Isisford's famous Wilga Ghost is heard but never seen; and, once heard, never forgotten. Imagine, if you can, a scream so loud that when you cover your ears it still deafens you, and so fiendish that your stomach churns and your blood runs cold. That is how most people who have heard the sound coming from the Wilga Waterhole describe it.
Aborigines avoid the waterhole; horses, cattle and dogs sense evil there even when the ghost is silent. Cynics (who have never heard the screaming) claim a bird with a freak call or air escaping from subterranean tunnels is responsible. Early settlers in the district considered a bunyip and a few speculated that it was the ghost of the explorer Ludwig Leichhardt, who passed that way on his final, fatal expedition.
A later theory suggested the ghost of a youth named Toby Coleman who became lost in the bush many kilometres from the waterhole. All that was ever found of him was one leg, and the theory contends that his ghost haunts the waterhole looking for that missing limb.
There was a primitive building beside the Wilga Waterhole for many years used as a shanty hotel and a private residence. One of the last to live there was James Skuthorp, overseer of the shearing sheds at Ruthven Station, and his family. One of Skuthorp's daughters became a school teacher and recalled in old age that her mother and an elder sister had heard the ghost and strange ‘coo-ees’ coming from the empty bush.
Ruthven Station is still there and so is the Wilga Waterhole, within its boundaries, about 30 kilometres west of Isisford, although years of drought have taken their toll on its once clear, deep waters.
Mention of the coo-ee call, which most people associate with friendly greeting, brings to mind several stories from the Queensland bush that put a more sinister slant on it. Survivors of all sorts of natural and unnatural tragedies have been quoted as saying they heard disembodied coo-ees giving warning hours or minutes before disaster struck.
One lady remembers hearing the eerie call (which went on for hours) on three separate occasions in one year. Severe floods followed the day after the first hearing and a baby drowned in a dam after the second. It was Christmas Eve when she heard the call the third time, and on Christmas Day a bushfire swept across her family’s property leaving death and heartbreak in its wake.
Talk about the hauntings and ghosts of Australia. If you know of a place of interest post it here. If we get enough information on a place it will then be placed in the Australia's Historical Haunted Places forum.
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