Monthly Archives: June 2019

The Salisbury Hotel

The Salisbury Hotel

Salisbury Hotel circa 1882
   Opening originally as the New Road Inn, the Salisbury Hotel was built by John Harvey the founder of Salisbury Township. It was the first hotel in the township and was situated on the only road that led to a bridge over the Para River. Harvey had designed his new town, and a new road to lead people away from the Main North Road, back through Salisbury.
 This hotel was used for meetings that decided much of Salisbury’s future. Local laws and legislation were decided here, local council formation, the location of Mills, Post Offices and even how the train line would pass through the township were all decided in this hotel.

 Usually, I write about spooky stuff, ghosts, hauntings, etc, but in this case, I couldn’t find any local legends or ghost stories associated with this hotel. I spoke to the current publican of the hotel very recently, and she assures me this hotel Is not haunted, however, it has some interesting history, including the story of an inquest into the suicide death of Scottish immigrant James Carstairs.

Salisbury Hotel 2019 – Allen Tiller
   On the 14th of Oct 1854, James Carstairs, known locally as ‘Scotch James’, hung himself a bedroom of the Birchall family home. Evidence at trial indicated that Carstairs had been overseeing the kitchen of the Birchall farm. During that time, he had gotten Fanny, the 16-year daughter of Mr Birchall pregnant. When Fanny’s father heard of her condition, he left the vowing never to return. This, it is claimed led to Carstairs suicide.

 On the day in questions. Carstairs woke at 6am went into the kitchen, lit the fire and set the kettle on the stove. He then left and went back to his room.
 At 7am, Elizabeth Birchall (Fanny’s sister) and another staff member, Elizabeth Symes awoke. For whatever reason, the girls peered through Carstairs window and could see him standing motionless behind the door. The two women called out to him, but he did not react or reply. They called over My Symes and Mr Munday who went to check on Carstairs. They found he had hung himself with a very thick rope.

Salisbury Hotel circa 1890

Fanny Evett, during the inquest, claimed she had only ever had consensual sex with Carstairs, however, she had been raped in her fathers front garden, but stated in court, she was already pregnant at the time. She was unmarried, and had never told Carstairs the child was his, nor pressured him for marriage.

 Carstairs body was cut down by Mr Webb and placed on a couch until a doctor arrived to examine it. Carstairs body was then moved to the New Road Inn for an inquest. No Judge could be found in the area to preside over the inquest.
  It took two full days for a mounted constable to search for someone to hold the inquest. Otto Schomburgk J.P. eventually presided over the inquest, but, in the meantime, Carstairs body had come to decompose.

 The inquest into the suicide of Scotch James was the first held in the New Road Inn. Later the same year, 1854, the hotel changed its name to the Salisbury Hotel.

Researched and written by Allen Tiller © 2019

 ‘CORONER’S INQUEST AT SALISBURY.’, Adelaide Observer, (28 October 1854), p. 11.

‘CORONER’S INQUEST AT SALISBURY. —SUICIDE.’, Adelaide Times. (26 October 1854), p. 3.

Shields, Brian P 1983, History of Salisbury, Salisbury Public Library Service, Salisbury

‘SOMETHING DISGRACEFUL.’, Adelaide Times, (18 October 1854), p. 2

 ‘CORONER’S INQUEST AT SALISBURY.’, South Australian Register, (26 October 1854), p. 3.

The White Ghost of Port Wakefield

The White Ghost of Port Wakefield

Last week I featured a story about the Grey Ghost of Port Wakefield and how it may, or may not have actually been a grey horse terrorising the local community. Just a week after the grey ghost caused fear and pandemonium, another ghost story popped up in Port Wakefield.
 It was a hot summer night, and in the newer part of Port Wakefield, a lady was walking around her yard as she could not sleep. She checked her garden, and a newly stacked pile of wood delivered that day.
 As she glanced over at the wood she noticed a man stealing smaller logs and putting them in his bag. She let out a small scream, startling the man.
 The man, who had not noticed her previously, looked up to see a woman dressed in white, glowing in the full moonlight, with wide eyes, and open mouth who was letting out a scream. Shocked and scared, he turned and ran. He bolted without looking where he was going and ran straight into an iron fence, rebounded so hard, he flung back into the wall of the stone wash house and fell inside. In a panic at the ghost he had just witnessed, he kicked the washing copper over and sent dust and ashes everywhere from the fire pit used to heat it. He managed to stand up, and then jumped through a window, collided with a wheelbarrow then fell into a heap after rolling across the lawn.
 The ladies small dog attacked the man, who suddenly stood up, trouser-less, and fled into the night, the dog tore the trousers, and a well worn left behind slipper, to pieces. The woman, who had regained her composure, reported the incident to police the following morning.
Researched and written by Allen Tiller © 2019

The Grey Ghost of Port Wakefield

The Grey Ghost of Port Wakefield

 February 1918, and the small town of Port Wakefield was under siege from a grey ghost that had descended upon the town. It was first spotted on a Monday night at about 9:30pm when it was seen between the railway line and Smiths corner.
 A young lady returning home was the first to encounter the ghost when it accosted her in the street to ask; “how are you?”. She promptly sped home and collapsed once inside.
 At 10pm the same evening, a young man returning home after being out fishing encountered the grey ghost. As he walked past a large haystack, the grey ghost, at least seven-feet tall, appeared from inside the bailed hay, and let out a number of low sounding moans. The young man spirited home and locked his door!
 The following night, a young couple was walking home in the evening when a cold hand was placed upon their heads. It turned their young bodies, so they were looking straight into the ghost’s eyes. It stood at least seven feet tall and was surrounded by a fine mist. The young man, leaving his paramour, scaled a nearby fence and fled into the night. The young woman screamed and ran to the nearest house forcing the door open and locking herself inside.
 Wednesday night, the ghost again made its presence known. Stories had gone through the town of the mysterious grey ghost, and two young men took it upon themselves to capture it. They armed themselves and waited. Two hours later the ghost appeared. It rose from the ground and then walked over to a horse, which it mesmerised, making it lay on the ground and fall unconscious. The ghost then passed over several walls and fences, before it disappeared into an old quarry. The two young men decided to abandon their chase, rather than descend into the dangers of the disused quarry.
 Thursday night, two men passing near the boundary of the quarry were having a heated discussion about Russia, when they suddenly noticed they were not alone. Joining them was a seven-foot grey ghost, wearing clothing resembling smoke. The two men ran into the night, making it back to their respective homes in record time!
 Friday night and the hot summer air left most houses to stifling to sleep indoors. One man decided to sleep outside on his veranda. In the middle of the night, he woke up and noticed the grey ghost standing just past his picket fence making strange signs at him and groaning loudly. He quickly shuffled inside his house and locked the windows and doors.
 All the witnesses agreed of the same description of the ghost. It was tall, at least seven to eight feet, it had fear-inducing eyes, it was grey, and it seemed to emanate mist from its body. It produced a pungent stench, was able to go through or scale walls and fences and made low rumbling moaning sounds.
 The grey ghost of Port Wakefield put terror into the townsfolk for a whole a week, but it took a young boy to solve the mystery of the ghost. This young lad was riding home on his bike when he accidentally ran into an old grey horse feeding on the side of the road. The horse reared up on its hind legs and tried to hit him and the fence with its front legs before it fled into the night. It was grey, it smelled bad, and it was at least seven to eight feet tall on its hind legs…
Researched and written by Allen Tiller © 2019


1918 ‘More ” Ghost” at Port Wakefield.’, The Areas’ Express (Booyoolee, SA: 1877 – 1948), 15 February, p. 3. , viewed 22 Apr 2019,

1918 ‘A “Ghost” at Port Wakefield.’, Burra Record (SA: 1878 – 1954), 13 February, p. 4. , viewed 17 May 2019,

1918 ‘More “Ghost” at Port Wakefield.’, The Wooroora Producer (Balaklava, SA: 1909 – 1940), 14 February, p. 3. , viewed 17 May 2019,

A Black Mass at North Adelaide.

A Black Mass at North Adelaide.

The Haunts of Adelaide  This remarkable eyewitness account was published in the Evening Journal newspaper in 1904.
  A person identifying themselves as only “B.S.S.” witnessed an apparition of a funeral near the corner of Barnard Street some years prior and recounted it for the newspaper.
 The witness had walked down Molesworth Street, along Hill Street, and when at the corner of Barnard Street, near the hospital, witnessed an intensely black shape moving in the street. On this night, a very well-known lady in the area, lay dying in the Calvary Hospital just metres away from where the witness was standing.
 The witness watched on as the black shape paused in the road, then marched onto vacant land nearby. Walking closer to get a better view, the witness realised it was a funeral procession occurring in the night in front of them. A coffin, covered in black velvet was being held by four men, while two walked in front, and four behind. All the men wore ‘hose and doublet’, small cloaks or capes, swords at their sides and feather in their caps.
 The funeral procession stopped. They turned back to towards the hospital, and slowly vanished as they returned toward it, and where the dying woman lay.

 The women would not die, and in her final hours, called desperately for her individual ancestors. Was it them, dressed in black, bearing swords and the holding the coffin, or was it death coming to collect his dues?

Researched and written by Allen Tiller © 2019


1904 ‘GHOSTS, OR WHAT:’, Evening Journal, 18 October, p. 1. , viewed 22 Apr 2019,