Real Life

Four Australian ghost tour guides on their scariest experiences

From the Old Geelong Jail to the streets of Newcastle, ghosts are everywhere.

By As told to Take 5
Paranormal enthusiasts around the globe recently gathered for The World's Largest Ghost Hunt, finding plenty of evidence that there is life after death.
Four of the Aussie ghost-hunting teams who took part in the challenge share their spine-chilling stories of very close encounters.
It takes a lot to freak me out.
Sharmaine Mansfield, 48, Hobart, Tas.
Everything was pitch-black, but I didn't bat an eyelid as I walked into the psychiatric ward.
I worked as a guide for Tasmania's Most Haunted and took groups around Willow Court, the state's oldest asylum.
In my three years doing this work, I'd seen lots of orbs appear out of nowhere, along with a headless figure wearing a nurse's uniform.
None of this frightened me.
In fact, I found it all thrilling.
But this night, as I entered the doctor's room and paused to start talking to the group about the asylum's long history, I felt two strong hands grab my shoulders and push me against the wall.
Shocked, I watched the others gasp in fright.
They'd all seen my assault, too.
There was no-one standing close enough to touch me – I knew it was a ghost!
The more I thought about it, the more certain I became that it was the former doctor who had worked here.
Perhaps he was telling me to stay away?
As a professional ghost-hunter, I don't scare easily, but this angry doctor certainly gave me the creeps!
I love my job as a tour guide at the Old Geelong Jail.
Deb Robinson, 53, Lara, Vic.
The last rays of sunlight trickled down into the prison as I finished up a tour around the Old Geelong Jail
On my way out, I went around to make sure everything was locked.
My last stop was the morgue.
Pushing the heavy door closed, I felt a little tug on my hair.
Startled, I turned around and felt an ice-cold breeze whoosh past my face.
Another cheeky ghost, I thought with a smile.
As a tour guide and historian, I'd seen my fair share of creepy spirits wandering around.
These days, they didn't faze me and I thought of them as a bunch of playful little kids!
But this particular spirit caught my curiosity.
Every time I'd enter, he'd do something to grab my attention.
The ghost told me his name was Edward.
Looking through historical records, I discovered that Edward had been an inmate decades ago. He was found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to five years.
Although he didn't die at the prison, somehow, his ghost found its way back here.
As I took more groups through the morgue for our nightly ghost tours, I noticed Edward being a bit audacious with women, tapping them on the backside or pulling their hair.
On one tour, Edward started to make a fuss.
For five days straight one of the people on our tours would walk into the morgue, fainting as soon as they walked past the doorway.
On the sixth day, my colleague, Sam, was taking a tour group around the prison.
When they reached the morgue, a voice came through the Spirit Box.
"Where's Deb?" it asked.
"Who's Deb?" asked one of the tour patrons.
"My boss!" he replied, shocked.
Edward had been unhappy that I'd been neglecting him.
Once I went and visited Edward in the morgue, the fainting stopped and the tours continued without a hitch.
I'm flattered Edward has a crush on me, but I won't be looking for a ghostly romance any time soon.
With a group on a haunted walking tour.
Renata Daniel, 60, Newcastle, NSW.
Sweat rolled down my forehead as I made my way through the city.
It was a sweltering day and I was in a rush to get to a meeting.
But as I looked to my right to check it was safe to cross the road and took my first few steps, a white shape appeared out of nowhere.
A faceless head, arms and torso was quickly making its way up the other side of the street.
My heart was beating wildly.
I'm a psychic and have been running ghost tours of Newcastle for years, but I'd never seen something like this in broad daylight before.
For seconds I stopped and stared in disbelief as the legless ghost continued drifting up the street before disappearing into nowhere.
Suddenly, a car beeped its horn, reminding me I was standing in the middle of the road!
It was time for me to move on, but I'll never forget spotting the roaming ghost.
Me (front) leading a ghost tour.
Peter Clifford, 52, Blackheath, NSW.
The putrid stench of poo filled my nostrils as I entered the cold, damp cell.
"The Paranormal Pest is already here," I told the crowd, who'd joined me for a tour of the Hartley Historic Village in the Blue Mountains.
Five years ago, I was exploring when I'd come across a ghost living in the men's holding cell. He was a nasty spirit who reeked of poo.
Whenever you smelt it, you knew he'd arrived.
We presumed him to be an old occupant, because any time I brought a group into the room, he'd always single out the biggest guy as if he was trying to prove himself as the alpha male.
He'd push them against the wall, and they'd be unable to move until I touched them, breaking his grip. This time, I walked in confidently, standing in the centre as I waited for the others to follow.
Suddenly, I felt a hefty blow to the side of my head that sent me stumbling.
Ears ringing from the impact, I raced out, pushing past the crowd of people at the doorway. As I crouched against the wall, I could taste blood.
"Very funny, mate," said a bloke in the tour.
I looked at him in disbelief; he thought I was having them on.
"Am I bleeding?" I asked.
The impact was so heavy that I was positive teeth came loose.
"You're fine," he said impatiently, "Can we go in?"
"Suit yourself!" I answered
I watched on, head in my hands, as they walked back in, only to run out moments later screaming.
The same thing had happened to them.
"It reeks in there!" the bloke said as he cradled his head.
A week later, I took another group into the Paranormal Pest's cell.
We smelt him come in and seconds later, I heard a scuffle and a bang.
The torches flickered on as a big man scrambled up from the floor and sprinted out. As I went to check on him, he pulled out a police badge.
"Mate, I didn't touch you, I swear!" I said with my hands up.
"I know! I'm a police officer and I think the Pest could tell.
He threw me into a wall," he said.
I knew this ghost could be mean but this was downright dangerous.
A week later, I went back into the cell to clear it of its dark energy. And when I did, I managed to get the Pest on camera.
Today, the Pest no longer harms people who visit his cell, but sometimes you can still catch a whiff if you're lucky.

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