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Episode #77 Creepy Australia

Episode 77



G'day mates! Tonight on the Midnight Train we've decided to take another creepy trip! Last time we stayed stateside and headed to Texas, where they seem to have an inordinate amount of haunted bridges. This week we are heading to The Land Down Under! That's right Australia here we come. Not only can pretty much all the wildlife in Australia kill you… It's also chock full of creepy places as well! So, without further ado, throw another shrimp on the barbie, wrestle yourself a croc, pull out all the other Australian cliches you can, and take a trip with us to some of the creepiest, craziest places in Australia. No bridges… We promise!

We'll start off with a nice refreshing swim...OF DEATH!!! Local legend states that at the Babinda boulders, aka The Devil's Pool, there is something sinister going on. Legend has it that a long time ago, when the Yidinji tribe lived in the Babinda Valley, there was a tremendous upheaval that created these unusual shaped Boulders. In the tribe was Oolana, a very beautiful young woman. Also in the tribe was Waroonoo, a very old, wise and respected elder.

It was decided that these two should be given in marriage to one another, and so it was done. Some time later, a wandering tribe came through the valley, and as was the friendly custom of the Yidinji, they made the strangers welcome, inviting them to stay. In the visiting tribe was Dyga, a very handsome young man. All eyes were upon him for his grace and beauty. At first sight, Dyga and Oolana fell in love. Knowing full well that their desire for each other would never be permitted, they ran away. Oolana knew she could now never return as she was rightfully married to Waroonoo. They journeyed well up into the valley; spending wonderful, happy days together and they camped under Chooreechillum, near the water’s edge. The two tribes had been searching for them and it was at this spot, they came upon the two lovers. The wandering tribesmen seized Dyga, forcing him away, calling how they had been shamed and how they would travel far away and never return. The Yidinjis had taken hold of Oolana and were dragging her back, forcing her to return with them to the rest of the tribe. Suddenly, she broke away and violently flung herself forward into the gentle waters of the creek, as she called and cried for Dyga to return to her, but the wandering tribe had gone, and with them her handsome lover. Would he ever return? Just at the very instant Oolana struck the water, a tremendous upheaval occurred. The land shook with terror and sorrow as Oolana cried for her lost lover to come to her. Her anguished cries spilled out as rushing water came cascading over the whole area. Huge boulders were thrown up and she disappeared into them. Oolana seemed to become part of the stones as if to guard the very spot where it all happened. It is said that to this day her spirit resides at the Devil's Pool and lures young men to their deaths. Since 1959 almost 20 young men have died there. Is it a result of the restless siren spirit of Oolana or just a result of carelessness on behalf of these young men. As we are the Midnight Train, We'll go with the daunting spirit of a broken-hearted & scorned woman.

Next up we'll take you to a place that kinda hits closer to home right now. We are heading to the North Head quarantine station. Not because of Covid… But because it's fucking haunted of course. First, Jeff's favorite, a bit of history. The Quarantine Station was established primarily to regulate the risk of disease importation through the migration of free and convicted Europeans, and the arrival of merchant shipping. Up until the 1830s, the majority of ships requiring quarantine were convict transports, and being under government contract, the somewhat informal proclamation of quarantine by the Governor of the day was easy to enforce. One reason for the introduction of formal statutory regulation for quarantine in NEw South Wales in 1832 was the increasing rate of free immigrant vessels entering port. The initial quarantine practice of housing the sick on board the vessel in which they arrived, was dispensed with after the experience with the long detention of the Lady Macnaghten in 1837, and the subsequent heavy demurrage claimed for that delay. After that time the sick were removed from their ship and housed ashore, while the ship was fumigated and scoured for return to the owner with the minimum delay. A consequence of this decision was the construction of permanent accommodation and storage buildings at the Quarantine Station at North Head. The alarming experiences of quarantine in 1837 and 1838 prompted a review in the colony of the organisation and conditions aboard immigrant ships. The final report, arising as a NSW initiative, pricked the sensitivities of the British emigration officials, but nevertheless had positive outcomes. The review indicated that there was insufficient checking of the health of the emigrants before boarding; there was insufficient concern with diet during the voyage, especially for the needs of children; and that the formula of three children equalling one adult when allocating food and berth space aboard required reconsideration, as it led to excessive number of children in cramped spaces, with inadequate food. The subsequent reorganisation of the system resulted in interviews and medical checks on would-be emigrants before embarking them; vaccination for smallpox of all emigrants; the signing of undertakings to follow the directions of the surgeon-superintendent on voyage and better definition of his role and powers; improvements in diet and hospital accommodation aboard; and moves to prevent overcrowding. The arrival of the Beejapore in 1853, with over one thousand passengers, at a time when the Quarantine Station could accommodate 150 persons, triggered a new building phase. As a temporary measure, the hulk Harmony was purchased and moored in Spring Cove as a hospital ship. The Beejapore was an experiment in trying to reduce migration costs by using two-deck vessels, and the outcome was judged not to be a success. Fifty-five people died during the voyage, and a further sixty two died at the Quarantine Station, from the illnesses of measles, scarlet fever and typhus fever. As a result of this downturn between 1860 and 1879 only 138 immigrant vessels arrived [compared with 410 between 1840 and 1859], and of these 33 required cleansing at the Quarantine Station, but few required their passengers to be landed and accommodated. In the same period 29 merchant or naval vessels were quarantined, but again mainly for the cleansing of the ship rather than the landing of diseased crews. The run-down Quarantine Station had become unsuitable for passenger quarantine, and particularly for first and second class passenger accommodation, by the time the Hero was in need of quarantine for smallpox in 1872. The passengers were kept aboard the ship, because the station could not adequately house them. The inadequacy was further publicised during the quarantine of the Baroda in 1873, when first class passengers had to do their own washing. The growth of the other states also meant that shipping was more evenly distributed in terms of destination than had been the case in the nineteenth century. In the period 1901 to 1940, Sydney and Melbourne had roughly similar numbers of assisted immigrants (134,864 and 115,988 respectively), and the other States had, in combination, more immigrants than either Sydney or Melbourne, totalling 174,526. By 1958 there were 39 "first ports of entry" into Australia. Thirty-two sea ports had staff capable of carrying out quarantine inspections, ten ports were "landing places" for air entry; major quarantine stations with accommodation were established at five ports, and there were three minor quarantine stations at other Ports.

The impact of improved medical science, immunisation, and quarantine procedures in the twentieth century is perhaps shown most dramatically by the fact that though the post-WWII immigration was vastly more than had gone before, the number of ships or aeroplanes quarantined plummeted proportionately. Sydney received nearly 700,000 assisted immigrants between 1946 and 1980, or nearly double the number it had received between 1831 and 1940, yet only four ships were quarantined in that period and at least one of those was a tanker.

In all, between 1828 and 1984 at least 580 vessels were quarantined at the Quarantine Station. More than 13,000 people were quarantined at the station of whom an estimated 572 died and were buried there. Now with that compacted and somewhat confusing history out of the way, let's get into some creepiness.

Since records were first kept, reports of the ghosts of the doctors and nurses returning to haunt the station have flooded in. The National parks and Wildlife Service regularly conducts a three hour ghost tour after sunset, where visitors are led by tour guides through the winding unlit streets and buildings of the North Head Quarantine Station.

Every building and open area on the site is believed to be haunted by at least one ghost. Visitors have reported seeing apparitions walking in front of their cars as they leave the site at night, as they are driving down North Head Scenic Drive. Psychics have claimed to have been led around the station by ghostly nurses, and long dead patients all still remaining within the confines of the complex. TV's Ghost Hunters Team visited the site and found enough evidence to suggest that the site is haunted by several different entities, who have remained at the site, but you know how we feel about those tools...

One of the more common accounts you may hear while on the ghost tours are that of the ghostly girl with blonde braids who occasionally holds a tourists hand and leads them along the pathways. Some visitors see her hiding behind bushes or even tugging at their jacket sleeve. Guests have said she speaks to them or sees her as a child on a tour, only to be told later that there were no children on their tour. In the Asian quarters visitors have reported seeing the ghost of a Chinese man dressed in authentic period robes.

Other paranormal experiences at North Head Quarantine Station include: lights turning themselves on and off in locked buildings, strange sounds and footsteps coming from the verandas, and the feeling of being touched by an unseen force.

Many people have felt uncomfortable and have frozen on the spot of the old cemetery where a lone gravestone now is the only remaining evidence of the hundreds of bodies buried below.

Several buildings on the site were destroyed by fire in 2001. One of the buildings was the station's original hospital. Several ghosts were seen here before the fire; these were either laying in the hospital beds, or wondering around the wards. There are plans in the future to reconstruct this building because of its historic importance, and of course, its haunted history as well. There is a corrugated-iron structure on the site that houses the station's shower block. Paranormal events here include: doors slamming shut, lights turning on and off, bangs against the walls, and the sounds of footsteps. There are many many stories from this place which is also now a hotel. There's tons more history and tales that you can find on your own but we must be moving along, now.

We head next to Uluru also known as Ayers Rock. Uluru/Ayers Rock, is a giant monolith, one of the tors (isolated masses of weathered rock) in the southwestern Northern Territory, in central Australia. It has long been revered by a variety of Australian Aboriginal peoples of the region, who call it Uluru. The rock was sighted in 1872 by explorer Ernest Giles and was first visited by a European the following year, when surveyor William Gosse named it for Sir Henry Ayers, a former South Australian premier. It is the world’s largest monolith. There's an ancient history to the rock. On the northern top of Uluru are a series of caves that are informally called “the Skull”. The Aborigine, the peoples of the Mala, or Hare Wallaby group (both the Pitjantjatjara and Yankuntjatjara belong to it) well, they believe that they represent the camp made by their ancestors in the Dreamtime, when they came to Uluru from the Haasts Bluff region, some 200 miles north, to initiate their youth. The Dreamtime is the era in which these forebearers created 'The Earth' through their adventures along trails that cross the desert. Many of these paths merge to crossroads at important features of the desert landscape, such as Uluru. The caves to the right of the Skull are said to mark the camps of the fathers and uncles of the initiates. In the uncles' camp lived the eagle chick, which would be used to provide feathers for this important ceremony. Other caves represent the camps that male elders, not involved in the ceremony, resided, and a series of flat rocks to the east, stand for the camp of the women. Whenever the tribes of the area gather at the Rock for these ceremonies, they still camp precisely in this pattern.

In the northwest corner, separated from the main body of the Rock, is an immense pillar that locals call the Kangaroo Tail. To the Aborigine this is the ceremonial pole (naldawata) stolen from the midst of the Mala camp by a 'Devil Dingo'. The Dingo, a species of dog, is believed to have come to Australia with the aboriginals across land bridges and shallow seas that existed between Australia and Indonesia before the melting of the glaciers toward the end of the last ice age.

This particularly savage canine, who stole the ceremonial pole, had been sung into existence by the elders farther west in the mountains now called the Petermanns, and sent into the camp at Uluru to punish the Mala group for refusing to supply eagle feathers to their cousins. This devil dingo put the Mala, and their guests from the southwest side of Uluru, the Carpet Snake people, to flee. There are enormous writhe marks and paw-shaped caves at the base of Uluru that represent the escape route of the Hare Wallaby and Carpet Snake people, their panic quite legible in the rock.

The Mala group are still aware of that devil dingo, which they believe dwells somewhere on the crest of Uluru.

Then there's the stories of the curse of Uluru. While climbing the rock is now banned there are many stories of folks who went to see the sites and decided to bring a piece of Australia home with them only to be met with bad luck and misfortune. Steve Hill talks about his experience. He had taken a small rock from the site. Here's the short version found on an Australian website: The moment I put it back, it felt like a weight lifted off my shoulders,” explains Steve Hill, who recently made a 3000km road trip from Canberra to return a small rock to Uluru. Hill, who pilfered the match box–sized rock from the base of the landmark inselberg in 2017, admits he was “a complete idiot for taking it in the first place”. In the weeks after, he claims, he was struck by a “long run of bad luck”, including car accidents and expensive repairs to his four-wheel-drive. He's not the only one to have stories like this.

“I wanted to take away some of your magic with me for the rest of my travels, for the rest of my life even. I realise it was wrong to do so, therefore I am sending it back to you. Forgive me for being foolish,” wrote one French tourist who returned a rock via mail in January 2014.

Another tourist wrote "To Australia, I'm so sorry I took this piece of Uluru. I wanted a piece of Australia to take home with me. This was the wrong thing to take. I hope Australia can forgive me and welcome me if I ever come back. signed, An Unwise Traveller"

One British tourist wrote: "Things were good in my life before I took some of Ayers Rock home with me, but since then my wife has had a stroke and things have worked out terribly for my children – we have had nothing but bad luck."

The national park receives at least one package a day from remorseful rock thieves who are seeking to return pieces of the monument. In an even more bizarre twist, recent research indicates that 25 percent of those packages contain apology notes claiming that the stolen stone has brought misfortune upon its abductors; by returning it, they hope to undo the curse. While most of the returned pieces of Uluru are pocket-sized, officials once received a 70-pound chunk from a remorseful couple in South Australia, and packages have come from as far away as Germany. So what to you guys think? Do you believe in curses? I don't need a rock or sand that bad! And now like Vanilla Icev were gonna keep on pursuing to the next stop.

The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA), known as ScreenSound Australia from 1999 to 2004, is Australia's audiovisual archive, responsible for developing, preserving, maintaining, promoting and providing access to a national collection of film, television, sound, radio, video games, new media, and related documents and artefacts. The collection ranges from works created in the late nineteenth century when the recorded sound and film industries were in their infancy, to those made in the present day. Doesn't seem spooky… Until you find out the building to which the Archive moved in 1984 was the home of the Australian Institute of Anatomy from 1931-84. Originally it held the anatomy collection of Sir Colin MacKenzie. A little more creepy. The Australian Institute of Anatomy was a natural history museum and medical research institute that was founded in 1931 and disbanded in 1985 located in Acton, Canberra, in the Australian Capital Territory. MacKenzies collection included the heart of the celebrated Australian racehorse Phar Lap, Australian outlaw Ned Kelly's skull and a mummy from Papua New Guinea. MacKenzie became the founding director of the Institute on Anatomy, and on his death in 1938 his ashes were placed behind a commemorative plaque in the building's foyer. Buildings constructed during this phase were 'built to broaden national interest and establish the city as a centre of archives and collections'. The building housed human skeletons, animal specimens and artefacts, and was the site of scientific experiments. "The NFSA building is regarded by many ghost hunters or paranormal aficionados as not only one of the most haunted in Canberra, but also one of the most haunted in Australia," cryptonaturalist Tim the Yowie Man said.

"It's not because it houses spooky movies. The ghosts that are reported in the building stem from the period when it was the Institute of Anatomy."

"During the '30s most of the research was on childhood nutrition; during the '40s when the war came that evolved to general nutrition, nutrition for the troops," Mr Kennedy said.

"In the '50s and '60s there was a liver dissection section and animal testing laboratory."

There have been many reported sightings of MacKenzie's ghost.

"It's one of the more extraordinary apparitions," he said."It's been described by some people like a genie out of a bottle.They're in the building in the late afternoon and they see an outline of an elderly man, dressed well, come out of the wall near where his ashes are.He just appears there, doesn't move much, and then suddenly sucks back into where the ashes are behind the wall."

Another of the commonly reported ghost sightings is that of a little girl that would pop out through a grate in the old theatrette and make visiting school students laugh.

There have also been reports of poltergeist activity, particularly where the dissection laboratories used to be.

Since the NFSA moved in, that space has been used as an office with two sound recording booths.

"Quite often staff would have meetings in that room, and they would hear noises coming from the [recording booths] and they would see things flying around in there," Tim the Yowie Man said.

"All these tapes had fallen out of anti-gravity tape decks, which can't happen unless someone or something had forced them out."

A group of ghost hunters from the New South Wales south coast stayed overnight at the building ."They set up their equipment and it all went crazy," Mr Kennedy said. "One of the things ghosts or spirits apparently do is suck energy, so they'll suck the life out of batteries. They had six of these pieces of equipment set up in a row, and we all watched all of the batteries drain from full down to empty at the same time, which was pretty creepy."

Most of the reports of spooky activity come from NFSA staff, with an employee who worked there in the 1980s coming forward with an experience just last week.

"In the Film and Sound Archive it seems you don't need to be a true believer — you can be a sceptic, or sitting on the fence — to have an experience there," Tim the Yowie Man said.

"There just seems to be a higher-than-normal proportion there of really credible eyewitnesses seeing things they can't explain."

Again these are just a few of the crazy stories floating around about this place and it bc send like a pretty cool haunted hotspot! And now like Fred Durst we're gonna keep rollin rollin rollin and head over to the Adelaide Gaol.

A brief history from the website states the following: Adelaide Gaol is one of the oldest remaining colonial public buildings in Adelaide and is the site of some of South Australia's more interesting, grisly past and important history of Adelaide.

In 1840, George Strickland Kingston was commissioned to design Adelaide's new gaol. The architectural plans for Adelaide Gaol were based on the latest in European gaol designs and were said to be radical for the time.

The original cost estimate for Adelaide Gaol was £17,000, but by 1841 costs had already reached £16,000 with only half the planned works complete. The final bill was more than double the original quote and the expense of construction sent the fledgling colony of South Australia bankrupt.

As a result, Governor Gawler, who was considered responsible for this situation, was recalled to England and replaced by Governor Grey. Governor Grey halted work and Adelaide Gaol construction languished for over six years.

The full extent of Kingston's original design was never delivered, but there were all kinds of additions and modifications made to the Gaol during its 147 years of operation. In 1879, Adelaide Gaol was packed to capacity and the New Building was constructed using the prisoners as labour.

Approximately 300,000 prisoners passed through Adelaide Gaol during its working years and 45 people were executed. Their bodies are buried within the grounds of Adelaide Gaol.

The first public hanging took place in November 1840 while the site was still under construction.

It was decided in the early 1980s that Adelaide Gaol would be closed and on 4 February 1988, was officially decommissioned.

Here's a little more on the prison. On Christmas Eve, 24 December 1840, the first prisoners, some fourteen debtors, were transferred from the old temporary gaol to occupy the first yard to be completed at the new Adelaide Gaol. Remaining prisoners at the old gaol were transferred in early 1841, as further building work was completed. From 1867 to 1869 Sister Mary MacKillop, foundress of the Australian Sisters of Saint Joseph and later canonised as Australia's first Saint, regularly visited the gaol and along with members of her order tended both male and female prisoners. The first attempt at escaping occurred in August 1854 when two prisoners were caught in the act with each receiving 36 lashes. The first "successful" escape was in 1897 when three prisoners made it as far as Blanchetown before being recaptured. In 1942 the "New Building" was taken over by the military for use as a detention barracks. The gallows located in the building were used for a civilian execution on 26 April 1944. Following public protests over the unsanitary conditions at both Yatala Labour Prison and Adelaide Gaol, extensive renovations were carried out in 1954–55. A toilet block was constructed in 4 and 6 yards and a semi-circular wall built in "The Circle" to allow more privacy for visits. Previously, prisoners would line up toeing a brass rail in the Sally port of the main gate with visitors standing opposite and no closer than 2 metres (6.6 ft) which required the raising of voices to be heard over adjacent conversations. Former prisoners have stated that after a few minutes the noise level would be so high that no one could be heard. In 1961 a shower block was constructed and a bakery established which would supply bread to both Yatala and Adelaide Gaols. By this time the gaol was badly affected by salt damp and throughout the 1960s many prisoners were kept busy repairing it. In 1963 the Deputy Keeper's rooms in the Governor's residence were converted to administrative offices and a new residence was built in the forecourt, adjacent to the Gaol entrance.

In 1965 it was announced that the gaol would be demolished and all but essential maintenance work ceased. In 1969 this decision was reversed and the gaol's female inmates were transferred to a new facility at Northfield. Throughout the 1970s considerable modernisation of the old buildings occurred with one building (6 Yard remand prisoners) demolished and rebuilt. In 1971 all staff housing on the site was vacated with most of the guards former residences demolished. In 1980 it was announced that the gaol would be closed once new facilities were completed and the only major work that took place until it did close was the installation of security cameras in 1984. Later that year the remand prisoners were transferred to the new Adelaid