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The Haunted Parsonage and Other Local Ghost Stories

This is a collection of curious stories about haunting in the region Most of these stories were published in mainstream newspapers from 1892 to 1919. I cannot verify them in any way so I will let you decide.

Our first article was published in the Williamstown Chronical on Sat. April 2, 1892. The author goes by the pen name of Wanderer. I can find only one reference to this in any of the papers.

“Amongst other curiosities in Berwick is to be found a haunted house. This house I am told was the parsonage attached to the Church of England. Two, if not three died in it and eventually the Rev. Hill was built new brick premises, and the old wooden place let. Two tenants cleared out after a short time, both asserting that the house was haunted. I laughed at the story but Miss S., an esteemed friend, challenged me to sleep in it and I agreed provided a bed was found for me. I mean to win the wager- gloves, and at the same time arm myself with a little instrument known as a bulldog revolver. The ghost that comes floating round the night I am in the haunted house will be pierced enough to act as a cigar holder, and my friend Dr. Helms will have the pleasure of pocketing a couple of guineas for the post mortem.”

The building that he is talking about would have been on Church Street near the corner of Elgin Street. The author does not follow up with how his stay went but he was around the following week as his column appeared right on time.

Between 1883 and 1886 there were two reports of ghostly apparitions in the Warragul area. For more information see the article “The Ghosts of Warragul”.  http://www.oddhistory.com.au/gippsland/the-ghosts-of-warragul/

The third story was listed under the heading ‘Berwick’. It was published in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal on Wednesday the 23rd of July, 1884.

The recent appearance of a ghost in our quiet community has given rise to a considerable amount of speculation in certain quarters. Whether it was a bona fide ghost or only a phantasm of the brain is a question which is under inquiry. One thing is certain, and that is that it observed the etiquette traditionally ascribed to such ‘uncanny’ visitors by appearing in the moonlight. Probably you may hear something more about it in my next.”

I can find no followup article although it seems as though the issue for the 30th of July is missing.

The next story occurred in Beaconsfield  and was published in the South Bourke and Mornington Journal on the 19th of March 1902

“During the last few weeks a ghost has been seen at intervals haunting “The Cutting” at Lower Beaconsfield, frightening the wits out of late travelers.It may lead to more serious results if not stopped, as some people living in the vicinity are afraid to stop outside their doors after dark. This “vague shadowy thing” evidently does not consider itself bullet proof, for at midnight last Friday a horseman (who had no faith in ghosts) becoming impatient at the delay and fright to his horse, tied the animal to a fence and levelling his meerschaum pipe, gave chase. The apparition fled for dear life, taking the shortest cut to get out of sight. If “it” should be able to read, let “it” take warning not to appear again as some of the residents carry firearms and are determined to put an end to such nonsense.”

Funny enough there are no more reports of the ghost at Lower Beaconsfield but in 1910, we have an interesting  occurrence in Nar Nar Goon.

Published in The Argus on the 16th of February 1910

“PAKENHAM. Tuesday, – A young man named Archibald McNaughton, residing about one mile north of Nar-Nar-Goon, was cycling home from the township about half past 10 o’clock on Saturday night, when at the Ararat Creek bridge, a white figure suddenly appeared before him with arms outstretched. McNaughton laid his bicycle down and, crying “It’s you or I for it.” dashed for the figure. The latter dropped something and then took flight along the banks of the creek with McNaughton in pursuit. When close to the figure McNaughton fell and lost sight of it. On returning for his bicycle he was just in time to see the figure double back, pick up the white article, and mounting the bicycle ride away. Some distance along the road McNaughton found the bicycle but the figure was nowhere to be seen.” 

In 1908 it was reported in The Yarragon, Trafalgar & Moe Settlement News that a ghost or someone playing the part of a ghost had been seen in the local area. Numerous complaints had been made to the police who stated that there was no cause for alarm. It was hoped that the apparition was nothing more than an unsuspecting white cow that managed to elude the herdsmen.

And in 1936 it was reported in the Argus newspaper that the Black Friday fires destroyed one of the earliest guest houses in the Emerald/Cockatoo area. The house was known locally as the “Haunted House”.  It was owned by H. Beazley and was situated on View Hill road near the top of the ridge.

And just to add a personal touch to these stories. In 1989 my husband and I were working on the stained glass windows of the old Clyde North church on the Berwick-Clyde road. This lonely building sat low on the ground and was surrounded by open farmland and empty paddocks. While working we would hear  knocking, like someone knocking on the door. This would happen repeatedly over the course of the day. Each time we would go outside and find that the paddocks and surrounds were silent and devoid of  life.  It drove us mad until finally my husband got down on his belly and with a shovel and strong torch was able to see under the building. What he found were numerous rabbit burrows. As the rabbits were entering or leaving the burrow they would hit their heads on the floorboards of the old building causing a sound like the rapping on a door.  Today the lovely old church has been moved and is situated at Beaconhills College in Pakenham.