Home' Nova National : March 2011 Contents 21
to use the en suite. It wasn't Hubby, and
there was no one else in the house.
Shortly afterwards, I made the friendship
of someone who spent his spare time ghost
busting, with several others from his coven.
It was all too much for the girl I was,
who wanted her supernatural stuff between
the covers of cheap books, and late night
Vincent Price movies. Behind his back, I
made fun of his beliefs, for a few years.
My ghost never made another appear-
ance, but years later, when we'd moved out
of that house, I heard that the new owners
often heard a woman singing. I used to sing a
lot in that house, in the early years.
By then, I knew a lot more about energy
signatures, and how emotion and personality
can imprint on a place. I never worked out
who the ghost was, but she seemed harmless,
and obviously in a hurry to use the toilet.
I don't know how I came to believe in
ghosts. I suppose the sudden upping of my
intuition, and the waking of my skill with
tarot was the start. I stepped into a world
where everything I thought I knew as a
sceptic was turned upside down, and I was
asked to believe six impossible things before
Years later, esoteric and occult
conversations are ordinary fare for me, and
thus I was not alarmed during a recent trip
I'll confess to loving ghost tours. Addicted
to them. When I travel to a city, I always
google to see if there's a ghost tour.
My nice, new husband, while not a
sceptic, is as mind-blind as they come. As
psychic as an old boot. I like it that way. The
last thing I need is both of us having psychic
conniption fits while on holiday, sensing
weirdy stuff. He's a good grounding for me,
and always gently curious as to what I pick
up around me.
Hobart's Penitentiary Chapel is a spooky
place to be in the evening. I stood in the
doorway to the waiting room, and said
silently: "I do believe in ghosts, I do, I do, but
there's no need to go all out for me, guys".
Nevertheless, the ghostly inhabitants
couldn't even wait for the tour to start. I sat
in the waiting room, and felt the back of my
head gently and warmly cupped and held.
Not scary, but oh-so-intimate. CanuckiHubby
(he's from Canada) was busy messing
around with his water bottle, and adjusting
the many bits and pieces he had stored in his
coat (like the coat in the Tardis). He didn't
have a spare hand for tender head-holding.
I sighed and said quietly: "Okay, yes, I
know you're there. Thank you. Now take it
It eased off but didn't quite leave until I
left the premises an hour later.
While I sensed varying emotions and hot
and cold spots throughout the tour, it was
in what remained of the chapel that the
ghosts really made themselves known. While
the guide entertained the other tourists, I
could not take my eyes off the pews. Many
pale lavender-blue shapes, like the afterburn
of a bright light in the eyes, were seated in
the pews. I kept looking up at them and
the guide excitedly asked if I could see
"What can you see?"
"Oh, people." I truly didn't want to make
a spectacle of myself and be Exhibit A in
"How many? One, two, three?"
In fact, I could see myriad figures, seated
in the pews, as they would have been each
Sunday, during their living years, looking
down towards the pulpit. I knew they
were watching us wandering around their
domain, where they were forced to be, just
above the solitary cells, and not far from the
Half an hour later, when we returned to
the chapel, they were still there.
"Hi guys," I said quietly.
I felt they simply wanted acknowledge-
ment that evening. Releasing them from this
terrible place was too big a job for me to do
on the spot, and ghost busting isn't my forte
In the execution yard, I also saw figures
where once observers of hangings would
have stood -- police and prison wardens
officially witnessing "justice" being done.
I was taciturn about that as well. No
need to attract any more attention than I
I shook myself from head to foot, like a
dog, when I left the tour. I made sure nothing
had attached itself to me, willing to come
home and hang out.
People are fascinated to hear this story.
They are all ears, open-mouthed.
Yet, what haunts me from it all is the
small photo of one inmate. Transported for
life, no known crime, mentally ill. A thin face,
giving hint to a gangly body. Lived most of
his life in Port Arthur, in the Model Prison.
His name taken away, a hood over his head,
forbidden to speak.
I think of friends of mine who are
medicated for depression, schizophrenia,
or psychosis. I think of those of my friends
who are tormented by their psychic senses.
My son has autism. I think that as recently
as 60 years ago, we all would have been
classed as mentally ill. And that one
hundred, two hundred years ago, we could
have been in Port Arthur, or Old Hobart
Ghosts are easy. Our own history is what
bothers me, and there can be no scepticism
© NOVA MARCH 2011
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