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

 

 

 

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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

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.

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.

Let’s mess with the Sceptic


A few weeks back we had a private Investigation for some visiting journalists.  It was a great night, sadly no spooks but everyone was edgy enough without anything dramatic happening.  The appearance of a wee ghostie may have tipped everyone over the edge!  It got us thinking about familiarity and the difference it makes to fear levels.  Sometimes it’s hard for those of us who’ve been around Port Arthur a while to remember that when you’re new to the place these ruins and buildings can be very much on the creepy side.  For us it’s the place we spend hours in every week.  It is familiar, and comfortable (some of the time), and it’s only when the anomalous events kick it up a notch that most of us experience fear.  For visitors, this is a very big, unfamiliar and rather terrifying ex-prison full of dark and somber ruins, and potentially spooky things that want to come and say hello (we hope!).

Earlier that same week we spent many hours freezing our behinds off at the photo shoot for our brand new promotional images.  Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for the glossy and glamorous pics of the P.I.E. A big thanks has to go to all of the volunteers who turned up to model for us, both the locals and our team of Volunteer Archaeologists who’ve been working on the Penitentiary project in the last few months.  Thanks for helping, you guys were troopers!

The April Investigation took place on Saturday the 27th, and a highly successful investigation it was too (To quote Caitlin it was “Ridiculously fun”).  About the strangest thing that happened was during the Separate Prison investigation.  Caitlin heard voices outside the prison towards the end of the investigation and thought that Jenni’s group had arrived to switch locations.  So Caitlin packed up her group and moved outside to let Jenni’s group in only to find that they were halfway across the site still, and only just starting to make their way towards the prison. No one was loitering near the prison at all.  Cait claims that the Site is now messing with her for her scepticism, and I really hope that’s the case, it could surely get pretty interesting in the next few months! The same noises were heard later in the night when one of Caitlin’s group decided to forgo the last Investigation and wait in the Lunatic Asylum alone.  She too heard the noises by the Separate Prison, though she was the only person in the area at the time.  I just love the fact that the person hanging out in a 19th Century Lunatic Asylum started hearing things, it’s a bit twisted really.

We also welcomed back the Enright group from Deloraine who have now been on the Investigations with us 3 times.  They had a great night with Jenni, and since finding a passion for the Paranormal have even gone out and bought themselves some gear which they brought along and let us have a look at.  This group can commonly be found checking out cemeteries and haunted hotels around Northern Tas.  Nice work guys!

The May Investigation is on Saturday the 25th, to join us please click here to head over to our bookings site.

If you have any questions you would like to ask any of the Paranormal Team, please leave us a comment below, or send us an email to paranormal@portarthur.org.au. And don’t forget to follow this blog by email to keep up to date with all of the latest anomalous events on site!

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.

P.I.E’s first birthday


This month the Port Arthur Paranormal Investigation Experience is one year old, and we’re pretty pleased with the first year of its existence.

To mark 12 months of investigating we’re also going to change it up a bit by moving our CCTV system from the Commandant’s House to the Separate Prison, along with the ELF Trifield Meter.  We’ve not had great results with the CCTV in the Comms so far, and the most we’ve managed to pick up is a whole heap of dust floating down the hallway, and a mouse investigating Nanny’s rocking chair.

We spent this morning figuring out power sources for the cameras in the Separate Prison which is never an easy task in a 19th century prison building with minimal electricity.  I did manage to get stuck in a locked stall in the chapel trying to access a power point, and rather than helping to rescue me, Caitlin and Peter (the I.T. Guy) decided it would be much more productive to take photos of me trying to save myself.  Helpful souls that they are.

Today and tomorrow we’re introducing the rest of our Paranormal Team to Data Analysis, and attempting to get through as much data as we can.  Having had a look at the EMF data for the last 12 months in the Commandant’s House we’ve seen a real trend with the boosted levels of EMF.

This is a normal reading in a normal house with normal wiring (you would normally expect to find a reading of 0.5-2.0)

EMF normal

This is the kind of reading we’ve been getting in the Commandant’s House:

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The elevated levels are when the house is empty, the low levels are when our Investigation teams are inside.  We’ve had consistent readings like this since February last year, and are working on theories to explain it.  So far we’re leaning towards the alarm system, or high levels of water in the walls, but it will be interesting to see the kind of results we get when we move the whole system to the Prison this month.

If you’d like to be part of the February Investigation and help us celebrate a year of the Port Arthur Paranormal Investigation Experience, head over to our bookings page to reserve a space now, tickets are selling fast!

For regular updates on P.I.E. why not subscribe to our blog (look over on the left!) and you’ll get an email whenever we post about our latest exploits!

Till next time, the PIE team 🙂

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!

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.

Sceptics…


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.

Mel.