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Postby Jemm » Sat Aug 16, 2014 7:58 am

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Ghosts in the Illawarra: putting them on the map

Stories of ghosts and sightings of the supernatural have filled humans with fear and dread since the beginning of time.

Some swear they see the dead, others claim to hear voices or feel the chill of an unearthly touch.

Most of us have shared haunting tales while staring into a campfire, lapping up that spine-tingling jolt of terror and adrenaline.

Reality television shows such as Ghost Hunters have brought the spirit world to primetime TV, and business is booming for paranormal investigators.


In Australia ghost tours are popping up in cities big and small, as people become more curious and open-minded about the unexplainable.

Port Kembla psychic Kerrie Barraclough believes the Illawarra could cash in on its haunted history and its modern-day spirit world by jumping on board the ghost tour bandwagon.

Her Wentworth Street business is populated with colourful characters who have passed.

"We've got a lot of activity in here, there's an old sailor and two females," says Ms Barraclough.

"Things fly off shelves, music turns up on its own.

"There's banging when nothing is happening, the water cooler comes on by itself and my clients constantly see people."

Ms Barraclough sensed the heightened paranormal activity in Port Kembla the very first day she walked along the main street two years ago. She was on the hunt for a suitable location for her business, Mystik Wellness Centre.

"I was walking down the street with a guy from council and he tried to show me another shop and I couldn't concentrate," she explains.

"A spirit came through telling me 'come over here, come over here, this is where I got taken'."

Kerrie Barraclough thinks ghost tours would help people open their minds to the spirit world.
Kerrie Barraclough thinks ghost tours would help people open their minds to the spirit world.
She tried to remain focused on the conversation with the council employee, but couldn't shake the woman and her pleas for attention.

"This prostitute was saying 'come here, come here, this is where I got taken. He murdered me'. She gave me the full story on how she was murdered."

A quick Google search revealed a prostitute had been killed in the vicinity.

Ms Barraclough has many more stories of her own encounters and those shared with her about old houses, buildings, cemeteries and other Illawarra haunts.

She thinks professionally run, well-planned ghost tours would help people open their minds to the spirit world and learn about the region's rich, colourful and sometimes dark history.

"I think the tours are a great idea and judging by what people I've spoken to say about it, they would love to go on a tour."

Witness accounts of spine-tingling ghostly activity vary widely from an invisible presence to sounds and voices, to translucent shapes and lifelike images.

While Balgownie-based historian Carol Herben is no expert on matters spooky, she believes a ghost tour could be a great way to showcase the region's history.

"There are people interested in the paranormal and we have many sites with a lot of history, many old mines, such as Mount Kembla and Bulli, with stories of disaster. A twilight tour that puts the spook in people too, that could probably work well," she said.

"A tour could incorporate other historic events and places, they could open up gardens of older homes, visit museums, even the art gallery could put the old works on display."

Mrs Herben has a ghost tale of her own from her days at the Illawarra Museum.

"School children used to tell us about the little girl mannequin that was dressed in period costume with long, curly hair. She said she moved and she used to giggle a lot.

"We never saw anything, it may have been the children's imagination, you don't know.

"The children were certainly fascinated. They've written in the guest book about the little girl upstairs."

Wollongong City Council has offered a variety of historic tour experiences in recent years, including the Wollongong CBD Heritage Tours, the Botanic Garden's Gleniffer Brae Tours and the "Ghost of Courtney Puckey Tour".

Koonawarra-based history buff Brendan Leach, who has a passion for the paranormal, would love to see something more permanent, like the tours operating in Berrima, Newcastle, Port Macquarie and The Rocks in Sydney.


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