Author Topic: Mysteries and Hauntings: NSW & ACT  (Read 8149 times)

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Mysteries and Hauntings: NSW & ACT
« on: June 21, 2023, 01:34:11 AM »
When an intoxicated William Clarke was killed in 1842 after being hurled from his out-of-control dray along the road to Jerrabomberra, ACT, he was literally popped into a hole in a local paddock.

The discovery of what may have been his remains in 1991 revealed something more startling than just the undignified details of his death: it brought to light the previously forgotten first public burial place on the Limestone Plains.



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Re: Mysteries and Hauntings: NSW & ACT
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2023, 01:37:20 AM »
The skeleton was believed to be about 150 years old and since the early 1840s it had lain unknown and
undisturbed beneath the homes, businesses and parks that grew above and around it.

When unexpectedly unearthed during a storm-water drain excavation on April 22, 1991 at Florence Street, Oaks Estate, ACT, the unidentified remains revealed the lost location of the oldest known communal burial site following the arrival of Europeans in the Queanbeyan-Canberra region from the 1820s.

More often though, hurried bush burials were the order of the day and the first Europeans to die in the town were interred along the banks of the river and in the area that's now the Showground.

The Oaks Burial Ground was an otherwise unblessed, undesignated area in today's Oaks Estate. It was used from around 1838 until the opening of the official Queanbeyan Riverside Cemetery some eight years later.



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Re: Mysteries and Hauntings: NSW & ACT
« Reply #2 on: June 21, 2023, 01:40:09 AM »
The only surviving record detailing its use is dated 1839: “An enclosed piece of ground, adjoining our Inn, was the principal burying ground, in which, at this time, seven or eight corpses were buried.”

The “Inn” was “The Oaks”, one of the earliest substantive constructions on the Limestone Plains and still standing on the banks of the Molonglo River since 1913 on the Canberra side of the railway line signifying the new boundary between Queanbeyan and the Federal Capital Territory.

It was built by the merchant Robert Campbell of Duntroon at a similar time the dead began to be interred in its nearby paddock. Along with serving as gatekeeper of the first graveyard and being the first pub (the Elmsall Inn), the stone homestead was shortly after occupied by the town's first doctor, William Hayley.

While it might be a natural conclusion that once they were beyond his help, patients were simply turfed out the back door to find their own way to eternity, in truth it would have been a matter of convenience in a primitive setting: “Some person dies and his friends select a place to bury his remains … a coffin was seldom made for the dead.”



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Re: Mysteries and Hauntings: NSW & ACT
« Reply #3 on: June 21, 2023, 01:47:19 AM »
Placed beneath the ground there 20 years after the Cemetery had been consecrated, is recorded only as the “Indian Juggler”, the victim of a particularly gruesome murder.

In 1863, a young station-hand saw what seemed a solitary figure leaning against a tree in an isolated spot called Sawpit Gully,  “two miles and a-half” from Googong, “near Queanbeyan”. On approach, it was an old coat swinging in the wind. Less innocently, further on, a blood-splattered shirt and scattered bones, “gnawed upon by wild dogs”. There was also a damaged human skull.

Ferried to Dr Hayley, it was declared a man, “aged about 40”, and the condition pointed to foul play - the body had suffered a number of wounds, inflicted by a sharp blade or similar instrument. Disturbingly, the fatal blow to the head, penetrating deep into the brain, had apparently been struck while the deceased was still alive. 



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Re: Mysteries and Hauntings: NSW & ACT
« Reply #4 on: June 21, 2023, 01:50:02 AM »
More than 12 months earlier, a fellow attached to a travelling East-Indian juggling troupe, known for their displays with knives and swords, mysteriously vanished soon after a performance at Queanbeyan's Harp Inn (Macquoid Street, site of the Leagues Motel today). 

Two fellow performers, brothers Mahomet, Cassim and Abdallah, were tracked down at Goulburn. Billed as stars with Burton's Circus, they were charged with the murder of their compatriot, potentially the manager of the troupe, a fellow referred to as “Madhoul”. 

Evidence presented at the one-day trial that the third “juggler” and the skeleton were one and the same was largely circumstantial but the verdict was guilty. The standard penalty for a capital crime was meted out: they were to hang.



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Re: Mysteries and Hauntings: NSW & ACT
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2023, 01:51:48 AM »
While apparently there was motive enough – it seems performance takings had also disappeared – leading Sydney newspapers decried it had not be proven beyond reasonable doubt that the young men were the culprits. They could also barely speak enough English to adequately defend themselves. 

In the end, Abdallah, just 20, was spared, his sentence commuted to life behind bars. However Cassim, 27, ascended the gallows of the Goulburn Gaol on May 27, 1863, his end far from rapid, a factor attributed to his “acrobatic profession”.

Consigned to historic perpetuity as only the “Indian Juggler” and considered a “heathen” for his cultural differences, the found skull and bones were interred at the Oaks Burial Ground, the identity a mystery still.



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Re: Mysteries and Hauntings: NSW & ACT
« Reply #6 on: June 21, 2023, 01:54:38 AM »
However, investigating police were presented with documentation which indicated that 44 persons were buried in close proximity to The Oaks Homestead between 1838 and 1863. Inquiries also were conducted with Mr Gordon Walsh, of Queanbeyan City Council, and Queanbeyan and District Historical Society.

Current Oaks Estate residents may sleep easier after learning that another six bodies were similarly excavated, and, interestingly, re-interred in the Gungahlin Cemetery.

Presumably this was because the Riverside Cemetery was by then closed for burials due to the somewhat treacherous nature of a river that could flood and wash away graves.

Oaks Estate is in ACT, right on the border, only 300 metres east is Riverside Cemetery in NSW, let’s go there.



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Re: Mysteries and Hauntings: NSW & ACT
« Reply #7 on: June 21, 2023, 01:57:46 AM »
It's the oldest official public burial site in the region and while the Queanbeyan Riverside Cemetery is the final resting place for some of the area's most prominent citizens, it's more than just where they sleep the eternal sleep.

As with any town, the cemetery is a physical chronicle of its journey as well as a monument to its people and progress. Opened in 1846, while not as extensive as Sydney's Rookwood, the largest Victorian-era necropolis in the Southern Hemisphere, there's definitely more to Riverside than meets the eye.

Often thought to contain a mere few hundred gravesites, there's actually almost 4,000, including many unmarked. Each of the headstones has their own tale to tell. Stories of injustice, murder, madness and suicide are plentiful. This includes the first victim of a capital crime in the ACT, 11 month old Charles Porter, poisoned by his father, Bertram Porter in 1932. 

And then there's the mysteries, involving both the seen and the unseen.



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Re: Mysteries and Hauntings: NSW & ACT
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2023, 02:00:07 AM »
Regularly do visitors report significant temperature differences in the one spot; produce any number of photos with unusual lights and orbs; tell tales of gates swinging open, apparently of their own volition; and even encounter shadowy figures along the fenceline, that disappear on approach.

In the mid-1970s, it was reported that council workers were very reluctant to dig graves there, apparently having to be “urged” to do so.



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Re: Mysteries and Hauntings: NSW & ACT
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2023, 02:03:14 AM »
Another of its anomalies include a number of markers that, for reasons unclear, are "out of alignment".

In the Christian tradition, bodies are buried with their feet pointing eastwards in order to allow them to rise more easily come Judgement Day. Outside this is relatively rare and usually reserved for the likes of those deemed "irretrievable sinners".

Most unusually, in Riverside Cemetery there's a single one that's "backwards". It belongs to Mrs Flora Blundell Snr and her 16-year-old daughter, also Flora, said to be the ghostly resident of Blundell's Cottage on the edge of Lake Burley Griffin. Why their small monument is so positioned remains unclear.

Here is a link to Kanacki’s story on Blundell’s Cottage.

https://www.paranormal.com.au/public/index.php/topic,11251.0.html



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Re: Mysteries and Hauntings: NSW & ACT
« Reply #10 on: June 21, 2023, 02:06:35 AM »
Numerous graves were also placed outside the fenceline of the cemetery, indicating unconsecrated bounds. As was the norm in earlier times, this generally included those of Aboriginal and Chinese heritage, unbaptised babies, murderers and as they were then known, "lunatics", thought as they were to potentially be "possessed by the devil". 

The picturesque river setting for the Riverside Cemetery has long proved something of a heaven and a hell, and the floods that have affected it over the years are some of its more commonly known peculiarities.

While many know of the infamous flood of 1974 in which numerous graves were washed away, the great flood of 1925 was worse. The most devastating in the town's history, it reached almost 11 metres, destroying the graceful Suspension Bridge of 1901, and even sweeping along with it a seven-roomed house. It also took as many as 100 graves.

It's a long standing mystery, which began in the days following the devastating 1974 Queanbeyan flood.

Did corpses from the Riverside Cemetery get washed down into Lake Burley Griffin?



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Re: Mysteries and Hauntings: NSW & ACT
« Reply #11 on: June 22, 2023, 12:57:54 AM »
When a devastating flood hit the NSW border town of Queanbeyan in 1974, it submerged the main street, inundated the local caravan park, and washed out graves at the Riverside Cemetery. A rumour quickly spread: did the flood send corpses from the cemetery down the Queanbeyan and Molonglo Rivers, over the border into the Capital City and the recently filled Lake Burley Griffin?

Glen Takkenburg, put that decades old rumour to us.

"My father told me when he was growing up in Queanbeyan, the last floods washed out bodies in the cemetery," said Mr Takkenburg.

He wanted to know if there was any truth to the rumour, as well as whether all the bodies were accounted for.



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Re: Mysteries and Hauntings: NSW & ACT
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2023, 01:00:38 AM »
Reports of bodies and coffins exposed by the August 28 flood came from credible sources.

"It was absolutely tragic to see, coffins and bodies afloat, and I would say not one of the graves was left untouched," read an article in the Queanbeyan Age the next day.

When the floodwaters began to recede about a week later, police began "surveilling the river" for the remains of an estimated 50 washed out graves. The Canberra Times then reported that police had recovered three bodies from the Queanbeyan Riverside Cemetery but police immediately denied they were picked up from Lake Burley Griffin.



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Re: Mysteries and Hauntings: NSW & ACT
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2023, 01:05:10 AM »
Max Morton was an SES worker who was at the cemetery in the days after the flood. He recounted the "nightmare at the cemetery".

"When I got there you could see where the bank had washed away, and there was the end of a coffin sticking out of the mud, and there was a body laying in the water, caught on a tree. A full body," he said.

Mr Morton saw a police officer who was preparing to be lowered into the riverbed to retrieve the body. But by the time he was ready, it had drifted away.

"There were skulls and things, there were bones, because as he walked across the mud he was pushing the bones into the mud [to] hide them from sightseers," he said. Mr Morton said the ACT Police were sent the next day, with a boat to retrieve the body, and others.

But does he remember where the bodies were found? "No. Oaks Estate I believe, but I'm not sure."

If it was Oaks Estate, that's still a winding 12 kilometres to the mouth of Lake Burley Griffin.



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Re: Mysteries and Hauntings: NSW & ACT
« Reply #14 on: June 22, 2023, 01:15:01 AM »
Finding out whether more remains washed into the lake is difficult. The cemetery was, and still is, crowded and poorly kept. Many plots are shared, and the majority of the 5,000 burials at Riverside Cemetery are in unmarked graves.

"It is current practice to leave fallen tombstones and not to embark on a full restoration of the cemetery," reads one sign on the grounds.

A nine month effort to identify the washed out graves followed the flood. It found that around 100 of the cemetery's graves had been affected. Only about 80 of those graves were identified, and what remained in each of those following the natural disaster is a mystery.



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