ON THIS DAY…… 22nd October 1850

Francis Gardiner, love of crime began in Geelong, on the 22nd of October, 1850, on a charge of horse stealing, and sentenced to five years’ hard labour. However Gardiner manage to escape in the first few months and returned to Goulburn. Where his career as a bushranger began, for within two years he and his gang committed six mail robberies under arms, besides many others of lesser note. In June 1862 he bailed up the Lachlan Gold Escort near Eugowra with a gang including Ben Hall, Dan Charters and Johnny Gilbert. This hold up is considered to be one of the largest ever gold robberies in Australian history. The total value of the 2,700 ounces of gold and bank notes taken was estimated at £14,000 (approximately A$12.5 million in 2012 terms). Much of the gold was recovered by mounted police after they surprised the gang on Wheoga Hill near Forbes. What happened to the remaining gold is still the subject of much speculation and rumour. It is rumoured that two Americans who were thought to be Gardiner’s sons visited the Wheogo Station near the Weddins in 1912 claiming to be miners.


On this day …….. 9th September 1947

Phone calls to the police and newspaper office resulted in a visit to Toowong Cemetery, Brisbane, of local residents in pyjamas. Police constable and reporter calls were to the effect that a “ghost light” had been seen, among the graves. Three searchers found the light came from a candle on the grave of an Albanian. Cooked rice and flowers were also on the grave.


On this day …….. 4th September 1905

John Beckett, who was charged at the Melbourne City Court on this day in 1905 with insulting behaviour, implored a constable to lock him up. He said that seven years ago he murdered a man named Small in Tasmania by striking him with a stick, and had been haunted by his ghost ever since. He said he had been tried in Launceston for the offence. Beckett was remanded for medical observation.


On This Day ……. 21st of July 1923

An elderly woman Mrs Drew, who was found under filthy conditions in an outhouse in the Market Square several weeks earlier was placed under arrest by Constable Jackson and remanded to the Geelong Gaol Hospital, she died suddenly at 9pm on this day in 1923. The matter has been reported to the police with a view to the facts being placed before the coroner.


Ben Chifley the 16th Prime Minister of Australia graduated as one of the youngest first-class locomotive engine driver at 28. Chifley died of a massive heart attack on the 13th of June 1951 in Canberra, whilst parliamentarians attended State Ball at Parliament House. Once hearing the news Prime Minister Menzies told everyone to go home. Ben Chifley ghost is said to haunt Hotel Kurrajong in Canberra.

ON THIS DAY – June 23, 1978

A dramatic, police-backed, television re-enactment of 12 year old Denise McGregor’s rape and murder prompted a huge community response in 1978 when it was shown during evening television news on Channel 0, now Channel 10, over three nights from the 23rd to the 25th of June. A scene depicting Denise played by Cathrine Lawson, being repeatedly beaten with a crowbar was cut after complaints to the Broadcasting Tribunal. The homicide squad, defended the graphic re-enactment, saying they wanted to move people enough to make them come forward with information. Sadly this is still an unsolved crime.


One of the teams favourite “haunts” is the Blackwood Hotel.  We hold regular investigations here with the next one being on Sunday, June 12.

Nestled in the Wombat State Forest, the town of Blackwood has an interesting past from the early days of the Victorian Gold Rush to the present.  This hotel opened in 1868 and quickly became the heart of the community.  Being the office of the Cobb and Co, coroners court and even the town morgue.  This building has seen more than its fair share of death and claims a number of resident ghosts which makes it perfect to investigate.

Laura Dalton lies in an unmarked grave in the Blackwood Cemetery, after an accident at the Blackwood Hotel.  Laura was the single mother of two young children earning her keep as part of the domestic staff at the Hotel.  In 1948 she was using a petrol iron in the kitchen when it exploded, severely burning the young woman, where she would die of her injuries the following day.  Over the years many people have claimed to see Laura at the Blackwood Hotel.

Australian Hotel, Boonah, Queensland
No one knows the origins of the Australian Hotel’s ghost … but she’s friendly.
This quaint hotel prides itself on good old-fashioned hospitality and rumour has it the pub is haunted by the ghost of a 23-year-old woman, but don’t worry, she’s “friendly”. The staff and locals are only too happy to share their stories of meeting her.

The Russell Hotel, The Rocks, NSW
The Russell Hotel, in The Rocks, Sydney, is haunted by a sailor.
Located in the heart of The Rocks, The Russell Hotel is steeped in history and certainly has plenty of character — Room 8 is said to be haunted by the spirit of a sailor. Guests have described seeing him standing in the room staring at them.

There are also numerous reports of someone walking at night over creaky floorboards, but when staff go to investigate the noise, there’s no-one there.

The Eastern hotel has a host of ghosts.

This the pub is said to have several ghosts, including original owner Thomas Redshaw Hunt, who is usually preceded by a strong tobacco smell; a two-year-old boy who drowned in a mining puddle; English mother and daughter Maggie, 35, and Sarah, 12, who died in one of the rooms from yellow fever; an Irish man who was stabbed in the hotel’s kitchen; and two indigenous caretakers.

One recent manager even recalls going to serve a patron, only to discover it was Mr Hunt’s ghost.

The Bush Inn in New Norfolk, Tasmania holds the title of the oldest continuously licenced Pub in Australia.  The first licencee was Ann Bridger, a widow from England who had arrived in the colony with her 3 children and £500 in cash and £200 in ‘various merchandise for investing in agricultural pursuits’, and a desire to succeed.

It didn’t take long before Anne Bridger had entered into a business in her adopted homeland, as the proprietor of the Black Snake Inn at Granton.  The inn had a reputation as being ‘a shady thieves’ kitchen’7, but before long Bridgers had transformed the inn to a respectable Public House.  It was known as the ‘halfway house’ to those who journeyed to New Norfolk.  New Norfolk was many hours on horseback from Hobart Town, and most travellers stopped there to dine and refresh themselves, or in winter to warm themselves.

New Norfolk was one of the fastest growing areas of the Colony, and an astute business woman like Mrs Bridger would have looked upon that as a potential opportunity for making money.  This opportunity was realized when she decided to move her business and family there in 1825, to build the hotel still bearing the name of the Bush Inn.

The Bush Inn has been witness to many historical events and was the hub of the community in the early days.  Church services were held here before the building of the church, it has inspired composers with views from the balcony and entertained famous visitors such as Lady Franklin who planted a pear tree in the garden. The first trunk call was made in 1888 from here and in 1939 the first overseas call.

With such a rich history, of course some residents from long ago remain!  Reportedly the room to stay in is Room 6, said to be haunted by the spirit of a young girl who is believed to have died on the stairs over 100 years ago.

On This Day ……. 22nd April 1856

This criminal suffered the penalty of his crimes on this day in 1856, at 8am. Pursuant to the provisions of the Act which abolishes the old mode of public execution, the affair was witnessed by certain officials only, to see that the sentence was duly carried out. An inquest on the body was, in conformity with the act, held in the goal, at twelve noon. A jury was impanelled in the usual way. By direction of the coroner, they proceeded to view the body, and then returned to hear evidence. The coroner read the warrant of his Excellency the Acting Governor. The sheriff gave evidence as to the identity of the person named in the warrant, and the dead body the jury had just seen. The sentence had been carried out in the usual way. The district surgeon was examined as to the same facts. The head goaler testified that the body which the jury had viewed was that of James Ross, who was sentenced to die at the last criminal sessions, and for whose execution a warrant had been produced by the sheriff. The sentence had been duly carried out. This closed the evidence, and the jury unanimously returned a verdict to the effect that the deceased James Ross had been duly executed in pursuance of sentence passed upon him by Sir William A’Beckett, judge of the Supreme Court. It was remembered by most of our readers that James Ross was convicted of the most brutal murder of his own child, and also for the murder of a Mrs Sayers. Ross intended to murder his own wife also, and left her for dead; but she recovered, and is still alive at Horsham. Seldom in the annals of crime has there occurred so atrocious a case—a crime of so black a dye, committed without any apparent adequate motive. From the time of his commitment to the last hour of his existence, Ross admitted the crimes of which he stood charged. He did not wish to live, and repeatedly, since sentence was passed, expressed impatience for the time of execution to be fixed. He spent much time in reading the Bible and other devotional books, and was assiduously attended by the Rev Mr Goodman and the gaol chaplain. Ross’s conversation and demeanour, however, so far as we could judge or learn, was by no means indicative of sincere regret. The culprit, a few days ago, wrote a letter to his wife, who is still an invalid from the cruel injuries she received from her husband. Ross, or Griffiths, was a native of Limerick, his father was Welsh. His crimes were of so deep a dye that even the most enthusiastic abolitionist of capital punishment will admit that the world is well rid of such a monster.