Why would someone haunt the Supreme Court of South Australia? That is a question one could ask about any building, but a pertinent question after it came to light in January 2019, that the Adelaide Supreme Court was receiving changes to a proposed internal renovation due to a ghost!
The Adelaide Supreme Court was designed by Colonial Architect, R.G. Thomas. The building was constructed using Tea Tree Gully sandstone in 1869. The building was first used as the Local Court and Insolvency Court, then from 1873, it became solely the Supreme Court.
The building is part of a group of significant law buildings facing Victoria Square that also includes the Sir Samuel Way Court, the Magistrates Court, and the original Police Courts.
The Supreme Court of Adelaide has been home to some very notable South Australian’s including Sir Samuel Way, Sir Mellis Napier, Sir James Boucat, Sir Herbert Mayo, and Dame Roma Mitchell just to name a few. Another Judge, and the suspected ghost haunting the Adelaide Supreme Court, is Sir George John Robert Murray (1863-1942).
Judge Murray was born at Magill, the son of Scottish pastoralists. He was educated at J.L. Youngs’s Adelaide Educational Institution, and attended the Royal High School, Edinburgh, Scotland. He returned to South Australia and attended St. Peter’s College, then the University of Adelaide. He obtained a scholarship for his outstanding marks, which allowed him to attend law school at Trinity College, Cambridge, UK.
Murray had a distinguished career, now only as a lawyer and Judge. He was appointed a Judge of the Supreme Court of South Australia in 1912. He also served as Chancellor for the University of Adelaide six times between 1916 and 1942. In 1916 he became the Chief Justice of South Australia. Murray also administered the government of South Australia, as the states Lieutenant Governor on numerous occasions in the absence of a Governor. In 1917, Murray was honoured with Knight Commander (KCMG), The Most Distinguished Order of Saint Michael and Saint George.
Murray was seen by many as an austere and serious man. He never married, and instead lived with his unmarried sister, Margaret at the family estate, Murray Park at Magill (now the administrative building of University of South Australia, Magill Campus).
Sir Murray died on 18 February 1942 following an operation for appendicitis. He was buried alongside his sister at St Georges Church of England Cemetery, Woodforde (near Magill).
It was alleged in numerous newspaper reports, that during the renovations of the Adelaide Supreme Court in 2018-19 that a psychic-medium, brought in by construction company Hansen Yuncken, identified Sir George Murray as a resident ghost in the building.
Construction workers had reported strange goings-on in the old building. Chairs had moved through the worksite of their own volition. Fire extinguishers, placed in areas of high risk, would be found in entirely different sections of the worksite far from where workers had placed the. I personally had contact from security guards who told me they had seen the spectre of a man walk through the building, his presence was solid enough that when he walked past motion-activated doors, they would open.
Some staff became ‘spooked’ by the ghost, so the psychic was called on to investigate. It is claimed the psychic ran her hand over the proposed plans of the building and “felt a presence”. She spoke psychically to the spirit and later identified him via a portrait of Sir Murray. She stated that Sir Murray objected to the proposed seating rearrangement of where the Judges sat in courtroom 11.
A spokesperson for Hansen Yuncken stated:
\’Apparently she spoke to what she called the \’spirit\’, which was a Supreme Court Judge, Sir George Murray, who was a little bit annoyed that the layout of his courtroom had changed so he has been causing a little bit of mayhem.\’
The spokesperson went on to say; \’There might be a little bit of a design change to keep the judge happy. There may well be some things to accommodate his, shall we say, temper.\’
Sir George Murray was the States Supreme Justice for 16 years and served at the courtrooms from 1912 until his death in 1942. Perhaps, it is justified that his presence is felt in the courts…
Researched and written by Allen Tiller © 2020
(Written for the publication; Haunted Adelaide)
Adelaide Heritage, Supreme Court, National Trust of South Australia, (2019), http://www.adelaideheritage.net.au/all-site-profiles/supreme-court/.
‘Death of Sir George Murray’, The Advertiser, (19 February 1942), p. 4.
Alex C. Castles, \’Murray, Sir George John Robert (1863–1942)\’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, ANU, (1986), http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/murray-sir-george-john-robert-7708/text13497.
Peter Duckers, British Orders and Decorations, (Oxford 2009), pp. 26–27.
 Jim Nelson, Murray Park House, Campbelltown City Council, https://www.campbelltown.sa.gov.au/library/local-history-room/localhistoryarticles/local-history-articles-places/murray-park-house.
 Brittany Chain, $31 million Supreme Court renovations halted after medium declares the spirit of a dead judge is haunting the building – as plans are rearranged to ‘appease the ghost’, Daily Mail Australia, (20 Jan 2019), https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6611759/Supreme-Court-renovations-halted-medium-declares-spirit-dead-judge-haunting-building.html.