Charleville. It’s okay to go to a person’s house and pick up on spirits and happenings, they only have your word for what you find. When you turn up at somewhere like Charleville Historic House then you have some documented and oral evidence of what has occurred there.
*picture from the above link*
Lorelle and I motored into Charleville, 700 kilometres from home late one afternoon several years ago and after finding a motel we decided to take in the sights. We headed for the historic house. If you follow the above link you will find all you need to know about the place, without me rambling on. We went inside and took a look around in the main house. This place is full of items from the 1800’s, furniture, clothing etc. I stood there tuning in, trying to see if anyone wanted to chat, nothing happened other than an accumulation of old stuff coming back into focus. Lorelle spoke with one of the volunteers and being my one woman band she told her what I do. ‘Let’s see how good you are,’ said the lady, ‘come out onto the back veranda.’
As in most buildings of its type the kitchen and servant’s quarters were at the rear of the house. Looking at the front of the house they were on the left rear side. The first room of interest, the kitchen.
I stuck my head in the door, took a look around then whoosh. A stoutly built elderly woman, dressed in the fashion of the late 1800’s appeared. She leapt at me like an attack dog, brandishing a large soup ladle. I actually took a step back. The feeling that oozed from her was like that of many cooks, ‘Keep out of my bloody kitchen.’ I can imagine how a cook would have to keep the help away from any cakes and scones she would be baking. I told the volunteer what I’d seen and she said, ‘Nobody goes in the kitchen.’ Hmm, now I know why. With the abundance of artefacts in there I don’t know if she belonged to the actual kitchen or came in with some of the many utensils.
Then we have the maid’s room. A pretty room and like the kitchen I didn’t know if the furniture was original. I did know that something terrible had happened here. This event couldn’t be confirmed, I felt that a young woman had been raped and brutalised on the bed. I let go of the feelings as they were extremely uncomfortable and terrifying. Our guide knew nothing about it, then another feeling came up. I heard a gunshot. If you open the picture in a new window and look at the skirting board between the bed and the dresser, you’ll see what’s supposed to be a bullet hole. After the floods that devastated the district in April 1990, the state government instigated a program where prisoners were taken out under escort to assist in the clean up. The Work Out Reach Camps came into being. Interestingly enough I worked for the program from 1998 to 2001 in Brisbane. Enough waffle, back to it Laurie. No and I didn’t hear about while working for them, I’ve actually had a hard time finding a reference for the event. What came to me was the image of a man cowering in the room and another outside, some conversation and then a gunshot. What I felt, indicated that the victim had given information to police on another prisoner and that it was all about payback. I told our guide and she confirmed my observations. Leaving the room I looked out from the veranda to an old shed about 20 metres away. Now we were getting some drama.
I looked at the guide and said, ‘A man hung himself in there.’ – ‘You’re right and if you’re any good you’ll be able to tell me why.’ Well, that’s putting a fellow on the spot. It didn’t take much effort. I felt this man running through town, breathing heavily, full of guilt for some heinous sex crime against a young person. It seemed like the whole town was after him. ( Imagine villagers with pitchforks and burning torches ) Reaching the shed he ripped the door open, went inside, found a rope and hung himself. The guide looked at me and said, ‘Hmm, not bad. Hang around and meet George Balsillie.
This link will take you to a sound byte of George playing his autoharp. I’ve mentioned about people’s energies before and how they permeate a place. Standing on the back veranda I looked up the hallway to the open front door. A man appeared in a dark silhouette, limped towards me and vanished. I mentioned this to one of the ladies and she said that she hadn’t heard of anyone in spirit with a limp. Five minutes later George walked through the door and limped down the hallway. His love of the place is quite obvious.
You may remember I posted about Woodlands last year when we were there selling books. Prior to starting our week we made a visit to reconnoitre the place and see where we would be setting up. I took this picture from the car park, I made it into a postcard because I can. 🙂 When I looked up at the top, left hand side of the veranda, a man in a black coat in the early Edwardian style waved at me. Here we go, I thought another one. Not that I wasn’t interested it just gets complicated. I noticed a party in full swing on the right side too. I told Lorelle as we made our way to the reception kiosk. A lovely young lady worked there and Lorelle dobbed me in. Well, the lass, I’ll call her Jane was all ears, ‘So go on, tell me.’ I gave a full description and she said, ‘Well, that’s Charles Smith, the man who built the place. Would you like a tour?’ Too right we would. I have to say that in the 48 years I’ve lived in the district I have never set foot in the place. I’d seen the signs and never gave it another thought.
Luckily there weren’t any weddings on, only a few weekend guests. Jane took us in via the back door and it started from there. The servant’s stairway gave off a sense of gloom. Lorelle walked ahead up the stairs and stumbled forward, she’d been shoved in the middle of the back. Jane said, ‘That’s spooky, a maid died here after falling down the stairs.’ We moved up to the second storey, going from room to room. Three of them took my interest: The first, a small room on the southern side. A strong feel of a military man who smoked a cigar. I saw the room as it was then, where telephone lines were put in and where he sat. Nobody expired there and Jane told me it had been used in WW2. The man’s presence lived on. The next room would have been a bedroom in its day. I walked in and the place seemed to heave, I felt physically sick from whatever lurked there. I stood a while longer and felt a madness enfold me, a strong female presence made itself felt. I moved out, with my dignity intact. It appears that one of the family, a woman spent most of her adult life housed in the room, suffering from a mental illness. The next room filled me with a sense of peace and love, I felt an attachment to whoever ‘lived’ there. A strong feeling of a priest came to me, along with writing, study and many books. It seems that a priest died there when Woodlands was a monastery. I felt his presence in the gardens near the small church a few days later, he gave off a great sense of wellbeing. Jane led us down into the cellar where it was reputed three workers died in a cave-in. I couldn’t feel anything there at all.
The Pub in question is the West Darling Hotel in Broken Hill, New South Wales. We were travelling there for an Anzac Day reunion and would be staying for a few days. An old friend suggested we stay there because his brother owned it, so with thoughts of cheap accommodation at mate’s rates we gave it a go. What a great old pub, we arrived there shaken after an encounter with an emu. We ran into it a couple of hours out-of-town, Mazda ute I, Emu nil, Lorelle still shaking. The owner had just the room for us. No, not a palatial double with French doors opening on to wide verandas. Drum roll – he led us around the back of the bar, down a dim corridor and stopped at an old wooden door. ‘I’m booked out upstairs for the long weekend, so I only have the old servant’s quarters left.’ He pushed the door open revealing a dim corridor with stone walls and three doors on the left. I felt the haunting within seconds, a wave of fear and pain made me choke. I turned to our host and said, ‘I know old places like this are usually haunted but something horrible happened in this outbuilding.’ – ‘How about you tell me what you find when you’ve finished unpacking and I’ll buy you a beer.’
This would be an easy free beer. We put our bags on the bed and I stood quietly for a moment. I saw a man and a woman arguing, the scene shifted and the man came into the room with a firearm and shot the woman in the throat. The scene faded and we went out to the main bar to claim our prize. The publican confirmed what happened in the 1950’s and filled in the details. Another love affair gone wrong and the jilted lover sneaked into his girlfriend’s room and shot her with a sawn-off .303 calibre rifle. He asked if we still wanted to stay there, ‘Why not?’ says I, ‘they’re not going to keep us out of a cheap room.’
The publican took us up to the ballroom that night to let us have a look around and take a few pictures. The room hadn’t been used for several years and was reputed to be haunted. Standing in the centre of the room I took several pictures, and on flicking through them I noticed they mainly caught orbs. They are a contentious issue in the field of hauntings. Some people say all orbs are spirit, others say they’re nothing more than the reflection of dust particles and beads of moisture. I believe they’re both. At this stage I used a small Kodak digital camera, on the lowest file size. In the picture below the dark shape on the left is Lorelle. Look at the white stream of light going from the TV set across the picture, terminating at Lorelle. It can’t be from the flash, you’ll see that in the door. I took the picture of that part of the room because of the sense of a presence near the television, which moved from left to right and hid behind the counter. The strange thing is I didn’t notice the light stream until I was looking at the pictures on Sunday night. All I knew was the spirit was female.
There we have it for this week, three different locations each with its own unique haunting and tragedies. Death doesn’t seem to stop life, to me it heralds a new existence somewhere else. Spirits that stay behind seem to have a need to keep connected to the place of their death. Whether it’s some kind of shock brought about by their death, wanting to remain connected to this life, or searching for their killer, I don’t know. I do know that when I drowned in 1978 my Grandfather came for me. I remember standing on the bank of the river watching my mates collect the gear from the canoe, unaware that I was underneath a huge stump in the middle of the rapids. I had never felt more alive than at that moment. No pain, heartache, doubts or fears, only a strong sense of life. Then they pulled me out. It took me a few years to come to terms with surviving. So I feel that anyone who stays behind must have a darn good reason to do so.
Next week: Some people just don’t get it at all.