The Cemetery, the Council and the Coffin-shaped Conveniences! Australia’s Scenic Public Toilet #30

Last Updated on August 27, 2017 by Red Nomad OZ

Millaa Millaa Cemetery Conveniences (courtesy Cairns Post)
Millaa Millaa Cemetery Conveniences (courtesy Cairns Post)

In Scenic Public Toilet world, where I humbly claim to be an Australian expert (I HAVE written a book – Aussie Loos with Views after all), I thought I’d seen it all!

From the vast, sweeping plains of the Queensland Outback; the spectacular ‘Bali Hai’ backdrop of Lord Howe Island; the magnificent Southern Yorke Peninsula coastline; the RED rocky ranges of the Northern Territory; the high country of Victoria; and the drama of plunging cliffs and blowholes in Western Australia, I’ve been privileged to discover – and use for their intended purpose – some of the most amazingly scenic amenities on earth!

But I never thought it’d be my pleasure to do my business in a coffin!

We extended our July 2011 stay in the excellent Millaa Millaa Tourist Park on the outskirts of this tiny Atherton Tablelands town in the shadow of Mt Bartle Frere (Queensland’s highest mountain) and Mt Bellenden Ker (Queensland’s 2nd highest mountain) several times.

Millaa Millaa Caravan Park Campsite
Millaa Millaa Caravan Park Campsite

That’s because it’s an excellent and superbly scenic base from which to explore the whole tablelands region. Most of which can be seen from the Millaa Millaa Lookout, starting with Mt Bartle Frere’s bulk and sweeping around over the superb green panorama that makes up this cool – both literally AND figuratively – tropical paradise.

View from Millaa Millaa Lookout, Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland
View from Millaa Millaa Lookout, Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland

Just down the road are the archetypal Millaa Millaa Falls – so named (by me) because the word ‘waterfall’ probably conjures up an image something like the falls in the photo below, right??

Further afield past magnificent rainforest and one of the more picturesque landscapes in OZ is the excellent Train to Tumoulin; the plunging Crater at Mt Hypipamee, and the marvellous Mungalli Creek Dairy and Organic Cafe!

Millaa Millaa Falls, Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland
Millaa Millaa Falls, Atherton Tablelands, Far North Queensland

And that’s just what’s REALLY close!!

Somehow, in the midst of all this traveller’s fantasy world, I missed the unique coffin-shaped public toilet in the Millaa Millaa cemetery.

Don’t ask me how I missed the Millaa Millaa Coffin Loo. Although I’d like to think it’s because it hadn’t been built back then …

But now, however, after a disturbing report from readers Cheryl and Franciscus, it looks like I’ll NEVER have the chance to do my business in a coffin!

Because according to an article from on*, the Millaa Millaa Coffin Loo was recently condemned!

'Millaa Moo' the Reluctant Cow - a 'Rural Women for Culture & Community' project
‘Millaa Moo’ the Reluctant Cow – a ‘Rural Women for Culture & Community’ project

Awhile back, the local chamber of commerce asked the shire council for an amenities block in the cemetery to make it easier for residents to attend funerals.

Now correct me if I’m wrong, but my experience tells me that: 1) a higher number of older than younger people die; and 2) a higher number of older than younger people experience body malfunctions requiring a quick trip to the conveniences.

Ergo: the profile of a funeral attendee is an older person requiring the conveniences to be … well … convenient!

The factors making Millaa Millaa a tropical anomaly – single digit winter temperatures and high incidence of mist and fog – already make standing in the cemetery for any length of time an uncomfortable experience for a funeral goer (as profiled above). But factor in the effects of the cold and distance of the cemetery from the town, and it’d hardly be a surprise if funeral attendance dropped off!

Red & Pilchard at Mungalli Creek Dairy & Organic Cafe - Queensland's 2 highest mountains in the background!
Red & Pilchard at Mungalli Creek Dairy & Organic Cafe – Queensland’s 2 highest mountains in the background!

While I don’t have the benefit of council research and statistics, the Cairns Post article indicates that the council refused the request for cemetery conveniences on the grounds that it didn’t have the $80,000+ required for such a building.

So what’s a chamber of commerce with initiative, drive and the support of the majority of the community to do?

Build their own, of course!!

And while it’s bizarre, but possible that the chamber of commerce has never heard of the Red Nomad OZ penchant for public potties, their Millaa Millaa Coffin Loo – using volunteers and donated materials – immediately captured my attention!

Millaa Millaa Cemetery Loo (photo via Pat Reynolds)
Millaa Millaa Cemetery Loo (photo via Pat Reynolds)

At a cost of only $1200 – more than 66 times cheaper than the council’s own cost estimate!  Perhaps they should become consultants and on-sell their innovative budget approach around the country, or even the world!

But I digress …

While this solidly constructed septic system loo on council land doesn’t a) have council planning approval, or b) meet all council planning requirements, it’s difficult for me to understand how it would cost another $75,000+ to ensure that it does.

But … I’m not a tradie, so maybe I just don’t get it.

Weirdly, letting the Millaa Millaa community keep its toilet apparently means others could – would – do the same thing according to the council, a strangely embarrassing indictment in my opinion. For if the council truly believes that other communities would build their own amenities once they’d tacitly green-lighted the Millaa Millaa Coffin Loo, surely this is an acknowledgement that there aren’t enough?!

While keeping the toilet operational until such time as the Council has funds for a ‘proper’ one might seem a logical compromise to laypeople such as I, apparently the dangers of a well-built septic toilet (albeit one not complying with council specifications) are too great.

So, last rites have been held and the loo removed to protect the Millaa Millaa residents from its dastardly dangers.  AND any errant tourists who might find it amazingly, awesomely Australian.


Millaa Millaa Loo Graffiti (photo via Cheryl & Franciscus)
Millaa Millaa Loo Graffiti (photo via Cheryl & Franciscus)

So the ABC News website tells me.

Naturally, there are more than two sides to this tragic tale. I’m sure the council really DIDN’T have the money to spend on a cemetery toilet, given there’s already a public toilet in the fine picnic and barbecue area in main street.

Graced, incidentally, by the fine artwork in the previous photo.

And unlike me, there are those who find a coffin-shaped toilet in a cemetery offensive – SO offensive that they spray it with graffiti, even though according to my sources, over 300 (around 90%) of the townspeople have signed a petition in support of maintaining their gloriously gothic loo.

The final tragedy is that even though the Millaa Millaa Coffin Loo has just been moved down the road, it’s lost the location that made it unique so I’ll never be able to give it the full benefits of the Red Nomad OZ treatment.

I’ve never actually seen the conveniences for myself, and photos are via Cheryl and Franciscus (blessings to you both); Pat Reynolds (Chamber of Commerce president) and the Cairns Post.

Locals toast the passing of the Millaa Millaa Cemetary Loo (photo via Pat Reynolds)
Locals toast the passing of the Millaa Millaa Cemetary Loo (photo via Pat Reynolds)

And although the devastating irony of such un-Australian treatment of something so quintessentially Australian on the eve of Australia Day means I’ll never see it in its rightful place, I’m not letting Australia’s Scenic Public Toilet #30 get away!

Visit the Millaa Millaa Cemetery Loo Facebook Page HERE and show your support!!

Want MORE?


* Much of the information in this post came from the original Cairns Post article

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  1. RIP for the coffin-shaped loo; too bad the Council didn’t embrace the uniqueness … I can vouch for the fact that old people need facilities close by in every circumstance (I don’t know myself of course, I’ve just heard about it from others.)

  2. @Iris – If you like the loo and find the council’s action a bit bizarre, you must be part-Australian too!! There are many fine bakeries on the Tablelands – I’m not surprised you found rolls to your liking there!! It’d be interesting to see if they were still there when you return!!!
    @darlin – Sad, but true! And I’ll be in touch about the new blog! Thanx for your good wishes – OZ day was good for me, but not so good for those affected by fire and flood. Look forward to catching up!
    @Andrew – Good point – but realistically, only the locals who approved of it would have used it anyway as the cemetery is out of town. Although I guess I would have tracked it down myself at some point … maybe a disclaimer like ‘use this loo at your peril’ or something like that on the door would cover it?!?!?!
    @Fun60 – Hahaha, and that’s the line the C of C is using now, I think!!! I’ve already had hits on this page from people doing a general google search, and it hit the front page of the Cairns Post yesterday, so it might just take off and then tourists from all round the world will come looking! Wouldn’t YOU come to OZ to see it?!?!

  3. @TMWH – Weird sense of humour – check! Bizarre sense of logic – check! Council-bashing – check! Are you SURE you’re not an Australian??
    @River – Makes you wonder why no one else has thought of it!!! The extra $75000 would build an entire house in some areas – maybe the Council thought the Millaa Millaa-ites wanted something more palatial?!?!
    @FruitCake – Hahaha, cynicism will get you everywhere – maybe cutting out the middleman is the REAL crime!
    @SFlaGuy – Now where would a person living in the middle of CSI-Miami-land keep cows?? Maybe the statue is a shrine …
    @Saucy Kod – HHHMMMmmm… maybe you’re an honorary Aussie?? Or maybe being the only non-Red loo contributor on my blog to date has struck a chord!!! Hope your weekend was AWESOME!
    @MJWC – Hahaha, no shortage of water in those parts!!

  4. @eileeninmd – The whole region is (in my opinion) one of the most scenic in OZ! And for a scenic loo lover like me? Bliss!
    @LONDONLULU – Haha! I guess this is one meaning of ‘Australia – Land of contrasts’!!! But to find all these things in one spot? Sensational!!
    @diane b – Always happy to get your contribution – I do already have your Norseman loo that I haven’t used yet! One day I will do a post with reader’s contributions, so bring it on!!!
    @Windsmoke – I think that’s the general consensus! Apparently the story ran front page of the Cairns Post yesterday, so it’s not over yet!
    @Filip – The waterfall isn’t the biggest, or the most heavily flowing – but it’s just so beautiful! As for the loo – this is the Aussie sense of humour at work!!!
    @Robert Geiss – The loo is the icing on the cake – the whole region is stunningly beautiful, and we’ve spent lots of time there over the years!

  5. @Jayne & Lance – The ‘certain type of mind’ to which you refer is probably best described as ‘Australian’!!! Happily, the climate of Millaa Millaa is such that a whole new garden can be grown in a very short time around the loo in its new location! If I ever get there, you’ll be the first to see it! Now there’s something to look forward to , right? RIGHT???!!!
    @Beach Bum – Haha, you’re ALWAYS looking for portals to another dimension!! Maybe you should just give it up & move downunder!!! Although a cross between portal/Tardis/coffin does have a certain appeal …
    @Linley – Your ‘looking forward’ shall be rewarded!! My camera’s been running hot with new loos! As for the cow thing, I’m not sure I want to know!!
    @Manzanita – Yes, that was our campsite!! No wonder we extended our stay, huh?! Table 77 shows the remains of a Platter for two, two Rainforest Refreshers (drinks) and two desserts … yes, we are quite skilled at turning our food into what looks like roadkill …
    @Kate – Thank you!! This is classic Aussie – whether that’s a good or bad thing, I’ll let you decide for yourself!
    @Kath – I hear you! But you’re right – it’d probably be even more tasteless to pee at a funeral, or even not to attend because you were afraid you might be caught short. There’s a fine line ….

  6. Government and their bloody expensive methodologies. Seriously, they think that it’s going to take an additional $75,000 to build a loo is ludacris. Oh right, someone has to pay their salaries, and for a holiday for those involved due to the stress of having such a huge responsibility on their hands. Oh one can’t forget to hire at least 8 men to erect one toilet, 1 to work and 7 to supervise. Grrr government is government is government no matter where one goes!

    Beautiful waterfall and scenery, wish I was there right about now!

    I forgot to start up the new blog, I’ll get on that just as soon as this paper is finished, I have a deadline of Monday so I’ll get on it next week, we’ll chat via emails k?

    Happy Australia day and hope you have a wonderful weekend, hmmm what’s left of it there!

  7. Council work… it´s the same world-wide!
    Meeting death with a tad since of humour is just the right thing to do, I believe.
    And what better than a loo like that?
    Love the toast-pic! (and the others, too)

    In the Atherton Tablelands – dunno if I mentioned this already? – you can get French Breadrolls at Coles in some tiny town I sadly forgot the name of.
    We stayed a day longer just to get those rolls once more 🙂

  8. I suppose if the council allowed it to remain, they would have to assume responsibility for it. “Your Honour, the council was quite aware the illegal structure did not meet specifications and guidelines at the time of the unfortunate incident involving the frail Mr Humpergooley”. Just the way things are in the 21st century, but the $75,000 should be seriously questioned.

  9. Hahahaha…. What other toilet would you have in a cemetery besides one shaped like a coffin? At least they have a place outside to wash your hands. I have been to a few where there is no handwashing. Lucky for me I always have wet wipes to clean up after.

  10. Ooh Red, you have really outdone the LOO thing – even I cannot top this one. I just love it and am laughing hard. What a different, great idea – I would toast to this too. You pick the nicest camping sites, the cow is too funny – loved that. What a nice photo of you both enjoying what looks to me like a delightfully filling lunch. YUMMY.
    Beautiful Falls and I am toasting with the locals on that one.Have a wonderful day.

  11. So much to comment on with this post but I just can’t get past the cow. I owned cows once or twice and I would never get that close to either end.

  12. Don’t council budgets work on an 80:20 basis? 80% to whoever wins the tender, and 20% to the subcontractor? No wonder someone wants to start from scratch!

  13. I think that’s the perfect toilet for a cemetery!
    Probably the $75,000+ is to pay the wages of various persons employed to rubber stamp the paperwork involved in council permissions.

  14. What? A coffin shaped loo in a cemetery is sheer GENIUS! Surely those council persons have a sense of humor? No?


  15. This looks like a super camp ground. Love the waterfall, the cow and the story of Loo#30. I have just enjoyed scrolling through the whole 30. You have some ‘doozies’ there. Are you willing to accept contributions from readers?

  16. I can say I have never seen a coffin shaped loo before. Until now that it is! I love the beautiful scenery and the beautiful waterfalls. Great post on your scenic loo. Have a wonderful weekend!

  17. Hmmmm, I’m not sure – if I was wracked with grief, say – that I’d find that loo very appealing…? Then again, if Mother Nature called, I’d soon forget all that and be grateful that the coffin was so obliging!

  18. Red,
    I wouldn’t desecrate a coffin with graffiti but as a loo, that is creepy. Some beautiful green shots. Is that you camped and cozy in-between the bushes and the lush greenery up yonder? Looks idyllic. ooohh, that waterfall. I bet there is some good positive energy near all those falling droplets of water. And what are we eating on table 77? It looks good but can’t quit make out what it is. ( I haven’t had breakfast yet …mouth watering)
    Good photos and interesting post.

  19. What IS he doing to that cow ? Need I ask. Interesting story Red. Great pics too. What has happened to our Aussie sense of humour. Look forward to more scenic loos.

  20. Millaa Millaa Cemetery Conveniences (courtesy Cairns Post)

    Coffin? I thought its was the Doctor’s TARDIS when I first saw it.

  21. Hello Red:
    Well, through you, we too thought that we had seen it all when it came to lavatories of note but, we have to say, that the coffin shaped cemetery lavatory takes the hymn book!! It surely does take a certain kind of mind to construct such a convenience in such a situation!!

    However, although we can overlook what some may regard as a rather tasteless public convenience, as garden designers in the past we cannot overlook the planting around said lavatory… that does look to be in exceedingly bad taste in our eyes at least!!!!

    We just love this series, Red!!!!

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