When the Lights Go Out

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Jemm
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When the Lights Go Out

Postby Jemm » Sat Oct 01, 2011 4:37 pm

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Posted: Fri Aug 29, 2008

There ’ s an island not far from Perth that offers a holiday with an eerie edge. Discover Rottnest Island ’ s fascinating and sometimes brutal history. By Amanda Saunders.

YOU don’t need a passport to go to Rottnest Island, but after taking the 25-minute ferry ride there from Fremantle, it feels as though you’re in another country. While that appeals to many tourists, ghost hunters visit Rotto — as it’s known — because it offers access to another world.

Shirley Andrusiak, one of the volunteer ghost-tour guides, doesn’t believe in the supernatural. She does concede though that parts of the island — away from barbecues and the sound of laughter from the pub — do feel eerie and desolate at night.

Whether you believe in ghosts or not, gaining an insight into the island’s brutal history is enough to raise prickles on the back of your neck.


Shirley tells the story of a warder, Paddy Forkin, who, in 1879, was followed by a ghost on a phantom horse each time he passed the lighthouse. The ghost pursued him until he reached the lights of the settlement, when it vanished into the trees.

“[Then] in 1881, John Callaghan agreed to be assistant lighthouse keeper, but he only kept the job for half a year, resigning over an unwelcome apparition who would walk through the lighthouse every night and sit down at the dining room table, waiting for dinner to be served,” she says.

“Rottnest was, for many years, a prison and two of the convicts who helped build the lighthouse died when they fell from the roof.” It is said that they have never left.

Shirley says one peculiar feature of the Rottnest Island gallows was that each rope tied to hang a man was only ever used once. In 1883, after a prisoner was hanged for murder, the warder kept the rope and hid it under his mattress to conceal it from his wife. Two days later he was dead.

“Part of the ghost-lore of the island says that a local man found the discarded rope and unaware of its history, used it to lay a craypot,” Shirley says.

When he drew up the rope, the head of the hanged man came with it. He dropped the crayfish and fled the island.

It’s not only past inhabitants of the island who have been terrified by ghost sightings. Many of the guides who take the military tour at the old gun site at Oliver Hill, refuse to be on the closing shift. When three o’clock comes and it is time to turn out the lights in each underground tunnel, apparently footsteps can be heard going down the staircase and the sound of hands can be heard drumming against the wall.

“When the lights are switched on, no one is there, only a cold feeling, as though somebody has been there before them,” Shirley says.

The island’s cemetery is another place to avoid at night.

“Recently a visitor was riding her bike after dark and saw a small boy appear in front of her on the path that ran by the rows of graves,” Shirley says.

The rider careered into the sand in her effort to avoid running over him and when she looked around he was standing on a headstone with the edges of his face blurred. He then faded away. The island was once the site of a boys’ reformatory school and it is thought some of the lads had stayed behind — and were still there more than a century later.

A group of women on their annual weekend away were unnerved by a far more gruesome sight — a disembodied hand that clawed from behind the bars of the deserted Rottnest salt stores.

Rotto is a place that draws all sorts of people, not just those with an interest in the world of the unknown. The island polarises people: they seem to either love it or are ambivalent.
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ff6257
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Re: When the Lights Go Out

Postby ff6257 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 6:59 pm

Very interesting! rottnest is another haunted place that interests me and is one of my favorite holiday destinations.

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Re: When the Lights Go Out

Postby Spier » Wed Jun 12, 2013 8:59 am

i think this would warrant a trip to my uncles place he lives in perth :) any excuse for a ghost trip.
Honesty of thought and speech and written word is a jewel, and they who curb prejudice and seek honorably to know and speak the truth are the only builders of a better life.
--John Galsworthy

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Re: When the Lights Go Out

Postby Dellycat » Wed Jun 12, 2013 8:42 pm

Forget the night, daytime is just as spooky. The old buildings along the beach at Thompsons bay where they imprisioned the poor aborignals in the early days, the tunnels under the lighthouse from WW2, the church, the cemetery.... The hotel is also another place that gets a mention by those who know. No body is allowed to live on the island now, only those who run the hotel I think can stay there. Everyone else goes in by ferry and home again, every day.
The buildings on Rotto are all old, nothing new is allowed to be built there. They filmed a movie there some years ago and used the church and built a house away from the settlement for it, the house was removed after filming, they are very strict there.
It is a pity that it now costs an arm and a leg along with a kidney to get to Rotto these days otherwise I would go over there for the day and get some photos and do a report for here. Unfortunately it is no longer really in the average persons grasp, it is now aimed at tourists and those with money. To stay in any of the islands accommodation I think you have to book a year ahead.. sad really.
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Re: When the Lights Go Out

Postby Spier » Thu Jun 13, 2013 5:11 am

well they probably do that just to cover maitenance i bet it is expensive to keep the place safe with all the old buildings ect and they are in business of making money so its clearly working for them. But yes a report and investigation would be nice.
Honesty of thought and speech and written word is a jewel, and they who curb prejudice and seek honorably to know and speak the truth are the only builders of a better life.
--John Galsworthy

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Re: When the Lights Go Out

Postby Dellycat » Thu Jun 13, 2013 10:03 pm

Nothing has been allowed to be built on Rotto since I can remember and that is a long time, before it became a big expensive tourist spot that it is today. It was to do with keeping the heritage of the place, not maintenance. Rotto isn't big, it is only 12km long and a couple km wide, no cars there only a bus and government vehicles used for important stuff, the main transport on the island is foot or bike. It has been disappointing in the last few years that they have made the island more exclusive and beyond the reach of normal people, it has always been a bit expensive but now it is stupidly expensive and purely tourist. I have friends who used to live on the island and went to school there, I would have to ask them when it all changed for the dollar value.

Anyway, it is still a spooky place day or night and definitely a place to go and visit if given the chance.
I love it over there, the history is fantastic, the scenery is beautiful, the serenity is devine..... the cost stupid seeing as the only way there is ferry unless you own a boat of your own.
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