The Central Coast's White Lady Ghost?
Like all good ghost stories the Jenny Dixon Beach Ghost is a mixture actual events and urban legends.
The Jenny Dixon beach itself takes its name from a coal schooner called the Janet Dickson that ran aground in 1870 after she took shelter in Cabbage Tree Harbour from a severe storm just north of Norah head in Australia’s central coast. All souls survived but were severely shaken by the experience. The area later became known as Jenny Dixon beach.
Prior to the Norah head lighthouse being built many shipwrecks occurred along this notorious stretch of the NSW coast. Approximately fifteen deaths are attributed to this dangerous stretch of the Eastern Australian Coastline.
The legend of the Jenny Dixon ghost appears to come from two local stories from two separate incidents almost over 100 years apart.
The first story relates to the above account of the wrecked coal schooner above. Raymond Grove has been researching the story ever since his encounter with the ghost in 1973.
According to his account Raymond and his friends were having a party at the Jenny Dixon beach. After the party had died down and most of the group had left Raymond and his mates decided to sleep by the camp fire.
“I was almost asleep when for some strange reason I felt compelled to look up towards the surrounding bush,” Raymond said.
“That’s when I saw the woman. She was dressed in a long flowing dress, similar to that worn by women in the early 1800’s. She was obviously not from our time.
'Her arms were outstretched and she appeared to be seeking my help. I woke the other three up and I admit we were all pretty frightened – my mates began throwing sticks from the fire at the woman, but the pieces of wood passed straight through her. That really scared us, and we ran as fast as we could back up the stairs to the car-park.
'And as anyone who has been to Jenny Dixon Beach will tell you - there are a quite lot of stairs to climb before you reach the top. But I reckon we broke a record that night.
“After we caught our breath, we decided to take one last look to see if she was still there, and slowly headed back down. We'd only descended about halfway when we saw her standing in front of us blocking the stairs.”
“She seemed to be beckoning for us to come with her, but there is no way we were going to hang around that place a minute longer. We bolted home as quickly as we could.”
Raymond has spent much of his life trying to find the identity of the apparition that appeared to him that night. He believes he has traced the woman back to a shipwreck which occurred along the beach in the 1800’s. Where a woman's young son went over board and that her distraught spirit is still trying to find her lost child.
'That is why she was holding her arms out the night I saw her - she was pleading for my help to find her son. I am very close now to solving this mystery, although I doubt I can ever give that poor woman the peace she seeks.'
The second legend connected with Jenny Dixon beach is the apparent rape and murder of a young woman, also known as the Hitchhiking ghost of Wilfred Barrett Drive.
According to the story apparently set in the 1970’s a good deal later than the above shipwreck account. A young girl was hitchhiking home from work when she was picked up by a group of five male youths. The five young men proceeded to assault and rape the girl and dumped her in bushland near Jenny Dixon beach. On her deathbed the girl told her father that she would not rest until those that attacked and raped her were made to pay for their crimes.
According to the legend no youths were ever charged or convicted of her rape and subsequent death. But a series of mysterious deaths occurred to each of the alleged assailants.
*One youth hung himself after complaining of being continually harassed by a spirit.
*An accomplice was fatally injured in a car accident. Before he passed away he claimed someone had walked in front of his vehicle, but witnesses saw no-one.
*The third member of the group to die in mysterious circumstances drove his car off a cliff after confessing that an apparition had been torturing him.
*A fourth youth picked up a hitchhiker on Wilfred Barrett Drive. By the time he had reached Noraville Road, the girl had disappeared. He reported the incident, but was cruelly ridiculed, and soon began showing signs of madness. He later ran his car over an embankment on the Pacific Highway and died.
*The final victim had complained to his sister of being ‘constantly haunted.’ He later left the district to work for a circus in an effort to escape the torment – but it followed him. He often told of ‘seeing things’ day and night and later ended the nightmare by taking his own life with a shotgun.
Usually the sightings of the “ghost” occur along Wilfred Barrett Drive where a young lady is seen hitchhiking. The story goes If a passerby happens to pick up the phantom hiker she insists on sitting in the back seat where she seems to vanish without a trace upon reaching the Nora Head cemetery where it is believed the girl is buried. Sometimes a lit cigarette is the only thing remaining of the ghostly hitchhiker.
In addition to the hitchhiking story is that if the girl in questions unmarked grave (supposedly at Norah Head Cemetery) is disturbed the Jenny Dixon beach ghost will come and “disturb” you.
There are also some apparent credible stories though unsubstantiated relating to the Hitchhiking ghost;
A doctor holidaying at the central coast who apparently had no knowledge of the legend. Whilst driving along the road witnessed the girl who mysteriously disappeared as he approached. Apparently the doctor was so distressed by his encounter he had to seek psychological counseling.
According to another account two police officers picked up the ghost of the ill fated young girl who promptly disappeared as she reached the cemetery.
Accounts of the ghostly hitchhiker go back at least 40 or so years, stories told by locals and witnesses of the girls apparition appear too consistent to be mere coincidence.
However the story of the Jenny Dixon Ghost is strikingly similar to stories from across the globe regarding young female hitchhikers. Most notably the “White Lady” encounter.
A “White Lady” is a female ghost which is usually seen in rural areas and associated with some local legend or tragedy. The common theme is of being betrayed by a husband or fiance.
Could this archetypal story be the case with the Jenny Dixon Beach Ghost?
During my research on this story no particular names (apart from the name of the ship applied to the beach, which has little to do with either supposed event) or dates have surfaced regarding either the Ghost seen on the beach in 1800’s style clothing nor the Hitchhiking girl of Wilfred Barrett Drive believed to have been raped and killed in the early seventies.
A self financed movie about the Jenny Dixon Beach Ghost made by local Central Coast film maker Christopher Halling is due to be released later this year. Mr Halling admits though that he used a fair amount of artistic license whilst writing and creating the film.
If anyone has any further information about the Jenny Dixon Ghost please contact us.