Australia's Historical Places · Ghosts & The Paranormal · Spooky Stories

More Ghostly Encounters at Quarantine Station.

Last week, I wrote about some of my ghostly encounters at Quarantine Station. Due to the long post, I have broken it up into two parts and this week covers both the Caretakers Cottage and the first class shower block. Both these buildings left me with a rather uneasy feeling and I was quite surprised that in one of them at least, my sceptical husband has been left wondering that there’s ‘something not quite right about that place’.

Further along our walk away from the morgue, we approached what the tour guide referred to as the Caretakers Cottage. As we approached, I thought it looked like a nice old house and I imagine it would look rather ordinary during the day. Our tour guide informed us that we were going to go inside, but told us very little about it. Some of the records regarding the Quarantine Station had burned in a fire and there was very little information to go by regarding the house, other than it had been used as a staff quarters. We were to go through the house in the dark and see for ourselves if we could pick anything up. Once again, my husband and I were the last ones to enter.

As we walked through the first few rooms, our eyes slowly adjusted to the darkness and found there was nothing out of the ordinary. The house was quite warm and stuffy after being locked up all day and with twenty odd people walking through the house, things got a little bit cramped. At the back of the house were a sunroom, bathroom and laundry, which was north facing. The tour guide began calling everyone together into the lounge room at the front of the house, but my husband and I had not finished our viewing. My husband decided to go to the laundry, while I go to the bathroom and then swap before heading back towards the group.

The steps down to the warf at Quarantine Station, Manly.

Once I stood at the doorway of the bathroom, I was rather hesitant to enter as I had a bad feeling about it. Even though there was no light and my eyes had grown accustomed to the darkness, somehow, the bathroom was darker than the other rooms. Despite my hesitancy, I entered the room and on my left was the bath which had a window over it. As I approached the bath, the temperature dropped and I put out my hands towards it. I could feel a breeze circulating around my hands and it was then that my husband came up behind me. I asked him if he could feel anything and once again he said no. I told him I had to get out of there as I didn’t like the feel of it. I went straight towards the laundry, which turned out to be the coldest room in the house. It felt like walking into one of those walk in freezers. I didn’t waste any time in leaving the room and together my husband and I joined the group in the lounge room.

Being the last of the group, we stood in the doorway facing the lounge room with our backs to the back of the house. No sooner had we arrived, I felt something touch my back and from that moment, I stood side on with my back against the doorframe. At this point, I noticed my husband had done the same. From such a position, I could see into the lounge room as well as keep a constant vigil towards the back of the house.

The tour guide explained certain things about the house, including the belief from various psychics that someone had been murdered in the bathroom (in the bath) and that there was a bad spirit named Samuel. Some tour guides refuse to enter the house or take tour groups inside. During his talk, the EMF meters were said to have been going off the whole time and one of the group members asked to leave the building and was the only one to do so before the rest of us left. My husband later told me he was one of the other sceptics.

Standing in the doorway, I had the feeling that someone was watching and they weren’t very nice. I felt they were angry and wanted us to leave. I felt most uncomfortable and kept looking towards that back room, where at one point I heard something drop upon the wooden floor. I said nothing about it; the tour guide did not notice it either, but it wasn’t until talking it over with my husband a few days later that I discovered he had heard it too. I left the house shivering with cold, with goose bumps upon both arms. As we walked away, I couldn’t help look over my shoulder towards the house, but I could not see anyone in the windows watching us leave (which has been reported to have happened once).

The last building on the tour was the first class shower block. When people came off the ships they were required to have a shower, which were supervised and each shower cubicle had tiny holes placed in each one to make sure the people showered properly.

Once again, we were to wander this building in the dark and foolishly, I was the first one after our tour guide in which to enter. It was only after taking a few steps inside that I didn’t like the feel of it and I was overwhelmed by the strong smell of urine (the tour guide later told me this was the chemical, carbolic acid, that was used on the patients). We were to stop midway and after we were all assembled, I saw a dark figure coming towards me. I instinctively moved back and the figure continued coming towards me, only to discover that it was our tour guide. He then proceeded to inform us about the various spirits within the building, including a ‘Gollum- like’ creature that if you walked into it, feels as if you have walked through cobwebs.

Given its history, I was not at all surprised to feel like I was being watched in here and I felt exposed and vulnerable. This was why I needed my husband with me and he took my hand as we walked in single file around the showers. He walked in front of me and I told him to slow down as I looked in at the shower cubicles. Down one in particular, I caught a quick glimpse of some dark shape that didn’t look completely human.

A ‘Gollum like creature’ is said to inhabit the First Class Shower Block.

Before leaving the building, one couple believed they saw something white in one of them. I went with them to help them try to find it, but could see nothing. I heard the tour guide tell them once we were outside that a woman has been spotted in there. One other couple said they had also seen something, but it was different to what this other couple had seen.

‘I saw something too’, I replied. ‘I’m not sure what it was. It didn’t look human’.

‘That sounds like what we saw’.

‘It was a small, dark, shadowy figure. Broad shoulders and it was hunched over, like this’, I replied as I demonstrated (it was very much like the image of Gollum in his cave in the picture above).

‘That’s it!’ the woman exclaimed. ‘That’s what we saw’.

‘Oh good’, I said. ‘I’m glad I’m not the only one who saw it and not going mad’. I had asked my husband if he had seen it and he had not.

It was with that final note that our tour had ended. Of-course in the light of day, I began questioning what I had seen and experienced. Did that really happen? Did I really see what I thought I saw? From the experience I learnt something about myself that I had suspected from childhood and am interested in finding out more.

When we arrived home, my husband looked up the Caretaker’s Cottage on the internet to see if it had been investigated, but it had not. It had certainly piked his curiosity.

‘So’, I said. ‘That was a good start. When are we going back?’

Did you ever experience a ‘bad vibe’ about a particular building or place? What was the scariest place you have visited and would you go back? Have you ever experienced something you can’t explain?

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Australia's Historical Places · Ghosts & The Paranormal · Spooky Stories

Ghostly Encounters at Quarantine Station.

Recently, as part of my birthday celebrations, my husband and I visited Quarantine Station in Sydney. Quarantine Station was established in the 1830s for migrants arriving in Australia who might have had infectious diseases, such as Spanish influenza, tuberculosis and bubonic plague. It ceased operating as a quarantine station in the 1980s. Q Station is now used as a hotel and conference centre. It also has a restaurant and caters for both weddings and ghost tours.

Of-course being on a ghost tour was the main attraction for me. After having had some experiences at Monte Cristo, I was curious when it came to Q Station, after hearing it is regarded as one of the most haunted places in the country.

My husband and I were in a group of about twenty people and the first building we came to was the Inhalation Chamber, situated near the Boiler House. Patients were placed here every day to undergo special treatments, using steam infused with zinc sulphate to protect them from such cases as Spanish influenza. Basically, they looked like two cement sheds joined together and our group was broken up into two halves and spent some time within each one of them in the dark. Unfortunately, we weren’t inside for very long before having to change rooms. Once finished, the tour guide spoke to us outside and gave us some information regarding this building. Some people in previous tours, he said had been known to experience smells. It was then I looked at my husband.

By the warf at Q Station, Manly, waiting for the ghost tour to begin.

‘Yeah, I smelt something’, I said to him. ‘Didn’t you smell something?’

‘No’.

‘The moment I walked into that first one, there was a really strong, sweet smell. I couldn’t smell anything in the second one, but definitely the first’.

My husband simply shook his head. It was at this point, that I interrupted the tour guide and asked the people in the group if they had smelt anything. Their responses were the same as my husbands. Okay, this is weird. The tour guide looked at me and told me that I had passed the smell test. Trust me to be the weirdo amongst the group, I thought! Since my visit to Monte Cristo and being the only member of my family to have experienced something, I had become increasingly suspicious of a long held belief (since childhood) that I may be a ‘sensitive’. As we walked our way towards the hospital, my husband told me he believed that may well be the case.

Within the hospital we were told of some interesting stories experienced by other people during the tours and some of the spirits that occupy the hospital, including a couple of nurses and the matron. As I sat on one of the beds, I felt something prick my hand and looking down I thought it may have been a mosquito, but saw no evidence of one. The tour guide informed us some people have felt the same, as if being pricked by a needle. My husband, the eternal sceptic, who stood nearby said he felt something cold brush up against him.

The Hospital, Boiler House and Wharf at Quarantine Station. Image courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Later, my husband and I were amongst the last to enter the morgue, which was a small building, so it was difficult to find a place to stand. People stood against the wall and in the middle of the room was the mortuary table. This was the only available spot for me to stand and it was here that I could smell the horrible stench of rotten meat. It was so bad I had to cover my nose and mouth with both hands, but I could not see anybody else picking up on the smell. The mortician, nicknamed Mr Slimy by the staff is believed to frequent the place. Eventually it went away and when the time came to leave the room, I was frightfully cold. I know it sounds cliché, but there were literally goose bumps on both my arms and I had to rub them in order to keep warm.

Our tour then continued within the Caretakers Cottage and the first class shower block, so rather than make this an extremely long blog post, I’ve decided to break this up into two parts. I look forward to telling you more about our ghost tour next time. 😉

Have you ever been on a ghost tour? Did you ever encounter anything unusual? Are you a sensitive? If you’re a sceptic, have you experienced anything that made you question your beliefs?

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Ghosts & The Paranormal · Spooky Stories · Strange but True

Australia’s Paranormal: The Devil’s Pool.

The ExtraordinaryBack in the 1990s, my husband and I used to watch a show called The Extraordinary. As the title would suggest, it featured stories of the paranormal and supernatural from around the world, but also had a distinct Australian slant.

Growing up fascinated by unusual stories, I really enjoyed watching this show and some of the stories captured my imagination. One such story was that of The Devil’s Pool, a story that has become legend in Australian indigenous culture.

Whether the events in this story are just mere coincidences or there is something more to it, I’ll let you decide, but you can’t deny it certainly makes for one compelling, spooky story.

What are your thoughts to this story? Did you watch The Extraordinary back in the 1990s? Do you enjoy hearing and/or reading scary stories?

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Horror · Movies/Television · Spooky Stories

The Twilight Zone & ‘The Dummy’.

The Twilight Zone & The DummyWhen I was growing up, television and old movies were a big influence in my life. One of the television shows I always watched was The Twilight Zone. These stories always caught my imagination, for just when you thought you had it all worked out, there was always that element of surprise. I have enjoyed reading stories with a twist in the end ever since.

One story in particular I have never forgotten was ‘The Dummy’. Believing that his dummy, Willie, is alive and talks to him, Gerry begins drinking. His agent does not believe Gerry and tells him he should see a psychiatrist. The story is psychological horror; is Willie alive or not, and if so how can Gerry escape? The plot resonates with our anxieties regarding mental illness; in this case schizophrenia. Horror does not always need to be physical, yet this episode reveals horror in both its physical and psychological forms.

There have been many stories of objects that are possessed, including dolls. Robert the Doll, believed to be cursed and possessed by evil spirits, is said to be the influence of Chucky in Child’s Play. More recently, in the film The Conjuring, is the story of Annabelle, The Haunted Doll. Although Willie is not possessed, as such, he does come to life only for Gerry, which causes much mental suffering.

My mother has a wooden puppet that I cannot stand looking at; I find it ugly and creepy.  When I mentioned that to her, she could not understand why I felt that way. Such is the influence of this particular episode from The Twilight Zone.

If you have never seen this episode, or would like a trip down memory lane, here’s a short clip:-

Is there an episode of The Twilight Zone that you have never forgotten? Do you find ventriloquist dummies give you the creeps? Do you prefer psychological horror rather than in its physical form? Do you believe inanimate objects can be possessed?

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

Ghosts & The Paranormal · Spooky Stories

Monte Cristo: A Spirit Caught on Film?

Imagine the scene: you are walking through Monte Cristo, Australia’s Most Haunted House, taking photos at every opportunity.  There are moments when your camera decides to play up, but on the whole, it still works. You and your family are the last of a group going through the house and the guide is no longer around.  Your family move outside onto the balcony on a warm, sunny day.  You may now well be the only person inside the house. You stand alone in the upstairs drawing room, your camera plays up a little bit, but eventually you manage to get some shots.

After spending the weekend away, you arrive home eager to look at all the pictures you have taken, but there is one photo in particular that catches your attention.  It is the one from the upstairs drawing room inside Monte Cristo, which appears to look nothing out of the ordinary.

Drawing Room Monte CristoYou think about it for some weeks, analysing the picture, comparing it with all the others, but still it bothers you.  Stumped, you ask for the opinion of your logical, scientific husband, and it even has him bewildered.  You ask some friends their thoughts, and still there is nothing concrete.  In the end, you follow your husband’s advice and contact the owners of Monte Cristo.  Shortly afterwards via email, this is what the owner has to say:-

‘The Drawing room was a room that Mrs Crawley spent a lot of time in. She has been seen on several occasions. Mirrors are the best place to pick up spirits’.

Image in Mirror close upWhat are your thoughts? Could this be the spirit of Mrs Crawley, or even Mr Crawley – one of the original owners of Monte Cristo? Have you been alone in a haunted house? Have you ever caught a spirit on camera?

Images ©Debbie Johansson.

Ghosts & The Paranormal · Spooky Stories

Surrounded by Ghosts – A Visit to Australia’s Most Haunted House.

Ghost at Monte CristoLast month, I gave you some background and showed some photos of what it looks like inside Monte Cristo – Australia’s Most Haunted House.  This month I will tell you of my experiences while I was there. Coincidence? Or did something really happen? I’ll let you be the judge.

Issues with the Camera

Before entering the house, naturally I wanted to take some shots of the outside.  I had taken a photo of a garden statue without any problems, yet when I turned around to take a photo of the house my camera decided to play up.  Now I have had this camera since 2009 (a Canon EOS 100D) and have never had any problems with it. It had remained flawless, until this particular day. In my frustration, I jokingly told the ‘spooks’ to quit mucking around and behave – I was only just getting started.  The camera then worked without any problems for a little while, however, every now and again my camera refused to work in taking a shot. This would happen in the house and where the coaches were kept.  A couple of times while in the ballroom, the cap of my camera came off, one time even rolling down the floor. This is also something that has never happened before as I’m very careful with the lens cap. By now my son who kept picking it up was frustrated with me, but I told him it must be the ‘spooks’.

Just a Feeling

No I did not feel the presence of any ghosts while I was there, however I felt I did experience ‘something’. I was alone in the dining room at the front of the house, the second room I went into and took a photo. Shortly afterwards, I felt a pressure upon my head and a feeling suddenly come over me. It was more an emotion than anything else; I was suddenly depressed, like a great sadness and it weighed heavily upon me. I wondered why this feeling came upon me as I wasn’t upset – I was quite happy to be there.  As I moved further into the room, the feeling gradually went away. It is certainly something I can’t explain.

Similarly, whilst in the original homestead, there was one room in particular I did not want to go near.  I stood at the doorframe with my camera undecided on whether to take a photo or not – I did not like the feel of that room at all.  I had a quick look, took a photo and turned my back on it before eventually leaving the house.

The owner’s son happened to mention to some other guests that the ghosts slept during the day after scaring everyone at night. Or do they?

Be sure to stop by again next month when I’ll be discussing a possible spirit caught on film.

Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever visited a haunted house and had problems with your camera or have a feeling suddenly come over you? Do you think I may have experienced ‘something’ or was it all just a coincidence? Have you ever had your own ghostly encounter?

Image ©Debbie Johansson.

Australia's Historical Places · Ghosts & The Paranormal · Photography · Postcards from Australia · Spooky Stories

Monte Cristo – Inside Australia’s Most Haunted House.

Side view of Monte Cristo smallerLooks can often be deceiving; belying its exterior as a beautifully renovated Victorian mansion, Monte Cristo has become well known as Australia’s Most Haunted House. Many who have visited here have experienced disturbing phenomena, and in April of this year I visited it for the first time. It has been on my ‘must see’ list for some time now and I was even more enthusiastic to make the visit when I discovered it was only about a three hour drive from where I live.

Built in 1876 by owner, Christopher Crawley, he became one of Australia’s richest men.  His wife, Elizabeth, was believed to have ruled the household with an iron fist.  When the house was newly built, it was already showing evidence of ghosts.  A photo taken during the time reveals a figure standing in a position where nobody can possibly stand.  It is believed that the ghosts of both Mr and Mrs Crawley, staff members and other unidentified personalities haunt the premises.

After the deaths of the original owners, the furniture was sold at auction in 1952.  It eventually stood abandoned, vandalised and in ruins, until the current owners bought it in 1963.  The owners have lovingly restored it and furnished the interior with antique and Victorian furniture representative of the periods up to the 1880s. The coach house and stables contains one of the finest collections of horse drawn vehicles within Australia.

At the top of the stairs is a bedroom known as ‘the boys’ room’, where my husband and I were amazed at the heavy wooden furniture. They were big, solid antiques and when questioned, the guide told us that they had to be lifted by crane over the balcony.  A guest had apparently once put in quite a substantial offer for the bedroom suite – none other than Russell Crowe!

Here is just a glimpse of some of the photos I took inside the house and around the grounds of Monte Cristo.

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Monte Cristo has been visited by journalists and film crews, as well as investigators from around the world.  The house is now open for daily visits and ghost tours. To find out more about this fascinating house and its many hauntings, visit their website.

Be sure to stop by again next month when I’ll be discussing my experiences within Australia’s Most Haunted House.

Have you ever visited or lived in a haunted house? Do you collect antiques? Would you fancy having to say ‘no’ to Russell Crowe?

Images ©Debbie Johansson.