The Ghosts of Port Arthur
Port Arthur, in Tasmania, is home to one of the most haunted places in Australia, the Port Arthur Penitentiary, where it is said the spirits of the dead interact with the living the most. It is said that since the prison's abandonment in 1877 there have been over 2000 accounts of ghost sightings and hauntings throughout the vicinity.
Jake Bradshaw, the guiding manager of Port Arthur Ghost Tours, was able to talk to me about his time as a tour guide and the hauntings that take place in Port Arthur.
How long have you worked as a ghost tour guide?
About seven years now. I started as a ghost tour guide and day guide.
Did you know that you were getting into a job filled with heavy spiritual activity?
Yes. That was part of the attraction! Port Arthur is about as haunted a place as they come.
Before joining Port Arthur Ghost Tours, what was your first impression of ghosts? Did you believe in them?
Like so many people, I just didn’t know either way. This was part of the reason I applied - to hopefully find out one way or another.
Has the job changed your original beliefs in the supernatural and that there are such things as ghosts?
In some ways, yes. As I said, when I began I just didn’t know and I still haven’t seen your typical ghost, but I do believe that some places, like Port Arthur, have strange energies or atmospheres to them that make them almost feel alive.
We know how ghosts are interested in interacting with the living, but have you had an incident where something has happened to you off duty?
When I began I used to stay on site quite a bit as some of the haunted buildings are used as staff accommodation. I remember walking to this accommodation after work when the site was usually empty and dark. Often I’d feel I wasn’t alone and the hairs on the back of my neck would stand up for no reason. Sometimes I’d hear footsteps behind me and when I’d turn to see who it is there’d be no-one.
What areas do most of the hauntings take place? And what kind of activities and stories arise from those areas?
Port Arthur is Australia’s most haunted site. Most of the buildings have a history of ghosts or unexplainable events. Our ghost stories date back to the 1870 and over the last 20 years of ghost tours we have over 2000 documented events from visitors.
So... where do you start? I think the Parsonage - which was the Reverend's house when the place was a prison - is the most haunted building. Unexplainable lights, footsteps, doors closing and a number of different ghosts have been seen in here, but probably the most famous is the ghost of Reverend George Eastman.
Who are the people that haunt those areas?
Rev. George worked at Port Arthur for many years in the mid 1800s. He lived and died in the Parsonage. Almost immediately after his death this long history of ghosts began, and he has been identified and seen by numerous people - we have old photos of him. Many believe he never left this building.
What is one of your most memorable tour sessions that anything unusual or bizarre has happened?
I get to see all the photos visitors send back and the scariest are two photos of the same area taken within 10 seconds of each other. There is a window of a house in the photos and in the first photo the curtains are closed but in the second the curtain are slightly parted with a little ghostly girl peering out. When you zoom in you can see an eye, nose (even a nostril) and mouth - very scary stuff.
Have there been any injuries while on tour? Like people feeling sick, fainting, light headed, scratched?
Fainting is very common and yes, people get sick. We have also had people scratched by no one! No-one they could see, anyway!
Has anyone ever attempted to cross the ghosts over and do you think they’ll ever move on?
We’ve had psychics here, but as I said before I think Port Arthur is one of those unique places which will always have a real energy to it. The same ghosts have been seen now for over 100 years so I don’t think they’re going anywhere.
Articles Written by Anthony G
Reviews written by Anthony G
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