Haunted Highercombe Hotel Museum
Every year I have the pleasure of visiting locations haunted locations around Australia. 2015 was no different, with investigations at the Boggo Road Gaol in Queensland, Geelong Gaol, Beechworth Lunatic Asylum in Victoria and a return to Woodford Academy in New South Wales. In South Australia, the journey has taken in Old Adelaide Gaol, The Cornucopia Hotel in Wallaroo, investigations in Willunga, Kapunda, Gladstone and Edinburgh, but one of the more interesting locations for me, this year has been a small scale investigation in a historic location, the Highercombe Hotel Museum in Tea Tree Gully.
In 1853 when the Highercombe Hotel was built in the town of “Steventon”, now known as Tea Tree Gully. The population was of a reasonable size, but not one big enough to support the Highercombe Hotel and the Tea Tree Gully Inn which stood across the road. The Highercombe Hotel had a short-lived existence as a local pub, closing its doors as a hotel only 24 years after opening.
The Tea Tree Gully Hotel became a major stopping point for stagecoaches and horse riders after the main road in the area was diverted right past its front door.
The northern side of the Highercombe Hotel building served as the local post office and post-masters residence from 1879 until 1963. From 1875 until 1934 the southern side of the building was lived in by the headteacher of the Tea Tree Gully Public School. After this, for 20 years from 1930, the southern side was rented to the Hughes family as a private residence.
For a small period in the 1960s the building served as the library and office for the Tea Tre Gully Council, until it was bequeathed to the National Trust in 1967 when it’s life as a museum was imagined.
In 2015 the site has been renamed “The Tea Tree Gully Heritage Museum” and is run entirely by volunteers
Whilst I have found no deaths in my current research on the building that could lend credence to a possible haunting, the building contains a number of personal effects that could promote the theory of “attachment”. “Attachment” is the theory that some paranormal investigators subscribe too, that some objects are so loved and adored by their owners or had such importance in their lives, that, in death, they still cannot bear to part with the object. This, in turn, leads to sightings of the spirit near its beloved object – as would appear to be the case here in this building.
One sighting has been of a young girl sitting in front of the fireplace in the large downstairs sitting-room at the entrance side of the Hotel. This teenage girl has been seen briefly by volunteers, sitting quietly, as if enjoying, or warming herself in front of the fire.
Whilst investigating with my team, Eidolon Paranormal, and friend Karina Eames, we had our own brief unexplained experience in an upstairs room when reading poetry that was bequeathed to the museum in an estate. Whilst Karina and Karen were reading the poetry aloud, another investigator witnessed a small white light pass between two investigators and then vanish – at the same time goosebumps and coldness was felt by the investigators.
At this stage we are still reviewing our investigation data, and looking towards further investigations in the former hotel to uncover who could possibly be haunting the building.
The museum can be visited by the public on open days or through group bookings by visiting the volunteer society’s website at – http://www.highercombemuseum.on.net/
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 5 2016
© Allen Tiller