Haunted tales from Melbourne’s north, west

Paranormal investigator Jodie near the old stables at Werribee Mansion. (Joe Mastroianni). 249531_02

From the inner suburbs to the rural areas, Melbourne’s north and west is rife with tales of haunted houses, ghosts and spirit sightings. As Halloween approaches, Alesha Capone explores the underbelly of spectres and otherworldly presences which may, or may not, lurk just beyond the fabric of our own world.

While the spooky and the supernatural is often explored by films, television and books, many Melburnians have their own real-life tales about encounters with “the other side”.

There are plenty of well-known sites in the north and west which are reportedly haunted. Among them, the Altona, Eynesbury and Point Cook homesteads, Werribee Mansion, some historic Williamstown hotels, the former Sunbury Asylum, the old Greenvale Sanatorium, Geelong Gaol and Pentridge Prison in Coburg.

Lantern Ghost Tours founder Jacqueline Travaglia knows many of the uncanny tales and urban legends connected to these places as her company conducts tours at several of the locations.

Jacqueline names Williamstown, where Lantern Ghost Tours is based, as the site of the scariest ghost story in the north and west.

Three former “ladies of the night” haunt the lane next to the Titanic Theatre Restaurant in Nelson Place, she says.

“We call them the Lavender ladies due to the strong smell of Lavender.

“They are extremely active.

“Some people complain of burnt sinuses from the smell, as well others have felt scratches on their throats and pinches on their bottoms.”

When asked about some of the lesser-known haunted places of the western suburbs, Jacqueline says Footscray “has a rich and interesting history with more than its fair share of ghosts, especially along the Maribyrong River”.

“Illegal gambling, crime families and old piggery have provided a lot of interesting ghost stories,” she says.

Jacqueline says one of her favourite ghost stories involves the Chirnside family.

Brothers Thomas and Andrew Chirnside came from Scotland to Australia in 1839.

They built Werribee Mansion and the Point Cook Homestead.

Unusual occurrences such as objects moving about and ghostly figures being sighted have been reported at the mansion, while the homestead is believed to be haunted by a young boy, the former gamekeeper and a lady who wears Victorian clothing.

“Thomas was only in his 20s when he set off to Australia,” Jacqueline says.

“He managed to create a huge pastoral empire and created a name for himself breeding racehorses.

“He was later joined by his brother Andrew and his cousin Mary, who he wanted to marry.

“In a strange twist of events, his brother Andrew married Mary.

“Even stranger, the three remained friends.”

Tragically, Thomas Chirnside committed suicide with a shotgun in 1887 and his body was found in the laundry of Werribee Mansion.

The mansion is not the only haunted site in Werribee. Stories submitted by Star Weekly readers tell of a number of eerie occurrences in the area.

Miranda says she used to live in a Market Road house and would see a mysterious elderly man in the kitchen and hallway.

“My daughters started seeing a little girl called Jane they used to play outside with her and I saw her on their swing smiling,” she says.

“The ghosts never hurt us but they were always there.”

Nickola, says that while living in a Margaret Street house, her young daughter would talk in different languages and would not sleep in a certain room.

“She would wake up hysterical through the night, at first it was a woman in white long dress,” Nickola says.

Her daughter – who is now a teenager – and the lady eventually became friends and would chat to each other, but this ceased when the family moved to a new house.

Western suburbs resident Jodie, a fourth-generation psychic, paranormal investigator and spiritual advisor, is a font of information about Melbourne ghosts.

Her business, Outback Medium, does space clearings and cleansings of houses with phantom presences.

Jodie also works with Paranormal Seekers Victoria, Chasers of the Paranormal and Geelong Gaol Ghost Tours.

She says the former prison, which opened in 1853 and closed in 1991, has one of the highest levels of spiritual activity she has encountered.

Jodie names the Clarkefield Coach and Horses Inn near Sunbury, a bluestone hotel built in 1857, as another highly-haunted site.

The hotel is thought to be haunted by several spirits, including a Chinese man who died in the stables after a fight, an Irishman who was shot nearby and a young girl seen crying in the toilets.

Jodie says that in Wyndham, the most common places where she has encountered ghosts – apart from private homes – were the Werribee Mansion, Point Cook RAAF base, Point Cook Homestead, the bridge on Duncans Road crossing over the freeway to Werribee South and The Racecourse Hotel.

“Over the years I have had to go and do some investigations in people’s homes, due to the amount of activity in the Werribee area,” she says.

“I quite often will walk into a place, and I can feel the history of what has happened in Werribee.”

Jodie says that her advice to anyone concerned about, but not threatened by, ghostly activity at their home was to ask the spirit kindly to leave.

“If they are comfortable with the spirit, tell them that they are welcome to stay if they don’t bother them,” Jodie says.

“We all have passed loved ones that hang around us protecting and guiding us.”

Jodie says if the activity was ongoing and involved something like objects moving around, that the property might need to be cleansed and “saged” by an expert in the paranormal field.

“I wouldn’t recommend you do this on your own, if you don’t know what you are doing as you could accidentally make things worse or even aggravate the spirit more,” she says .

For more information about Outback Medium, visit www.facebook.com/outbackmedium/groups/ or email outbackmedium@gmail.com

For Lantern Ghost Tours, visit www.lanternghosttours.com or call 1300 390 119.