Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Cemetery Superstitions

Cemetery Superstitions

Something a little different to the normal "History, Mystery and Paranormal" here on The Haunts of Adelaide, Superstitions, particularly Cemetery superstitions.
These superstitions come from across the world and some are somewhat grotesque to our modern sensibilities, but not doubt were essential ways of thinking regarding to dealing with death at the time.
An old superstition for people accused of being witches was to bury the alleged witch face down in the coffin, it was thought that this would stop the witch breaking free and digging her way out to cause trouble again. Strangely this custom was also adopted for any families first born infant that passed away – it was also customary for the married couple to never have any more children as a curse would fall upon those children’s heads.
In one part of Northern Ireland there is a cemetery where only Men are buried, and only Men can visit. It is said if women dare to step foot in the graveyard, the spirits will rise and eject her from their burial grounds.
In France there is a cemetery where there are over 7000 Saints buried in a predominately Catholic religious area. Visitors must remove their shoes, as a sign of respect when entering this “Holy Place”, and those who don’t, often befall bizarre accidents within the grounds, and sometimes on their way home.
Another old custom is to leave a pipe and tobacco for the last person buried in the cemetery to have some comfort and something to do. It was often thought the last person buried had the duty of protecting the cemetery until the next person was buried (In some cases, that person could be a guard for eternity)
Another strange belief in some areas is that the last person buried in a cemetery in a year, would be the harbinger of death for the following year, going about the local village collecting the souls of the newly dead.
Have you ever wondered why some ancient cemeteries have wells located in them? Most people wouldn't drink from that well as they would believe the bodies buried so close would taint the water, but in actual fact, the well was put there for the dead to drink from!
It was an ancient held belief that the dead were an extremely thirsty bunch. So cemeteries started installing wells, and leaving wooden bowls for the dead to take water back top purgatory, so everyone could satisfy their first in the afterlife!
The Irish started the custom of placing cemetery dirt upon the body of the dead before it was lowered into the cemetery grounds. It is seen as a blessing to the already buried souls in the cemetery, and thought to settle them from causing problems, not only for the newly interred, but also the local townsfolk. This custom was never undertaken for those who committed suicide.
Cemetery soils are blessed by Priests, usually a whole cemetery will be sanctified, although this may not be the case with current modern multi-religious cemeteries, which may choose to only bless the very area where someone is buried.
The ground is though to contain special powers because of the blessings, and for this reason, cemetery dirt is often used in witchcraft practices and Voodoo magic

Another old religious custom is to bury the dead with their heads pointing west. You may have noticed some older cemeteries the heads of the dead all point west and their feet east, this was because it has long been written that The Last Judgement will come from the East – so the dead should be facing Jesus when he arrives.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Elliston: A Cursed Town?

Elliston: A Cursed Town?

The coastal township of Elliston, located some 650km's from Adelaide, on South Australia's Eyre Peninsula is a small beach-front town known for whale, sea lion and dolphin spotting on the tranquil waters of Waterloo Bay.
Elliston also features the largest mural in the southern hemisphere, covering 500 square meters. The mural was painted by local artists and community members.

The area was first described by Matthew Flinders in his ship log in 1802 - and subsequently explored further.
The area was further explored in 1840 by Edward Eyre on a journey to Western Australia. The township didn't acquire its name until 1878 when Governor Jervois noted it on a regional map.
The township in the late 1800's was a small, mainly fishing community, surrounded by farming land. Many small Aboriginal tribes also called this area home, and camped on the outskirts of the small town as they moved between ancient tribal sites, little did they know they would play such a large part in this communities dark disturbing future...
In 1836, of the settlers who came to South Australia, some made their way onto the Eyre Peninsula to the vast fertile soils. Some of the European settlers decided the land in the area we now call Elliston was sufficient for settlement, farming and fishing. So they made plans to start their small community.

A tribe of about two hundred Aboriginal people lived on the outskirts of Elliston. Two young Aboriginal hunters went about the business of bringing food back to the tribe, on their journey they came across a farm where sheep were being kept. Upon their arrival at the farm, the farmer who owned the property arrived home, and took note of the two Aboriginal hunters. On the next day, after the usual counting of heads of sheep, the farmer noted four sheep had gone missing. He linked the missing sheep to the two Aboriginal hunters he had seen the day before and reported the missing sheep and the two hunters to the local police.
A local policeman descended upon the camp of the closest Aboriginal mob and began asking who stole the sheep from the farmer the day before.. The Elders replied that no one had taken any sheep . The policeman was suspicious and asked . “Who went out hunting yesterday?”
The tribe named the two men, knowing they had done no wrong, and told the policeman they came back with wombat and kangaroo. The officer suspected the Aboriginal elders were protecting their hunters by lying about the sheep. He arrested the two hunters, who spoke no English and kept them in the gaol.
Weeks later a judge was sent from Adelaide for the trial of the two hunters, which was held in a large barn in Elliston. The Aboriginal hunters mob stood outside in the dark, watching through holes in the walls and through tiny windows, and listened as their hunters were accused. The hunters, who spoke no English, professed their innocence in their native tongue. The hunters told the judge they hunted wombat and kangaroo, but the judge couldn’t understand them and said, “Hang them! Give them an example. Show them what will happen if they steal again!”

The townsfolk took the two Aboriginal hunters and hung them that night in the center of town. The two bodies were left swaying all the next day as a warning to the Aboriginal people. The Tribe wept and mourned their lost family members and the next night cut them down and took them away to bury them in their own tribal custom. Whilst some of the tribe cut the young men down, others sneaked through the town to the building where the Judge was sleeping, they coaxed him from his slumber with a "whoobu-whoobie" ( An Aboriginal device that can sound like a horse neighing, or a dog growling) and knocked him unconscious.
They then hung the white judge from the very spot he had hung the Aboriginal hunters.

On the next morning, when the townsfolk found the judge hanging, the town banded together and formed a posse. The local policeman rounded up horsemen from farms and told the local farmers of the Judges demise. The posse rode to the Aboriginal camp and herded the tribe, men women and children, together, any that tried to escape were shot, whipped or beat with sticks. The posse herded the tribe to the local cliffs and forced them off the side to their deaths.
Only four Aboriginals from the tribe survived the brutal justice of the townsfolk. three teenagers, one girl, two boys and a baby. The baby survived by its mother taking the full impact of the fall. The teenagers that survived lay quiet and still, waiting for some time as the white men at the top of the cliff looked for survivors to kill. Eventually the posse moved on and the children made their escape down the beach towards Streaky Bay.
The news of the massacre spread swiftly amongst the Aboriginal tribes and they began to flee the area towards Talewan, and the Gawler Ranges, not wanting to suffer a similar fate at the hands of the merciless white folk of Elliston
History repeats, and within ten years, the townsfolk of Elliston, repeated their horrible massacre of more local Aboriginal tribes near the local "sweep holes", for very similar reasons to the first massacre. After the second massacre, No Aboriginal people have ever lived in Elliston.

It was well documented that when a farmer killed his sheep in the town, the Aboriginal tribes would collect the guts whatever was left and use it for their own purposes, if there was no food from their own local resources around.
The only evidence the Police had against the two hunters was tracks in the scrub.
It wasn't until many years later that the Aboriginal men were proven to be innocent, two white men admitted to stealing the sheep to start their own farm in a near-by town. The two Aboriginal men were hung for no reason, and a whole innocent tribe was put to death for the death of one man, who had not given a fair trial to a fellow human being.

Local legends persist, and amongst Mobs in the area, the place is considered cursed. It is said that amongst the cliffs where the Aboriginal Mob fell to their deaths, that at times, their voices, screams and cries can be heard. Reports of phantoms have also been made near the cliffs and near the sweep holes.

Iris Burgoyne: The Mirning - We are the whales - publshed by Magabala books
Black armband Blogspot
Elliston Community Website
Across the bar to Waterloo bay: Elliston 1878 - 1978. - Compiled by the Elliston book commitee
A special Thank you to Andrew Brown who reminded me of this story!

Original story written Dec 6. 2011
Edited 31/1/2012 © 2013 -Allen Tiller

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

War Tunnels

War Tunnels

A brand new train and train-line, with a newly completed viaduct and brand new tunnels in Belair in the newly founded colony of South Australia was quite the achievement. Although, the colony did not expect to see men standing around in the fields near Blackwood, wondering why their new shiny train could not make it up the steep incline, and so it was in 1833 when 200 of Adelaide's most proper gentleman were invited on the first trip of Adelaide’s new train line into the Adelaide Hills (As reported in the Observer March 17th 1833)

World War One broke out and the old “sleeps hill” line became a very important part of our War Communications and transport between States. Armed military guards were posted at either ends of the tunnels to stop any espionage attempts.
When the war ended in 1919, a new line was installed, and the railway lines were removed from the old tunnels (the last train ran through there on august 11th 1919). Instead the tunnels now served as a picnic and exploration area to many local people.

In 1932, an enterprising young man came up with the idea of using the tunnels to grow mushrooms. He removed the gravel floor and brought in tons of fresh dirt, and planted his first crop, looking to a bright future of all year round fresh mushrooms for South Australia.
However it wasn’t to be, as unforeseen causes saw his business take many blows. Firstly, an endless supply of unwanted brown snakes found their way into the warm dank tunnels. Then mould and fungus disease obliterated his crop...and to top it all off vandals broke in a destroyed what little he had left.
His mushroom dream finally ended after and outbreak of the fungus “Chatomium” spread throuhg his crop, a disease brought to South Australia from infected mushrooms from Herefordshire, England.
In 1938 – the old tunnels now stood empty once again.
In 1942, the Japanese bombed Darwin, and an outbreak of paranoid hysteria captured the South Australian governments minds. They decided the old Sleeps hills tunnels would be the perfect place to hide the States treasures and important documents.
Plans wee made, and the shorter of the two tunnels was soon overhauled with ventilation shafts, electric lighting, and thick brick walls at either end with heavy iron doors.
A Jarrah platform running 700ft and 18 inches high was installed running the full legth of the tunnel. Next the tunnel was divided in half down its width and dived into sections. A small hand cart was then used to place the States Treasures into their new homes.
Armed troops stood guard as endless trucks of treasures arrived to be unloaded and hidden from the Japanese Threat. War records on microfilm, Government X-rays, taxation documents and other Government papers were stored inside the tunnels alongside some of our most valuable art collections.
The Government spent a lot of money on this new storage facility, that housed not only our state treasure and documents, but also a Travelling painting of King George the VI, which happened to be in Australia at the time. Elaborate fire safe guards were installed and the facility was constantly monitored by the military for dampness, mould and pests.
The other tunnel played a lesser role and became storage for an arsenal of weapons and ammunition, it too was heavily guarded by our military.
The war ended, but this did not stop the military from using the 1st tunnel for the following few years.

There has long been rumour and innuendo that some of our treasures never made it back out of tunnel 1, but I am assured by a source I spoke to recently that everything was accounted for and returned to its proper place after the threat of war diminished.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Gawler -“Flying Saucer”

Gawler -“Flying Saucer”

In 1954 Gawler experienced its first publicly reported “Flying Saucer” report. On Wednesday the 20th of January 1954 Mrs J Tait was at her home south of the Gawler Racecourse. At about 11:20am she witnessed and Unidentified Flying Object flying at incredible height and speed over the foothills to the South East.
Mrs Tait was not alone, her daughter, Rotha and Rotha's school friends, Shirley Struck were also present. The incredible noise the object was making had made them come outside to see what all the fuss was about.
The object, which at first resembled a feather, soon too on the shape of a saucer. It sped through the air at “great height and speed” and was “pure white”. It remained in the air for a very brief amount of time before it shot off at incredible speed in a south westerly direction.
15 minutes later a jet plane flew across the sky heading in the same direction as the UFO.
The RAAF was contacted and they stated they had indeed sent a jet aircraft off at the time stated. The Jet was doing around 600MPH at 10, 000 feet.
Another witness, Mrs W.C. Harrington of Gawler South also the flying object.

When presented with the RAAF's opinion of it being a jet, Mrs Tait Stated that she is perfectly sure that the first object did not resemble and aircraft in the slightest. The first object was round and second object was easily identifiable as a jet air-plane