Twelve Months with APPI - An Interview with Myself
Ross Downie, APPI's resident blogger, talks about the past year as being an APPI volunteer :)
Ok APPI fans – it’s been a while since I have written an APPI blog and for some weird reason I have always wanted to be interviewed reporter style by someone about a subject of interest to me, so I thought why not combine the two activities? So here it is – the first ever interview with myself.
Ross Downie, APPI's resident blogger, talks about he experienced and what he witnessed at the Paranormal Sleepover at Liverpool TAFE for APPI's 5th birthday on 13 February 2016
This time five years ago Peet Banks founded the highly successful all female paranormal investigation group called the Australian Paranormal Phenomenon Investigators, or more commonly known as “APPI”. During that time APPI had expanded into doing all things paranormal, including their highly successful ghost tours, hunts and investigations. Now it was time for a dress up birthday party and sleep over, and what better venue than Liverpool TAFE, built in the 1820’s and used at first as a hospital for convicts in 1830.
Ross Downie talks about his experience and what he witnessed at the Paranormal Sleepover at Liverpool TAFE on Saturday 12 December 2015.
The Liverpool Technical and Further Education (“TAFE”) campus in College Street, Liverpool, in south west Sydney certainly provides a magnificent setting to get an education on a whole range of subjects. The casual observer entering through the front gates and walking through the manicured gardens will firstly observe the old brick and sandstone buildings...
Ross Downie, our resident blogger, experiences his first visit to Roughley House, and an investigation with a difference....
Living on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, often referred to as the “Insular Peninsular” because us NB folk don’t cross over the Spit or Roseville Bridges too often, I was getting the opportunity to visit a lot of historical places in Sydney’s west and south west, courtesy of the Australian Paranormal Phenomenon Investigators (“APPI”) group.
In what would be my second official duties with the APPI group, tonight was going to be a little different to my other outings, in so much it would be a séance night as opposed to an investigation or ghost tour. And the place I was heading down the M2 was Roughley House at Dural.
Roughley House is a colonial heritage listed homestead established in 1856. Unlike other museums, Roughley House denotes the changing lifestyle of one family over five generations, each generation leaving their own stamp.
Clive Roughley the youngest of five children lived in Roughley House until his passing in 2002. In 1984 without any direct heirs to pass on his family home, Clive decided to sell Roughley House and The Pines to The Hills Shire Council. This was provided that the property would become a time capsule of colonial life and the Roughley family's story.
With little equipment to be unloaded the set up was all done very quickly, and the guests arrived ready to commence at 7pm. Peet gave a brief explanation of how the night would run, then Lynda did an excellent job of describing the history of the beautiful surrounds. The group was broken into three groups of five, and we set off to do the various activities.
Now there were three activities for the night – table tipping, a medium, and crystal pendulum work. Now, I have to be really honest here – the table tipping has never worked for me on the three occasions I have tried it; things with crystals sounds a bit “hippy”; and as for a medium, forget it. But, wot the heck……………..
I started out in the table tipping session on the first floor children’s bedroom. The medium lady, without going into the building, had already detected the presence of a young girl there. So our group went up, and almost straight away the activity started.
To my amazement, the table almost immediately started moving and tilting back and forth, and even twisting around. The biggest problem was trying to get this group to ask questions to get the interaction happening, which they eventually did. And over time they did find out there was a young girl in the room making this activity. The young girl was having a great time tilting and turning the table, and seemed to enjoy “showing off” to the group.
Now the other strange thing that happened was parts of the room started to turn cold, and being a fairly confined space it was initially quite warm and humid. It was then detected that an adult male presence had entered the room.
Then a girl in the group became unwell and started to experience chest pains. So I escorted her down the stairs and back to the “base camp” where I got her some water and stayed with her until she began to feel better. She said she wanted to go back, which she did, but did not want to take an active part in the table tipping, which was still going as strong as ever, so she just watched.
One of the group told whoever it was it was ok to tip the table right over so it fell on the floor, and this happened to the point where Lyn actually had to reach out to potentially catch the table in case it did tip right over.
Anyhow, time was up and the group went to their next activity. I went and had a look at the crystal pendulum work, which is basically where you dangle a crystal from your hand and it moves in response to various questions asked by the group. The group started getting responses to their questions – some people stronger than others, and it seemed to depend on where you were in the room.
Then we heard a strange rumbling sound – soft at first but it quickly grew louder and louder. “Damn you to hell stomach” I said, and left the amused group (embarrassed) saying “nothing paranormal happening here folks”.
I went back upstairs to the table tipping, and the activity there was stronger than ever. I was asked if I wanted to join in, which I quickly said yes, and the table tilted quite a few times at me in response to questions – very strange, as I am normally thought I was an energy sapper? But tilt it did.
Ok – next to the medium lady if for no other reason to see how this was done. I was in the parlour room with this group, complete with APPI investigators Lynda and Suzanne. The medium, whose name was Crystal Moore then went into a trance-like state where we were soon “connected” to James Roughley (junior), who we found out did not live in this house but a bit further down the road on the same property.
At the beginning of the night when I got there and before the guests arrived, I studied the historic timeline of the Roughleys that was in the visitors centre. I had also recently read a book about John Macarthur, the early wool pioneer, which will become relevant in a minute. Anyhow, either this medium is play acting with the greatest knowledge of the Roughley family history and local history of John Macarthur than anyone in Australia, or she was actually channelling James Roughley (junior), who described in detail about his life and transportation to Australia, his family, and the personal attributes of John Macarthur, which were exactly as describe in the book I had read about him. Oh, and by the way, the medium never entered the visitor’s centre where the Roughley family timeline was situated, but she [he?] was absolutely correct in every detail. This, coupled with the fact that Crystal had detected the presence of the young girl in the upstairs bedroom before even entering the house, well, left me gob smacked.
After this, Crystal was completely exhausted and dizzy, and I had to physically escort her back to the visitors centre. And BTW, this James Roughley junior chap was not exactly a nice person and not all that complimentary about women, a point which APPI guide Lynda got him stirred up about!
During free time I went back to the upstairs bedroom where the table tipping was as active as ever. The group that were there asked me to join in, and I discovered a young boy by the name of Thomas had now joined us, and like the little girl before, who turned out to be his sister, was having a great time “communicating” to us via the table. Then Clive Roughley himself joined in, and instead of tipping the table, he made it shake quite violently. Unfortunately, it was then time to pack up, as we would have stayed much longer.
So, the night ended and all the guests I spoke to experienced different things. Some of the APPI guys and gals also experienced being touched, and one lady said she had a person named “Clive” sitting on her lap and could feel him breathing down her neck! No one left there that night without experiencing the most amazing, errhh, experiences, including myself.
Oh, and BTW, I got my APPI T-shirt [thanks heaps Peet] so I now feel I am officially part of this amazing group!
So back down the M2 guided by my trusty Tom Tom – and tonight I didn’t miss my turnoff like my last outing. But with much to think about and ponder, it was amazing I didn’t.
On 11 December, 2009, Mr Richard Baker, the Collage Manager at Liverpool TAFE, went through the long and tiring ordeal of getting the beautiful grounds at Liverpool TAFE registered on the Historic Register. Here are the words from his presentation - and reading this vast and fascinating history, you can understand why he was successful!
The original Liverpool Hospital was built in 1813. Governor Lachlan Macquarie had officially founded the town of Liverpool in 1810 and ordered the building of a brick hospital to house 30 patients and a residence for the assistant surgeon. By 1821 Macquarie had plans to build a new hospital drawn up by his ex-convict architect Francis Greenway and work commenced in 1822. The building was completed in early 1830 and is now known as Block B, the centre wing of the U-shaped building that contains the bell tower. The original hospital was later demolished.
From 1830 – 1836 Block B was used as a hospital principally to care for sick convicts. The existence of the hospital stimulated the growth and the spread of the settlement. By 1832 patients of the hospital included convicts from as far away as the Goulburn Plains. There were no kitchen facilities and the northern end of the basement, now known as the dungeon, was the only bathing room.
After 1836 the hospital was transferred to the control of the military and apparently used as a military hospital and barracks. In 1841 Patrick Hill became the first Assistant Surgeon and was granted land to the east of the site and built his house in 1827. (The Railway Commission purchased the house and land in 1856 to extend the railway to Liverpool).
The military vacated the site around the mid 1840s and the winding down of the convict system meant that the district could no longer support such a large hospital. The hospital became vacant in the late 1840s
In 1852 the government granted use of the building, together with £525, to the Benevolent Society of New South Wales for an asylum for the sick and aged. An 1850s plan shows, as well as Block B, a building to the south of Block B that ran east-west, (since demolished), and two gatehouses inside the main entrance, which may have been erected when the northern and southern wings were constructed in the 1860s or early 1870s, and exist today as Block S and Block T.
In 1862 the government took control of the premises and its 403 residents. The increasing rate of admissions led, in 1866, to tenders for an additional wing. The northern wing, now Block A, was completed in 1867 at a cost of £4,505 ($9,010). The southern wing, now Block C, appears to have been commenced in 1873 and completed in 1874 at a cost of £5,567/7/4 ($11,135). The balconies facing the courtyard on Blocks A and C were built in the late 1890s.
To compensate for the resumption of the south-east corner of the site the Railway Commission built Block E in or before 1873 for use as a dining room. Block G was erected by 1882 and served as a washhouse. Between 1878 and 1909 its size doubled and the verandah covering 3 sides and the roof lanterns were added. Block Y was built as a morgue about 1901 but may predate this first reference of its existence. A similar building to the right side of the driveway was the Chief Attendant Building, now Block Z, and is also first referred to in 1901 but may predate this.
Block F was built between 1907 (when the old kitchen was removed) and 1911. It was described as the “new laundry buildings” and the “new kitchen”. A painted sign, though faded, survives on the western verandah which states “Admissions 8:30am”. Block D was first noted in 1915 as a “swab store” whilst Block X, a small cottage between the morgue (Block Y) and Block C was recorded as a “ladies waiting room”.
In 1918 the Government Asylum became a State Hospital and Asylum and remained so until the Health Department vacated the site in 1958. The buildings were then renovated for use as a TAFE college and classes were first held in early 1960. The Minister for Education, E. Wetherell officially opened the site on July 10th, 1961.
Block J was not in existence in 1941 but appeared in a 1961 survey. In 1960 the building became the teaching and staff area for secretarial studies. The canteen and dining room later occupied the area until a new canteen was built in Block H adjoining Block J on its western side in 1993. Block J now houses the Adult Basic Education section. Block K was built in 1975 for TAFE purposes and is predominantly used by the Administration Studies, Maths and Science sections and has a number of computer rooms.
Block B was used in the 1960s for College Administration - the Principal’s office and classrooms on the ground floor whilst the first floor contained classrooms. It has the same basic functions today. Block A housed the Carpentry and Joinery school on the first floor and Fitting and Machining classes on the ground floor and classrooms on the first floor. Today the Library occupies the whole of the ground floor, and classrooms and the offices of the General Studies staff and an Individual Learning Centre occupy the first floor.
Block C was used for Accountancy classes on the ground floor and dressmaking occupied the first – Accountancy and Business Studies staff rooms and classrooms now occupy the first floor whilst the Counsellors’ office, English Language and Humanities staff rooms occupy the ground floor.
Block E was modernised and extended in 1997 for its current use in Hairdressing classrooms and staff offices. In 1960 TAFE converted Block G to a welding workshop though it is still referred to as the “stores building”. The Beauty Therapy section now occupies Block F.
Block D is currently the first aid room and general store. Block W and Block Y are now the gardener’s storage rooms, Block N houses the Maintenance Officer and Block Z is now used as an office by the Aboriginal Coordinator.
The former Liverpool Hospital complex is of State significance as one of the oldest, substantially intact early colonial hospital complexes in Australia. Built by convict labour, the main 1820’s Colonial Georgian building is considered one of the finest colonial buildings remaining in Australia and the surviving complex of buildings, from the hospital period, are a fine representation of the high standard of workmanship carried out by these convict labour gangs. Convict labour was also used to construct the Gate Keeper’s Cottages and the brick wall that continue to encircle much of the complex.
The former hospital is State significant for its long standing continuous history of servicing the health needs of, first convicts and then the wider Liverpool community from 1810 to 1958. As well as convict association, Liverpool Hospital also has associations with Governors Lachlan Macquarie, Sir Thomas Brisbane and Sir Ralph Darling and the civil Architects, Francis Greenway (Block B), Edmund Blacket (Blocks A & C) and W.L. Vernon (Block F).
The presence of significant in situ convict era archaeology could reveal evidence of how Liverpool and the hospital developed in the early colonial period, as well as the techniques and materials used by the convict labour gangs. The presence of this pre 1850 archaeology is rare in NSW.
Having State heritage significance for its historic, associative, aesthetic, social, research, rarity and representative values, there are few sites around Australia that could be comparable to the former Liverpool Hospital complex.
The heritage listing on the Office of Environment and Heritage Website can be found HERE.
Ross Downie, our resident blogger, takes us through his first experience as an official 'volunteer' with APPI...
Seemed like an appropriate date to start my first volunteer assignment with the Australian Paranormal Phenomenon Investigators (“APPI”) group – (black) Friday the 13th, and the day was living up to its reputation.
I was due at the Fairfield City Museum and Gallery (“FCMAG”) at 6pm, and being a veteran of commuting in Sydney’s nightmare traffic, I knew Friday afternoon peak hours were the worst of the week, so I instinctively knew the supposed 50 minute drive would be much longer than that, so I set off at 3.15pm.
The traffic, coupled with the storm cells that swept across Sydney that afternoon with drenching rain and hail, created the perfect traffic storm – bumper to bumper nearly all the way out to Fairfield, where I eventually arrived at 5.30pm – 2 hours and 15 minutes later. But anyway, I had arrived and made it with 30 minutes to spare.
Being a bit early, I had a quick look around the FCMAG, which is a collection of old and re-created historical buildings in a tight cluster. The “feature” building is the old former Fairfield Council chambers, built in 1913 and then converted to a family residence in 1921 and was occupied by the same family members until 1980
The APPI girls and guys were soon there and setting up things, which was done very quickly and efficiently. With time to spare before the guests arrived APPI supremo Peet then explained in detail how their equipment worked and what it was designed to measure and/or detect. Peet also said the old council chambers was the most active of the buildings, so I grabbed a K2 device (which measures changes in the surrounding electromagnetic field – (see Peet, I was listening)) to investigate on my own – one of the perks of being an APPI volunteer.
Immediately on entering the building the K2 lit up – however I put this down to the electrical equipment that had been set up generating an EMF. So I moved away from the back of the building to the front, where I still got the same “reading”. One of the lights on the K2 was also flickering, so I asked one of the equipment guys if this was normal, to which he replied no. He advised it was probably the battery, so he kindly took some time out to put a new one in, and we went back to the chambers, where the K2 behaved exactly as before. Anyhow, he left me to it, so I continued, and soon I was alone in the house. I asked some questions and got no response, then I said “this is a lovely house” and immediately got a response on the K2. I made a few more nice comments about the house and got a response each time! I then went to another building where I got no response at all.
Now to the new old guy on the block, this was quite interesting and exciting, so I told Peet about it, but Peet was not at all surprised, and I need to remember that I am in a professional group who live and study this stuff, so this is just small fry to them. Anyhow, the guests arrived and the evening began. Each building had been set up for a different type of “experience”. The old council chamber had been set up to provide guests with a sensory deprivation experience, another building for table tipping etc etc. Peet started out with a short video, then told the story of the presence of a girl who was engaged to a soldier who was killed in WW1 had been reported. The guests where split into groups and then assigned a tour guide and volunteer. Me, being the new guy, got to go to each of the “events” to see how they were conducted.
The groups were then taken to various parts of the site, and I wandered around checking things out and generally trying to stay out of everyone’s way! It was not long before various people in groups started to tell me things. One lady said they had clearly heard via the ghost box from a man named Mark who was killed in WW1 – she advised it was as clear as anything.
The groups were rotated every 20 minutes or so, and I went into the old grocery store where one group was very intently doing something. They had a ghost box and K2 and were getting responses. They told me a female had responded via the ghost box, and when I asked her name I “thought” I heard Mary. The group confirmed they had already established her name as Mary, and then the K2 stated going crazy, as Mary responded to the various questions she was being asked, including my question as to whether Mark was her fiancé, which got an immediate response.
One lady (Lee) was looking at the K2 device in absolute shock and disbelief, and I asked her if she was ok and was anything wrong? She replied “That [the K2] should not be doing that”, and puzzled I asked her why? She responded “because the battery just died”. Just a few moments before I walked in the K2 stopped working, the ghost box died at the exact same time and an EMF pump showed that no life was in the K2 - then it suddenly started working again when it shouldn't have. Glen also remarked in the four years he had been involved he had never seen anything like it before.
Anyhow, it was time to rotate to the next event, and I went to the table tipping, a Victorian pallor game from long ago (like, before Foxtel and Presto). To be totally honest, nothing happened, which was unusual as one group experienced heaps of activity. Then on the next rotation I went to the school building where APPI guide Lynda was based.
Now, what happened here was totally weird. This group sat in the old school room, making jokes about APPI guide and “teacher” Lynda, who quickly got things underway. There were reports about a young girl named Evelyn, who died at age sixteen of natural causes, being in this area. Lynda started the activities and put her torch on a table at the front of the room. After only three minutes or so, the torch started to flash on and off. Lynda looked at me and said that her torch has never done that before, and had not done it with the previous groups that night. Lynda asked if that was Evelyn, and the torch immediately responded.
There was also toy teddy bear in the room, called a Boo Buddy, used by APPI as an interactive device. The bear “talks” at regular intervals saying things like “I love hugs”, and its stomach and paws light up, As Lynda spoke to Evelyn, the torch would flash and the bear would “talk” at that exact same moment.
Then the rem pod at the back of the room activated, and Lynda had to ask Evelyn to turn it off as it was making a racket, which it did. Then, Lynda asked everyone to do a “heads down, thumbs up” exercise, where you lower your head and stick out the thumbs on both your hands to see if someone touched them.
Almost immediately the back of the room became very cold, and a young boy named Sam (who was aged about 16) immediately felt his hands go very cold, then he reported “someone” sitting next to him. Lynda moved him to a desk at the front of the room, where he again experienced the same sensations. He also stated that his desk was beginning to shake, which another person reached across and confirmed it was moving.
Lynda asked Evelyn if she liked Sam, and the torch immediately flashed on and off and the teddy bear started talking at exactly the same moment. Sam then reported feeling light headed and a strange sensation around his neck, as if someone had their hands (gently) around his neck. Lynda asked Sam if he wanted to go outside, but he said he was ok. One of the group had set up a camera at the front of the room, and it suddenly turned itself off and could not be turned back on.
Anyhow, the torch continued to flash to questions and comments to Evelyn from Lynda until it was time to finish. Someone actually advised Sam he needed to tell Evelyn that she should not follow him home.
The rest of the night was uneventful – I went back to the grocery store at the end of the night with a K2 to see if Mary would talk to us again. The original group came with me, but we got no response, although we all agreed the “atmosphere” in the old store had definitely changed.
With three of the other APPI guides we tried the table tipping again, but again with no response. Then one of the guides remembered that the group that had had all the activity was the group young Sam was a member of – no doubt Evelyn was following him around!
Anyhow, the night ended, the guests seemed suitable impressed with their experiences, we packed up quickly, and both the storms and traffic had passed, so I headed home, guided by my trusty Tom Tom. Except the stupid thing gave me a bum steer (pun intended) and I missed my exit off the M2 and ended up five kilometres down the road.
But all up, my first night as a volunteer was, to say the least, very interesting, and I now perfectly understood why Peet didn’t get excited about my first solo investigation. Compared to what happened with Mary and Evelyn, it wouldn’t even rate on the APPI experience meter, and rightly so!
Ross Downie, our resident blogger, takes us through his visit at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre...
“Shite – where the [expletive] am I?” After driving through densely suburban Sydney from the Northern Beaches I suddenly found myself looking down a long and deserted road, which seemed to go to who knows where. The chick who channels herself through my GPS kept telling me over and over “you have reached your destination – you have reached your destination” and the little red finishing flag showed on my GPS screen as a visible confirmation of what my GPS girlfriend was saying was true. But where was I? Had my GPS finally Gone Permanently Silly?
After the APPI tour and investigation of the old Parramatta Gaol, and after having lived on their website for many days trying to get tickets to same, I saw that they had a volunteer program, and was impressed with the way they do things and the cool historic locations they went to, so I decided to “apply” to become a volunteer. Peet, who runs APPI, asked me to come to their next venue, which was the Casula Power Arts Centre (from here on to be called “The Centre”) at – you guessed it – Casula – for what effectively was a job interview.
Anyhow, looking down the long a deserted road I decided to proceed, if for no other reason than to prove my GPS girlfriend wrong. So after about three kilometres The Centre suddenly loomed into sight. So I was in the right spot, and my Tom Tom was correct correct! (only someone with a stutter would name a GPS device Tom Tom)
Anyhow, I pondered what would happen next. Here was this, errh, “mature” guy with grey hair (read “old dude” or “silly old bugger”) wanting to volunteer with a group of people most of whom were the same age as my three boys. “Damn it” I thought, “I have come all this way so the worst thing Peet can tell me is I am in the wrong place and Casula Power House Arts Centre is actually at Manly Beach, and to go there”.
However, I need not have worried – Peet greeted me warmly on my arrival and introduced me to the rest of the team there on the night, who like Peet made me feel right at home. I was not the only one there who had offered to volunteer, and I meet Neilson, and the two of us were kindly offered the opportunity to join the group that night to watch how the APPI group conducted their ghost tour of The Centre.
People started turning up and at 8pm things kicked off. The Centre was an old power station that had been converted by Liverpool Council into an arts an entertainment venue, with expansive indoor space for exhibitions, including a 321 seat theatre. It also had a coffee shop and looked bright and airy, even at night, and what struck me was it was not your typical old spooky building.
However, as the group were soon to learn, as a major industrial facility, it did have a fair share of “interesting” historic stories, both inside and out.
Built in 1951 by the NSW Electricity Commission, the Casula Powerhouse (then known as the Liverpool Powerhouse), was one of a series of identical buildings erected to supplement electricity production during winter and power shortages. The Powerhouse was closed in 1976, and was bought by Liverpool Council in 1978 for $75 000. The building became derelict over the following decade, and in 1985 the residents of Liverpool decided that the building should become an arts centre. In 1993 Casula Powerhouse, as it had then become known, was allocated funding in council budgets for the very first time. An ambitious development took place, and the centre opened its doors in 1994.
We started out in a large-ish room off the main area, where a man has been seen peering out and a door that had been the workers exit door during the centre’s industrial times kept opening, despite best efforts to keep it shut, at exactly the old “knock off” time of 3pm. This area immediately gave me the creeps, and I was glad to get out of there.
Then we went outside, where Peet showed the group the Casula train station, right next door to the Centre, which had a rich and sad history of its own. Now both The Centre and train station are right next to the George’s River, and back in the early 1900’s it was a popular picnic and swimming spot. It is not hard to imagine people in Edwardian dress sitting by the river having a picnic, playing records on gramophones, and paddling in the river.
However, as Peet explained, there were numerous accidental deaths in the river, mainly from children drowning, and a man committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree on the nearby river bank. So this beautiful place masks much sadness. Back inside the Centre and up to the first floor, where a long “exhibition” space is located. In this area a small girl with a ball has been seen many times, including one of the APPI guides. The theory is she most likely drowned in the river after chasing and trying to retrieve her ball, and has made the Centre her home. Why that particular area is not known.
Then up to the next level, which is essentially the same as in the industrial days. Peet shows the group where a worker was killed on a metal staircase landing by a falling object. The impact was so great it bent the heavy metal landing – the poor chap would have been killed instantly from the impact. Then we are shown a metal staircase which leads outside as access to the large chimney stack. The security firm who look after The Centre are regularly called out to this area as the door that leads outside is opened for no apparent reason, generally around 2am. Lucky security guys – not!
Next, we are lucky enough to get access to the “artist in residency” area, mostly off limits but available to us that night. This is basically a large apartment right at the back of the building where artists who are doing exhibitions can stay while their exhibits are being set up and on display. Peet tells the group about the weird things that have happened and been seen in this section of the building.
Then we go to the backstage to the makeup area, which as the name suggests has a number of mirrors. Reports have been made of people’s faces distorting when looking into the mirrors and strange images being seen.
Finally, we go to the theatre, where a creepy old guy with a badly burnt appearance has been seen peering at people over time. This guy is reported to be a nasty person. The group are shown a video that further tells of the weird things that have happened at the Centre.
But wait, that’s all well and good – but how did my job interview go you are probably asking? Well, before the night began, we set up things in the theatre and Peet then explained to Neilson and I what the APPI requirements were. As Peet was talking to us, banging and other noises were heard coming from the back of the theatre – the APPI guys and girls checked it out but nothing found. But I digress. So how did I go? Well I have my first “official” volunteer duties next Friday night – Friday the 13th, at the Fairfield City Museum and Gallery. And Neilson also made the cut!
So now after another great night I just need my Tom Tom girlfriend to get me home home…………………..from wherever the bloody hell I am!
Ross (lost in the 'burbs) Downie 12 November 2015.
Ross Downie is our newest volunteer and we are looking forward to his regular blogs on all things Paranormal. Ross will be writing about the investigations and tours he joins us on, as well as other interesting topics! Keep an eye on our blog for more of Ross' musings.
PARRAMATTA GAOL INVESTIGATION - Saturday 3 October 2015
Call me a tad crazy, but for some weird reason I have always had a fascination with historic buildings, and gaols in particular, and never miss an opportunity to explore old gaols when I get a chance. Gaols that I have toured include Port Arthur in Tasmania, Pentridge Gaol in Melbourne, Old Melbourne Gaol (where Ned Kelly was hanged), Fremantle Gaol in Western Australia, Maitland Gaol near Newcastle and numerous old gaols in country NSW. Working gaols that I have visited only from the outside (thankfully) include Long Bay Gaol in Sydney, Boggo Road Gaol in Brisbane and Bathurst Gaol (where my youngest son Martin and I got chased away by a warder from the front gate when looking around). I have also read the book “Australia’s Hardest Prison – Inside the Walls of Long Bay Gaol” (which Martin is currently reading) and my ultimate bucket list thing to do is to visit Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. I also never miss documentaries on gaols and their famous inmates when they are shown on the History channel.
Add to the above is the fact that I use to work for Australian construction giant Lend Lease Corporation, who built a gaol in the ACT and refurbished a gaol in Brisbane, both of which I got to visit (before they were occupied). So people would probably have a valid reason to call me a tad crazy, but it as much my love of history as much as anything else.
However I have always wondered about the old Parramatta Gaol, which I knew had been closed for some time and was sitting there unused. I often speculated on what it could be used for, and hoped the historic buildings would not become yet another victim to greedy developers. Then when surfing the net one day simply by chance I came across the Australian Paranormal Phenomenon Investigators (“APPI”) website, which to my excitement and amazement just happened to be conducting a combined tour and paranormal investigation in a few weeks’ time – Saturday 3 October 2015!
Now, to this point I have not mentioned that I also had a keen interest in the paranormal, probably as much and maybe more so than my interest in gaols and old historic buildings. In fact, to me, the paranormal and historic buildings go hand in hand. And here, by sheer fluke, I had stumbled across exactly what I was looking for – a tour of the off limits Parramatta Gaol combined with a paranormal investigation! “How good is this?” I thought – “and where do I sign up?” I immediately asked my wife and three sons if they would like to go with me, but only my youngest son Martin was keen (I am starting to worry about that boy).
So, now to secure tickets – onto the APPI website to order and pay – but wait, I could not load anything into my shopping cart. “Damn you APPI website” I snorted under my breath “you will not defeat me on this!”
Then I saw the message that the tour had been sold out – DOH! That’s when I really started cursing myself for not finding this website sooner. “Damn you to hell” I grunted at my PC, then I started to hunt around for when the next tour would be. Anyhow, for the time being it seemed Martin and I would just have to wait.
So I basically stalked the APPI website and Facebook page for details of the next tour over the following days, when on Friday 2 October Peet (APPI supremo) messaged on FB that two tickets were available because two people couldn’t go at the last minute. So I swooped, got their contact details, and two hours later had secured two tickets for the tour that very next night! Some things are just meant to be - you beauty!
Anyhow, Martin and I arrived early the next night and had dinner at Parramatta Leagues Club. We then went to the gaol and waited outside for the tour to begin. Martin was a bit sceptical about the paranormal side of things, and I suspect he thought it might be a bit of a hoot to watch his old man trying to make contact the spirit world so he could rib me about it later. Anyhow, it was a very warm night, and we were quickly marked off the attendance list and then lead inside to what was the visitor’s centre, where Peet explained how the night would work and how the investigations would be conducted. We were then split into three groups, and Martin and I were assigned to group one. We then watched a video similar to that which was shown to new prisoners, and then the three groups were taken by our assigned APPI guides to different areas of the gaol to begin proceedings.
Now gaols, by their very nature, are gloomy places at the best of times, and their walls and grounds are soaked in both history and misery. But at night they take on an even more oppressive and sinister nature. We began in cell block one, where Peet gave us a bit of the history of that cell block, then we were free to explore before moving on to our next destination – cell block three. Now while waiting outside, we heard a definite crash come from inside and upstairs somewhere. I looked at the guide, and then said to Martin “did you hear that?” Martin nodded and said “sure did Dad”. Thing was we had not entered the cell block and no one was inside (at least no mortal person).
We then entered the cell block and group one split into two groups, each going to one end of the ground floor. While there, this is what happened:
Several loud bangs and crashes came from upstairs after we got inside – the APPI team ran to investigate but no one was upstairs and they found nothing as everyone was on the ground floor.
A lady sitting near to me started to experience severe back pain as if she had been stabbed and had to be escorted outside by the APPI people, where the pain immediately went.
Yet another lady reported being grabbed on the shoulder.
People’s torches started to “flicker”, including one belonging to an APPI guide who had a LED torch, which do not flicker.
We then went to another cell block where the weird happenings continued – this is what happened there:
One of the APPI guides was sitting minding the table which had all the APPI equipment – she was by herself and I was coming back to give back my hand held K2 device (which indicates a “presence”), which I had no luck with. As I approached she suddenly said that one of the pieces of equipment, known as a REM pod (aka round thing with coloured lights) on the table had just turned itself on. APPI equipment guy Glen then came and turned it off and checked it for faults. One minute later, it turned on again – so Glen turned it off again. Then it turned on again – I walked over to the table and said out loud “that’s all good, but show us how clever you are and turn it off” – fifteen seconds later it went off. The APPI girl actually managed to video this.
We then returned to the visitors centre for some refreshments before free explore time, where:
A lady on the tour discovered a one dollar coin in her bra [true story – I couldn’t make this up]
One girl told me she went to cell block 6, and went into a cell there. She said she walked in and had to come straight out due to the oppressive atmosphere in the cell.
There were two twins in their early twenties in our group who told Martin and I they went into a cell with a REM pod and had no trouble getting responses to their yes or no questions [the REM pod enables a presence to communicate by triggering lights and making a noise].
But the creepiest – near the end of the tour and investigation, we had free time to do our own exploring and Martin and I went back to cell block one. There is a common area at the end of the wing, where prisoners would have watched TV, played cards etc. There was a green horizontal metal rod that was held to the ceiling by another metal rod, with what looked like a Christmas tree half way up to the ceiling. A girl told me she saw the Xmas tree shaking, so about six of us stood in the common room looking up at the metal bar and the Xmas tree. About four minutes later it started to shake and knock around, and the Xmas tree started to shake. It did this three times, and on one occasion my REM pod started going berserk, lighting up and buzzing – then the rod started shaking again. Son Martin, who was quite sceptical at the beginning of the night, agreed it was very weird and he had no explanation for it.
So that was our tour and investigation of Parramatta gaol – absolutely worth it and we thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience and would do it again. Another gaol coupled with a fantastic experience ticked off my bucket list. Then it was time to finish up. As we were leaving the gaol, the security guard at the front gate asked me how was it? Did anything “strange” happen on the tour? To which I replied “mate, you are going to call me a tad crazy, but……………”
Saturday 8th March was our first, and the first ever, investigation of Parramatta Gaol. We arrived at the Gaol feeling excited about our new location and ready for a night of investigating. Walking around during the late afternoon you can get the sense that this location has many secrets and had seen many tragedies. We started the night separating into our groups where we would head off into our first location for the first 1 hour vigils at 4 wing. Walking around the cell blocks felt sad and depressing with the tiny 2 metre by 2 metre cell inmates would live in for their incarnation. I started to walk off down a corridor when I heard heavy breathing in my ear I turned around thinking another team mate or tour guest was there and there was no one there. I walked out to find Nic and asked if she heard a heavy breathe and she said no. After about 30 minutes 2 of our tour guests had to leave the first cell block because they continuously felt sick.
We then went to our second location 5 wing where another team had seen a full apparition earlier. All our guests had gone into cells when I started walking down an isle I heard a woman’s voice in my ear I turned around and there was no one there again. I couldn’t understand what the voice said but it was a woman voice. About 5 minutes later I heard another voice but one of a child. For some reason near 4, 5 and 6 wing I continuously got the feeling of women and children playing. One of our guests got so sick near the suicide cells they had to be taken out of the location. While waiting for our guests to come out to go to our final location one of the guests said Were waiting for our friend we saw him walk on the top level, I said No he’s gone to the toilet there was no one left in that building. The guests then said No we thought he was up there. He was defiantly out of the building.
Our final location was 6 Wing another massive 3 level cell block. We had only been in the cell block 6 for 5 minutes when we heard a door slam on the above cell blocks. Unable to go upstairs there was no one on those levels at all. Every single team member and guest was accounted for. For a majority of the rest of the investigation we all spent all our time on one side of the cell block together. Not really thinking anything of it until after I wonder if we were all gathered to one end for a reason.