Flashy lights and bits of gear


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A very common response we seem to be getting from people who join us for P.I.E. nights is a reaction of nerves; not just towards the Historic Site, but also towards the gear we use!

It’s all high tech and fancy and can look pretty intimidating to someone who’s never had the chance to play with it all before, but for the most part it’s all pretty straight forward and certainly nothing to be scared of.

We use so much gear because we want to track as many variables as possible during an investigation.  Because no one can define exactly what paranormal activity is, we need to cover as much ground as we possibly can, including some things that we as human beings can’t detect without gear to show us.

What does some of the equipment look for?

  • Fluctuations in atmospheric conditions such as temperature, humidity and air pressure.
  • Fluctuations in the electro-magnetic field (outside of visible light and audible sound etc.)
  • Anomalous sounds and sights (both those perceived at the time and those missed until evidence review)
  • Fluctuations in positive air ions.

So basically all of the equipment you get to use is not necessarily designed to prove the presence of the paranormal (with the exception of video cameras/sound recorders), so much as it is designed to rule out external influences which might contribute to paranormal experiences.

So what does this all mean for investigating?

If you’re wandering through an old house with an EMF meter and it lights up, chances are you’ve stumbled across a field produced by faulty wiring or a security system.  If it’s in a location where people are prone to experiencing odd sensations, there could be a correlation between the EMF and the effect it has on humans.  It makes you wonder about places like the Parsonage and the Commandant’s House, where we have long documented histories about people experiencing the paranormal, and have since discovered substantial EMF leaks from the respective security systems in the buildings.  Is there a link there?  Or are people truly experiencing ghostly apparitions and the like?

Likewise, a sudden drop in temperature doesn’t mean you just walked through Casper, but might be linked to pockets of air in the building.  Or you might feel a sudden drop in ambient temperature, but a thermometer might show that nothing’s happened.

This is why so much flashy gear!

 

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The life of PIE :)


We’ve been investigating Port Arthur regularly for 12 months now, so it’s about time we presented a little of our findings!

There have been many anomalous readings on our EMF meters throughout the various buildings we visit during the investigations.  In the Parsonage we’ve discovered that the security system produces incredibly high levels of EMF from the Post Office room, which then has a flow on effect through to surrounding areas of the building.  The levels in this house top out our KII meters, whilst the ELF meter reads levels usually associated with industrial sized EMF pumps.  Interestingly this is a room where sightings are commonly reported, particularly during ghost tours of an evening.

In the Commandants House, again the alarm systems wreak havoc with the EMF levels.  We’ve been setting up the ELF meter here on most investigations, and have a consistently  high reading of levels of EMF in the front section of the house.

The Separate prison has produced the occasional anomalous EMF reading, although we have been unable to locate any source.  The ELF meter will be established in this building for the next year.

The basement (which has no electrical wiring at all) has also surprisingly produced infrequent anomalous readings.

We’ve had a few interesting results from our Full Spectrum Cameras, although most of the these photos have had some kind of logical explanation now associated with them.

The CCTV system is in the process of being transferred to the Separate Prison, where we will have cameras aimed up A and C wings, in the Chapel, and covering the central room. In the Commandant’s House we found that we were capturing plenty of movement in the hallway on these cameras, although this has been attributed to dust particles in the air.

We’ve captured one decent EVP in the Separate Prison, however no one has been able to conclusively say what the words are.  We classify this as a B grade EVP.

There have been many anecdotal experiences on the investigations, from both visitors and guides, however these have not been captured on any of the equipment to date.  Some phenomena has been witnessed by multiple people at a time.

So what have we learned from all this?

We need to keep investigating, and make sure that everyone is carrying a device that can potentially document a personal experience.  We need to keep our slightly sceptical stance and (tempting as it is to jump to spooky conclusions!) rule out any logical explanations for events during the investigations.  We need to test theories, and try to replicate spooky events by any reasonable means.

So our goal for this year?

Keep investigating, keep looking for logic, and most importantly keep having an absolute blast whilst we’re doing it!

In other news our February investigation is headed out tonight.  Good luck to everyone going along!  Don’t forget the March investigation is only a few weeks away, why not come down and help us investigate before the weather turns cold again?

We’d love to hear some feedback on what we’ve found so far, so please feel free to leave us a comment.  And to keep updated, join our other followers by signing up for email notifications (on the home page).  For those of you who’ve been on an investigation with us, if you’ve found any good photos you may have taken on the night, please let us know as we’d love to share them here.

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!).

The importance of being logical


Having spent my fair share of time in dark and creepy places in the last 5 years, and more so than ever since we started the Paranormal Experience, I have first hand experience in how easy it is to jump when things go bump in the night.  Rest assured that most people, regardless of how sceptical they are, will jump a mile if they’re sitting in pitch black dark in a haunted location and something grabs them or crashes around nearby.  It’s very easy to jump to the wrong conclusions!

For example:

On the July Investigation this year, participants from my group may well remember we heard footsteps in the Commandants House the minute i flicked out the lights.  Straight away i can honestly admit that i jumped along with everyone else, in fact i jumped across the hallway to land safely in the middle of my group!  At the time it was adrenaline inducing and scary, but looking back with a logical viewpoint there is no way to rule out the possible logical causes of what went on.  The first thing that springs to mind for me is animal noise.  Wallabies notoriously cause some very convincingly bipedal noises when leaping around, and at the end of the hallway was a door leading out onto a wooden walkway.  I can’t rule out the possibility that a wallaby chose the exact moment that i turned out the lights to take a little walk (or jump) on the board walk right outside the house.  Or a possum on the roof, perhaps.  But it’s not the first thing to cross your mind when it’s dark and you’re investigating the paranormal!  And that’s just what we need to train our brains to do.

It certainly makes for an exciting evening when things are going bang/crash in the dark, but the challenge is to not let yourself leap about and shriek “Ghost!” at the top of your lungs, and instead to go take a closer look with all the right gear.  As such we are trying hard to push the message across to the groups that come out on the Investigation with us: Don’t take anything at face value out here.  This is an investigation, so when anomalous events occur – go investigate!  (And pretty please take a camera/sound recorder/EMF detector with you!)  Because anecdotal evidence is not evidence, it’s a personal account of things that happened with nothing to back up your tale.  It’s a bit like going fishing and coming back with nothing but being able to talk about the one that got away (That fish was THIS BIG!).

In conclusion for today’s rant – come along, have fun, be prepared to get a little creeped out in the dark, but do it all from a sceptical viewpoint!  After all if you’re going to get evidence of the paranormal you want it to be the real thing, not just a cruisy wallaby out for a midnight snack in the Commandant’s garden!