Dead, Wrapped in Cardboard

People might flock to the Gold Coast to feel alive, but it is increasingly also a destination for the dead. Drive inland, away from the scorching beaches, breakneck theme parks and thumping nightclubs, and you’ll eventually hit the quiet, bushy hinterland that locals affectionately call “the green behind the gold”. One of the suburbs here is Mudgeeraba, a place that is becoming widely known for its cemetery.

Gail Webb, a softly spoken funeral director from A Gentle Touch Funerals, leads me through the company’s cemetery, which ranges over nine hectares. “Quite beautiful, isn’t it?” she says as we walk among the headstones. Here, the burial ground is divided into two sections: a clippered-lawn cemetery to our left, with flat plaques in tidy, graph-like rows, and a monumental cemetery to our right, where a spectacular convergence of money and grief has taken place. Some of the memorial shrines are so large that they double as stone benches.