Australia's Historical Places, Ghosts & The Paranormal

The Ghosts of Monte Cristo.

Some years back, I visited Monte Cristo, Australia’s most haunted house. I visited with my husband and children for the day and even then, managed to have some unusual experiences and may have even caught a spirit on camera.

Next month, as part of my birthday present, I will be returning to Monte Cristo. This time, however, will be for a ghost tour. I’m so excited, I can’t wait! 😊

So, what is it about Monte Cristo that has given it the label of the country’s most haunted house?

Built in 1884, it was the home of rich pastoralist Christopher Crawley and his wife Elizabeth. After his death in 1910, Elizabeth Crawley continued to live in the house until her own death some twenty-three years later. The house eventually became unoccupied for a long period of time, so that thieves, vandals, and the elements almost destroyed it.

The house has a terrible history, including that of a young girl falling from the balcony. It is uncertain whether she committed suicide or was pushed. Another young girl died due to a fall down the stairs. The nanny who was holding the child at the time stated she was pushed from an unseen force. A young stable worker who complained of being too ill to work was burnt to death when his boss set alight the straw mattress on which he lay.

Mr & Mrs Crawley, the original owners of Monte Cristo.

It wasn’t until 1963, when the house was bought by Reg and Olive Ryan, that it came back to life. Only days after moving in, they returned one evening to find lights on in every window in the house. The electricity had not been put on yet and there was one unlit kerosene lamp.

Animals would refuse to enter the house, some dying mysteriously. The sound of a piano being played in the sitting room at night when the room was dark, and empty has been heard. In the drawing-room, objects have been known to have been moved. Visitors have reported encountering figures visiting their bedrooms at night, some being touched or pulled at while they slept. Despite the activity within the house, mediums and sensitives agree that the feeling of evil is strongest at the stables and the dairy.

Some people who visit the house feel the need to leave shortly after they have arrived, others complain of severe headaches. One man said when he arrived, he felt something had attached itself to his chest, and clutched tightly. After the tour of the house, he felt very ill and for several weeks the condition persisted. He eventually saw a doctor who found nothing physically wrong with him and suggested an exorcism. Suddenly one night the pain ceased and whatever it was had left him, yet he could see a faint indistinct form on the other side of the room.

There are many stories of unexplained events, too numerous to mention here, giving Monte Cristo a sinister reputation. It is a popular tourist destination and has been lovingly restored to its former glory by the Ryan family.

Experiencing anything at Monte Cristo that defies explanation is part of its appeal.

Have you visited Monte Cristo? Did you encounter anything unusual? Have you visited a haunted house or ever lived in one?

Australia's Historical Places, Photography, Postcards from Australia

Australia’s Historical Places: Parramatta.

Elizabeth Farm VerandahRecently, I visited Parramatta, a suburb of inner western Sydney. I grew up around the area, and frequented the shops, movie theatres and other venues of interest here during my teens and early twenties. It is this area of Sydney where some of my stories are located.

The local aboriginals named it ‘the place where the eels lie down’, due to the large number of eels that frequented the river. Parramatta was founded in 1788 (the same year as Sydney) and is the oldest inland European settlement in Australia. Parramatta River became useful for farming and was a popular form of transporting goods into Sydney. Parramatta is now a major business district.

These are just three of the historic buildings in the area that I visited:

  • Experiment Farm Cottage: This home is the site of the first land grant made in Australia in 1789 (30 acres). Former convict James Ruse successfully farmed the site, which became an experiment in self-sufficiency. Surgeon John Harris later bought the land, and the house that stands there today contains the largest collection of early colonial furniture in the country.
  • Elizabeth Farm: John Macarthur was a lieutenant and was granted 100 acres from the acting governor. Together with his wife, Elizabeth, they became pioneers of the wool industry (although his wife’s contribution is rarely credited). Today, the house is a hands-on museum, complete with a re-created 1830s garden.
  • Old Government House: Once the country residence of early governors, including Governor and Mrs Macquarie, Old Government House is Australia’s oldest surviving public building. The appearance of the house today owes much to Governor and Mrs Macquarie, where visitors can capture the period of the 1820s.

Here I some of the photos I took on the day.

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Do you enjoy visiting historic houses? Does your home town have a rich history? If you’re a writer, do you use your home town as a setting?

Images by Debbie Johansson.

Australia's Historical Places, Photography, Postcards from Australia

Australia’s Historical Places: Abercrombie House.

Historical Places of AustraliaThe country town of Bathurst, about 200 kilometres (124 miles) west of Sydney is best known for its annual car racing, yet tucked away on the outskirts of town visitors can discover a little piece of history.

William Stewart arrived in Australia in 1825 and became Lieutenant Governor General of New South Wales. He was granted land in Bathurst in order to help colonise the region; his land extended as far as where the town is currently located, including Mount Panorama itself, about 6 kilometres (3 miles) away.  Abercrombie House was built in the 1870s by his eldest son, yet after World War I it fell into decline. It became the home of the current owners during the late 1960s and since then they have spent many years restoring the house, grounds and outbuildings, and is now heritage listed.

Today the house would be best described as a mansion, containing at least a dozen bedrooms, a turret and a ballroom. For some months now I have had an idea for a new novel and I think I may well have found the perfect setting with Abercrombie House.

Here is a glimpse of the photos I took inside the house and around the grounds of Abercrombie House.

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I have something special coming up, so I’ll be taking a break from blogging for a couple of weeks and will return on the first week in April. Consider yourselves warned! 😉

Do you visit historic houses? Are you one to enjoy undertaking a big project – like house renovation? Have you made a lucky discovery recently?

Images by Debbie Johansson.

Australia's Historical Places, Ghosts & The Paranormal

Monte Cristo – Inside Australia’s Most Haunted House.

Side view of Monte Cristo. ©Debbie Johansson

Looks 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?

All images ©Debbie Johansson.