"Melbourne - the only cemetery that is lit up at night." Or so says Drew Sinton, proprietor of The Haunted Bookshop in Melbourne. By Fiona McCammon.
Halloween 1997 saw the opening of the Haunted Bookshop. Just three days after the death of Anton LaVey (the father of modern Satanism) and the number 15 was magically brought to life again somewhere in the heart of 'ole Melbourne town.
Despite some protest and finger waving in the early days of operation, Drew has stood his ground throughout it all to provide a source of information and understanding of all that is mysterious and unknown to whom-so-ever cares to cross the threshold.
Regardless of what people may first be inclined to believe, upon entering Drew's haunted realm, the atmosphere is far from heavy or malevolent.
A selection of classical music is most often played, gently relaxing your mind and spirit as you feel free to wander the premises to discover numerous nonfiction titles regarding the occult, vampires, witchcraft, angels, clairvoyance and many more 'mysterious' selections.
The Bookshop is not limited to merely what its name entails. A vast selection of knick-knacks (both playful and serious), tarot cards and ouija boards are also found within its premises.
A resident psychic and lawyer, along with ghostbuster and astrology columnist, Charlie Allen, hold clairvoyant readings within the dimly lit chambers beyond the boundaries of the shop as most of the public know it.
But by far the most popular attraction for both tourist and local alike is the legendary 'ghost tour' led by Drew Sinton himself.
At 8:00pm sharp, the doors of The Haunted Bookshop are thrown open to the awaiting throngs below.
Whilst remaining upstairs, having graciously been kept company by Pazuzu - the black cat of the dwelling - I cannot help but smile to myself as I hear the assembly being tantalised by a greeting of "Hello victims".
The curtains have parted - let the show begin!
As the crowd swarms into the shop I slide myself over into a corner - my dark companion now nowhere to be seen - I notice no definite type of person who have decided to attend tonight's event.
All ages, sexes and nationalities are now talking amongst themselves, anticipating the night before them while they excitedly exchange tales of psychic phenomena and breathe in their surroundings.
During the next couple of hours we are blindly lead through darkened alleyways, car parks, nightclubs (!!) and city streets.
The deeper into the tour, the further my own birthplace seems to sink into the territory of the unknown.
The history of such a young country is truly amazing - ghosts of performers, kitchen hands, murderers and even horse and carriages lurk where the unsuspecting would never know.
The only seemingly possible link between so many places is that mysterious number 13.
After the group finally dissipates into the night, Drew kindly walks me through yet even more sights of the dead.
As I stand in the middle of a major garden in Melbourne hearing Drew tell me of what lies beneath my feet, at that very moment, as if on cue, bats soar out from their hiding places in the trees to fly squealing over my head ...
I am overcome with the knowledge of just how little I know.
There is so much more yet to be uncovered in even such a small city as Melbourne.
Although my guide has spent much of his childhood, and many years following, researching the ghost haunts of Victoria, he openly admits to his patrons and to myself that "the more I read, the more I learn, the less I realise I know."
So who is Drew Sinton anyhow?
Drew has been dubbed many titles: a witch by witches; a vampire by vampires; a resurrection man; a black magician; a hypocrite and a fraud.
Many names by many different individuals, all wishing him to be the person they believe him to be.
He is the Australian Ambassador of the Transylvanian Society of Dracula - but does this title actually have much baring in the true design of all things?
Drew Sinton's bible is that of the non-conformist.
His belief is in himself.
The Haunted Bookshop can be found at 15 McKillop Street, Melbourne, Australia; or you can find out more about The Haunted Bookshop at www.haunted.com.au.