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 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