Australian Folklore

The Three Sisters and Their Legend.

About 60 kilometres (37 miles) west of Sydney, lies the Blue Mountains. A mountainous region and National Park, it was listed as a World Heritage area by UNESCO in the year 2000. It is called the Blue Mountains due to the blue-grey colours of eucalyptus trees.

The setting for some of my stories are based within the Blue Mountains as I lived there for several years. I’ve always been drawn to the Australian bush, which is an ideal setting for stories of a Gothic or horrific nature.

One of the region’s best-known tourist destinations is The Three Sisters, a unique sandstone rock formation at Katoomba, and is one of Australia’s most photographed landmarks.

People have been known to climb them, but due to their cultural significance to indigenous Australians, there are some restrictions.

Image courtesy Hans Braxmeier on Pixabay

Aboriginal women would give birth in a cave near Echo Point while the men would watch the third sister for a sign that the birth had occurred. It is believed that this third sister is sacred.

When I was young, one of my favourite books was about a dreamtime story on the Three Sisters. My copy was a Little Golden Book, which I still have to this day. 😊

Once, a wise medicine man named Tyawan, was good at imitating the lyre bird and it was rumoured that he could change himself into one if he wanted by using his magic shin-bone. He had three daughters, named Meenhi, Wimlah and Gunnedoo.

One day as he left the girls alone while he hunted, a rock fell over a cliff, waking a bunyip from his 100-year sleep. Seeing the girls, the bunyip went after them. Tyawan arrived back in time to point his magic shin-bone at the girls, turning them to stone. The bunyip chased Tyawan, who turned himself into a lyre-bird, but in his efforts to get away, his magic shin-bone became lost.

The bunyip returned to his cave, but to this day, Tyawan continues to search for his magic shin-bone so that he can turn himself and his three daughters back into human form.

Lyre-bird image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

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Australia's Historical Places, Australian Folklore, Ghosts & The Paranormal, Spooky Stories

The Ghost of The Blue Mountains.

Australia’s colonial history has a bloodied past, with some of these stories handed down into folklore. The story of a ghost at Mount Victoria Pass is no exception and had been popularised in Australian literature during the 1890s.

The ghost is believed to be that of a young woman by the name of Caroline Collits. She married her husband, William, in 1840. He came from a respectable family but was generally regarded as a person of ‘weak mind’ and a bit of a spendthrift.

Their marriage was not a happy one, and eventually, Caroline left him and moved in with her sister and brother-in-law, John Walsh. Caroline’s new housing arrangements caused rumours that she was having an affair with her brother-in-law and was regarded as a woman of ‘loose character.’

There was talk of a reconciliation with her husband, and together with her brother-in-law, met William in a local tavern. After leaving the tavern, John Walsh attacked William Collits. Caroline intervened, allowing her husband to escape and called after him to run for his life. This was the last time she was seen alive.

The ghost at Mount Victoria is Australia’s own ‘woman in black’.

Caroline’s battered body was found the following morning near the road on Victoria Pass. Her skull had been smashed in with a large stone, which had been found nearby, covered in her blood and hair. Despite his pleas of innocence, John Walsh was arrested for her murder. He was later convicted and hanged.

In the years that followed, rumours of ghostly encounters surfaced as travellers used the road on cold, windy nights. One such encounter involved a couple of young men whose horse became so spooked, it refused to go any further. As they moved closer to the bridge, the figure of a woman appeared, dressed in black. She did not move or utter a word. One of the young men described her eyes as if ‘there were sparks of fire in ‘em.’ She then went on to raise both her arms and open her mouth, making a noise which ‘sounded like no ‘uman or animal I ever ‘eard.’ The horse bolted, taking his male companions down the road with him.

This story would influence the poet, Henry Lawson, some years later when he came to live in nearby Mount Victoria. One of the verses described the incident as follows: –

Its look appeared to plead for aid
(As far as I could see),
Its hands were on the tailboard laid,
Its eyes were fixed on me.
The face, it cannot be denied
Was white, a dull dead white,
The great black eyes were opened wide
And glistened in the light.

‘The Ghost at the Second Bridge.’ Henry Lawson (1867-1922).

These days, the road is part of a busy highway, where the old bridges are barely visible. It would then come as no surprise that sighting of Caroline’s ghost in the area have not occurred for quite some time.

She may yet wander the road alone, her mournful cries unheard, but her story continues to live on.

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