Author Topic: The House of Mystery: Wombarra NSW  (Read 2369 times)

Offline KANACKI

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The House of Mystery: Wombarra NSW
« on: May 12, 2018, 09:36:07 PM »
The following yarn comes from various sources.

I got first told of yarn by an old friend of mine many years. Years later i read an 1975 article telling the story in more detail......

In the northern suburbs of Wollongong New South Wales, there is popular story of old folk telling a tale of ghost of an old lady haunted by accusations of being a German spy in World war one.

The story is centered around an old house in Wombarra called Aliummare which was built in 1880. The heritage-listed Aliummare was built for the accountant of the Scarborough mine, Mr Parsons, in the late 1880s.

Born in Wales, Mr Parsons gave his late Victorian "boom style" mansion the name Aliummare, which roughly means "by another sea" in Welsh.

You can see old pictures of the house below. If not I suggest those interest in seeing much more in forum to sign up and see amazing glimpses into history... The following picture show various angles of the house around 1900.

The house has long history with out perfect life of those who lived in the Mansion.

To be continued......

Kanacki


Offline KANACKI

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Re: The House of Mystery: Wombarra NSW
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2018, 09:41:02 PM »
Like many of the Illawarra's older homes, Aliummare comes with a ghost story attached.
Rumour has it that the ghost of a lady known as Madame Kurtz, who lived in the house during World War I, appears from time to time.

Although said to be popular with neighbours, Madame Kurtz was arrested as a spy and charged with treason after being caught sending morse code messages from the house, using an oil lamp, to German ships off the coast.

Was there any truth to the story?

Kanacki had to dig a little deeper first into the old mansions history.

To be continued....

Kanacki

Offline KANACKI

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Re: The House of Mystery: Wombarra NSW
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2018, 10:05:36 PM »
he original inhabitant of the house was probably Thomas Wilson Garlick who was a coal and iron ore prospector and miner.  He was associated with prospecting and surveying for the North Bulli Coal and Iron Mining Company from the mid-1870s.  At various times, his fortunes were waxed and wanned and he was summonsed several times for outstanding debts. 

He married Mary Collaery on 8 June 1863 at St Francis Xavier’s, Wollongong.  Mary was the eldest daughter of Thomas Collaery of Bellambi.  The marriage had its moments and in 1878, Mary Garlick sued him for support. Apparently the marriage there was not a happy one with continued fights and domestic violence.

A warrant was issued for his arrest the following year as he had not provided the support.  Garlick was a Justice of the Peace and often sat on the bench at the Clifton Police Court.  He was also at one time chairman of the local school board and donated prizes for Empire Day. 

On 10 March 1894 the Illawarra Mercury reported : 

Quite a number of people are going to make a pleasure day of it on Wednesday next and have a trip to the great furniture sale at Aliummare (South Clifton). Sale will be conducted by Will. A. M'Donald, auctioneer, sale of furniture on behalf of T W Garlick. 

Thomas Garlick moved to Ashfield in Sydney where he died on 8 December 1901.  Mary Garlick died at Bulli on 11 August 1906.
The house was either already owned by Charles Gibson Brown or purchased by him soon after Thomas Garlick sold up.
 
Brown advertised it for sale in 1902: 
 
ALIUMMARE, situated at South Clifton, Extensive grounds of seven acres, villa containing, including in all, 19 rooms, Plentiful supply of water laid on, Electno bells throughout. Splendid Orchard and Garden. The whole property within 300 yards of the ocean beach. As a private residence or South Coast Tourist Resort cannot be excelled . For further particulars apply to C. G. BROWN, South Clifton.
(Illawarra Mercury 5 Jul 1902 p10)

Brown was also involved in coalmining.  He died on 27 March 1909 and in 1912, his wife and family left Aliummare to live in Sydney.  The house was let to a Madam I Kearns who ran a convalescent home there.  Mrs Brown was back in the house by 1918 when her son, Charles, died in World War 1.  Mrs Brown died in 1942 and her death was registered at Bulli so she may have been living at Aliummare. 

That is one version of the history as house seem to have people come and go.

To be continued.....

Kanacki

Offline KANACKI

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Re: The House of Mystery: Wombarra NSW
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2018, 10:41:05 PM »
Who was this made Kerns? Was she legendary traitor " Madame Kurtz"?

Kanacki

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Re: The House of Mystery: Wombarra NSW
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2018, 11:32:56 PM »
It appears this lady who went by the made of Kerns was am anglicized version of the German name Kurtz? She ran a boarding house that mainly housed Lutheran Evangelical minsters who preached anti war protests gathering through evangelical churches throughout Australia. Although locals found her amicable and generous person and neighbor.

 Suspicion arose when the newspapers in Melbourne when a prominent politician drummed up anti German rhetoric. Claiming German Spy's was operating in Australia looking to sabotage Australia's war effort. One such claims these wander evangelical minister of German heritage was in fact a sophisticated spy ring bent on sabotaging the war effort?

Strange lights was seem on the top balcony of the house flicking on and off at intervals and a strange light at sea was seem flickering back at Bulli one dark night. While its never been fully established but rumours started.

Was Mrs Kerns Alias Kurtz a German spy relaying shipping movements from to Port Kembla to a German raider lurking off the coast? 

Strange enough this suspicion gathered momentum when the following event happened....

To be continued.....

Kanacki

Offline KANACKI

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Re: The House of Mystery: Wombarra NSW
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2018, 11:40:11 PM »
Port Kembla would of been viable target at the time for German Raider. As the port has iron and steel manufacturing. Copper smelting to process copper ore into Copper bars to make artillery shell casings.

As you can see the picture below in 1914 it would of been an ideal target to attack?

To be continued....

Kanacki

Offline KANACKI

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Re: The House of Mystery: Wombarra NSW
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2018, 11:57:57 PM »
A German raider called the Wolf commanded by Karl August Nerger was actually off the New South wales coast at the time. you can see his picture below.

You can see a picture of this famous German WW1 Warship below that did the unthinkable sailed from the other side of the world undetected and sunk Australian shipping. For those guest that cannot see it I suggest you join the forum to see some pretty amazing things.

While years later after WW1 he was asked was their any contact with Germans living on the coast? He was rather candid with his reply by stating why make any more Germans suffer from that terrible war.

He was known as Gentleman and very able commander and well liked by his crew as well of his captives of the ships he sank.

Was his candid comments protecting some one?

To be continued....

Kanacki

Offline KANACKI

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Re: The House of Mystery: Wombarra NSW
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2018, 12:32:57 AM »
Nothing is certain.

While Port Kembla and it Copper Production was a likely target at the time their was no shipment planned at the time. You can see the copper furnaces below at port Kembla would of been a vital target as 60% of the British empire copper production came from ERS Port Kembla at the time. Without copper casing for artillery shell Britain would of ran out of ammunition in France. Ironic also Port Kembla was almost defenseless at the time.

but the fact remains the German raider wolf was off the coast of New South Wales and laid mines of Gabo Island and off the Northern tip of New Zealand. one of the sea mines floated ashore in New Zealand as seen the picture below dated 1914.

One such ship from Townsville carrying wheat and copper ingots from the Mount Morgan copper mine and smelter traveled down the coast past Wombarra and Port Kembla to England with vital supplies to war effort.

The ship Cumberland either struck and mine or was torpedoed by the raider Wolf or hit one of the mines it laid off Gabo island.

There alleged signaling event happened a few days prior to the Cumberland setting off from Townsville? The picture below is of the Cumberland sinking at the time. The copper ingots would of been made into thousands of copper shells and ammunition.

Was there a conspiracy of Australia Born Germans to send vital shipping movements to German raiders?

Its hard to tell but after the loss of the Cumberland people began to wonder and look to the strange happenings late at night of a strange flickering light if it was flashing in German Morse code to a strange light far out to sea at night?

And a mystery too this Mrs Kerns Aka Madame Kurtz? Was she a spy and saboteur? Our very own Mata Hari

To be continued.......

Kanacki


Offline Simon2

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Re: The House of Mystery: Wombarra NSW
« Reply #8 on: May 24, 2018, 10:53:10 AM »
Hi KANACKI,

Once again, a very interesting story, but is it possible for you to explain a couple of details for me, which will hopefully allow me to come to a conclusion.

The information I require is as follows:

1. Originally, "The heritage-listed Aliummare was built for the accountant of the Scarborough mine, Mr Parsons, in the late 1880s.

Born in Wales, Mr Parsons gave his late Victorian "boom style" mansion the name Aliummare, which roughly means "by another sea" in Welsh.".

It appears that Mr Parsons, did not live in the house he built, as there is no further information on him, after this period of time.

Are you able to provide a bit more information, if available between Mr Parsons building the mansion and your comment as follows, "The original inhabitant of the house was probably Thomas Wilson Garlick"?

If the Ghost is that of the so called German Female Spy, "...Mrs Kerns Aka Madame Kurtz? Was she a spy and saboteur?.....", did she pass away at the Mansion or where is the Ghost of Mrs Kerns located?

Hope the above makes sense as my mind is somewhere else at the moment. As you know this is a "problem" for me to stay on "point" in relation to any Post I am either writing or responding too. LOL

To practice five things under all circumstances constitutes perfect virtue;

These five are gravity, generosity of (the) soul, sincerity, earnestness and kindness.
(Confucius)

Offline KANACKI

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Re: The House of Mystery: Wombarra NSW
« Reply #9 on: May 24, 2018, 01:21:38 PM »
Hello Simon.

Hopefully I can clarify my misleading comments.

The house originally was built for Mr parsons the accountant for the local coal mine. But it appears he never lived in it. The house became the home of Thomas Wilson Garlick and his wife technically the first inhabited of the house. However their marriage it appears did not flourish and Thomas deserted her. The house then became under the owner ship of Charles Gibson Brown  after Garlick sold up in 1894.

Charles Gibson Brown and his wife Ellen Brown tried to sell it in 1906. However they turned it into rest home of sorts. Charles and Ellen moved to Sydney. However it appear their daughter was involved in the actual running of property as convalescent home.

In the following newspaper clip dated around 1915 Miss Brown the daughter advertised for a cook and laundress for the house.

I suspect this mystery lady was Mrs Kerns Aka madame Kurtz came to live with not Ellen Brown but her daughter during the first world war. Both was known as Spinsters. While there was suspicion of a relationship going on between two women? Nothing cam be proven except idle gossip.

And old friend of mine had a phonograph of this mysterious madame Kurtz. You can see below. It was apparently in year of 1917 strange stories emerged that lights had been seen flickering from the to bedroom facing out to sea. My apologies in inadvertently referred to 1914 not actual date of events 1917. My friend many years ago told me the story as he was young lad at the time of events that Madame Kurtz was a independent women of the world well traveled, a rather outgoing character and Miss Brown rather the opposite.

It was around the time of the German raider 'Wolf" off the coast of New South Wales and the Cumberland being sunk by a mine of Gabo island. Story began to circulate about strange flicking lights see on the balcony facing out to sea.

As of the fate of mysterious Madame Kurtz she vanished. Some say she was arrested for being a spy? I have personally never come across any official record of that. It appears after Madame Kurtz disappeared Miss Brown Allen Browns daughter lived there alone there  ostracized till she died in 1942.

Interesting enough if Miss Brown knowingly engaged with espionage with Mrs Kurtz. then perhaps poetic justice her brother was killed in France in 1918. You can see the newspaper obituary below.

Perhaps the ghost is not Mrs Kurtz but her lover Miss Brown is haunting the house?
 lamenting her lost love and perhaps guilt ridden that she assisted the enemy?

One thing for sure in the last years of her life she became a recluse and the house became very run down almost derelict.

Kanacki






Offline KANACKI

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Re: The House of Mystery: Wombarra NSW
« Reply #10 on: May 24, 2018, 01:45:26 PM »
Hello Simon

The house sat derelict for a few years after the war eventually becoming boarding house in boom years after WW2. there was demand of accommodation as the steelworks in Port Kembla Steel works boom and Illawarra revived post war migration.

Its was those tenants that era that reported ghostly happens at the house. Strange noises of  doors slamming footsteps of some thing being dragged down the stairs. Ghostly lights and a strange reflection of ghostly women with her hair up in bun seen in a mirror of an upstairs bedroom. The sound of some one sobbing in room that was empty.

All of those reported came from the late 40,50.60's.

Later it was bought by another family. The name escapes me at present. I think they held onto it for 27 odd year finally selling the rundown house to a family that restored it. they I believe ran it as a successful bed and breakfast.

I was lucky enough to see inside place a few years ago. It has be restored to a very high degree of quality and modernized into a light cheerful home.

Kanacki

Offline Simon2

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Re: The House of Mystery: Wombarra NSW
« Reply #11 on: May 29, 2018, 10:33:32 AM »
Hi KANACKI, the additional information gives me a much better perspective of the people and the timeframe of all the events.

The photograph of "Mrs Kerns Aka Madame Kurtz" is certainly most beautiful and I feel taken by a very talented “portrait” photographer.
From my perspective, the photograph, was one designed to captivate men and perhaps even, women, like the lonely Miss Brown!!

If there is a spirit wandering the halls and rooms of the tastefully renovated, "The heritage-listed Aliummare", it would appear to be, as you suggested, Miss Brown, lamenting the loss of her "lover", Miss Kerns (interestingly there appears to be no further information of her after she was arrested) and her Brother, “Sargent Charles A Brown in France, on the 11 August 1918”.

However, someone else came to mind, that is “Miss Kerns Aka Madame Kurtz”.

Following what can only be described as, horrific interrogation of “Miss Kerns Aka Madame Kurtz”, she may have been released by authorities, who for whatever reasons, thought they could keep an eye on her movements.

Authorities failed to consider that “Miss Kerns”, was given a secret place to hide out with Miss Brown at “Aliummare”.

So, there may be one or two spirits walking the home they are both used too and neither recognising the renovations taking place over the years, to become finally a “Bed and Breakfast” home.

The final restoration, may have been the catalyst for the 2 spirits to move on to the spiritual realm and each, coming to peace with their past lives.
To practice five things under all circumstances constitutes perfect virtue;

These five are gravity, generosity of (the) soul, sincerity, earnestness and kindness.
(Confucius)

Offline KANACKI

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Re: The House of Mystery: Wombarra NSW
« Reply #12 on: May 30, 2018, 10:48:23 AM »
Hello Simon

You have summed it up beautifully. My short time there I myself with no special gifts could not detect and lingering presence, other than a warm interesting historic house.

Yet the story had to be told as it deserved a place in our folklore.

Kanacki

Offline Simon2

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Re: The House of Mystery: Wombarra NSW
« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2018, 12:36:15 PM »
KANACKI my friend, I never doubt you in relation to the veracity of each of your stories in Australia (including Tasmania LOL).

Neither the length nor the number, I always take it as fact that the information is as detailed as you can get.

It is the discussions we have, that may assist you obtaining more facts or indeed, lead me in a different direction as well.

Each of your stories demanded to be told as it is part of the history of Australia, that hardly ever gets a mention.
To practice five things under all circumstances constitutes perfect virtue;

These five are gravity, generosity of (the) soul, sincerity, earnestness and kindness.
(Confucius)

Offline KANACKI

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Re: The House of Mystery: Wombarra NSW
« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2018, 09:57:59 AM »
Hello Simon

I often wonder the haunting at Wombarra cemetery is connected to the story at the house?

One day I am going to check out the name of the headstone where this alleged ghost haunts.

Kanacki

 


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