From bunyips and haunted houses to ghosts and phantom lights, early newspapers have documented all kinds of unexplained phenomena over the years.
We kick off our Halloween special with some extracts from early newspapers followed by some more modern tales of the spooky kind.
The ghost of the Frenchman's Bridge
An extract from The Inverell Times on Wednesday May 11, 1904:
A correspondent writes us (from the Kempsey Argus) as follows, which he asserts to be a strictly veracious anecdote: A resident of Yarravel had rather a strange and unpleasant experience a few evenings ago while on his way to Kempsey.
He had arranged to meet a friend at an early hour in the evening to transact some important business, and everything went well until he reached the Frenchman's Bridge, when his horse refused to go any further.
The Yarravel resident was armed with an umbrella, with which he struck the horse, when suddenly the animal fell in a stunned and stupid condition, in which condition it has remained ever since.
The rider said he saw a strange figure leap from the bridge and disappeared after giving utterance to a most hideous scream. It was several days before the man recovered from the shock to his nerves.
Most people on the Macleay have heard of the ghost of the Frenchman's Bridge, but this is the first time it has been seen for years having
The rider said be saw a strange figure leap from the bridge and disappear after giving utterance to a most hideous scream. It was several days before the man recovered from the shock to his nerves. Most people on the Macleay have heard of the ghost at the Frenchman’s Bridge but this is the first time it has been seen for years.
The Port Macquarie Bunyip
An extract from The Manning River Times and Advocate for the Northern Coast Districts of New South Wales, Saturday October 22, 1898:
It had the head of an old bull, the body of a horse, with a pair of large flippers like a seal, and a horny frill round its neck, like an Ameriran frill-tucked lizard ; and its roar like unto many thunderstorms combined in one.
This dreadful animal, according to Port Macquarie News, is reported to have made its appearance at the back of the old race-course, and quite a number of people are patrolling in that vicinity with blunderbusses and bludgeons of every, description, ready to slay the monster at its first appearance.
…A young couple had strolled away into the loneliest part of the cemetery near Coblingbung Creek when they heard a peculiar noise in the creek below. On looking down they saw looking back something that looked like the bottom of a newly-tarred punt. It had a pair of flimsy wings like a flying fox, a round head, with eyes as large as doughboys.
The Tinonee Ghost
An extract from the Manilla Express, Friday April 22, 1927:
Tinonee is a hamlet situated on a bend of the picturesque Manning River. It was an important settlement, but now it interests few but those who visit it to see its famous ‘ghost’ as what is probably a marsh gas phenomenon, is called.
Periodically curious lights appear in a valley lying a little to the south of the village. The light appears quite suddenly and travels rapidly up a nearby hill, and disappears as suddenly as it appeared.
Then, presently, the spectacle will be seen again. For a long time these lights were the subject of much speculation and a certain amount of investigation. One theory for their occurrence was that they are the reflections of the head-lights of motor cars travelling along the North Coast road on the other side of the river but experiments proved this view to be incorrect.
At first it was suggested that the ‘ghost’ may have been belated villagers returning- home through the fields with a lantern.
Fortunately for one investigator, who armed himself with a shot gun and took a pot-shot at the light, this theory was found to be untenable.
Some time ago local scientists became so importunate that Mr. Wynter, the proprietor of the land on which the ghost flits, had to issue a warning that trespassers would be prosecuted.
Modern day tales of the spooky kind
►PORT MACQUARIE is a treasure trove of unknown hauntings, a paranormal enthusiast says.
The convict-built well and the site of a former female factory in Munster Street draw in Portparanormal founder Shaun Oldfield.
The professional signwriter believes Port Macquarie’s convict past is a rich source of paranormal phenomena.
“Ultimately, it is the history of Port Macquarie that I started the society for and I want to dig further in our history,” he said.
Mr Oldfield said many people could have had paranormal experiences but not have recognised it as such.
His goal is for the Hastings and Macleay paranormal research society to be well respected and eventually be granted access to the area’s haunted and historic buildings...read the full story here.
►WINGHAM home Zeal Cottage is believed to be haunted by a little old lady sitting on the front verandah. She is believed to be the spirit of the cottage’s original owner, Mrs Adelaide Hill.
Current owners Ron and Ruth Birkby are more than happy to share the house with the ghost. Ruth says she can “feel” Adelaide, and that the feeling is not at all spooky.
The current owners have even seen a ghost dog...read the full story and watch a video here.