in the 1960's. In 1974, he was given a controversial posting as ambassador to Ireland by the Whitlam Government. He died in 1980.
In late 1999, there was extensive drainage and clearing work in the cemetery grounds. This work should considerably extend the life of the cemetery, as well as further enhance the beauty of this special place set in such a peaceful semi-rural environment.
WRAFTERS MONUMENTAL WORKS -Entwined with the cemetery's history is the monumental stonemasonry business T. Wrafter and Sons Pty. Ltd., situated opposite the main entrance on St Vincents Rd. Timothy Wrafter emigrated from Ireland where he had learnt his trade in approximately 1880 and established the masonry works.
Timothy died in 1972, however the business continues to be owned and operated by the Wrafter family. At one time, about 90% of the work completed by the business comprised graves situated at Nudgee Cemetery.