This article will be taking a look at the haunted Bushranger Hotel in Collector, and the history behind it’s paranormal activity…
The Bushranger Hotel
The Bushranger Hotel was built as part of five original inns that went up in Collector in 1860. It originally bore the title of ‘Kimberley’s Commercial Hotel’.
These inns were constructed with the sole purpose of serving the merchants and workers traveling to and from the Kiandra Goldfields.
On January the 26th, 1865, a gang led by Bushranger Ben Hall arrived on the outskirts of Collector…
The group had been busy holding up travelers on a road south of Goulburn all morning, but the local troopers had caught wind of this and had managed to interrupt their criminal activities.
They pulled up outside Collector and planned their next move…
When they entered the town they immediately rounded up several men and boys as hostages. One of the gang members held the captives on the street whilst the other two entered Kimberley’s Commercial Hotel. Once inside they began to steal firearms and items of clothing.
Judge Meymott had passed the gang when they were still outside the town, and had ordered two of his constables to search the outskirts for them. This meant that there was only one lawman remaining in the town itself – Samuel Nelson.
Constable Nelson was informed of the gang’s activities about the same time they entered the hotel. He was heavily outnumbered by the gang but he knew his duty was to protect the town – he grabbed his weapon and went to face the gang, he was joined by one of his sons.
Constable Nelson was ambushed by gang member John Dunn before he could reach the hotel. He was shot in the stomach then shot in the face, when he lay on the floor – the gang then proceeded to ransack his corpse.
The group of criminals then made their escape from the town.
They were eventually apprehended on boxing day in 1865. They were executed in Darlinghurst Gaol on the 19th of March, 1866.
Many paranormal investigators believe that the Bushranger Hotel is now haunted by a former publican, who has no idea he is dead, and continues his bar work from day to day.
Certain members of staff have reported leaving the bar area, and returning moments later to see a large ‘tower’ of glasses stacked in the center of the room. There have also been reports of glasses shattering on the shelves for no reason,
The body of Constable Samuel Nelson was laid on a couch in the hotel after he was slain in the street – many locals believe that his spirit is behind some of the poltergeist activity…
If you have any thoughts or opinions on the subject we have covered here, please leave them in the comment section below.
This article will be taking a look at the tragic Luna Park ghost train fire from 1979 – is there an occult undertone to this event that managed to trap the spirits within the confines of the popular family location?
Let’s take a closer look…
Opened on October 4th, 1935, Luna Park is considered to be one of the most popular family attractions in Sydney Harbour Foreshore. It was built as a sort of ‘homage’ to the original Luna Park that sits in New York (Coney Island).
It was built on an area of land that used to be a construction headquarters – used for the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Once the bridge was finished, the area became open for bids…and the Luna Park setup won the deal!
The park actually hit on hard times during the 50’s when it’s attendance levels dropped significantly due to the birth of household TV etc. At one point, during the early 70’s, new owners tried to develop it into a multi-story trade center.
This application for development was firmly refused, so the park remained open to the public…
Tragedy hit the park’s ghost train on June the 9th, 1979, when a sudden fire broke out at 10:15pm. Unfortunately, the ride itself was full to the brim with passengers.
The fire raged until about half past eleven, that same night, when the fire services finally managed to get a hold of it.
Seven victims were recovered from the ride: John Godson, his two children, Damien (6) and Craig (4), and College students Jonathon Billings, Richard Carroll, Michael Johnson, and Seamus Rahilly.
These bodies were not found inside the train cars – they were scattered all over the inside of the ride. Apparently they had all left the cars in desperation…looking for a way out of the flaming amusement ride.
A Ritual Sacrifice?
It wasn’t long before the conspiracy theorists jumped on the bandwagon, and many different theories about the cause of the fire rose from it’s ashes.
The one theory that stood out, and is still discussed regularly, is the idea that this fire could have been linked to a ritual sacrifice to the ancient Ammonite god Moloch.
This theory came to light when a photograph was released that contained the image of one of the young boys killed in the tragedy. It was taken on the ferry, just before he arrived at the park…and standing in the background is a horned figure that apparently had no links to the park.
On top of this, a witness, Marshall Said (16), claimed that the ride operator was letting cars full of kids into the ride…AFTER the park had been alerted to the fire inside!
The Sydney newspaper, The Sun, picked up on this theory and actually published a front page story on it.
Perched high on a hill overlooking the small town of Junee is the imposing Monte Cristo Homestead. Built in the classic Colonial style of the era, it combines functionality with beauty.
Now over a hundred and thirty years old this historic building is both famous and notorious. Sadly though it is not its architecture which has provoked worldwide interest in the building.
Inhabited by the Monte Cristo Homestead ghosts, it is said to be the most haunted house in Australia.
A Brief History of Monte Cristo
Construction of the Monte Cristo Homestead began in 1884 by Christopher William Crawley. Once a poor farmer, chance, good fortune and business acumen elevated him to great wealth.
In a few short years clever investments meant that he owned a great deal of the growing town of Junee. Before long he was a pillar of the local community and wanted a home to reflect his rise in status.
The beautiful Monte Cristo Homestead must have fulfilled his expectations and more. Renowned for its social gatherings and parties it appeared to be a happy home.
Occupied by the Crawley family until 1948, the property was left empty for the next fifteen years. The contents of the house were sold off and a succession of caretakers failed to care properly for the building.
Eventually, the building was left vandalised and derelict. In 1963 it was bought by Reginald and Olive Ryan. The couple restored the house to its former glory and occupied it as their home before opening their haunted house to the public.
Looks Can be Deceptive
To the outside world, Christopher William Crawley and his wife appeared to be pillars of society. Both were devout Catholics who donated money to the local church and to the community of Junee.
Behind closed doors, there is a suggestion that Crawley and his wife were not the ideal citizens they pretended to be. Mr. Crawley is suspected of impregnating two of his maids, one of whom went on to commit suicide, while the other’s illegitimate child was treated like an animal.
A hundred years later it is difficult to confirm whether or not these rumors are true. Crawley himself died in 1910 leaving his widow behind.
Mrs. Crawley went on to live in the house for another 23 years, rarely leaving her home to venture in to the outside world. Described by some of her staff after her death as harsh and cruel, she is said to have run the household with a rod of iron.
The Ghosts of Monte Cristo
The Monte Cristo Homestead is said to be haunted by up to ten troubled souls and poltergeists. Some remain unidentified but others have a very strong link with the house and can be traced back through its troubled history.
Mrs. Crawley: One of the most powerful presences at Monte Cristo is said to be the ghost of Mrs. Crawley. Virtually a recluse after the death of her husband, she confined herself to the limits of her home.
Despite being a committed Christian and converting a room in her house to a chapel, Mrs. Crawley is rumored to have had a cruel and unkind nature.
Dressed in black and carrying a silver cross her presence is often seen and felt. Upset Mrs. Crawley and you will incur her wrath.
Visitors to the Monte Cristo Homestead have felt themselves pushed unceremoniously out of the rooms which she haunts. Others have heard her unhappy spirit weeping.
Mr. Crawley: The spirit of Mr. Crawley is also felt about the building. Not as powerful a presence as his formidable wife, he has been seen in the room where he died.
Ethel Crawley: Ethel Crawley died in 1917. Literally a babe in arms, she died when her nursemaid dropped her on the stairs. Whether it was an accident or intentional we will never know.
At the time the nursemaid swore that there was a supernatural involvement, claiming that she had felt a shove to her back from an invisible force.
To this day visitors to the house feel a strange atmosphere around the stairs. Some feel an invisible force restraining or pushing them, young children become agitated and upset, while others feel the tiny icy hand of a child slip silently into theirs.
Morris, The Stable Boy: Morris was a young stable boy who worked for the Crawley family. One day he is said to have taken to his bed, feeling ill and unable to get up. There are two different versions of what happened next.
The first version describes poor Morris trapped in his bed unable to move when a fire broke out in the stable. In the second more sinister version of the story, Morris’s boss set fire to the straw mattress on which the poor boy was sleeping.
Presumably he was calling the boys bluff and expected him to leap from the burning bed. Sadly, the stable lad died. His screams are said to resonate around the stables.
Harold Steel: Harold Steel was the son of one of the maids in the Crawley household. He was also rumored to be the illegitimate child of Christopher Crawley.
As a youngster Harold was involved in a carriage accident and sustained serious head injuries. After his accident he developed an aggressive and violent personality.
In order to control him, his mother chained him up in the dairy behind the main house. Harold is said to have spent up to thirty years in this state. During this time he would howl and scream, becoming the object of children’s curiosity and cruel taunts.
When his mother died, life became worse for the unfortunate Harold. Eventually, local people intervened and he was confined to a mental institution where he died soon after. Harold’s howls and screams can still be heard in the dairy.
The Pregnant Maid: Another sad soul that haunts the Monte Cristo Homestead is the ghost of the pregnant maid. Whether she was pregnant by Christopher Crawley or not, we can only speculate.
What is known is that she committed suicide by throwing herself from the top veranda of the building. Her blood still stains the steps that lead up to the house and her ghostly image is said to hover around the exterior of the building.
Jack Simpson: Few who see the beautifully restored Monte Cristo Homestead today could imagine the decay it fell into during the last century. Crumbling and derelict it became the classic haunted house on the hill.
Despite this, the murder of Jack Simpson in 1961 must have shaken the small local community to the core. Jack Simpson was one of the many caretakers who occupied the property after the last of the family vacated the Monte Cristo in 1948.
One evening in 1961 he opened the door to an unexpected and lethal visitor. Shot at point blank range, Jack died immediately.
His murderer was a crazed local youth who had watched Psycho three times before carrying out the killing. Before fleeing the scene the young man wrote ‘Die Jack – ha ha’ on a shed door. The words can clearly be read today and the spirit of poor Jack is said to linger in the area.
Strange Lights and Animal Mutilation
Since its purchase and subsequent restoration in 1963, the Monte Cristo Homestead has become a family home, museum and ghostly tourist attraction. Thousands visit each year and there are hundreds of paranormal incidents recorded.
One of the strangest incidents experienced by the family who occupy the property involves strange lights. At least twice they have left their home in darkness to go out for the evening.
As they have approached the empty house on their return, they have witnessed it completely lit up. By the time they have reached their destination, the house is in darkness again.
More disturbing is the reaction and fate of some animals on the property. When the Ryan family moved into the property in 1963, they claim their cat and dog would not enter the building but ran away.
Subsequently, they went on to discover their chickens strangled in their secured pens, a parrot choked to death in its locked cage and kittens found dead and mutilated in the breakfast room.
Other phenomena recorded by those who visit the home include; nausea, fainting, overwhelming sadness, icy touches, whispered messages, unexplained mists and full body apparitions.
The Monte Cristo Homestead is open to the public and for those who are interested in the paranormal it must surely be on the list of must see places. Claiming to be Australia’s most haunted house it is certainly rich in unexplained phenomena.
Lovingly restored to its former Victorian glory by its current owners, it offers Ghost Tours for the curious. Overnight stays in haunted rooms are available for those who are really keen to catch a glimpse of the Monte Cristo Homestead ghosts.
A word of warning though, Mrs. Crawley is very particular about who enters her home and is often said to take an instant dislike to those who show her or her home disrespect.
If you don’t want to feel her icy glare, a whispered threat or a short sharp shove in your back, be sure to mind your manners and be on your very, very best behavior.