Rob McFarland – Review


After a bit of insight into the Port Arthur Paranormal Investigation Experience?  Head on over and check out this great review by Rob McFarland.

Port Arthur Paranormal Investigation Experience Review

Advertisements

What happened last night?


Last night the December PIE headed out into the dark, and what a night they had for it!  Warm, windy and a generally unpredictable night saw a few bits and pieces turn up for our visitors.

Cait’s group reported fluctuating EMF readings in the Senior Surgeon’s basement in the room opposite where we generally take our ghost tours.  This is unusual because the basement has no wiring, and we very rarely get any kind of reading in the area at all.

Meahd’s group reported hearing footsteps in the Separate Prison which were apparently quite loud.  We’ll be looking into this with our data to see if anything turned up on any of the voice recorders or video cameras, as this is a quite common phenomena reported in the building.

Meahd’s group also had a little shock in the Commandant’s House with the unexpected noise of the alarms going off somewhere within the building.  These alarms monitor movement in our furnished rooms in the house (the Commandant’s Bedroom, Dining Room, Study, Drawing Room and Nanny’s Room), and at the time when they were triggered the entire group were sitting on the stairs in the hallway running an EVP session.  We will again look to our gear to see what was recorded here.  Incidentally, these alarms tend to play havoc with our KII meters in the front area of the house; the security system emits pulses of EMF which can often look like paranormal phenomena, but we’ve managed to match the pulses with the transmitting lights on the alarm panel.  This is also where our base station was continually recording high levels of EMF last year.

The next investigation will head out on January 11th with Andrew and James, and the following investigation will be January 25th with Caitlin and myself.  Tickets are still available for both of these PIE’s, head over to the bookings page to secure your places now.

In the meanwhile, the Paranormal team wishes everyone a safe and happy New Year, we’ll see you all in 2014!

Cheers, Mel and the Port Arthur PIE team

 

 

 

Someone in the Commandant’s House wants to play


The July Investigation has now been and gone, and an interesting investigation it was too.

We welcomed Meahd to her first investigation, and she pulled it off like a pro – from listening to her EVP sessions she sounds like she’s been investigating for years! Well done, Meahd.

We had 12 participants for the investigation who all seemed to have a great time getting into the buildings for some quality paranormal time.

The most bizarre thing to report has to have been the noise from the Commandant’s house.  At the time when the noise was first heard I was out on the Verandah at the front of the house, and everyone else was inside with gear.  Two of our group heard the noise while investigating, and came and got me.  We went back to the room where they’d been (just up on the first landing of the stairs, right across from the study – what is it with me and that area?) and tried to get it to happen again.  We were rewarded with more giggly/gurgly noises.  We’re still working on an explanation, but can happily rule out gurgling water as it wasn’t raining, and that area of the house does not have running water – so no pipes in the walls.  We looked for squeaky doors and floorboards too, but no luck there either.

Listen to the EVP here.

What I find entertaining is that there used to be a time when if something like that happened, I would’ve been the first one out the door!  These days my curiosity is getting the better of fear.  A good thing?  Here’s hoping.

In other news we have another special tour coming up with the crew from SEA FM (100.9FM) in the next few weeks.  They’ll be joining us for a ghost tour and a paranormal investigation in mid August, then broadcasting the Breakfast show from our Visitors Centre the following morning.  Listen out to SEA FM for more details coming soon.

The next public Paranormal Investigation Experience heads out the door at 9 pm on the 31st August. Plenty of space available, so head over to our bookings page to secure your spot.

Want to find a gift to give the person who has everything? Why not treat that someone special to a Paranormal Investigation Experience at Port Arthur.  Get in touch with our reservations staff (reservations@portarthur.org.au or freecall 1800 659 101 from within Australia) to talk about gift certificates – the perfect birthday/mothers day/fathers day/christmas present for any paranormal aficionado.

And finally, don’t forget to follow our blog by email on our home page to keep updated with all the spooky happenings at Port Arthur.

‘Til next time – The P.I.E. Team

For fear of the Separate Prison


Paranormal_Experience_WEB_001

If you were a convict at Port Arthur in the later years of the settlement’s history, chances are the words ‘Separate Prison’ would be very familiar, and enough to put a bit of fear into you.

It was a place of psychological punishment, based on silent solitary confinement, and not a very pleasant place to spend any length of time.  Men were confined to their cells 23 hours a day, let out only for exercise in a separate yard, and church services in the specially designed separate chapel.  This was a brand of punishment most convicts struggled to cope with, and there are even tales of suicide from the building at a time when the religious beliefs of most people prevented anyone from taking their own lives.

This makes it the ideal place to spend a whole lot of time as a Paranormal Investigator.  If the theory stands that paranormal activity is supposed to be more prevalent in a building that has seen suffering and high levels of emotion, then Port Arthur’s Separate Prison should be an absolute hot spot for things that go bump in the night, and so far it has not disappointed us.

The Separate Prison is fast taking over the reputation usually held by the Parsonage – of being the creepiest set of walls we have at Port Arthur.  It’s a place that most visitors and staff feel uncomfortable at the best of times, has a long history of creepy experiences, and in more recent times has produced three EVPs in the space of just over a year.

Oh, I forgot to mention – we picked up another creepy voice in that building.  To hear it, click here.

The EVP was recorded on audio equipment by visitors during their time investigating the Separate Prison.  From listening to the audio, the first thought as far as debunking was to find out whether the female voice was someone investigating alone, or with a partner.  It turns out she did have a male partner at the time of recording.  We suspected that this was perhaps the explanation, but as Meahd pointed out – if it was him being funny there would’ve been laughter, or at least some kind of reaction.  This leads us to believe it’s likely to be a noise that wasn’t audible at the time of recording.

So this makes three creepy voices recorded since April last year.  Fingers crossed we get more in the coming months!

We’re now just a few weeks out from the July Investigation, which will be heading out on Saturday the 27th.  If you’d like to try your hand at paranormal investigating head over to our booking page now to get tickets.

Paranormal Phenomen-huh?


What is Paranormal Phenomena?

It’s a good question.  There are many and varied theories in the Paranormal Investigation field as to what exactly the paranormal is.  It’s hard to define any one leading theory, so here at Port Arthur we’re exploring four of them in our investigations.

THEORY #1 – “Ghosts are Dead People”

It is a belief held by many cultures right throughout the world – that the body and spirit are separate, and that when a person dies their spirit comes away from the body.  In some beliefs the spirit moves on to a different plane of existence, for others the spirit continues to walk the earth as a ghostly entity.
We tend to base our ghost tours on this theory, but a few nights ago I decided to find out what my ghost tour group thought about ghosts, so I asked them!  I had a school group of 13-14 year old kids from a remote region of Tasmania, who all came up with ideas of what they thought ghosts were:

“I think they’re dead people’s souls”

“When you die you might have unfinished things to do so you hang around”

“It’s dead people”

“When i was little my pop used to talk to me.  He died before i was born”

“It’s like, your spirit”

Inevitably, these kids’ theories all revolved around the idea of ghosts being dead people. 

THEORY #2 – “Parallel Universes”

The thought of parallel universes existing can be a thought that makes your brain hurt if you dwell on it for too long.  But it’s an interesting thought at the same time!
Imagine the world as a sheet hanging on a clothesline, alongside possibly one or more other sheets/worlds.  They exist side by side, but separate from one another.  Now picture what happens when the wind blows – the sheets connect every now and then for brief but significant moments.  (This is not to suggest that paranormal phenomena will happen only on windy days)

We have a ghost story from the 1870s at Port Arthur that makes you stop and wonder about the possible legitimacy of this theory.
In the Parsonage (Port Arthur’s historically haunted house) there lived a family by the name of Hayward.  They had experienced many odd things in the house, but one story talks of a servant walking into a front room of the house only to find a figure at the window in ‘strange garb’ holding a raised object like a dagger ‘as though to strike’.
This would be a terrifying experience, no doubt.  Reverend Hayward was said to have had to ‘box her ears’ to bring sense to the servant after the episode.  But here’s a thought: What if what that servant saw was a ghost tour guide in present time, holding a torch and peering in to the house?  (Brain explodes!)

THEORY #3 – “The Power of Suggestion” 

The human mind is incredible.  Scientists are only just beginning to understand the limitations and possibilities of the human brain.  There is still so much that is unknown about our capabilities!

I’ve seen (as I’m sure most of my fellow guides have too) just how strong the power of suggestion can be.  Without giving away too many tricks of the trade, in the job of tour guide where your tour group are expecting to be scared you soon learn to develop a few subtle skills in creating atmosphere.  Many’s the time I’ve had people ‘experience’ the paranormal on tour, though about 75% of the time when asked to describe exactly what’s happened to them they will regurgitate something they’ve already been told on tour.  In many cases this is a ploy for attention, however there are cases where visitors are completely convinced that they have experienced something, and will even have physiological reactions to the event.

THEORY #4 – “This is All a Pile of Poo”

A very valid theory that can’t be discounted.  There are studies being done in parts of the world on various external influences on the human experience.  Factors such as Electro Magnetic Fields and Infrasound are being tested for their potential to create a “haunted” atmosphere.  There are suggestions that various external factors can produce hallucinations, feelings of unease, and even that wonderful and comforting sensation of seeing movement out of the corner of your eye.

So these are the theories we’re working with at Port Arthur, and by concentrating on all of these different possibilities it’s helping us to remain open-minded about the various experiences reported on site.  It also helps bring us back to the importance of always asking questions.

Just because someone talks to their Pop as a kid, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are talking to a dead person’s spirit.  Maybe they are talking to their Pop from another world (after all, having never known their Pop, they would be unaware of how any behaviour might differ from their actual Pop).  Maybe, having never met their Pop, this kid wanted to talk to him and was convinced by their own mind that it was really happening.  Or maybe the location of the home combined with any number of external factors created the illusion that Pop was indeed present and chatty.  Oh the possibilities!

‘Til next time, the P.I.E. team.

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 grand and controversial ‘Orb’


If you were to take every Paranormal Researcher and Investigator in the world, put them in a room, draw a line down the middle and ask them to choose a side based on their opinion of “Orbs” it would probably be a pretty even split. 

One side would be the group who believe that these mysterious glowing spheres of light are spirits breaking through from the ether, trying to manifest and impart their message from the world beyond. “(sigh!) look at the wee ghostie!  manifesting all over my pictures, isn’t it incredible?”

The rest of us would be looking at those people like they’re just a little bit odd, knowing that in 99% of cases “Orbs” are dust, pollen or even water droplets in the air also known as “rain”.  As Caitlin said just a week or so ago “If you were going to come back as a ghost, why bother coming back as a little speck of light?”  Yet there are groups of investigators who so passionately declare that these MUST be ghosts based on various different very weak reasons. See the link below for a lot of explanations.

For the official record:  Port Arthur Paranormal Investigation Experience look for the logical reasons first.  We will not automatically squeal with glee when we get an “orb” photo, nor will we encourage others to assume that these are anomalous photos.  While we respect that people have differing personal beliefs when it comes to this sort of phenomena, beliefs actually have no place in any kind of rational investigation.

Back in 2010, Caitlin and I were lucky enough to get a few hours on our own in the Villisca Axe Murder House in Iowa, which is meant to be one of the most disturbingly haunted buildings in the world.  Whilst we felt a little uncomfortable in the building and spent a great deal of time investigating in there, we unfortunately didn’t have anything at all happen to us.  We got to the point where we decided to try provoking a response, and still got nothing.  So we created our very own Villisca “Orb” photos.  How?  I picked up some dust and threw it in the air, Cait snapped a photo and voila! Ghosts!

We sometimes like to demonstrate this to groups on our ghost tours.  Walking along a gravel path, all it takes is a little shoe scuffing in the dirt and suddenly the orbs appear, as though by magic! 

So I guess the moral to this story is – it’s going to take a lot more than an “Orb” in a photo to convince us of ghosts.

And here is the link for the amusingly written page on the debunking of “orbs”:

http://ssprstn.tripod.com/id65.html

Lurking in the dark – behind you!


Saturday night was our November Investigation, and the first time since February that we didn’t experience rain, thunderstorms and generally nasty weather!  It was a fun night, with 14 participants taking up the challenge and a number of personal experiences, including 2 of our number who saw a face lurking behind the wooden barrier of B Wing in the separate prison.  (And ran away swiftly!)

Hopefully analysis of the footage may give us some evidence of this and the various other anomalous events experienced on the night.

We had a bit of a play with the ‘Human Pendulum’ theory (as taught to us by Mark Rablin of Bodmin Jail in Cornwall on our ghost tour of the world back in 2010) in the Senior Surgeon’s Basement, and got some quite interesting responses which should be fun to review on the video cameras.  We also test drove our now much louder (yet still slightly controversial) Frank’s Box in a few of the buildings and did seem to yield some kind of response.

Saturday night we also welcomed our newest member of the Paranormal Team, Andrew, who had a great time and is really excited to get out there again soon after such a successful night of investigating.

On reviewing some of the photos last night we came across one that made us stop and do a double take.  This photo is one that we’re pretty sure is a prime example of pareidolia – at least we hope so given the fact that otherwise it’s an impressively creepy figure lurking in the dark behind one of the participants!

The next Investigation is December 29th for anyone who wishes to come along and take part, and the great news is that this January we will be running investigations every Saturday Night!  So there are plenty of opportunities coming up to get involved and try your hand at investigating.  It doesn’t matter if you’re the most experienced Investigator in the world, or have no experience at all, everyone is welcome.

Please note – we encourage visitors to bring any gear with them that they might wish to use.  If you have a camera, a camcorder, a sound recorder or anything like this, feel free to bring it along.  The more devices recording the night, the better the data is at the end!

Here comes Halloween


It’s just 11 days until the October Investigation, and two weeks til Halloween!  Whilst here in Australia Halloween isn’t as great a tradition as it is elsewhere in the world, it’s still a brilliant excuse to come along and prove your bravery in the dark.

We’re finally making progress sending out our Paranormal Reports, though if you came along in April we do ask that you please get in touch with us, as we’re struggling with technical difficulties and we do need your contact details again.

Check out our gallery of some of our Paranormal Investigation groups so far this year on our new ‘Group Photos’ page.  The reason some of these groups look so pink? Because we appropriately used full spectrum cameras to take the photos of course!

With many of the reports now posted out to participants, it’s finally time to post up a couple of decent pictures we’ve found:

This first one is taken in the Separate Prison on our May Investigation.  At the time it was pouring with rain, and whilst no one actually saw a wet patch on the stairs at the time, our initial thought when we saw the photo was that it must be leaking water from the roof. Later we figured out that whilst the roof had been leaking, it was not in this spot nor anywhere nearby, so this is not a wet patch at all.  Which then leaves us wondering – if that’s not water, what is it? 

Coincidentally this next photo was also taken in the Separate Prison, though this time it was during the April Investigation.  The image on the left is a normal photo of C wing corridor.  The photo on the right is abnormal, as a shape can clearly be seen blocking the fireplace at the end of the corridor.  When we tried to recreate the image, the only way we could come up with a similar picture was to have someone standing about half way along the corridor, though at the time when the photo was taken there was nobody in C Wing.

This last picture is nothing spooky, it was taken on the September Investigation as the full moon came up over the Convict Church, and we just think it looks amazing!  For those of you who look at this picture and start jumping up and down about the ‘orb’ just above the church wall, I must point out that this particular night it was pouring with rain.  Take from that what you may!

We’re pretty happy to have these photos.  Back before we started investigating we weren’t entirely convinced we were going to get anything at all, so this is definitely progress.  If you’d like to come along and try your hand at capturing something like this on camera, head to our bookings page now, the investigation is filling up quickly with only 6 places left for next Saturday.

To wrap things up, the last post included a photo sent in to us from our July P.I.E. taken in the Commandant’s House.  Since posting that photo we’ve compared it to others and discovered that it’s a common phenomena caused by the light fitting in the hallway.  Sadly not paranormal, but you can imagine we found it spooky at the time!  This is the nature of investigating honestly.

Til next time, Mel.