Monthly Archives: August 2020

Haunted Old Mount Gambier Gaol

Haunted Old Mount Gambier Gaol

South Australia is such a vast and interesting State with so many haunted locations it’s hard to choose just one place for every issue, but for this month’s issue of MEGAscene, I thought we might look at the south of the state, and visit the Old Mount Gambier Gaol.

The Mount Gambier Gaol operated from 1866 until 1995. In that time 3 men, Carl Jung (1871), William Page (1875) and William Nugent (1881). There were five suicides in the gaol and at least 4 people lost their lives inside the prison through natural causes.


The first execution in Mount Gambier Gaol happened on November 10th, 1871. Carl Jung, a shoemaker and wine merchant of had gone into debt because of poor sales. In June that year, bailiff, Thomas Garroway was sent to seize Jung’s property.

The two men came to an agreement, and Jung was to follow the Bailiff in to Mount Gambier the following day. When morning broke and Jung joined Galloway to leave, the bailiff seized Jung’s horse and cart, and some farm animals to help settle his outstanding debts.
 Garroway then set off for Mount Gambier, expecting Jung to follow. Jung was outraged that the Bailiff had seized his property, but set off after him as agreed.
 Jung’s rage burned hot inside him, he rode up alongside the bailiff with his shotgun raised, and gave him both barrels at close range, killing him.

Jung then turned the gun on himself, but was unsuccessful with his suicide attempt, and instead, fled into the wild scrublands. Eventually, hunger got the better of him, and he made his way back to his home, only to be arrested by police, who were patiently waiting for him to return.

Jung was tried and found guilty, but not before a petition by local business people had been presented to earn him a stay of execution. Unfortunately for Jung, the law had spoken, and on November 10, 1871, Jung was hung inside the Gaol. He held a bouquet of flowers, that he asked to be given to his wife upon his death.

 19-year-old Mary Buchan was dating William Walker. Walker, keen on marrying the young lady, proposed marriage, which Mary accepted.
Over the coming months, Walker would delay the marriage many times, angering Mary’s parents, who began to demand the wedding be called off.

July 11th, 1875, May Buchan did not turn up to Church as per unusual. Her worried mother contacted police and reported her missing. Walker was questioned about her whereabouts, and told police he had saddled up her horse himself, and seen her off as she rode out to Casterton in Victoria to find her Father
 A telegram sent from a small town along the way confirmed that Mary had been seen riding through their region the day before.

 May’s mother never felt comfortable with the explanations for her leaving the town. In coming days Mary’s father began to have dreams of her. In his dream, Mary would come to him and lay a hand on his shoulder. She would command him to find her body and showed him in the dream a ploughed field with three trees planted in a triangle.
At the same time, a bed-ridden policeman’s wife, who had recently given birth, began to dream of Mary also. Her dreams were uncannily like Mary’s Father’s dreams, in which, Mary led her to a field.

Through these dreams, Mary’s body was discovered at Hedley Park. She was covered in a shawl with strangulation marks on her neck. She had been severely beaten with a blunt object around the head.

 Evidence mounted, and soon it was revealed that William Walker was her killer. It also came to light that Walker, was also known to be a married man by the name of William Page and that he had proposed with a stolen ring!
It was revealed during the trial that Page has pestered Buchan for sex outside the church, which she refused. An argument broke out, and Page hit her with his stockwhip, he then strangled her to quieten her screams.

Page was sentenced to be hung for his crimes and was executed at the old Mount Gambier Gaol on 27 October 1875.

 The last execution at the gaol was that of William Nugent on the 18th of November 1881. Nugent, also known as Robert Johnson, was arrested for supplying liquor to aboriginals in Wellington.
 A Trooper named Pearce, who knew Nugent’s identity stopped him, and asked him to follow him back to Kingston. Nugent agreed, and followed the trooper, with three horses in tow.
 Nugent knew the horses were stolen and knew he was in big trouble, so he devised a plan. He asked the trooper if they could stop and rest for a while. Trooper Pearce agreed they could. After a short rest, the trooper insisted they mount their horses and get on with their journey.
 As Trooper Pearce began to mount his horse, Nugent pulled a knife from his boot and frenziedly stabbed the trooper, before riding off, leaving him to die.

 A passer-by found the trooper on the side of the road and sent for help. A search party was sent out for Nugent, and swiftly caught the criminal as he tried to escape towards Victoria.
 24-year-old Trooper Pearce died three days later, with his mother and father at his bedside.

 Nugent was sentenced to death and spent his last few days in solitary confinement, he reported to one of his guards, that he had encountered a ghost! Nugent said, during the day, he felt as if someone was sitting in the room alongside him. He then heard the voice of Trooper Pearce state “I came to tell you I hold no grudge against you Will Nugent, no doubt others will, but I do not”.

Nugent’s only request, which happened as he walked towards the gallows, was not for forgiveness, it was that his body was to be buried in consecrated ground.

Like all three executed prisoners, Nugent’s body was buried inside the gaol, as was the law at the time. It is not known where in the gaol grounds all three men are buried.


Trooper Pearce is not the only ghost to make itself known in the Old Mount Gambier Gaol. Cell 4 in men’s wing is known as a hot spot for paranormal activity, with witnesses reporting being touched by unseen hands, scratching and biting by an unseen spirit, and weird sounds, noises and voices!

A lady in white is seen to walk through a courtyard between the dining room and the cellblock. This ghostly apparition is thought to be of a woman who may have died whilst giving birth inside the gaol.

Other ghostly goings-on happen in the condemned man cells near the area where the three men were executed, and where another corporal punishment was dealt out, including the whipping of 12-year-old boy john Macmaster’s who received 20 lashes in his last week of an 18-month stay in the men’s prison for forgery~!

The Old Mount Gambier Gaol is now a unique accommodation facility and music venue, and states on its website that it is not haunted, may be, if you are down that way, visit the gaol, and decided for yourself if it is haunted or not.


Allen Tiller is Australia’s most recognised paranormal investigator, eminent paranormal historian, and star of the international smash hit television show “Haunting: Australia”.
Allen is also the founder of Eidolon Paranormal, South Australian Paranormal and the author of book and blog, “The Haunts of Adelaide: History, Mystery and the Paranormal”.
Allen is the winner of the 2017 “Emerging South Australian Historian of The Year Award” as presented by The History Council of South Australia.

Allen has also been employed as “Historian in Residence” in 2016/2017 with the Adelaide City Council Libraries and employed by the City of Port Adelaide Enfield Council to write the popular, “Ghosts of the Port Self-Guided Walking Tour”


First published in MEGAscene issue 10 2017

 © Allen Tiller 

A Haunting at the Cornwall Hotel – Moonta

A Haunting at the Cornwall Hotel – Moonta

Built in 1862, The Cornwall Hotel was originally known as ‘The Globe Hotel’ and was a popular drinking, and overnight accommodation spot in the busy mining town of Moonta.
 In the late 1870s, the hotel saw an increase in patronage, which led to the hotel having extensive alterations and additions under the ownership of JK Dawson in 1881.

 The hotel was almost destroyed on March 23 1889, with only the kitchen left standing after a fire broke out in the front bar. No deaths occurred due to the fire and the hotel was rebuilt by its owners, the SA Brewing Company.

Notable deaths in the hotel include a former ostler (a man paid to look after horses in the rear stables).  Thomas Senior died in his bed in 1888, it is thought, after he had fed the horses, he may have overstrained himself. He returned to his room to lay down after complaining about severe chest pains and died only a couple of hours later.

In 1928, the 28-year-old son of the publicans, Leslie Ferguson passed away in the hotel. Ferguson had served in World War One, and upon returning to South Australia to his wife and children, became ill. He stayed with his parents in the hope the sea air would help relieve his ailment but unfortunately passed away in his bed from chronic illness caused during his timer at war.

The haunting of the hotel is often blamed on the former publican George Walkley who took over as publican in 1926 after a long run as the publican of the Joiners Arms Hotel in Hindmarsh. The Walkleys owned the hotel into the 1940s before retiring back to Hindmarsh in Adelaide.
There really is no good reason why the former publican would haunt the hotel, other than his love for the place may have brought him back, He did not die on the site, in fact, He and his wife, both died in their Hindmarsh home a few years apart from each other.
This may, in-fact, be someone naming a ghost, when truly it isn’t that person at all…

Although Mr Walkley might, or might not, be the resident spirit, there are some odd goings-on in the hotel. After a recent talk to staff I discovered the smell of tobacco smoke (not paranormal in itself) is a common complaint, as are cold spots, taps turning on and off by themselves, dirty footprints appearing on clean floors (when no-one has been in the room) and doors opening and closing.

One staff member had the eeriest of all encounters at the hotel when they walked into the kitchen to discover a man sitting on the counter. The man, dressed in very old-styled clothing was smoking a rolled-up cigarette, looked at the staff member, hopped up, and walked out the door. He walked across a freshly washed floor, and left no footprints!

Allen Tiller is the Australian star of the international hit television show “Haunting: Australia” and author of “The Haunts of Adelaide – History, Mystery and the Paranormal” as well as being a historian, lecturer, poet, musician, Tour Guide, blogger and podcaster. Allen is also a volunteer for many different associations and groups.

You can find Allen online at:

First Published in MEGAscene issue 9 2016

© Allen Tiller

A Haunting at the Cornucopia Hotel – Wallaroo

A Haunting at the Cornucopia Hotel – Wallaroo


This month we are travelling to the Copper Coast to the historic mining seaside town of Wallaroo to visit one of my favourite haunts in the area – the Cornucopia Hotel, located at 40 Owen Terrace, right in the heart of the historic town.

The Copper Coast Hotel was built circa 1862 and first licensed to Mr R Hazelgrove.

 The hotel, boasting 52 rooms, was built in 1862 and was first licensed by Mr R Hazelgrove. It was the central meeting point in the town and had a purpose-built dance hall upstairs. It is the only hotel in Wallaroo to still retain its original opening name, having never been called anything other than “Cornucopia Hotel”.
 It was also home, in the early days, like many hotels in that era, as the staging point for coroner inquests into local deaths. Often this would see the body laid out, with Doctors, Judges and other local dignitaries sitting around deciding if there was more to a death then an accident or natural causes.

 I have investigated the hotel on a number of occasions, both privately and with the public, and have encountered some very strange phenome within its walls.
 The upstairs section of the hotel houses the guest’s suites and shared shower facilities. This seems to be the epicentre of the haunting, particularly in the one wing containing bedrooms 11 through to 13.
 On one occasion, about the middle of the day, I was standing in the junction of the hallways, which wind and turn through the upper levels. In one spot I could smell very distinctly the smell of the ocean and old tobacco, but take a step in any direction and the smell would be completely gone. Now, not being one to jump to the “ghost” conclusion in an instant, I put it down to being so close to the ocean, and the smell of tobacco being embedded in the walls and carpets, and didn’t think any more of it, until I went downstairs to the dining room and a psychic told me that right above us was a spirit of an old Swedish sailor who had died elsewhere, but returned here as he felt this was home – (this still did not convince me the place is haunted by a Swedish sailor!).

 On another occasion, my wife experienced very strange disembodied footsteps in the hallway whilst she was investigating in room 10, at the same time, I was sitting on the bed in room 11 and recorded an EVP that asked the question “Hello?” – this was only the beginning of weird occurrences in the upstairs area that evening,
 Whilst in another upstairs room we all experienced equipment responses to questions. One investigator also heard a disembodied voice within the room.
 During a public event in the Cornucopia Hotel, Rob from “Cityside Paranormal” had a poltergeist event occur. Rob and his partner was staying in room 11, he put his clothes and gear in the room, and during the tour part of the event, re-entered his room to find all his belongings were strewn about the place as if someone had been recklessly searching for some mysterious object!

 So who haunts the Cornucopia Hotel? It could be Archibald Samuels, a young man, aged 14, who lost his life in a water tank that is located directly underneath the current bear garden. Archibald had gone to draw water from the tank and somehow fell in, only to be found the following day when the hotel couldn’t find him to run an errand.

 Or, perhaps it might be Mr Crawford, who had a nasty gash upon his leg that went gangrene, he died in an upstairs bedroom.
 Many of the staff have told me stories of suicides that go unreported in the local media, one involved a young woman hanging herself from the balcony in full site of the town’s main street – it is said she may be the ghost often heard speaking in room 9, that also likes the roll bars of soap across the room.

Another mysterious paranormal event occurred in February 1894 when a fire broke out in the hotel stables (as reported in The Kadina and Wallaroo Times – 3 Feb 1894).  Albert Swanski, the horse keeper locked the stables at 11pm, and when he checked the horses at 7:30am, he found the stalls and horses very badly burnt, so badly, in fact, the vet put them down immediately (they are buried in the hotel grounds). All the leather bridles, reigns etc of the horses were perfect, uncharred, no fire or smoke damage. No one knew how the fire started, or how it got put out, all the locks were still intact, and no entry points could be seen – very strange indeed!


The Cornucopia Hotel Wallaroo remains a popular drinking spot within the town and depending on who you talk too, one of the most haunted pubs on the Copper Coast!

My thanks to Rick and Will Parson of Flinders Ranges Paranormal Research Group for assistance with research on this historic location.

The Cornucopia Hotel is now known as the Copper Coast Hotel.

Allen Tiller is the Australian star of the international hit television show “Haunting: Australia” and author of “The Haunts of Adelaide – History, Mystery and the Paranormal” as well as being a historian, lecturer, poet, musician, Tour Guide, blogger and podcaster. Allen is also a volunteer for many different associations and groups.

You can find Allen online at:

First published in MEGAscene issue 7 2016

© Allen Tiller

A Haunting at the National Railway Museum

A Haunting at the National Railway Museum

 Located in Port Adelaide, The National Railway Museum offers a glimpse into South Australia’s railway past. Within its many sheds sit old trains from all eras of our railway past, including Steam Trains, Diesel Engines, old Red Hens and even the old Callington Railway Station, but did you know, there are also claims the site is haunted?

The National Railway Museum started originally on Railway Terrace, Mile End in 1963 and was run entirely by volunteers, who not only restored and preserved old trains but wrote and published books about them too.
 In 1988 the volunteers sought a new site where their trains could be kept undercover to keep them out of the weather, and in pristine condition. After a Government grant and help from the History Trust of SA, a new site was purchased.

 The Port Dock Station Railway Museum was opened in 1988. In 2001 a new facility was opened within the existing one that featured exhibits from the Australian National Railways and the Commonwealth Railways. With the new exhibit came a new name for the site, one that remains today “The National Railway Museum Port Adelaide”.

The original railway station stood where the Port Adelaide Police Station now sits and was opened in 1856. This was one of the first lines in South Australia and the mainline to the ports. The station closed in 1981, but the goods sheds and railway yards remained, which is now the site of the museum.
 Within the complex are a series of sheds containing many displays of railway related items, including a miniature train set and old steam train carriages one can walkthrough. There is also the original 1878 Port Dock Station goods shed on the eastern side of the complex, and the old Callington booking office, which was built in 1951 in the town of Callington, near Murray Bridge. The building was taken from Callington in 1991 and re-erected in Port Adelaide in 1994.
 The museum also has in its collection an original coffin trolley used until 1982 the Adelaide Railway Station to transport coffins by hand through the terminal.

 My father worked in the railways, as did both his parents, so trains were a big part of my life growing up. My wife and I, and my Mother-In-Law had investigated the Steamtown Heritage Rail Centre in 2011, and had some great experiences, so when we were invited to join Lyon Paranormal, Paranormal Spectrum and The Ghosts Within to investigate the National Railway Museum for paranormal activity, my whole team made themselves available for the opportunity!

 There had been ongoing reports of spooky thing happening at the site, including reports of a shadow person, and of phones ringing when they are not plugged into the wall.
 It is thought that one of the trains, the “Y 12” may, in fact, be the very train that was involved in Australia’s first terror attack, at Silverton, near Broken Hill. On New Year’s Day 1915, two Turkish men opened fire into the carriages this locomotive which was hauling, a picnic train, killing a number of passengers. It is believed by some parties that the spirits of those deceased may linger near the locomotive.
 Other deaths onsite include railway workers killed while working in the rail yard shunting trains. There is also an unconfirmed story of a man who fell asleep on the rails whilst very drunk and was run over by a train.


We investigated as many carriages and trains as we could enter on the night, but for us, it seemed the spirits did not want to communicate. However, Paranormal Spectrum’s investigators did manage to collect an EVP during their sessions.

The National Railway Museum Port Adelaide is located at 76 Lipson Street Port Adelaide – you can find more information about exhibits and the train via their website at:


Allen Tiller is the Australian star of the international hit television show “Haunting: Australia” and author of “The Haunts of Adelaide – History, Mystery and the Paranormal” as well as being a historian, lecturer, poet, musician, Tour Guide, blogger and podcaster. Allen is also a volunteer for many different associations and groups.

You can find Allen online at:

First published in MEGAscene issue 6 2016

© Allen Tiller