The Australian Folklore Unit site receives a steady traffic of around 50,000 visitors a month and for some unexplainable reason lately I have been receiving a lot of ghost stories. Australians are definitely a superstitious lot but I thought ghost sightings were in decline. Apparently not – the dead are obviously alive and well.
‘Jenny’ contacted me about a mischievous ghost in her sister-in-law’s house at Mt Druitt.
“Since moving into her home she has had many strange experiences including the microwave turning on and off, the kettle moving along the kitchen bench. Two weeks ago she asked her 11-year old son to move the heater up the hallway. He was walking down the hallway to do this when the heater actually came too him! This was the icing on the cake for her and at this point she packed up and fled the house.”
Another spooky story came from the Upper Hunter where a nursing sister contacted me to relate a similar haunting.
“We had moved into an old school house that had been disused for several years and my husband had been renovating. We’d been there for three weeks when I came home from work and being exhausted went upstairs to the spare bedroom for a nap while my husband was entertaining a mate in the kitchen. I’d only been in the bed for fifteen minutes when it started to shake violently, really violently. I was bouncing all over the place and terrified. My husband suggested it was probably an old hot water pipe but there was no piping in that room.We scratched our heads and let it be but two weeks later the same thing happened to him. Neither of us has been superstitious but we definitely ‘felt’ something in the old house. A week later we went out to dinner and came home to find the house still locked and a side-table had moved to the very centre of the living room. Nothing was damaged, nobody had been in the room but the table had moved to the very centre. This was really strange and starting to concern us. One of the sisters at the hospital suggested we talk to the Bishop of Newcastle. He arranged for a priest to visit the house to perform an exorcism. We haven’t been troubled since.”
Fact or fiction? No one knows but our State’s history is full of haunted houses, especially hotels and old buildings, and also legends of roadside apparitions, roving panthers and other strange sightings.
Peter Konnecke contacted me to tell of Sydney tale.
“Legend has it that on Sunday nights the ghost of a young woman appears standing in the middle of the road near the Deep Creek bridge on Wakehurst Parkway at Narrabeen (Sydney). The story was relayed to me by several different (unconnected) people who I knew in the early to mid 1980’s. Many of us thought it might have been the ghost of Trudie Adams who disappeared without trace in the late 70’s from the Newport Surf Club. But some variants of this story say it’s the ghost of a nurse killed in ad M.V.A. on her way home from a shift at Mona Vale Hospital. She is supposed to stand still and then you drive right through her only to look in the rear vision mirror to see her behind you. I got that tingling up my spine telling you this one …. funny about that feeling isn’t it.”
Another contributor wrote of a North Shore legend from St. Ives.
“The Garigal National Park, between St. Ives and Belrose, used to go by the name “Bungaroo”, presumably of Native Australian origin, and there was a camping site on Bare Creek on the Belrose side of Middle Harbour Creek. As kids we used to be regaled by horrific tales of what would happen to us if we were caught by the “Bungarooster”, a huge carnivorous Yeti like monster that preyed on small children who strayed off the beaten path or fire trails which were accessible to all back in the mid-fifties.”
Earlier this year I did a media run following a sighting, the umpteen, of the fabled ‘Penrith Panther’. This large, cat-like creature has been sighted right across the lower Blue Mountains area for many years. Even the State Premier, Nathan Rees, commented that because of the sheer number of sightings “There might be something in it.” For the record these sightings have been doing the rounds since WW2 and also get circulated in West Australia, Tasmania and Victoria. The one likely source is the fact that an American division, stationed in Victoria, had a panther as a mascot and, when instructed to destroy it, they released it in the Grampian National Forest. Some say the panther (it was actually a cougar) was pregnant (to what I ask?) and her offspring still roam the forest. All I can say is – keep looking!
I tend to be a skeptic but I am always interested in legends and stories of the supernatural because I know they were so much a part of the old storytelling repertoires. Kids certainly like to be scared and I note that one of the best-selling books and films in the current teenage market is ‘Twilight’, a vampire trilogy. There is also a similar book for adults, ‘Let The Right One In’ that dishes out a spooky 21st century vampire story.
The only real supernatural story carried in my own family was one told by my mother’s family. Apparently my grandmother, Polly Phillips, woke up screaming at exactly 2.45 one morning during WW2. She told my grandfather that Jack, one of her seven sons, (a tail gunner) had been shot down and was in the sea. Sure enough, the family was notified that Jack’s plane had gone down at exactly 2.45 am (and he had survived).
I’d be happy to add any spooky stories from readers. Please contact me.