Boo! [Aussie Style]
Ghost tours in America usually focus their events around pretty standard stories. Soldiers dying in war; vengeful husbands or wives killing their spouses; lovelorn women haunting their places of death. And so on. But America was not founded by convicts, people resplendent with either excessive sorrow or obsessive criminal intent (or both). This is what sets The Rocks Ghost Tours, a haunting business located in Sydney, Australia, apart from many ghost tours. Owners Brian and Colleen Harrison have dabbled in the ghost touring for years, both coming from storytelling families. Their unique combination of gifts and a love for the eerie make them a hot commodity in Australia, and they were kind enough to answer some of Quail Bell's questions below:
- Thanks for agreeing to this interview, Brian & Colleen! Since you're both long-time residents of Sydney, could you tell QB readers a little about the city? What makes it a prime spot for ghosts? The Rocks is the birthplace of Australia. The first hospital consisted of small tents constructed from pieces of canvas and wooden poles. The most punishable offence was the stealing of food. Convicts were given the cat of ninetails, had infected wounds, and death was a common visitor. The first morgue was in the Rocks. Ghost appear in hospitals, prisons and places where people are disempowered. There were no Catholic Priests in Australia and convicts could not practice their faith. They were instructed to attend the Anglican Church.
- You offer a variety of tours, even ones targeted at specific age groups. What makes each tour special? How can guests decide which one is best for them? Each tour is tailored to suit the group. The stories are written with the age group in mind. Students become a character of a ghost on the tour. This enables them to use their Drama skills. Birthday groups have a special Birthday Bag with a mask and pen so guests can sign the mask. Ghost Tour Team Building has some interaction and challenges with prizes at the conclusion. Our Ghost Hosts are professional actors and our stories are told in an entertaining way. We spend considerable time on the phone with customers, discussing their requirements, what exactly they are doing that evening, where are they eating, whether they're celebrating an occasion, etc. When they inquire we send them a Group Pack explaining what is included and how to book a tour.
- Can you comment on how your tours differ from others you've attended? Each location has a different story. It could be murder, suicide, hauntings or ghosts. The stories are embellished and varied. Our tours are 2 hours maximum and therefore hold the interest of the customers.
- On your website, you have a section called "Haunted Accommodation," where you list hotels and their contact information. What should guests know before they book a room at a place known for paranormal activity? The hotel is known to have a resident ghost, some have the story written on a plaque on the wall. Guests may like to request the room the ghost haunts.
- Last, please leave us with a favorite ghost story of yours. In the late 1800s there were many inns and taverns in The Rocks. At one of these taverns, Mr. Greenfield the publican came home early and caught his wife in bed with a young sailor. Mr. Greenfield was a jealous man. He flew into a rage and chased the young sailor out of the tavern. Then he returned, picked up a carving knife, threatened his wife, dropped the knife, strangled her, and buried her in the tavern. Some time later her ghost appeared in the tavern dressed in a beautiful gown. Some thought she had returned to seek revenge on her husband. Up until the 1940s, as children passed by the tavern, they could hear the screams of Mrs. Greenfield.