The Hunter region's House of Broken Dreams

Aberglassyn (sometimes spelt Aberglasslyn) house began construction by George Hobler in c1840 and has been referred to as the Hunter's “house of broken dreams”. 

In 1844, Aberglassyn House was leased by William Nicholson, who eventually exercised his option to purchase it. The property remained the possession of Nicholson's descendants until 1962.

 

Aberglassyn House c1840

Hobler a stock man, grazier and landowner came to the Hunter Region in 1836 and bought the property, Aberglassyn situated five kilometres upstream from Maitland. 

He became a justice of the peace, and was letting the land to tenant farmers, played the part of the local squire and started to build the Georgian mansion now known as Aberglassyn House.

Situated high on a hill overlooking farmland and a picturesque bend in the Hunter River the house has stately charm and an old world feel. It's intended grandeur was never quite realised in its day.

Hobler became insolvent in 1846 and the mansion was advertised for sale in 1858 stating that Hobler had spent upwards of 20 000 pounds on the house alone.

The house included 20 spacious rooms, dining room, drawing room, extensive cellars, out buildings including a detached kitchen but was incomplete due to the bank crash which was known as the “starving forties” which in turn led to Hobler’s bankruptcy. 

 

Advertisement for the sale of
Aberglassyn House in the Maitland Mercury 1858

The house has had several owners over the decades but has stood derelict on various occasions. It is said cows used to wander through the large empty rooms until the windows were bricked up and doors bolted to deter vandalism. The spacious arched cellars were home only to a colony of bats.

 

 

The big empty sandstone house on top of the hill had all the qualities of a classic haunted house. 

*A former maid there in the late 1920s remembered once hearing heavy footsteps within, but a search revealed no one around. 

Decades later, in the 1970s, a new owner one night heard "ghastly footsteps and a coughing" but no one was visible on the flagstone veranda under the moonlight. At other times there was the faint sound of something being dragged along. 

The mystery was eventually solved with the simple discovery the pattering of feet belonged to a fox using the veranda as a shortcut and who would drag its dead prey, like rabbits, right by the windows.

 

The estate of Aberglassyn is believed by some to be an aboriginal sacred site and that corroborees took place below the house. 

Aboriginal ceremonies were often performed in places which were considered to have strong “spiritual energy” one could speculate that the spirits of the land were not happy with a large white man’s house built on sacred ground. 

Could this have led to the cursed history and ghostly manifestations of Aberglassyn house?

 

Other unusual events at Aberglassyn;

*Two Greyhounds killed by a swarm of bees in 1947.

*A small boy named Clery's leg was cut to the bone by the knife of a mowing machine in 1888. 

*A Durham X Cow gave birth to quad calves in 1952

*Drowning of a 12 year old boy while his father was fishing in the river in 1920.

*Farmer was fined 10 pounds for not controlling grasshoppers in 1954.

 

Today the farmland of "Aberglassyn" has been subdivided and is a major housing estate. Yet the spooky Aberglassyn Mansion maintains it's lonely vigil over the surrounding countryside. 

 

 

Sources:

Wikipedia

Newcastle Herald

Maitland Mercury

Newcastle Cultural Collections

NSW Cultural Collections

Newcastle's Most Haunted suburb?

 

Minmi Cemetery 

 

Minmi is a small ex-coal mining town 17 km west of Newcastle NSW.

Minmi began as a cattle station in the 1830’s. Coal was produced from the suburb from 1850. It originally was a private town owned by J and A Brown (later Coal and Allied). It is currently home to a school, courthouse and two churches. The population has fluctuated over time. Due to the private owner ship of the coal mines Minmi had no form of local government until 1938.

The Brown brothers sustained their dominance of the coal industry, opening a mine at the Burwood estate near Newcastle in 1852 and acquiring the Minmi mine in 1859, which had commenced operations in 1853. The Minmi mine increased its production levels from 44,000 tonnes in 1860 to 111,000 tonnes in 1862. 

In 1857 the first section of the Richmond Vale Railway was opened extending from Hexham to Minmi. This was of great importance to the mining industry as the railways allowed for the improved transportation of coal and other minerals to the wharf. In 1904 the J and A Brown Company further extended the railway to the Richmond Main Colliery and to the Pelaw Main Colliery near Kurri Kurri. 

Minmi, from about 1880 to 1910 had been the third largest town in the Hunter it became almost a ghost town overnight in 1924 when the last of its great coal mines were closed.

Minmi is an Aboriginal word that translates as “Place of the Giant Waterlily”.

Minmi cemetery like the town itself was also a private burial ground. A number of the graves record the deaths of mine workers from industrial accidents. The cemetery was originally established on the private property of J & A Brown, who operated a number of coal mines in the area, and was made available by them for public use.


Paranormal Activity.

The town of Minmi and in particular the Minmi cemetery has for a long time been rumoured to be one of Newcastle’s most haunted places. 

For many years a bright blue/white glow was reported emanating from the cemetery leading many to believe that the cemetery was haunted. Although some believe that this “ghost light” was in fact the reflection of a street light shining on one of the highly polished granite headstones. Whatever the case Minmi cemetery has a very strong feeling of something otherworldly about it.

Also reports of a phantom motorbike rider have been reported along Minmi road. A bright light will appear in front of a vehicle then seemingly pass right through the car leaving it ice cold inside.

 

Sources :

http://austcemindex.com

http://www.historicproperties.com.au

http://www.nswmin.com.au/

Is Australia's third oldest settlement haunted?


Allman Hill Cemetery - Port Macquarie


History

Port Macquarie (like Port Arthur) was founded as a Penal Settlement for secondary offending Convicts who committed further crimes once in the colony of New South Wales. It was first settled in 1821 under the command of Captain Francis Allman, with a small contingent of Soldiers, an Engineer, A surgeon, and 60 convicts. Port Macquarie is Australia’s third oldest settlement. 

As a secondary place of Punishment life in Port in the first few years was harsh with a high death rate. Convicts worked long days in the sun in leg irons, with small rations. Floggings were commonplace for attempted escapees. In contrast later on Governor Darling described Port Macquarie as being “hardly a place of punishment”.

Sugarcane, Maize, Cedar and Livestock were the main produce, pilfering of goods was common among officers and commandants. Produce and supplies were transported by sea. And many, many shipwrecks occurred on Port Macquarie’s notorious bar entrance causing high loss of life over the years. Most ships could only cross in high tide as the water was never deeper than 10ft over the bar.

Nearly all of the original buildings have been demolished with only St Thomas’ Church and the Historical Society building still standing from the convict era. Some of the original buildings were; Government house, Gaol, Military barracks, Prisoners barracks, Hospital, Church, Boat shed, Lumberyard, Women’s factory. 

Two early burying grounds from the colonial era still exist. The first being Allman Hill where the first burials took place. Those of note are James McMahon on 22 July, 1821 the first person to die in the new settlement - killed by a protracted illness. And James Vaughan member of the 48th Regiment killed by a gunshot wound whilst preventing convicts from escaping. 28 burials occurred on Allman Hill from 1821-1824. Under the Floor of St Thomas’ church is the grave of Captain Rolland who died of exposure on the 16th of November 1824. The second burying ground contains over 1500 soldiers, convicts. 

The town's second cemetery was used from 1824-1886. Although the cemetery officially closed in 1886, further burials were reported after this date. The first burial was of Elizabeth Murphy, daughter of Corporal Murphy 3rd regiment of the Buffs aged four months. Infant mortality rate was high as shown in burial records. Today, over 110 graves can still be seen. 

Reported Paranormal Activity 

Stories of activity in the second burying grounds have been reported - sounds of chains clinking and lights appearing at the back of the cemetery are commonplace. On my last visit to the second burying ground the wetlands and boardwalk behind the cemetery had a more eerie feeling to it than the cemetery itself.

The “Ghost of the Quarry” is a well documented paranormal occurrence in Port Macquarie. The story has appeared in local newspapers and has been witnessed by locals for over a century. A tall figure is supposed to appear at the top of a hill smoky gray in color and wearing a robe. As the name suggests a Quarry once existed in the area where the apparition has been seen, perhaps the ghost of a worker killed in the quarry? This Ghost is supposed to appear every 50 years or so and is due again this year. (2007) There are other reports of a “contained fog” that has been seen crossing the road in this same area, see account below; 

“My Grandmother and Great Aunt both witnessed the ghost on an occasion, and they still have the news paper article relating to it. Both of them, their taxi driver and 2 other persons in another car witnessed a 'contained fog' move from the bush across the highway, stop in between the cars and 'look' into the window, forming a face. It then floated through the bonnet of the taxi and disappeared into the bush on the other side of the road.” 

I recently had a personal experience when I was last visited Port Macquarie; 

“My family and I decided to go to an Italian restaurant for dinner while we were on holidays in Port Macquarie recently. When I entered the restaurant we sat in the outdoor area. I was suddenly overcome with feelings of intense joy and silliness. My wife thought I had gone quite mad. I then started to get mental images of Port Macquarie as it would have looked approximately a century ago. Along with these images I had a strong feeling of “coming home” so to speak. These feelings lasted the whole time I was at the Restaurant; we even asked if a building had been demolished on the site the present Restaurant now sits. The staff did not know. When we left the Restaurant the feelings slowly faded away. When I got back home I had a look at an old map of Port Macquarie from pioneering times and in the approximate area the Restaurant is situated once stood the old Police Station.” 

Hardly a paranormal experience I know but worth a mention nonetheless. 

 

I have been a regular visitor to Port Macquarie for many years. I have read much about the history of Port and would love to add to this article any stories local people or anyone has in relation to ghosts or paranormal of the Hastings area.

 

Newcastle and the Hunter's Most Haunted Places

Newcastle, Australia's second-oldest settlement and sixth-largest city with just over half a million people, Newcastle and the Hunter was built on the back of Coal Mining and Convict labour.


Christchurch Cathedral Newcastle - NSW and "Ghosts"


Civic Theatre - Newcastle, The reputed home of a lonely man from the inter-war years looking for his missing girlfriend.

Newcastle Repertory Theatre - Lambton, is supposed to be haunted by several ghosts the most famous is that of a spirit named Kambrook.

ABC radio studios- Newcastle, Three ghosts are supposed to be in residence at the studio.

The Star Hotel - Newcastle, upstairs, The ghost of a cleaning lady has been seen in the upstairs offices.

Newcastle Train Station - A ghost of a man is reported to walk to and from the train station to Newcastle hospital.

Maitland Gaol - East Maitland - many tormented souls are said to still haunted this historic Gaol. Among them a Satanic-worshipping man that committed suicide, an Aboriginal man stabbed to death and the ghost of the last man hung at the gaol in the 1890's. Maitland Gaol has the worldwide reputation of being Australia's most haunted site!

Raymond Terrace Masonic centre - Several Ghosts still haunt this Historic building constructed in 1850.

Lochinvar - St. Josephs Campus - screams are said to be heard in some of the old dormitories.

Raymond Terrace - Historic King Street - Most of the historic houses in this street built in the late 1800's have resident ghosts in them. This street was used extensively in the film "Tomorrow When the War Began".

Morpeth Cemetery and main street - Ghost in period clothing seen in main street. EVPs recorded in cemetery.

Raymond Terrace Pioneer Hill cemetery - Presence felt at bottom of the hill near the fence line. People being touched by unseen hands and EVP's recorded.

Tanilba House, - Tanilba bay - The ghost of Governess Elizabeth Gray is said to still haunt the premises.

Lochinvar Holy Trinity Church - EVPs recorded and physical touching reported.

Kurri Kurri - Richmond Vale Rail & Mining Museum, various strong paranormal activity has been reported here. Including physical manipulation of Locomotives.

Morisset train station, at night is haunted by a male spirit who walks the platform late at night seen by many witnesses who repudedly took his life by throwing himself in front of a train.

Wallsend Terminus - Wallsend, Reputedly haunted by the ghost of a tram driver killed in a tragic streetcar accident on the 22-Jan 1928 Known as Alf McVie or "Hellfire Jack" a mad Christian crusader who's spirit continues to preach from the other side.

Fort Scratchley - Newcastle - The underground tunnels of Australia's only fort to fire at an enemy in aggression are said to be haunted by former soldiers from the early 20th Century.

Newcastle Christ Church Cathedral - Newcastle (bell tower) More information needed.

James Fletcher Hospital - Many of the James Fletcher buildings used to be part of the original Newcastle Military Barracks, apparitions of redcoat soldiers have been seen in some of the buildings and on the parade ground.

Glenrock Lagoon - The ruins of the old colliery are said to be haunted by a convict who fell to his death off a cliff face while collecting water for his billy. When his body was found, the head was missing and according to folklore, the miner’s ghost still roams the region in search of his lost head.

Tomago House - Ghosts of the original owners and servants are rumoured to still haunt this colonial home.

Hunter Region Botanic Gardens - A young aboriginal girl had been raped and murdered by a group of soldiers on the Windeyer's property in the 1800's and she is known to make her presence felt at the back of the gardens.

No 4 Parnell Place Newcastle - Is reputedly haunted after a murder taking place on the premises. 

Lake Cinema, Boolaroo - Previous owner still haunts the theatre in the backstage area.

West Wallsend Historic Cemetery - Many paranormal experiences have been reported here including stones being thrown at ghost hunters, EVP's recorded and the ghost of "Frank" has been described by a spirit medium. 

Glebe Gully Cemetery East Maitland - One of the oldest regional cemeteries in the country the ghost of a woman carrying a lamp has been witnessed at the back of the cemetery. 

Morpeth Queens Wharf - The ghost of a headless railway worker has been witnessed near the river where the Morpeth line used to run. The man was apparently decapitated in a shunting accident. 

 

 

If anyone has any more information on haunted houses of ghostly locations in the Newcastle Hunter area we'd love to hear from you!

Ghosts on the Hawkesbury...

Wisemans Ferry located 75km north-west of the Sydney in New South Wales Australia.

Solomon Wiseman of whom the town is named after was an ex-convict who became a very successful businessman after he was pardoned by Governor Macquarie in 1812. 

Born to a respectable family at Cobham in the UK in 1778 he was convicted and sentenced to death for stealing 704 lbs (319 kg) of Brazil wood from a lighter (a flat bottomed barge) which he was working on at the Thames in London. His sentence was reduced to transportation for life to New South Wales in 1806.

Because of his aristocratic connections Lord Bathurst allowed Wiseman to take his wife and young family with him to New South Wales.

Upon arrival to New South Wales he was given “conditional liberty” which meant his sentence was to be carried out under the supervision of his wife. 

Solomon Wiseman 1777-1838

 

With his maritime background he built a ship in July 1811 called the “Hawkesbury Packet” which traded in coal from Newcastle, wheat from the Hawkesbury region and timber from Shoalhaven. 

Wiseman received a grant of 200 acres of land at which is now Wisemans Ferry. He and his family moved there in 1819 began farming, plus other government contracts. He established the “Sign of the Packet” Inn which is now Wisemans Ferry Inn.

Wiseman quickly became a very successful businessman as an innkeeper, a merchant and of course a ferryman.

In 1827, Wiseman built the ferry at the Hawkesbury River crossing for the Great North Road which was the only overland route to the fertile Hunter Valley at the time. The original site was 2km downstream from its present location but was moved in 1829 when the Devine’s Hill ascent was chosen as the new route for the Great North Road. 

Wiseman was granted exclusive rights to the tolls for seven years, subject to an exemption for Government horses and property. 

Wiseman was not known for leniency towards his assigned convicts. If he was assigned a good worker Wiseman would provoke a quarrel just before the convict’s ticket of leave was due. Resulting in the assigned servant’s ticket being cancelled forcing the convict to stay longer in his servitude. 

He was given the nickname “King of the Hawkesbury” he was known to wear a swallowtail coat, flowery vest, polished boots and a dress sword. 

Wiseman died in 1838 at age 62. He was buried in his own grounds next to his wife Jane. He was reinterred first in the Church of St Mary Magdalene, and after that church was damaged by vandals, in the cemetery at Wiseman's Ferry. 

Wisemans Ferry remained the principal crossing place for many years, until the opening of the Hawkesbury railway bridge in 1889. 

Ghosts?

The Wisemans Ferry Inn is rumoured to be haunted by the ghost of Jane Wiseman, stories vary but some believe she was either pushed or fell from the balcony of the inn and died on the steps.

Contradicting this story it appears that Jane Wiseman had died 5 years before the inn was completed. His wife Jane actually died on 20 July 1821 after a long illness, leaving Wiseman with four sons and two daughters. On 1 November 1826 he married Sophia Warner, the widow of one of his employees at Wilberforce.

Wisemans Ferry Inn - 1827

Wisemans Ferry Inn was once considered the most famous haunted house in Australia.

A story from Windsor and Richmond Gazette 27 January 1928 entitled 

“SHADOWY FORMS AT WISEMAN'S” describes the ghostly goings on;

“Several ghosts including women spectres who hurried through the echoing stone rooms and along draughty corridors in trailing gowns, and scared residents swear that they heard the swish, swish of- silken dresses as a woman ran to look over the balcony. Sometimes the rustle was accompanied by a scraping of feet and a faint gasping cry like the coughing of a woman with asthma. The story of the shadowy form that rose from the old vault in the neglected garden and hurried towards the old house is history. Those who tell it argue that the spirit was that of Wiseman's first wife, and whose nocturnal visits were an attempt to draw public attention to treasure hidden in her bedroom. Several years after the ghost was last seen a box of sovereigns was found under the floor of the old room.

One of the most picturesque legends is the story, of the young convict whose ghost periodically visited the old house to beg a ticket-of-leave of 'Governor' Wiseman. 

In the twenties and the thirties it was the custom to grant a ticket-of-leave to a convict serving seven years' sentence if on the expiration of four years of sentence the Convict held a good conduct report. The story goes that a young convict, anxious to see his sweetheart in Sydney, begged Wiseman to give him a permit. This the 'Governor' refused and instead put him under a cruel taskmaster who had him chained to the roadmaking gang. He attempted to escape by swimming the river, but his leg-irons hampered him and he was drowned. For years the ghost of the young boy was supposed to come to the house and the clank, clank of his chains sent a shiver, down the spine of travellers who claim to have heard it.

A swagman, who was on his way to Sydney put in at the old house for a night's camp. Telling of his adventure afterwards he said that he was awakened shortly after midnight by the most, unearthly noises.

The screams of a woman as if she were being choked was followed by the slamming of a door. Footsteps echoed along the stone corridor, and a shadowy form seemed to flit past him. 

 

CLANK OF LEG-IRONS 

All was quiet for a while and the troubled swagman turned over and tried to sleep. He could not. The clanking of leg-irons accompanied by the slow halting steps of

a man drove away all attempts at sleep. He sat bolt upright and hearing the clank of metal approaching his room, grabbed his Matilda and fled out of another door. There are dozens of other similar stories. The old house is now a flourishing hotel, and the ghost stories are of the past. Many years have elapsed since the rattle of leg-irons, the rustle of silken garments, and muffled screams and asthma coughs were last heard but the stories are still fresh in the memories of the old inhabitants, as fresh as the grim tales of Old Mangrove are with the fishermen of the Lower Hawkesbury.” 

 

Sources;

Windsor and Richmond Gazette

Scepticsbook.com

The Kuringai Examiner