Whether you’re prepping for Halloween or just a year-round paranormal thrill-seeker, there’s no need to venture deep into a national park to experience spine-tingling terror. Just put on your creepiest costume, light the candles and settle in for some good ol’ ghost stories. Here are four of our favourites, from historic sites across NSW national parks.
Stay away from the tree
In Arakoon National Park near Port Macquarie, the legend of Charlie the ghost is well known to the locals. It is believed that Charlie was a German prisoner of Trial Bay Gaol during WWI, where he roams to this day. It’s common knowledge that if anyone climbs a particular tree on the grounds of Trial Bay Gaol, they will be thrown out of it. While camping, young children have been dragged outside their tent with no explanation. Men have felt the sensation of someone grabbing them, while many have seen Charlie wandering the beach near the lighthouse… just waiting for someone else to haunt. ?
The woman in the black dress
Yerranderie Private Town is a ghost town near Oberon, a 2hr 30min drive from Sydney. The town is completely remote, with an eerily quiet street surrounded by abandoned silver mines and filled with historic relics… as well as a few resident ghosts and unexplained phenomenon, if the stories are to be believed.
Many visitors to the lodge report seeing a woman wearing a black dress sitting on the balcony upstairs, or in the upstairs bedroom on the right. Guests have been woken by her footsteps, slowly pacing the corridor, and startled by the sight of her entering a room and standing near the window. Young children have also heard soft voices, whispering in the upstairs rooms.
But the woman in the black dress isn’t the only ghost story at Yerranderie. The caretaker recalls a night when his antique phone started ringing — the kind that needs to be hand-wound to be used and offers a direct connection to the lodge. But no one was staying at the lodge, and no one had wound the phone up. So who was calling? Very creepy, indeed.
Where is the old man in the suit?
Jenolan Caves, located in Jenolan Karst Conservation Reserve near Oberon, has had more than its fair share of ghost stories over the years. According to cave guide Geoff Melbourne, who has worked at Jenolan Caves for 15 years, some people have felt a tap on the shoulder while underground, but when they turn around, no one is there. He has also had a number of chilling experiences with an old man in a crumpled suit.
According to Geoff, he was once leaning over a railing to look at the Pool of Reflections in the River Cave. To his surprise, he saw something on the bottom. ‘It’s a button,’ said the man next to him. ‘You think so?’ said Geoff, without looking up. The man next to him said, ‘It’s a button off an old tunic. There’s another one over there.’ But strangely, when Geoff looked up, there was no one there.
The following week, someone on Geoff’s tour claimed he saw an old man in a suit watching their group. Geoff speculates that it may have been the ‘ghost’ of James Carvosso Wiburd, who worked at Jenolan for almost 50 years and died in 1942. It is said that his ashes are buried deep in the labyrinth of the caves, and that he loved the place so much he never wanted to leave.
The calls of long-departed miners
In 1876, gold was discovered in what is now Copeland Tops State Conservation Area near Gloucester. The town of Copeland was flooded with miners, and quickly grew to a population of over 1000 people, with three pubs and four stores. Over time, the town was abandoned and nature reclaimed the land. But, is the old Mountain Maid Mine as empty as it seems?
There are stories of people hearing voices, footsteps, the sound of rocks and metallic objects banging deep inside the mine, and even conversations with the spirits of miners who reminisce about their lives during the Copeland gold rush.
Still not scared?
There’s always the Blue Mountains mystery tours by ghost bus. You’ll venture into the night to explore secret and forgotten locations off-limits to the general public, accompanied by tales of murders, mishaps and hangings. Just what a good ghost tour needs!
And if these unexplained mysteries in NSW national parks are still not enough to scare you, take a friend or two (safety in numbers aka ghost shields) and book in a ghostly encounter… if you dare!
Thinking of visiting a national park? Parks are natural environments and can be unpredictable. Be prepared and plan your adventure for all weather conditions. Always check the NSW National Parks alerts page for up to date information on closed parks and safety alerts.
Images via pexels credit in order – 1. Photo by Tony Sebastian, 2. Photo by Faizi Ali and 3. Photo by Andrew Neel