JANUARY :: We share more of our favourite haunted locations, further frightening experiences, and some possible fascinating evidence of the paranormal.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Favourite Haunts :: Redruth Gaol

[Picture: Redruth Gaol © Ghost & Girl]
"We are born with the dead: See, they return, and bring us with them." - T.S. Eliot, Four Quarters
On the outskirts of an old mining town in South Australia's mid-north, surrounded by fields and guarded by gum-trees, is Redruth Gaol.
Built in the 1850s, Redruth was to be the first rural gaol in South Australia. The gaol had room for the gaolkeeper and his family, the turnkey, and up to thirty prisoners (both male and female).
Common offences resulting in imprisonment included drunkenness, petty vandalism, and debt. Punishment included hard labour.
In 1894, with the closing down of the mine, there was no further need for the town to have its own gaol, so Redruth closed its doors too, and the prisoners were sent to other institutions. However, in 1897, the gaol re-opened as the Redruth Girls Reformatory, and became home for thirty of the worst behaved girls in the State of South Australia. Girls from Kapunda Catholic Girls Reformatory (famous for its wayward priest) were sent here after that home was disbanded in 1909. In 1922, the girls staged a riot and Redruth was forced to close once again.
What actually happened behind its doors as both a gaol and reformatory is open to conjecture, speculation and imagination. However, upon its closure, the reformatory was compared in like to the Parramatta Industrial School for girls in the State of New South Wales, which was infamous for its hard, back-breaking routine, harsh (and sometimes terribly cruel) punishments, and its regular riots.
These days the gaol is controlled and maintained by the National Trust. Access to the gaol is made possible by a daytime history walk, and the occasional night-time ghost tour. It is one of the few South Australian gaols readily open to the public.

[Picture: Redruth Gaol © Ghost & Girl]
But, I hear you ask, is it haunted?

The most common unexplained activity that occurs at Redruth is the sound of heavy footsteps pacing the hardwood floors. Shuffling, movement and voices are sometimes heard from the empty cells as well. Doors open by themselves. The large, wooden gates rattle when there is no wind, and footsteps can be heard on the gravel outside when there is no one visibly about.

So, if it is haunted, who is doing the haunting?

The original gaolkeeper was Thomas Perry, who lived in and managed the gaol for twenty-five years. The prisoners that passed through its doors ranged from drunkards to the more seasoned criminals. The last Matron of the Girls Reformatory was a Miss Bubb, and the girls who called it home were classed as "incorrigibles": Damaged, difficult girls who were believed to be incapable of reform.

The source of the phenomena at Redruth may be any one of these people. Is the gaolkeeper, Mr Perry, still walking the halls, checking on his prisoners in the cells, and securing the gate? Does the Matron, Miss Bubb, remain in charge of her unruly crew of girls, almost 100 years later? Are the prisoners and the girls who were sent to Redruth still roaming its grounds, unable or unwilling to leave?
As a result of personal experience at the gaol, this writer is inclined to believe the reports of ghosts residing within its walls. I have heard the footsteps for myself - clear and unmistakable in the early hours of the morning from a room above, to which the only access door was locked. I've experienced the shuffling and sounds of movement from empty cells, and received a prompt smack on the back of the head (the Matron, perhaps?).

[Picture: Redruth Gaol © Ghost & Girl]
In relation to paranormal investigation, Redruth is still a new, mostly undiscovered location, but one which I believe has the potential to provide some fascinating evidence. As seems to be the thing with old mining towns found the world over, there are many ghost stories and tales of unexplained events here. For the moment, it seems that Redruth is content to spook its visitors with a variety of auditory phenomena, but I am yet to hear of any paranormal events that involve a visual encounter. That doesn't mean it won't happen, of course - in time.
On a perfectly still day, when there appears to be no one else within the gaol aside from oneself, even Redruth's silence seems oppressively ominous.

Want to know more? Try these websites:
The Burra Record: Girls' Reformatory, Redruth (newspaper article from 19 July 1922)
Ragged Schools, Industrial Schools and Reformatories (UK specific, however as a Queen's Colony, UK policy was implemented in South Australia)


Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall: Haunted Mirrors

[Picture: The Crystal Ball by John William Waterhouse, 1902]
"Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before." - Edgar Allen Poe
Mirrors have long been revered as objects of power, particularly with society’s ever growing obsession with image. In prehistory, water was the first reflective surface by which people glimpsed their reflection. Water sites were sacred to the Pagans; they were thought to be gateways to the otherworld. Water was also used in divination such as scrying and was thought to hold magical properties.

The earliest mirrors made by humans were of polished obsidian rock, then later, polished copper or other mixed metal alloys. It wasn't until the 16th Century, in Venice during the Renaissance, that a method of coating glass with a tin mercury amalgam was perfected, but only the rich could afford such luxuries. The first "modern" mirror was created in the 19th Century by a German inventor, who perfected a technique of applying a silver backing to glass.
There is a lot of superstition surrounding mirrors. The Victorians were particularly superstitious: They would cover any mirrors in the house when someone passed so as to not allow their wandering soul to get trapped within one. It was also believed that if a mirror broke, or fell off the wall, it would either bring seven years bad luck, or be a premonition of an eminent death in the family.

But, is it possible for a mirror to be properly haunted? On the 18 February 2013, an alleged “haunted mirror” sold on eBay for £100.00, with the seller describing several “incidents” believed to have been brought about by the mirror, including bad dreams, the sense of being watched, and poltergeist activity, such as objects being moved, and of being scratched.

[Photograph © Ghost & Girl]

This is a photo of an antique mirror that has recently come into my possession. Upon uploading a photo to Instagram, I noticed a face to the right of me (circled).
But is it really a face? I tend to doubt most photos of supposedly "haunted" mirrors, simply because most anomalies could probably be ruled out by lighting, dust, camera flash, angle etc. If the mirror is particularly old (as is the mirror pictured), the cause may be due to the silver backing being worn or warped.
What we think we see could simply be matrixing: That habit of our brain to make sense of shapes, distortions and anomalies by giving them a familiar quality - such as a face.
Or, does it have more to do with the power if suggestion: Someone says a mirror makes them feel uncomfortable, so they then see what it is they believe is causing the discomfort in the reflection? Or, an item is purchased because it is claimed to be “haunted”, so our brain interprets any strange events or experiences as such?

Whether or not you believe mirrors can be haunted, I feel that spirits do have the ability to attach themselves to objects of personal importance. In some instances, that may well be a mirror, but it could be any item of significance. However, I don’t believe this happens often.

Curious to know more about haunted mirrors? This news article, Haunted Mirror Wakes Flatmates, is from the Daily Mail UK about the aforementioned eBay mirror.

Alternatively, you can find out more about the history of mirrors at

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Night Terrors: What visits you in the dark?

[Picture: The Nightmare by Henry Fuseli, 1781]


Let's start this post with some scientific facts:

* Night terrors (or sleep terrors, as they are sometimes called) occur mostly in children. If a child is still suffering them by the time they reach their teens, it is more than likely they will continue to suffer from them well into adulthood. About 1% - 5% of children suffer from night terrors, whilst only 1% - 2% of adults.

* Scientific research has found that night terrors occur during Stage 4 of sleep, which is a deeper, non-dream phase of sleep when the brain should technically be "void" of any unnecessary activity. Night terrors cannot be nightmares, because nightmares occur during REM sleep, which is the dream phase of sleep. (To learn more about the stages of sleep, go here).

* A person who does not and has never had a night terror cannot "make" themselves have one. Although, there are certain factors believed to contribute to the likelihood of a night terror occurring for those susceptible to them (e.g. lack of sleep, caffeine, stress etc). However, the actual cause and reason for their occurrence remains unknown.

* Many sufferers cannot remember the details of their night terrors. However, for those that can, the most common thing they see is a dark, shadowy figure in the room.

* During a night terror, its sufferer's heart rate increases to a staggering 160 to 170 beats per minute. This is well above the rate expected for a "stressful" situation.

* A person suffering night terrors is not automatically assumed to have a psychological condition. In fact, most sufferers do not, and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) is the most common misdiagnosis.

It's been almost three months since my last night terror. Or, what I believe to be a night terror. I have no other explanation for it. I remember it clearly because it actually happened during the day, and it involved something that I'd not previously experienced during a terror: A grinning, partly decayed corpse lying in the bed next to me, in full, horrifying colour (thank you, daylight). Then, just as suddenly it had appeared, it was gone.

It was this terror that really got me thinking about the nature of night terrors, in particular how it is possible that modern science is unable to provide an explanation for their existence. I appreciate that there is a lot we still don't understand about the human brain. We know so many things, but there's even less we know about life after death.

I am one of the (un)lucky (haven't quite decided which) few who never "grew out" of night terrors. I've been getting them for as long as I can remember: I cannot pinpoint the moment they began, and I've never been able to determine a trigger. Stress or no stress; tired or well-rested; caffeine or no caffeine - they've just been there, always. They come and go as they please, and no two terrors are the same. 

I also remember them all, in minute detail. Whilst they are termed "terrors", I am not always afraid. My level of fear (or lack thereof) depends on the terror itself; it's "content", so to speak. As long as they keep their distance, I am in control, but I really don't like it when they touch.

My most common response during a night terror is one of curiousity; it watches me and so I watch it back. The logical part of my brain likes to tell me that what I am seeing simply isn't possible, but why then am I seeing it at all? If it happens more than once in a single night, or multiple nights in succession, my reaction turns into one of anger and frustration ("I'm trying to sleep, y'all!").

But this wasn't always the case. As a child the terrors would terrify me. Growing up on a farm we didn't have street lights filtering in through the windows at night. During those nights when there was no moon, it would be pitch dark - so dark you couldn't see what was right in front of you. I didn't have a night-light (I wasn't afraid of the dark, per se, I just didn't like what came with it). It was on those moonless nights when the terrors would be most frightening; when I'd know there was something in the room with me because I could hear it moving, making inhuman sounds. This was the most common terror I'd experience as a child, but it wasn't the only one.

As a teenager, the terrors began to change and become less subtle. I'd often see a large, dark, shadowy figure without legs come down from the ceiling and either hover above me, or skirt the edge of my bed. By this stage, however, I was becoming less frightened of these events and I would tell the creatures to go away, at which point they would either disappear before my eyes, or retreat back into the ceiling. 

Once they disappear there's a moment of clarity, followed by logic saying, "You must've been dreaming". The ardenaline can take awhile to subside; the heart a few more minutes to return to normal; the body a moment longer to relax. But, I have always found it surprisingly easy to go back to sleep after a terror.

I wasn't brought up to believe in ghosts. We didn't even tell ghost stories. My family were ardent church-goers, and for a long time I was convinced that the devil was trying to take me (what he wanted me for is anyone's guess!). 

As an adult who still suffers night terrors, I cannot help but wonder if there is a more profound reasoning for their existence than just the brain "misfiring" and creating random events. What if they're not random at all? If they are not a dream, and not a hallucination, then what are they? I can't help but wonder why so many experience very similar things in a night terror, and why it is that these dark shadow-figures insist on taking centre stage.

Is it possible that during the phase of sleep when our brain is empty, and we are at our most vulnerable, that we are able to see things beyond what we would normally see when completely awake and lucid? Perhaps a night terror is a small piece in the evidentiary puzzle of proving there is either life after death, or some kind of "spirit realm"? Could it be that the things we see in night terrors are not mere (unexplained) imaginings at all, but real beings, seen only when the veil between this world and the next slips and falls, revealing its secrets? 

I'll let you decide. Afterall, I'm still trying to figure it out for myself.
Do you suffer night terrors (or what may be construed as night terrors) too? What visits you in yours? 

Curious to know more about night terrors? Try these websites:


Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Why do children see ghosts?

I am constantly using Google to trawl through online paranormal forums, and the question I most commonly see popping up is whether or not children can see ghosts. Opinions vary, from children having over-active imaginations, to them being more susceptible to their environment due to their rapid development. Interestingly, I have also come across the suggestion that because children's eyes are still developing, it may be that they can perceive what we cannot.

But then why do some children see the unseen whilst others do not - or cannot? Are these abilities simply inherited, passed down from generation to generation? Or is there a simple scientific explanation for it all?

My maternal “Mad Aunty Doss” (as she was affectionately called) always told my mother that the female side of our family had the ability to communicate with the dead. She would often know before anyone else that a member of the family had passed away. But she also told my mother when I was born that I had “The Gift” (whatever that was to be); however, no one ever paid her too much attention, probably because ghosts (and being able to see and communicate with them) wasn’t discussed in social situations as much as it probably is today.
I spent the first ten years of my life in a haunted house. For someone that supposedly had "The Gift", it was the perfect introduction to the paranormal. The house was an old Californian Bungalow, with all the period trimmings, located in Sydney, Australia. My parents had learnt of the previous occupants via our neighbour: An elderly couple who had kept to themselves until the husband passed away (in the house) and the wife had been transferred to a nursing home. 

From the moment we moved in, right up until the moment we moved out, my family experienced a variety of paranormal phenomena, including (but not limited to) hearing the sound of disembodied footsteps, having personal objects moved from one place to another, to seeing full-bodied, spectral apparitions.

As a child growing up in this house I would often see the apparition of an elderly man. I remember the first time I saw him was just after we moved in and I would have been no more than four years old. The gentleman would regularly watch me, until such time as I was moved into a different bedroom to make room for my brothers. Whilst I was still aware of his presence, I was no longer watched all night. In all that time he never spoke; he just watched me. But as I grew older I found that I couldn’t see him as clearly as I once could. Where once he was clearly identifiable, he eventually become nothing more than an outline or shadow, but I could always sense that it was the spirit of the same elderly gentleman.

But he wasn't the only spirit I saw as a child, nor would he be the last of my lifetime. After awhile, I began to expect them. The more I expected them, the more prominent and the more frequent their visitations became. Growing up, I encountered many spirits of both good and not-so-good persuasion. I believe these early encounters with the paranormal cemented my ability to see and experience what others either cannot, or choose not to see.

I have had numerous encounters over the years from simple visitations to being physically attacked. I remember a frightening occasion whereby I tried to ignore a visitation from a spirit, and was quite literally dragged from my bed. On another occasion I had returned from being away for a week or so, and in response to this absence, the spirit "threw" down my books from the top of my bookcase upon my return. I was present in the room, lying on the bed, when I heard a crash. But as I looked to where the sound had come from, expecting to see books everywhere, I discovered instead that they had been neatly stacked beside my desk. It simply was not possible for ten books to fall off my shelf, miss the desk entirely, and land in a nice, neat pile.
I now have two young children of my own. My own childhood encounters with the paranormal has made me more open to the possibility that my own children will encounter the same.

My eldest son had a number of strange occurrences take place when he was between the age of one and three. We lived in a 1920s weatherboard cottage, but unfortunately I have no information about the previous occupants or whether or not they may have been haunting our home. We fell in love with the cottage immediately upon viewing as it had all its original stained glass windows and plaster ceilings. 

Until the birth of my son, I hadn't felt any entity residing within its walls. My son slept just down the hall from our bedroom, and like all parents these days, we kept a baby monitor beside his bed. From about the age of one my husband and I could hear other voices coming through the monitor. This did not happen every night and for a long time we passed it off as interference. This was until one night when we clearly heard our son’s name come through the monitor, and he promptly woke up, screaming.

But this was not an isolated event. My son’s toys would also constantly move and play (music) throughout the night, mostly during the early hours of the morning. It got to the point where we not only had to switch the toys off, but also remove the batteries. But, much to my husband’s surprise, the toys continued to play.

Then when my son started talking he would tell us about a man in his room, and for the first time ever I felt uncomfortable in my own home. I began to fear for my child. Would he see what I saw? Would he experience the same things I experienced? Would he be attacked, and disturbed, and frightened in the same way I was when I was child? I still carry these fears, especially as my son, now a few years older, still tells me of the things he can see that no one else can. Most often he sees a dog or a small girl when his "eyes are half closed" (his words), or out the corner of his eye (peripheral vision). However, he doesn't yet seem frightened by what he can see.

Most articles on the paranormal that I read over the years about children and ghosts, seem to indicate that if what a child is seeing is a ghost (that is, the spiritual energy of a deceased person), then the majority of these encounters are with family members who have passed. I, however, tend not to agree in this wholeheartedly. Whilst I believe that in some instances the spiritual presence of a deceased relative may wish to visit a child, I am more of the opinion that spirits, whether they are relatives or not, are simply attracted to children because unlike adults who understand logic, children are more susceptible - more vulnerable to their presence simply on account of the fact that they are less likely to dismiss it.
I strongly believe that if I hadn’t experienced anything paranormal as a child, I would be a different person today. For staters, I suspect I would be handling the encounters experienced by my children in a completely different way -  assuming ,of course, that they would continue to have these experiences in the event that I did not. As for my son, time will tell whether he simply grows out of this "phase" of seeing ghosts, or whether his abilities develop and become more tuned - as mine have inevitably become.

Perhaps Mad Aunty Doss wasn't so "mad" after all?

Friday, 3 January 2014

The Devil is in the Detail

Right now you might be thinking that the last thing this world needs is another paranormal blog. We won't deny that you probably have a valid point. It seems that over the past decade, the paranormal has become an increasingly popular topic of interest, and the number of television, radio, and YouTube channels dedicated to so-called paranormal investigation and research has boomed. Through this, and with the rapid advancement of technology, you'd be forgiven for thinking that we would have all the answers by now - and that there is no need for another paranormal blog.
However, it seems that with each new gadget, or with every new piece of so-called evidence, more questions about the paranormal bubble to the surface.
We've heard the radio broadcasts, watched the television shows, and scoured the internet for videos, audio recordings, and photographic captures. We're all asking the same questions:
How is it possible?
What does it mean?
Is it real, or delusion, or both?
The problem with television, radio, and those online channels for sharing, is that in many cases it's all about popularity: A mad dash grab for fifteen minutes of fame. To keep people interested, to hold their attention and have them come back again and again for more; to get publicity and to sell merchandise, the locations and events need to become more extreme, and the evidence all the more convincing that there is, in fact, life after death. The truth is that a lot of what is out there is either seriously questionable, severely exaggerated, or outright fake.
There are far too many people out there willing to take advantage of the endless questions regarding the paranormal that the rest of us have. Don't get us wrong, there's probably a lot out there that is the real deal too, it's just a matter of having the time, energy and courage to sift through all the crap to find it. It's a matter of knowing what you are looking for; to having a mind that is open enough to consider all the possibilities, but not so open that your brain is about to fall out. Curiousity should be a motivator, but doubt your saviour.
What we do know for certain, is that you don't need to be a paranormal investigator to have a paranormal experience. You don't have to go on a ghost hunt to have an encounter with a ghost, nor be psychic to have a moment of extrasensory perception. Perhaps we've all been looking in the wrong place. Maybe the answers we seek are actually closer than we think.
We (the writers of Ghost & Girl) have had regular paranormal encounters since early childhood. However, we are well aware that not everything is paranormal - not everything can be pinned on a ghost - and it is through our respective experience that we are learning to tell the difference. Anyone can pick up a digital recorder or EMF detector and go on the hunt for a ghost, but not everyone has the ghosts come looking for them. We know there is no escaping it. Whilst it is not something that defines us per se, it has had an integral impact upon the people we've become, and our lives have, in some respects at least, been moulded, cut and carved out by these paranormal encounters that we neither went in search for, nor willingly brought upon ourselves.
Now we want to share these encounters and lessons in the paranormal with you, and in doing so hope that you will share yours in return. If you have experienced something similar to what we are writing about, please let us know. You can either leave a comment (viewable to the public), or flick us an email to ghostandgirl333(at)gmail(dot)com. The more we know, and the more detail we can obtain of each and every event experienced by people the world over, the better understanding we can have of what it is we are seeing, hearing and feeling.
All of which we will share with you, of course.

We'll also share some of our favourite paranormal resources, and take a closer look at some of those television shows, radio broadcasts, and videos we wrote about above. We may also review paranormal websites, books, and blogs.

But all of that can eventuate in time. For now, though, let us take you back to the very beginning, to where it all started, and tell you the stories of a ghost and girl...


Laura & Sarah  

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