Paracon Australia 2016 Review

It’s been a few weeks now and I have read a few reviews online about Paracon Australia 2016 which have been mainly favourable. The last few weeks has given me time process the events of the weekend long convention which I will share with you now.

This is going to be an honest review without any fluff and in the interest of fairness I am only going to talk about the lectures that I actually attended.

Firstly, Paracon Australia brought to you by Alex Cayas from Ghosts of Oz was very well organised and as far as I can tell went by the numbers. There were a couple of small changes to the program but nothing that I would consider a major problem.

I am not going to review the talks in chronological order as I can’t remember the actual order I saw them in so here goes…

First cab off the rank was Brian Cano of Haunted Collectors TV Show. I really didn’t know a lot about Brian I had watched a few episodes of the program but it never really grabbed me to keep watching, therefore I had few expectations of what he was about.

But I have to say that Brian was a breath of fresh air in his approach to paranormal investigation he liked talking about using science as a tool to investigating. He had a very down to earth, back to basics style which I really appreciated. His presentation was refreshing and he didn’t use a PowerPoint presentation and was very interactive with the audience. Cudo’s to Brian.

The Australian Big Cats talk by Rebecca Lang was very, very disappointing. Being a Cryptozoologist myself Rebecca’s talk was delivered unprofessionally and dare I say it lazily. Rebecca’s PowerPoint presentation consisted mainly of videos of overgrown black feral cats. Yet we can’t blame her for not having actual footage of a Panther as debate continues whether these Black Panthers really exist in the Aussie bush anyway.  When she didn’t know the details she threw to Mike Williams sitting in the front row who filled in the finer details. She plugged their book a couple of times during the talk at one point claiming that it weighed over a kilo and if you threw it at someone you could knock them out with it, hmm?

At the conclusion of the talk she admitted that she had done the presentation several years ago and had not updated it. I’m not sure she could have cared less? It certainly came across that way.

Calvin Von Crush’s talk on Occult objects was fascinating. And delivered very well considering this was only his 4th time at public speaking. Calvin spoke about head shrinking, Ouija boards of which he has collected hundreds, spirit trumpets, and dodgy Victorian physical medium-ship photographs plus much more. He also had various artefacts (which he managed to get through customs) for you to take a look at. A self-admitted sceptic he told us he regularly puts himself into situations in hope of having a paranormal experience but is yet to have one. His talk was informative and entertaining.

Richard Saunders talk on passing the sceptic societies million-dollar challenge was excellently presented considering he was suffering from the flu. He briefly spoke about himself and his background including being part of the reality TV show “The One” where he was a judge alongside Stacy DeMarco, the programs premise was to find of Australia’s top psychic. His spoon bending demonstration was positively delightful to see in real life. He went on to say that stage magicians had been doing spoon bending for years until the likes of Uri Geller came along claiming it was a real paranormal phenomenon.

But the real purpose of his talk was about how to apply, and attempt to prove your paranormal claims and win the 100,000 dollars from the Australian Skeptics and the James Randi’s million-dollar challenge. He showed contrary to popular belief that skeptics don't have all the “cards” stacked in their favour so to speak and psychics are not set up to fail. He went on to say that ALL conditions are agreed upon by both parties i.e. skeptics and psychics before the tests are carried out. To this day no-one has won the Australian $100 000 or the one million dollars from James Randi foundation.

He also spoke at length about water diviners or water witches whatever your preference. And how they have been extensively tested over the years, again under agreed conditions, which no-one has passed to this day.

There was an OK size of people attending Richards talk which I found disappointing as I believe we should look at all sides of the paranormal not just the ones we like or agree with.

The Yowie Panel was a very interesting one which consisted of Rebecca Lang hosting I must say she redeemed herself a little here. Mike Williams, Paul Cropper and Pixie Byrnes.

I really enjoyed the Yowie panel yet I didn’t really learn much more than what I already know about this mythical creature. The main conclusion that the panel came to as far as I could read into it was that the Yowie is a non-physical (spirit) being which is shared by most of the researchers on the panel apart form Paul Cropper who still really doesn’t know what to make of it. Pixie Byrnes as far as I am concerned stole the show on this panel. Talking about her indigenous perspective of the Yowie and how for them it is basically a nature spirit and protector of the bush. She said that you are more likely to have an encounter with the “big fella” if you show disrespect toward the land and towards him. Her perspective of the Yowie was a lot more abstract and completely conceptually different from the way the western mind views its possible existence.  

Paul Croppers talk on Poltergeists was well presented and researched. Although I had seen this same talk in Paracon Australia in 2014. He spoke about the Humpty Doo Poltergeist case in the Northern Territory plus cases he had investigated overseas. I remember asking Richard Saunders opinion of this same talk in 2014 where Richard stated that all Paul had was anecdotal evidence and nothing more. Which in reality is actually true. Nevertheless, a good presentation.

Alison Oborn’s presentation on Paranormal Tourism and Research and how they connect was very interesting. Alison is a friend of mine and I don’t think my review of her talk is biased but she spoke briefly about her Haunted Horizons Tour company in Adelaide, and how through conducting tours at certain places she has made connections through EVP’s and other evidence they have gathered during tours with actual historically verifiable patients or inmates particularly at the old psychiatric Z Ward in South Australia. I particularly liked how she mentioned that she wanted to back over her Ovilus several times with her car.

Alison talk was honest and also very down to earth as she has always been since I’ve known her. At times she would be caught up in a subject and her “handler” would have move her along in interest of saving time.

Damien Nott’s talk was supposed to include a screening of Australien Skies a documentary on Australian UFO sightings but was for some reason cancelled at the last moment. His time slot was two hours which the documentary was supposed to have been shown including a talk by Damien so the poor bugger had to fill in two hours on the spot. If what Damien claims is true he appears to be a true UFO magnet! It appears that nearly everywhere he goes he gets footage of strange lights and UFO’s in the sky. There could be a few misidentifications there with some of his videos but as a whole I think he’s got enough real footage to prove that there is definitely something otherworldly going on in Australian airspace.

But after an hour’s footage of blurry dots in the sky things get a bit tedious, I felt sorry for him being put in this situation. So Cudo’s for Damien for making the best out of a bad situation.

My last lecture was Toni Rielly’s talk on Past lives and past life therapy. Obviously with a subject like this, things tend to get a bit new agey. But I myself have a keen interest in past life recall, so I found her talk interesting though very layman’s level, which I suppose you would expect in a setting such as this. Her explanation of past lives was thorough, but was delivered from more of a “believers” perspective. I was surprised that there was no mention of “cryptonesia” as an explanation for some past life recall.

Karen Rontowski added some much welcome levity to the convention her comedy routine centred around subjects of the paranormal was an absolute scream. And on closing night she did a little more comedy and Tarot readings from the stage where somebody asked “What is the future for Paracon Australia?” Where the cards read that there would be some major shakeups and changes to next year’s convention. At this stage her prophecy appears to be coming true…

All in all, I had a great time at Paracon Australia 2016 at the Carrington Hotel in Katoomba it is a great place to catch up in person to people in the “community” who you “talk” to all year online. And attend some interesting and thought provoking lectures.