A busy spooky winter

We’ve been A.W.O.L for a while, it’s so mysteriously that it’s almost spooky…!

The reality is we’ve had a busy time of it lately, with not just our regularly scheduled Investigations, but also an evening spent with Nick and Woody from SEA FM Hobart, and their 4 lucky competition winners, and a private investigation for a group from New Zealand.  Cait’s currently working on an update from the last few investigations, we’ll get it posted up soon as we can. 

Things are going well for the Paranormal Team here at Port Arthur, and the Investigations are getting more and more popular, so if you’re planning on coming to join us any time in the next few months I recommend getting your booking in soon.  Last night’s PIE was booked out several weeks in advance!

Having talked to Cait about last night, she reports that whilst her group were at the Asylum she could hear loud dragging and banging noises inside the Separate Prison. She said it was as though heavy metal objects were being dragged along the corridor in the prison. She assumed it was John’s group still inside investigating, but when the noises became even louder and she went to see what was going on she found the building was locked up tight with no one inside.

We also need to give a huge shout out and thank you to Casie Lee, who has joined us here for two investigations, and has since been an absolute trooper helping out with the data analysis.  Thanks so much Casie, we sat down and had a good look through everything you sent us before the PIE last night and it looks like you’ve picked up on some brilliant anomalies, we particularly like the voice in the Commandant’s House that appears to say “Tell them to go away” and “Dont go in to the bad room”.  We’ll post some up as soon as we’ve had another look at them.

Any wayward data discs are soon to be on their way to their new homes, my project for today is to get through the backlog so keep an eye out for your incoming discs soon.

Cheers and Happy Halloween!

Mel and the PIE team


Winter chills

Hi all

The May Investigation is long gone now, and the discs all on their merry way out to their new homes (please let us know if you didn’t get yours yet!).  In fact it’s not too long now ’til the June Investigation, anyone fancy a chilly winter’s night hunting the paranormal?  We still have spaces available (and our awesomely exclusive beanies to give away to keep your heads toasty warm!).

As part of the May investigation I was able to continue the experiment with our CCTV system in the Separate Prison, and with many wires and thingamabobs was able to get a functioning feed going throughout the night.  Sadly it didn’t pick anything up in the way of paranormal activity, but with more work we will achieve our dream of streaming the prison feed into the asylum on the big screen (now there’s a sentence you’ll probably never read anywhere else!).  Fingers crossed.

Thanks to everyone who came along for the May Investigation, and although it was a pretty quiet night all round, if anyone spots anything on those discs please drop us a line and let us know.  Sometimes we might miss things!

This coming investigation will also be part of the training experience for our two new guides, James and Meahd, who will be coming along to see how it all works, and to have a bit of a play with the equipment.  Both James and Meahd have been ghost tour guides at Port Arthur for years, and have plenty of experience to share!  They’ll both be Investigating with their own groups in the coming months.  We’re very happy to welcome some new faces, and they seem pretty keen to start investigating.  

In other news, we recently also played host to a Malaysian film crew, who dropped by to do a brief spot of filming with us as part of a broader tour of Tasmania.  They were more after a bit of a thrill, and perhaps less interested in the theory and equipment than we would’ve liked, but it was still a fun experience and a bit of a laugh for all involved.

Finally, don’t forget you can keep up to date with our thrilling blog by subscribing by email on our home page.  Go on, you know you want to!

Got a question for the paranormal team?  Send us an email at paranormal@portarthur,org.au or leave a comment here on the blog.

Scepticism in the face of something running really fast

We’ve always tried to remain as sceptical as possible on the Paranormal Investigations here at Port Arthur, or at least to approach everything logically and look for possible explanations before jumping to conclusions.  However, even a sceptic can get a bit of a shock when something bizarre happens.

It was the investigation for January 19th, and we had 8 people out there with 2 guides.  After a fairly quiet night without much going on, we had just finished up supper and moved on to the 3rd and final investigation of the evening, in the Commandants House.  For those of you who have never been to the Commandants House, let me explain the layout for you. 

The house has a large verandah, approached by a double-sided staircase from the driveway below.  The verandah stretches across the front three rooms of the house, and is capped by a much larger room on either end.  The front door in the centre leads to an entry hall, with rooms coming off either side, a hallway running across the back to the side rooms, and a short set of steps leading to the corridor that runs up the length of the house and has multiple small landings leading off to even more side rooms.  To put it more simply, this place is a total rabbit warren of rooms and corridors!  It is a house that not many guides enjoy spending time alone in, by night or by day, and my least favourite building at Port Arthur. 

We arrived at the house and my group of 4 split up and started moving through the building, whilst I waited in the entry hall for them, monitoring the CCTV. When 3 of the group had returned to the entry hall, I had heard a noise and turned to look up the back hallway to try to spot our 4th person.  Lo and behold, someone dashed across the first landing of the stairs, from the Study to the interpretation room opposite it.  I figured it was our missing investigator until 2 seconds later when he appeared from a side room in the front of the house.  With such a small group it is easy to keep track of who is where, and the question now is:  If that wasn’t one of us then who was it?

It would have been easy at this point to bolt for the front door in fear, as others in the group had witnessed the same thing and we were all a little concerned.  Instead, we bravely (and as a group) made our way to the room where the figure had gone.  There wasn’t a soul in sight, but as we turned to look across the landing to the study, it was pointed out that the hanging light fixture was now swinging around. 

As we turned to head out, the light in the entryway also started swinging around on its cord!

We stuck around a little longer then decided we had better get moving back to the Asylum to meet up with the other group and finish the night.

It was an event that has me totally stumped.  I am certain we saw a figure walk quickly across the landing, and the lamps were absolutely swinging around.  But I’m still trying to come up with the logic behind it all.  A good start will be to test the lamps on the next investigation, maybe there’s a loose floorboard that bumps a wall somewhere and triggers the swinging? Sounds like a bit of a stretch but i guess we wont know until we try it!

I know the Parsonage is meant to be the historically haunted house, and the one with the big scary reputation, but the Commandant’s House is really starting to give it a run for its money!

In other news, we have 2 whole days set aside in the first week of feb to sit down and catch up on all of the wayward data discs to get the backlog sorted out.  Thanks to everyone for your patience and understanding!

The next investigation will take place on Saturday 23rd February 2013, so head over to our bookings page now to save yourself a space (and possibly get wigged out in the Commandant’s House too!).

After the fires

Hi everyone,

First up – we’re still all OK despite the recent fires affecting our area.  Some members of our Investigation team had some pretty close calls with their homes, but luckily we seem to be fine.  There were many sleepless nights and 10 days without electricity which, being a rural community, meant no running water either!  Whilst others from the team were out defending their homes or looking after their families, Caitlin and I were down on site helping the hundreds of stranded visitors deal with their enforced extended stay at Port Arthur, (I’m sure there would be very few visitors who come to Port Arthur expecting to end up camping out on the floor in the Visitors Centre for days on end) and helping out at the local shop.  During the 10 days we chatted to visitors, cooked fast food at the shop, learnt how to fill gas bottles, pumped petrol, hauled over a tonne of rotting food to the skip, carted supplies and resisted the urge to make the world’s largest mattress fort after the last of the visitors had been evacuated from Port Arthur.  The strangest part about the whole situation was wandering through the site with no one around, it was rather like a ghost town with hundreds of abandoned cars and not a person in sight.  We rather suspected for a while there that the Zombie Apocalypse had happened and no one had told us.

The buildings on site certainly took on a fairly spooky air as they stood there empty for over a week, and when we went in to grab spare torches the Separate Prison particularly was quite expectant and odd feeling.  This is the first time in many, many years that these buildings have been locked up for so many days on end.  It would have been the perfect opportunity to investigate, but given the circumstances I think if we’d sat down to run an EVP session we would’ve fallen asleep.

It’s still rather smoky around the place on and off as the Tas Fire Service are still doing back burns and containment lines, but we’re back open and gearing up for another investigation tonight!  There are still plenty of places available, so if you’re in the area and feel like a late night out, come and join us.  We are also going to run another investigation on Sat 26th January, and after that we’re back to our standard investigation on the last Saturday of every month.

To those who were scheduled to come along in the last few weeks we apologise profusely for not being able to run the investigations, but as you’ve just read things were a little crazy here!  We hope you can reschedule and come back sometime soon.  And for those who haven’t received data discs yet, now that things have settled down a little we’ll be getting back onto it for you.

Fingers crossed for some spooky happenings out there on site tonight, I’ll post an update in a few days to let you all know how it went.

Stories in the dark

Wednesday night we had UK journalist Tim Robey out on site with us for a few hours, though sadly the anomalous events didn’t quite amp up like we’d hoped.  We did, however, spend a good deal of time in the Commandant’s House, and let me tell you that building just doesn’t get any friendlier-feeling in the dark.

With just 4 of us in there the place was quite atmospheric.  Particularly when we took a moment to sit on the stairs and talk about the spooky events we’ve experienced in there.  Story-teller extraordinaire Caitlin never fails to give me the creeps when she talks about events in any of these buildings (i can happily admit that the first time i did her ghost tour many years ago, i was scared to come back to Port Arthur!).  The house itself delivered on some fairly ominous creaking noises, but as is the nature of old buildings, the place tends to creak a lot. We also experimented a bit with the fascinating way the human mind picks patterns out of the darkness.  There’s nothing quite like standing in a dark old house watching what appears to be a dark figure walking down a corridor towards you!  It’s amazing what our eyes do to us in the dark!  If you’re coming on an investigation soon, ask us about this and we’ll demonstrate.

We’re yet to go over the footage of our time in the building on Wednesday night, but based on our personal experiences i think it will be highly unlikely that we recorded much at all.

In other news, today we farewell our Director of Tourism Operations, Danial Rochford, who is leaving Port Arthur to move to a much sunnier locale.  Danial was hugely supportive of the team setting up the Paranormal Investigation Experience at the Site, and heavily involved in the development of what is now proving to be a very popular and successful venture.  Thanks Danial!

As i write this I’m also multi-tasking.  Beside me is the Paranormal laptop which is churning out the last of our data discs to send out to prior groups, so keep an eye on your mail boxes, the discs will be there soon.

To wrap up, tomorrow night is Paranormal Investigation Night for November!  If you’re in the area and feel like joining us, head to our bookings site now to secure the last spaces.

It’s almost that time again…

An update, finally!

It’s now just a few days before our July Investigation, and I can happily say that at last check there were only 2 spots left.  Investigations for the rest of the year are booking out quickly too, so if you’re planning on joining us this year get in quick to make your booking.

We are currently fighting our way through hours and hours of data from our last 3 investigations (that’s a lot of data!) and are slowly getting it into order so that we can send it out to those who participated.  We have come across a great photo in the Separate Prison, and an odd noise in the Commandant’s House, and still have a lot of footage left to examine.  We’ll post the photo here as soon as it’s been sent out to the April group.

If you’re coming along this Saturday night, don’t forget to dress warmly.  We’re into the nasty winter weather now, so don’t be afraid to bring a blanket and a torch, you might need them!  We’ve certainly seen some weird weather events for investigations this year, everything from the 25 degree night of February to the thunderstorms and torrential rain of April.  Who knows what this weekend could bring! We’ve also had some impressive views of the Aurora from the historic site in recent weeks.

We’ve also just taken delivery of some new equipment.  We have a new Air Ion Counter, as well as a Ghost Box or three.  This should all add to the kind of results we can pick up!

And finally, tonight, Cait and I are headed out with a small group private investigation, should be even creepier than normal with so few people.  If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, talk to our reservations team via ph. 1800 659 101 (from within Australia) or +61 (0)3 6251 2310 from overseas.  Or you can send through an email to reservations@portarthur.org.au for more information.

More updates (and photos) to come soon.  Mel.


We’re counting down to the next Investigation, coming up on Saturday next week, and the big news is if you’re planning on joining us this month you’d better get in fast as there are only 2 spots left! But fret not, we still have plenty of spaces left for the June 30th Investigation, so book your tickets early.

Many things have been happening on the paranormal front, with a tour on April 28th tackling huge thunderstorms and creepy conditions, and coming up with a few odd EMF readings in the Separate Prison.  Cait will have more details soon hopefully.

Cait and I also recently took on the Separate Prison for a night with local sceptics Mark, Matt and Patrick.  They wanted to see if they could be proven wrong by spending an entire night in the Separate Prison.  As Mark told ABC radio (if you missed it, here’s a link to hear the boys chatting about their experience http://blogs.abc.net.au/files/ghost-boys.mp3) there were two odd events during the evening, but we’ve come up with pretty logical explanations for both situations. 

When the boys arrived we took them over to the separate prison and got the gear set up for the night.  Whilst we were doing this, odd noises started coming from the C wing end of the building.  When we went to check it out, we must have startled some pranksters in the act, because we found one car with the bonnet up and various bits and pieces disconnected or removed and sitting neatly nearby, and Cait’s car with the driver side door open.  We can quite happily say this was human in nature, and not remotely paranormal though it did seem to shake at least one of the sceptics. 

The second odd event was after our friendly scepics had retired to their sleeping bags on the floor in the central hall of the prison.  Mark reported hearing two distinct bangs, again from C Wing, but as neither Matt nor Patrick were still awake he decided to wait 15 minutes before going to check.  Had he gone straight away, he would have found Cait and I closing the doors to the Asylum quite loudly, having opted for the warmer and more comfortable couches over the solid stone floor of the prison itself.  (though being an asylum, this does not count as us not lasting the night – that building has it’s own creep-factor!)

So overall the sceptics remain sceptical, though they probably would’ve had a higher chance of something happening to them if they’d spent their time in the Punishment cell individually and in silence rather than chatting away as a group.  Just saying!

For those people who came on the March investigation, your results are on their way! Particularly look for the odd audio from the separate prison with the strange male voice.  No one can quite work out what the man is saying, but some suggestions so far include “Come here”, “Go to her” or even “Ghost Tour”.  See what you think!

In other news, the Paranormal Investigation Experience again featured in a Tasmania newspaper, this time in Launceston’s Examiner last Monday with a great piece from David Scott who came along for a visit in April. 

We’ll have more news after the analysis of the April data.