Saturday, April 09, 2011


Oh Kay. . . 2 days into a visit from Jeffscape.  He's having a snooze (soldier style with a pillow over his head!)

First day spent largely chilling. He was a little tired but more interested in acclimatising, talking, eating, roughing up my dog etc. He's exactly as I know him, a little taller than I'd expected but still Jeffscape. A little more charming when required but still Jeffscape.  I haven't structured his visit too much so there's room for spontaneity but I have booked a few things that I thought he might like.

Yesterday I had an excursion planned. Both of us are skeptical about the existence of ghosts but hey, we all like to feel that icy chill along the spine so I booked a night ghost tour at the Sydney Quarantine Station situated on the beautiful North Head outcrop at Manly. Some of you might remember, I went there last year during the daylight hours with Clare and it was spooky but mostly rather sad that these optimistic immigrants were quarantined until deemed healthy enough to start a new life in a new country.

The station, now the property of NSW Parks and Wildlife and preserved for posterity, was established to quarantine immigrants as late as 1985 who arrived with a variety of diseases from influenza (Spanish) to scarlet fever and even smallpox and the bubonic plague. In the 70's and 80's it was home to Vietnamese refugees until they could be resettled in Australia.

Arrivals' baggage was disinfected in huge autoclaves, 'residents' forced to shower in Carbolic acid and the healthy were divided from the ill. Passengers were also segregated from first class to Steerage and their accommodation reflected their status aboard ship.  Quarantine periods lasted up to 3 months. Initially the situation was difficult and alienating but after several Royal Commissions and improvements, for most, it was a pleasant if not a little intimidating experience. Sadly for over 500 souls it meant death.  The rooms we stayed in were formally third class quarters but beautifully restored and all mod cons. Close to the Asiatic quarters (those of you who know Jeff will appreciate the irony) and opposite a haunted dining hall. Generally very comfortable except for my initial ability to unlock the bathroom door which kinda freaked me out a bit. Well until I was told I wasn't applying enough force to the downward door handle. Duh moment!

Before the tour, we had dinner at the Boilerhouse Restaurant. Al Fresco since the weather was lovely, cool but clement and made even more delightful when a possum decided to clamour on his leg for food. Very nice Aussie experience and I swear the thing would have jumped in his lap if I hadn't been so eager to grab the camera . . .alas, the little marsupial took off, armed with Jeff's bread roll! One observation, Americans use cutlery differently to us and I have been labelled a tight arse for not tipping. Folks, we only tip in Australia if the service is exemplary. It's not expected. He's still giving me shit for not tipping.

The tours, whether you do the Wharf Wander through to the Extreme Ghost Tour are always informative. We took the Adult Ghost Tour, armed with lanterns, we wondered around the buildings said to be haunted. Apparitions are rare other than a Chinaman called Mr Chen, a small girl with braids and the undertaker who watches over the Mortuary through to the hospital. A stern Matron has also been seen walking the hallowed halls of one of the hospital wards and actually inspired a story I wrote for the River of Mnemosyne on Tenth Daughter of Memory. Orbs are common, voices and footsteps and our shuttle driver even said he'd felt a pin prick in his wrist, similar to that of an intravenous line being injected.

Now let's get one thing straight. Jeffscape is not afraid. Not of anything. I'm quite serious about that. those who know him on the blog, see the arrogant shithead that he can be. Well he is a bit but he is not afraid of anything. He was extremely skeptical but always hopeful, came armed with a mini-maglite LED torch and was determined to either prove the existence or non existence of the paranormal. I on the other hand, don't believe in ghosts but the thought freaks me out and I'm slightly terrified of the dark. Whilst I'm happy to go on a tour, wondering around the rambling site after the tour in the wee small hours was not my idea of fun but I wasn't about to be left in a room where the bell hop had told us 'a little incident happened last night' so I clung like a limpet to the poor sod. Thanks to his royal intrepidness exploring the possibility of finding Mr Chen, his belt has now been stretched 2 notches since I grabbed the back of it for at least 20 minutes while he took me into the pitch black of the Asiatic Quarters. So, there's a 33 year old Veteran determined to find a spook, and a nervous (no need to know my age right now) 'unbeliever' who began to doubt her convictions hanging on in case he left me behind and trust me, he probably would have!

This is what happened:

Dinner time visitor, grabbed the Jefster's trousers and ran off with a bread roll

Lantern's for the sheepish

Matron haunts these stairs but not tonight

Collecting before the graveyart. Jeffscape foreground left. Hair down in the hope of a spectoral tug.

Orbs in the graveyard, or camera flash?

In search for Chen the Chinaman

Paying attention for after-tour recon

Gettin' down and dirty. Apparently girl's legs have been grabbed from this point

Hospital . . .expect Matron to appear or a hypodermic prick

Decent into Hell

Ghost in the hospital? Nah . . He with the floofy hair

He asked to be locked in the shower room and took the camera . . . no result

The most haunted house on the place . . .gravedigger's cottage  . . .Yes he went there after the tour

Reckoned he heard toddler's footsteps. I was freaking out . . hoping it was Bandicoots

Gravedigger's cottage from the Asiatic Quarter
Slightly hair raising? Er no . . .

Our accommodation . . looks OK in the daylight

Actually these guys look better in the daylight . . squillions
 OK He's up and about . . time to play pool.


Ocean Girl said...

Hello Baino, sounds like a real wonderful exciting time. The dinner sounds wonderful and the tour sounds exciting. I really love the way you write, like a personal conversation. Enjoy the rest of his visit. It has been a while since we had visitor, and I missed being a host.

Tom said...

8 ball in the corner pocket, or splish splash?

maybe a ghostie followed you home--check all the cupboards!

Grannymar said...

Sounds like a great start to the visit. Enjoy.

Megan said...

Yeah, um, when I visit can we just sit by the pool and talk and eat small dainty things and drink wine?

River said...

Thanks for the tour. I love places like that. If I'm ever in Sydney again, I may just take the tour for real.
Love the spider.

Roy said...

Ghost-hunting, eh? And what was that wide-eyed critter you found instead of a ghost?

Brian Miller said...

nice. sounds like you are having me some ghost hunting...

i beati said...

possum dinner guest only you !!!lol

Betsy said...

Sounds like a fun time! I'd be like you...hanging on to someone the entire tour. ha.

Janice said...

What fun adventuring.

PattiKen said...

In July last year, we had a brief exchange about these old quarantine stations. (I had mentioned one in San Francisco in my 10thDoM entry.) Cool to see the pics. Ask Jeff if he knows about "urban exploration." It sounds right up his alley.

Gledwood said...

I like that giant bread roll mouse marsupial thing... what's it called?

That spider looks horrible.

Gledwood said...

ps I saw a thing today where an AMERICAN went on hands and knees UNDER A HOUSE without getting bitten by a brown recluse spider. Surely just luck..??! How awful. How can people EVER put their hands in a cupboard without looking. Or go into a log pile. Or worst of all, go under a house. Surely they KNOW they're going to get attacked and bitten by spiders and snakes galore. I knew this Aussie girl who pulled a sickie in London saying she "had a spider bite" her boss laughed and laughed. That's one reason we're known as "whingeing poms" because NONE of our spiders is at all dangerous and we have only one very rare and not very poisonous snake, the Adder. Which means Australia is absolutely terrifying wildlife-wise. Terrifying, I tell you!!

e said...

What a great way to start a visit! I hope the rest is as interesting and fun for you both.

kj said...

mwah hells. i am over the moon enjoying and hearing about this.


p.s. nice thing about being afraid of dark spaces and ghosts is you get to be protected :)

nick said...

Nah, I don't believe in ghosts either. I'd have to experience one to believe they exist, and I never have. Lots of these stories are fabricated to ahem, lure in the gullible tourists.

Anonymous said...

I was nervous just reading this - in the broad daylight - on the other side of the world. You're braver than you think :-)

Vagabonde said...

That sounds like a bizarre start to an Australian visit. But I should not talk as when I first took my fianc√© (actual husband) to Paris I started the visit with a tour of the catacombs – saw no ghosts but it was eerie. I think I’d rather see the arid plains of Australia.

Gledwood said...

Shower room? You back in Prisoner Cell Block H again?

Jill from Killeny Glen said...

Your possum look nothing like ours in the states and no possum here would come THAT close for a snack! They are rather feisty!

Ghost hunting looks like fun the way you have it soon as the sun goes down I would get a bit freaky! Cool adventure.

NO THANK YOU to that rather ENORMOUS spider.

Carolina said...

Gawd, I thought you wouldn't have time to post anything, being busy showing 'the gorgeous one' around. But, having been quite busy myself and not in Blogworld much, I've discovered a whole lot of new posts of yours. I'm going to catch up with you, but I'm now off to bother the horses. Will be back though to leave a more to the point comment. Have not read this post yet ;-)

(wv is 'eatme' Why?)

Carolina said...

Back from bothering the fourleggers. Read the post. Very enjoyable.
I like ghosty things. Did a tour in (or actually 'under') Edinburgh once. Highly exciting and fun. A couple of people gave up and fled the premises as soon as the first door closed behind us and left us in the dark. You weren't one of them, were you?
Did you notice that 'the gorgeous one' grew a third arm from his shoulder in that one shot? Spooky! And that light in the gravediggers cottage is also very... uhm... spooky!
Luvly ;-)