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The Federation Walk

A self-guided walk commemorating Queensland's contribution to Australia's federation

The Federation Walk was produced by the Friends of Toowong Cemetery as a Centenary of Federation project to commemorate the role of the four Queensland delegates to the National Australasian Convention of 1891 who are interred at Toowong Cemetery.

The National Australasian Convention was held in Sydney from the 2nd of March to the 9th of April 1891. The convention was attended by seven delegates from each of the six colonies and three delegates from New Zealand. The Queensland delegates were John Donaldson, Sir Samuel Griffith, John Macrossan, Thomas Macdonald-Paterson, Thomas McIlwraith, Arthur Rutledge and Andrew Thynne. Significant outcomes from this convention included agreement of the name Commonwealth of Australia and more importantly, the production of a draft constitution. Sir Samuel Griffith was Chairman of the committee responsible for writing the draft constitution.

This convention marked Queensland’s greatest role in the path towards Federation as Queensland was not represented at later conventions. For Queenslanders, the Depression, droughts, floods, industrial upheavals such as the Shearers Strikes and financial collapses were higher priorities.

Other Queensland issues in the federation debate included Queensland’s use of indentured Melanesian labour that was in contrast the federation movement’s White Australia policy and the possible division of Queensland into two or three separate colonies.

Despite many arguments against federation, the Federal Referendum on the 2nd of September 1899 narrowly voted in favour of Queensland's joining the new nation. Interestingly, the south-east corner of the colony was against Federation.

Crowds looking at the results board at the Courier Building on Referendum Night, Brisbane, Queensland, 1889

Crowds looking at the results board at the Courier Building on Referendum Night, Brisbane, Queensland, 1889 - State Library of Queensland. Cropped.

Before you start the walk

Before you start the walk, wear comfortable shoes, use sun protection, carry water, and read the Brisbane City Council Cemeteries - Conditions of Entry.

Conditions of Entry

Brisbane City Council seeks your assistance to maintain a safe and peaceful environment for all visitors to enjoy visiting our City Cemeteries.

You can play your part by having consideration for other visitors in our grounds by:

  • entering only between 6:00am and 6:00pm.
  • not walking on, or across monuments or headstones and by not walking on or across lawn graves that may have subsided as these may be unstable.
  • not leaning on, against or standing under, or on any monument structure.
  • whilst every care is taken to remove trip hazards, some surfaces may be sloping or uneven. Care should be taken when working on grassed areas, particularly when wet and visitors should remain on pathways where possible.
  • being aware of heavy machinery, mowers and other equipment being used.
  • not placing glass bottles, vases or ceramic containers and statues on graves which may become damaged and dangerous.
  • individual grave maintenance is the responsibility of the family of the deceased and must not be undertaken without a permit from Council.

Council accepts no responsibility for loss or damage to any vehicle, structure, monument, personal property, or thing, or any injury to any person no matter how any such injury, loss or damage may arise or be caused.

The Federation Walk Map

The Federation walk map

  • If you'd prefer not to walk up Mount Blackall, you can park your car at the end of Federation Avenue and start the walk there.
  • If driving, park your car in Emma Miller Avenue.
  • Begin the walk behind Canon Garland Place in Emma Miller Avenue.
  • Enter Portion 13 on the grass path to the summit between the graves of Pethebridge and Thurlow.

Federation Walk start

  • Head straight up the hill towards Governor Blackall’s monument.
  • Sir Arthur Rutledge's headstone is half way up and just off to the left.

Sir Arthur Rutledge's headstone

Sir Arthur Rutledge KCMG, QC, MLA (13‑49‑15)

Arthur Rutledge

Portrait of Sir Arthur Rutledge, 1883 - State Library of Queensland

Arthur Rutledge was born in New South Wales and came to Queensland as a Wesleyan Minister. From 1878 to 1893 and 1899 to 1904 he was a member of the Legislative Assembly. He served five years as Queensland’s Attorney General from 1883. Rutledge was admitted as a barrister in 1878 and became a QC in 1899 and later a district court judge. He was also the chairman of the Land Appeal Court. He was knighted in 1902. At the convention he was a member of the Judiciary Committee. He was a supporter of Griffith and the liberal franchise. Rutledge was also a strong supporter of the federation of the colonies and an opponent of the Northern Separatist movement.


Continue up the hill until you reach the Uhl family monument. Turn right and follow the path until you reach a wide path sloping from the top. Turn left and walk directly towards the Blackall Monument. Here you will find the Federation Pavilion.

The Federation Pavilion

Federation Pavilion

The Commonwealth of Australia was inaugurated under a pavilion erected for the occasion in Sydney’s Centennial Park. Our pavilion, designed by Brisbane architect Ian Sinnamon, honours the Queensland delegates to the 1891 National Australasian Convention who are interred nearby. It was funded by the Federation Community Projects Program and construction was arranged by the Brisbane City Council Cemeteries Division.


The pavilion is adjacent to the grave of Sir Samuel Griffith.

Sir Samuel Walker Griffith's headstone

Sir Samuel Walker Griffith KCMG, QC, MLA (12‑11‑6/7)

Sir Samuel Walker Griffith, 1886

Sir Samuel Walker Griffith, 1886 - State Library of Queensland

Griffith was born in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales and migrated to Australia as a child. He graduated from Sydney University in 1862 with Honours in maths and classics and commenced practising law in Brisbane. Griffith, considered by many a Liberal, was elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1872. He was Attorney General and twice premier of Queensland.

Griffith was a delegate at the Intercolonial Convention 1883. Subsequently, Griffith was Vice‑President of the National Australasian Convention of 1891 and Chairman of the Drafting Committee which prepared the draft constitution. Griffith was president of the Queensland Federation League from 1898. He was knighted in 1886.

In 1893 Griffith left government to become Chief Justice of Queensland and from 1903 to 1919 was the first Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia. During this period he translated Dante’s Divine Comedy from Italian, which was published by Oxford University Press in 1911.

He died on the 9th of August 1920 at his grand home Merthyr which gave its name to a locality in New Farm. The funeral cortege was described by the Daily Mail as the largest ever seen in Brisbane.


Walk along Federation Avenue to John Donaldson's headstone on the right.

John Donaldson's headstone

John Donaldson MLA (12‑47‑13)

John Donaldson, Queensland Minister for Public Instruction, 1889

John Donaldson, Queensland Minister for Public Instruction, 1889 - State Library of Queensland

Victorian‑born Donaldson became a pastoralist in Queensland. He was a manager and director of a mortgage agency and a bank. He was also President of the Queensland branch of the Australian Natives’ Association. Donaldson was a member of the Legislative Assembly from 1883 to 1893 and served as Post Master General and Colonial Treasurer. At the convention he sought free‑trade colonies conservative constitution.


Continue along Federation Avenue to Thomas Macdonald‑Paterson's headstone on the right.

Thomas Macdonald‑Paterson's headstone

Thomas Macdonald‑Paterson MLC (12‑53-10)

Thomas Macdonald‑Paterson

Politician Thomas MacDonald Paterson, 1885 - State Library of Queensland

Macdonald‑Paterson arrived in Rockhampton from Scotland in 1861. He worked at a butchery before moving to Brisbane, where he qualified as a solicitor. He was a member for the Queensland Central Separation League and National Association. Macdonald‑Paterson served as mayor of Rockhampton in 1870. He was a member of the Legislative Assembly from 1878 to 1885 and again from 1896 to 1901. He was a member of the Legislative Council from 1885 to 1896. He served in three tiers of government as he was the Brisbane Federal Member of the House of Representatives from 1901 to 1903. His main claims at the convention were for uniform financial legislation and the abolition of the right to appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.


Retrace your steps along Federation Avenue then return down the hill to the starting point.

Federation celebrations in Queen Street, Brisbane, 1901

Federation celebrations in Queen Street, Brisbane, 1901 - State Library of Queensland

Further Reading

  • Irving, H. (ed) The Centenary Companion to Australian Federation, Cambridge University Press, 1999
  • Kerr, J. (ed) Griffith, the Law and the Australian Constitution, Royal Historical Society of Queensland, 1998
  • Waterson, D. B. Biographical Register of the Queensland Parliament, Australian National University Press, 1972


Research: Sally McGrath

Walk Design: Dr. Hilda Maclean

Federation Pavilion funded by Federation Community Projects Program.

  • Architect: Ian Sinnamon
  • Construction facilitated by the Brisbane City Council Cemeteries Division

Restoration of the graves of Griffith, Rutledge, Macdonald‑Paterson and Donaldson funded by the Centenary of Federation Queensland.