SOuL Searchers Paranormal Investigation at Monte Cristo 1st-2nd May, 2010
On the 1st May 2010 the SOuL Searchers Paranormal Investigation team headed off for a Samhain weekend at Monte Cristo, a homestead which has the notoriety of being the “most haunted house” in Australia. With the veil between the worlds being especially thin at this juncture of the year what better time could there be to conduct some serious paranormal research. Armed with cameras, handycams, and a variety of paranormal testing equipment the SOuL Searchers team departed Sydney early in the morning with great expectations and perhaps some trepidation.
Monte Cristo means “Mount of Christ,” and is situated in the quaint country township of Junee which is approximately 470 kms South West of Sydney. It was built in 1884 by Christopher William Crawley, a wealthy local farmer. He was married to Elizabeth, a hard and ruthless woman who was rumoured to have ruled the household with an iron fist.
Christopher Crawley died at Monte Cristo on December 14, 1910, at age sixty-nine from a gangrenous abscess on his neck developed from constant rubbing of his starched collars. Following his death, Elizabeth retreated into deep mourning, converting an upstairs box room into a chapel that she rarely left. Elizabeth became a recluse only leaving the homestead twice in the twenty-three years between her husband’s death and her own death, from a ruptured appendix, on August 12, 1933, at age ninety-two.
In 1948, the last of the Crawleys left the homestead, and Monte Cristo fell into disrepair. In 1963 Reginald Ryan, a tailor from Wagga Wagga, his wife, Olive, and their three children moved into Monte Cristo, and to his credit and great determination Reg then set about restoring it to its former glory.
This infamous mansion over the years has been the scene of numerous appalling incidents and horrific deaths: a maid fell to her death from the balcony in a somewhat dubious tragic accident, a stable boy was burnt to death; and a maid dropped a little girl down the stairs after being pushed by a supposedly “supernatural force”. To add to the dramatic list of events, a young woman died after a particularly long and tortuous labour, a mentally retarded son of a housekeeper had been tied up on a short chain by his mother for more than 30 years and in 1961 the caretaker of Monte Cristo was shot dead by a local inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. It is rumoured at least ten ghostly residents are reputed to be at large in both the house and the surrounding grounds and probably a lot of other supernatural beings from portals left opened from numerous séances conducted by irresponsible visitors over the years.
The strongest ghostly presence in the homestead is that of Elizabeth Crawley. She is most often seen in the converted chapel, wearing black and carrying a large silver cross. Her presence is extremely domineering, and she is very particular about what goes on in her house and she does her best to unsettle the guests.
Monte Cristo has been featured on many television shows and has been visited by many paranormal investigators over the years. No one has ever come away without seeing something strange or feeling very uncomfortable. Our visit was no exception; the unsettling events of the night also left an indelible impression with each member of the team as you will see from their personal accounts; which has only whetted our appetite and our desire to conduct another investigation at Monte Cristo sometime in the not too distant future.
Some Personal Experiences
After an enjoyable bus trip (we hired an Avis bus and my husband (Peter) and Rayvensclaw shared the driving) with an early lunch stop at Goulburn and a couple of other “comfort stops” along the way we finally arrived at Monte Cristo. We unpacked our belongings into our rooms then headed back outside the house to take a look around and get a sense of the area and also to dowse for energy lines.
Most of the energy lines I detected in the front yard were probably Hartmann grid lines as they ran approximately in a North/South or East/West direction and were about 2.5 to 3 metres apart. The grid lines (as shown in the image below) don’t quite line up with “geographic north” which is at the top of the Google map image, but this could be due to the slight difference between geographic north and magnetic north which can vary by up to 30 degrees depending on location. The locations of the lines I found were independently confirmed by Amethyst and Jenni who were also dowsing the same area. Interestingly the main part of the house seems to be aligned with the grid lines, whereas the older, original house at the back is not.
Janine asked if we noticed anything unusual about the entrance to the house as she had intuitively sensed something different about it. I found it rather interesting that one E/W line neatly bisected the house through the front door and along the central hallway, and a N/S line ran along the front wall of the house, the two lines intersecting right in the middle of the front doorway, confirming Janine’s feeling that there was something different about the front door area. The crossings of the grid lines can cause an energy vortex and are generally considered to be unhealthy places to spend any length of time. The effect of a crossing in the H-grid can be amplified by other local characteristics such as an underground stream or a geological fault making that particular spot potentially dangerous. These vortices, especially when amplified, can also be favourable places for paranormal activity, perhaps due to the increased energy being available to allow manifestations of sound or even visual glimpses of the active spirit world. Residual energy could also be amplified in this way, allowing us to hear sounds, see images and experience emotions and physical sensations which are “recordings” of past happenings in these areas rather than actual spirit activity (go here for further explanation).
We later inquired about what might be underneath the house and were told that the house sits on large deposits of quartz, which is associated with the past gold mining operations in the general area. The extraction of gold ore from these hard quartz veins was historically referred to as quartz reef mining and it was speculated that quartz reefs might have even more gold than alluvial fields[Ref] so when both reef and alluvial gold were discovered in Junee this triggered a gold rush, resulting in a sudden population growth in Junee in the mid to late 1800’s. The main sites — Old Junee (to the west, where Monte Cristo is situated), Junee Reefs (to the north) and Illabo (to the north-east) — were mined until the 1880s.[Ref] Junee’s geography is such that it is surrounded by granite hills with the township being located in the naturally formed valley along an ephemeral water course.[Ref] Granite is primarily composed of quartz and orthoclase. Quartz has piezoelectric and pyroelectric properties which support the amplification, focusing, storage, transfer and transformation of energy, so, if in fact there are large amounts of quartz underneath the house, this could explain why Monte Cristo has the reputation of being “Australia’s most haunted house” as well as “the world’s most haunted private residence”.
Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately?) my own experiences at Monte Cristo were not as profound as those of some of the other team members. I got impressions of energies in different rooms of the house but nothing specific, and certainly nothing that couldn’t be explained by mundane reasons. When I entered the sitting room (first door on the left from the entrance hall) I felt distinctly dizzy, light-headed and had some shortness of breath, which is my usual reaction when something paranormal is present. Another room I felt something in was the Boys’ room (upstairs at the head of the stairs, on the left). On entering the room I felt extremely breathless (much more so than could be accounted for by slowly walking up the staircase) and had difficulty breathing freely. The overall feeling of this room was that of draining oppressiveness and heaviness. It was not a nice place to be and I would hate to have had to sleep in that room, as members of the Ryan family did when they first moved into the house. I was curious to know if it would feel the same if it was not entered immediately after climbing the stairs so the next morning I came back and went into other upstairs rooms first. When I eventually entered the Boys’ bedroom I had the same reaction to it as the night before.
When I walked through the doorway of the upstairs hallway and out onto the balcony, I had the sudden disconcerting feeling that the balcony floor was sinking underneath me and I was in danger of falling. After quickly regaining my balance I realised the floor was in fact quite solid and didn’t even have any springiness that would account for such a weird sensation.
A few of us stayed up later into the evening and used my ouija board, after which we all retired to our rooms. I heard in the morning that most of the others had difficulty sleeping for various reasons. Usually I have trouble sleeping in strange places but the unusual thing for me about sleeping at Monte Cristo was that I slept soundly almost all night, only waking up once around 3:00am and eventually summoning enough courage to leave my room and cross the hall to the bathroom, after which I slept soundly once more. Unlike others who were apparently awake at the same time and very aware of all manner of noises, I never heard a thing.
During our visit to Monte Cristo Peter and I took a total of 207 (digital) photographs but I was disappointed to see not a single ghost, mist or even any especially distinctive orbs in any of them. The many orbs that do appear in some of my photos, especially in the coach house with the dirt floor, are most likely to be dust orbs rather than anything paranormal, and any orbs outside in the cold, damp night air could possibly be water droplets, bugs or dust. However, even though I didn’t see or photograph any ghosts or hear anything going bump in the night, it was still a very worthwhile adventure and one I thoroughly enjoyed.
I have been conducting paranormal investigations for several years now and over time I have observed that each investigation comes with its own unique paranormal activity experience. The categories of “Grounded, Active and Residual” energy goes to explain the various types of paranormal activity one could encounter at a paranormal site but within each of those categories there are unlimited possibilities of phenomenon.
My most profound encounter of the weekend was through experiencing the effects of a residual haunting. There is a theory called Stone Tape Theory which is based on the suggestion that buildings and materials are able to absorb and store an impression of living beings experiencing a traumatic event which then gets projected back into the environment under certain conditions and or triggers. Researchers speculate that the paranormal recording is laid down during times of high emotional and traumatic stress such as murder, grief or intense pain. This energy can be stored for an unspecified amount of time in the surrounding building materials or the environment and then the replay is triggered by a number of variant factors such as the anniversary of the event, particular weather conditions, or the phase of the moon etc. Witnesses of this paranormal replay may experience these events differently and according to their own level of psychic ability, stress or emotional levels. The replay can take a multitude of forms varying from full manifestations, sounds of voices or footsteps or as in my case an actual physical experience.
On arriving at Monte Cristo the team was shown to our rooms for the night, I had chosen room 3 which was being shared with Heather and Zoe. Initially I was going to sleep in one of the single beds in the room leaving Zoe with the four poster double bed. On retiring for the night I could see that Zoe was having an issue with the double bed and I suggested sleeping in the bed as well. It had been a particularly full on day and I succumbed to sleep very quickly. However in the early hours of the morning I was awoken with severe pains in my back. I noticed that Zoe was also awake and she also was complaining about back pain. Over the next couple of hours I kept dozing off but I was being reawakened by an ever increasing back pain which I started to think was a kidney stone. By the time everyone was getting up for breakfast Zoe and I were feeling very sore and tired by our somewhat bizarre experience. Zoe had mentioned that she had also felt something touching her head during the night. Fortunately Heather (who was sleeping in one of the single beds) was spared this uncomfortable experience although she was being disturbed during the night by our complaints and numerous trips back and forth to the toilet.
On going downstairs for breakfast Reg mentioned that the bed that Zoe and I had slept in was the only original bed of the homestead and that it was in that bed that a young maid had died in child birth after a particularly long and tortuous labour. Evidently visitors sleeping in that bed often reported feeling similar experiences of pain. I had never experienced residual energy to that level of discomfort before and it took a couple of days before my back was fully recovered. My heart goes out to that poor woman who died during child birth; experiencing her pain as a residual haunting was definitely an experience I will never forget. (See video at the bottom of this page)
The other interesting experience that I had on the weekend, happened on Sunday morning as I was walking along the upstairs hall near the boys’ bedroom. I momentary saw an apparition of a woman standing in the hall, at the same time Wayne was in the bedroom looking out into the hall and saw the apparition as well.
I never knew quite how much residual energy could affect the human body, but after sleeping on the only original bed in the guest quarters at Monte Cristo I soon found out. Starting with cramping within my stomach then hot flushes (as we later found out a tragedy had occurred within the bed Janine and I slept in and the symptoms we were experiencing matched it perfectly) and what I thought at the time to be bugs in my hair at one stage turned out to be the residual energy of someone stroking my forehead and consoling me. I kept waking frequently, hearing voices echoing through the walls as well which sounded as though they were coming from out in the courtyard and sometimes the hall area.Lets just say I didn’t get much sleep! To awaken in the morning and have the Monte Cristo owner Reg confirm our experiences as regular occurrences to the other guests that have stayed in the same room as we did was an amazing moment and one that I dare say I won’t forget in a hurry! (See video at the bottom of this page)
I came across an interesting piece of information (possibly in regards to the flames on the girl’s bed – see photo below). Apparently the stable hand wasn’t the only one who burnt to death!! A young girl’s dress caught on fire in the kitchen at one stage and she died. I received this information from a lady who was told this on her last trip to Monte Cristo. It seems they forgot to tell us this one, might shed some light on the human body outline in the fire pattern on the girl bed perhaps – just something to think about!
There were various impressions that weren’t immediately apparent to me on arrival. It took me a while to tune in and I had a feeling that more activity would present itself after nightfall. The main observation I had at the beginning were the ley lines at the front of the property. North/South was established, along with intersecting lines every few metres. The main crossing point seemed to be where the fountain is. While we walked around, there was a brief history on some of the old rooms and stables at the back of the property but I still didn’t pick up on any great deal.
We eventually had dinner and watched a brief film outlining the history of the home and the current occupants, Reg and Olive Ryan. After that, we went on the more serious tour with their son Lawrence, to look through the rest of the house that was otherwise closed off from us. The room that stood out the most for me was the boys’bedroom. The moment I crossed the doorway, I had a splitting headache and the room felt dense and heavy. Lawrence mentioned how a woman had died during childbirth in this room. Other incidents were told by Reg, but I’ll explain that later.
The other rooms were interesting but I didn’t really feel anything out of the ordinary at that point. We went back outside to have another look at the back section of the property, where the old stables and other rooms were. We were told earlier in the day about how a young boy had some sort of accident which left him retarded. His mother chained the poor lad in their room for a period of 30 or 40 years before he passed away. I didn’t react to this earlier but when we wandered around this time, I cried – mainly for him. It would’ve been a terrible situation to endure, certainly enough to send somebody insane!
The tour ended and I eventually went to bed, in the hope of getting some sleep as I was very tired. This was when the fun and games really began! The room I shared with Maria had a double bed, one single bed and a cot. I chose the double, which had the cot across from it. As I was nodding off, Maria came in, we spoke about something and attempted to sleep.
The noises I heard in our room were of the wardrobe door rattling, footsteps on creaking floorboards and a drawer opening near my bed. My headache returned, the noises continued and I also heard disembodied voices from a distance. It sounded like they were outside, perhaps from the ballroom, I don’t know where exactly. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but it simply sounded like a large crowd of people.
Now, I never normally sleep with the light on, but this night I did – for all the difference it made! It just felt safer to do so. At one point, I thought I would have to leave the room as I was feeling greatly disturbed by the noise. However, I stayed, and I finally got some decent shuteye around 5am the next morning.
When I came down for breakfast, Reg joined us afterward and proceeded to tell us what sort of activity was experienced from each of the six rooms. Maria and I stayed in room five, and that room happened to have the nanny coming in to check on the baby! When I think of it, it wasn’t anything malevolent or nasty, just noisy and a bit frightening. I believe I got the headache when the nanny approached the side of my bed where the drawer is, along with the cot across from it. That aspect was quite interesting.
We were able to look over the rooms again in the house, along with the balcony from where a teenaged pregnant was alleged to have suicided. There is also the suspicion that she was pushed from the balcony, in order to be rid of, as she was possibly carrying Mr. Crawley’s illegitimate child. Another suggestion made was that she possibly fainted but I doubt it. When a person faints, they drop like a sack straight down. I’d go along with murder, as her head hit the concrete step. There was blood on the step and you can still see the bleach mark from when it was attempted to be cleaned up (see photo at right).
I happened to notice this time, outside the boys’ bedroom that there was a distinct smell of antiseptic. I was able to make out a smell like Dettol but there was another smell that I couldn’t place. It was a sweeter sort of smell and I have a childhood memory of that smell. Apparently, one of the boys had died from gangrene in that room, so it would explain the antiseptic smell coming from that area.
All in all, it was an interesting weekend. The hosts were great and the food was excellent. I wouldn’t mind attending the fancy dress ball one day.
After a good bus trip, with a small deviation to find the house, we arrived all excited and expecting anything. We parked and removed our bags, then found our way to various rooms in the renovated added-on section. A quick look around to familiarise ourselves, and we were off with divining rods, pendulums, and compass at the ready. We made our way around, through and in every nook and cranny we could find. After our inspection and feeling our way along, we stopped to gather our thoughts and to have a very nice meal.
After the main meal and before dessert we met Lawrence, who was Reg’s (owner) son and our guide for the night. As we made our way outside around 10.30pm I suddenly realised that I had forgotten our torches, so I left the group and ran to get them. Coming down again I couldn’t see anybody around. I glanced across the horse yard and spotted a small light (possibly a candle) through a window in the dining area near the stables. I then walked through the open doorway to the antiques sales room. It was pitch black inside so the torch was on of course, looking around the room I couldn’t see a soul. Thinking, “bugger”, I turned around and started to walk out through the doorway. I had taken about two steps when I heard a female voice speak a word (sounded like ‘stop’ or ‘stay’) I turned and again looked all around the room. Nothing or no-one was there, as before. Now the decision to investigate did come into my mind, but it was pitch black, nobody around and unfamiliar surroundings, and all the hairs on my neck and head went up. I turned around again and headed outside. Now that story still sounds weird to me but I know what I heard, it was a high-pitched woman’s voice and not a soul was there.
The only other feelings I had was when going into the ladies drawing room, it felt very cold (windows and vents were closed), and in the upstairs hallway I could smell flowers (but only in the hall) no flowers could be found anywhere.
I slept very well, only getting up a little after 3.00am (which was funny because the others all told stories of getting up around 3.00am) all the doors were closed and not a sound could I hear. I remembered my Aunt/Uncle’s house; it was old and had balconies around it. When I was younger I explored every bit (mostly at night). So I just put myself there again, and had no problems.
We did get lots and lots of orbs in the stable area (most would have been dust) although I must add that some of the pictures show orbs of different colours and patterns. At the front of the house on the balcony area we have some very large orbs (right above the front steps).
As I was walking up to the gazebo I took a picture, in that picture there is a slanting mist, with a subsequent pictures taken just ten seconds after showing no sign of a mist.
The house has some lasting energy residue, which isn’t all that surprising taking into account its history. And in places there are some strange happenings and feelings. The current owners are using this to promote themselves and why not we all have a life to live and money does come in handy at times. But I can see Reg ending up staying there after he has passed on from this mortal world.
Another enjoyable ride back home, but not before a short stopover at the chocolate factory for a little bit of sweetness to go. And did anyone see the airplane trails in the air, that cold air it does wonders. And did I mention the bus drivers, well say no more.
But I think we all had an interesting time and we have some strange tales to tell, if anyone believes them or not is irrelevant, we know what we felt, saw, smelt and heard.
I do think that another visit could be on the cards, and if we get there a little earlier maybe we can poke around a bit more before heading off to bed.
Thank you to all my fellow travellers for sharing this experience, I really enjoyed your company.
After a slightly delayed start and a small deviation in Junee (GPS’s telling us to go up dead-end streets) to find the house we arrived tired but enthusiastic, expecting anything. We were directed to our rooms above the first homestead.
Where the bathrooms are is a curtain and a locked steel folding gate. Some of us looked through to the main house and Janine called out to Mrs Crawley; to me I felt that she heard us. I felt that she was in the front room on the right (looking from the back of the house) and that she was sitting in a chair either knitting or sewing and when she heard her name being called she turned to look where the sound came from.
Jenny, Jenni and I used our divining rods to work out where energy lines crossed. We found that there was one running down each side of the house, one running through the middle of the house and one running through either side of that one, halfway between the side ones. I also found energy lines down the front of the garden in the paved statue area, these two lines ran at 90 degrees to the ones at the house.
After dinner and before dessert we were taken to see a DVD on Monte Cristo itself, which was interesting. Then we were led on a tour of the Main House. The house was lit by candlelight and like Rayvensclaw said, it felt just like an overstuffed version of his Aunt’s house.
In the completed Carriage House where the restored carriages are (when just Rayvensclaw & I were there) I felt like there was someone near the far side who had had white wings or something like that.
Before we went to bed, some of us used a Ouija board. The funny thing was (I was doing it with my eyes closed & only using one finger) I could see the image of where the pointer was going to go before it went.
I slept quite well, only getting up a little after Rayvensclaw (about 3:00am) to go to the bathroom. I only woke up then, because he patted my feet and dropped the torch as he went past.
Just before I went to sleep I heard the two women in the next room talking. They were having a great conversation, but I couldn’t distinguish any words. On asking them the next morning, they said that they didn’t talk much at all and that one of them had her earphones in all night listening to music. Another interesting thing about that is that is Rayvensclaw didn’t hear anything at all and he said I went to sleep before he did.
I agree with Rayvensclaw that Reg will end up as another spirit in the house after he has died; he seems to be so in love with the house.
Before we left to drive back home, we went and found the chocolate and liquorice factory in town. We enjoyed hot and cold chocolate drinks (yum) and bought chocolates (freeze dried strawberries in white choc for me and choc boobs for him) before leaving.
The trip home felt long and tiring and we didn’t get back till after dark and thinking that work the next day was coming too soon. But it was great to go as a group, it made the experience much more enjoyable.
Second photo, in this section of the yard I did see a black shadow cut across heading into the ball room.
I was unable to walk past or into the area were the young boy was burnt. It was like there was a wall stopping me from going in that direction.
The room where the disabled person was I couldn’t go into either, the energy in there was very heavy. I could hardly breathe. I had to step away.
In this section of the barn, as I walked down past carriages, I got the impression that I had passed a cold, very distinctive line. Jenny and Amethyst made comments about lay lines or energy areas as you walk down.
At first when walked into this area to the side, I had an image of a young girl no older than 12 years being raped by one of the family’s boys. She was a servant; her uniform was a blue dress, with a white apron on top. Not a nice scene. At that point I took a photo then left the room. The energy in that room was heavy, a lot happened in there. I believe that area was also used for beatings, whips were used.
I could really feel sections of the room had cold spots and a very distinctive line. There was a lot of movement in that room.
- Got the impressions that the room was very busy; lots of people coming and going. The dining area being very busy would make sense as they still use it.
- Drawing room – my goodness it was cold, unwelcoming a noticeable difference in the atmosphere.
- Boys room – cold, heavy feeling. That was the room that was first in entered after walking up the stairs. I was very much out of breath.
- The energy in the Girls’ room was much lighter
- On the balcony I really felt like I was falling or going to fall. My belief is that the girl was pushed due to being pregnant. The reason was that she was going to make a fuss about it.
- Mrs Crawley’s chapel I was unable to go into, there was an energy push and I felt that I was unable to breathe. Due to the energy push I had to watch my step down the stairs.
- I was unable to sleep in our room; had someone come in and out it and felt like it was every hour. Our door when you open and close it creaked so each time they walked in I could hear the door open.
- I got impression that we where being checked on. Found out later that room was where the baby slept; that would explain the coming and going checking on the baby. The energy was, can’t say light, but definitely not heavy. At times I got quite hot when they walked into the room.
- So much chatter, in the area I could hear voices, and seriously thought it was Janine talking but as it was pointed out Janine was two doors down, and I had head phones in. The chatter was light as one would have as friends come round. I could at times hear laughter; rather a joyous conversation they were having.
- I will admit Jenni did at times make me jump when she would wake up and say, “What was that, did you hear that?”.
A couple of years after this investigation took place three members of the SOuLSPI team returned to Monte Cristo where a re-enactment of the residual haunting of the bed was filmed for an episode of the hit US show My Ghost Story. Our segment of My Ghost Story: Caught on Camera – 57 (Season 5 Episode 2) called “Haunting Down Under” which aired in the US on 9/3/2013, is shown below.