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Did you hear something? Glen Eira's resident ghosts

Caulfield-Glen Eira Leader 14 January, 2002, pp 1, 8-9
By Katrina McGrath with photography by Tony Gough

Drew SintonGlen Eira's historical homes and buildings have hosted thousands of people over the years.

But some of them refuse to leave.

Tales of ghostly visitors are whispering through our local landmarks, including the historic Labassa mansion in Caulfield.

Papers and language fly at mansion

Whether you believe in them or not, tales of Glen Eira's resident ghosts make great stories.

It seems the National Trust's Labassa estate has more than the usual dose of history found in many old houses.

In addition to being a historic mansion, Labassa has its own resident relic of the past: a ghost.

Ghostly visits at the Caulfield site have been reported since the 1920s.

According to the many stories, the resident ghost helps keep Labassa shipshape, levitates paperwork and even babbles abusively.

Friends of Labassa president Bronwyn Worrall said that, although she had not laid eyes on the spirited visitor, she had no doubt that he existed.

"I don't know why I call it a "he", but I tend to think it's a man," Ms Worrall said.

"There are times when I might be standing in the house and I feel a cold breeze rush over me which could not be coming from a draft or an open door."

Previous sightings at Labassa include:

* A restorer who recorded Bill Collins calling the races. When he played it back, there was a babble of abusive language on the tape that was confirmed by tests done by the ABC. He also saw papers flying around the room and found it difficult to breathe in certain parts of the house.

* The Labassa staircase has been the subject of many sightings, including that of a housekeeper who visitors have heard sweeping the stairs.

* Hans Pulson, folk singer of the '60s and '70s who lived in the tower, saw a figure of a woman in white on the staircase. He also saw a woman in white in the tower and had music sheets fly around while he was playing the piano.


Full house: things that bump and Rhumba in the night

Some patrons love Elsternwick's Classic Cinema so much they just can't bear to leave - even years after their deaths.

Completed in 1880, Elsternwick's Classic Cinema is one of the oldest surviving cinemas, and is reported to have a number of resident ghosts.

The venue was first used as a public hall, then a skating-rink, before its conversion to a cinema with the birth of motion pictures.

Head Projectionist Jeff Jacklin said he had made peace with one of the ghosts after some fearful experiences.

One of his first encounters, about five years ago, occurred when he was filling out time sheets before going home.

The door to the manager's office was locked, so Mr Jacklin knelt down and slid the first sheet under the door.

Suddenly the sheet was ripped from his hand as though someone had grabbed it from the other side.

"The strength was incredible, I couldn't have stopped it if I tried, the hairs on the back of my neck stood up and I thought I'd try again," he said.

A startled Mr Jacklin slid the next sheet through with the same result.

It was the first encounter of many, and Mr Jacklin was terrified.

"It was getting to the point where I couldn't stand it, so I had a talk to it and told it to leave me alone and I would leave it alone," Mr Jacklin said.

"Things got much better after that and now I'm not terrified like I was.

"Things still happen, like when I put something down and it disappears, lights going on and off and doors closing, but it's like the ghost is just having a bit of fun with me and being a prankster."

Clairvoyant visits to the historic cinema have identified a short older man wearing a 1930s suit as being the joking culprit.

Other visitors include a group of dancing ghosts who conduct a paranormal party in the early hours, a group of drunks who congregate in the foyer and a man who staff have named "The Rattler", who makes himself noticed by knocking on doors.

Cinema owner Eddie Tamur has heard thumps in the middle of the night near the projection room, which clairvoyants attribute to the dancing ghosts performing the Charleston and the Rhumba in the stalls.


Not all phantoms are a menace: expert

Having a supernatural presence in your home sounds like a terrifying prospect - but ghost investigator Drew Sinton says ghosts are just misunderstood.

We've all been scared witless by horrific tales played out on the big screen and it's not very often that ghosts are portrayed as friendly entities in movies.

As a result, Mr Sinton says it's not surprising that people assume ghostly encounters are always a negative experience.

A few years ago a Caulfield resident and funeral director told Mr Sinton about a ghost who had "attacked him" twice at his Stevens St flat.

"He said he had sensed a presence in one of the rooms and that the ghost had introduced himself as Oliver to the man's girlfriend," Mr Sinton said.

One night the man was sleeping alone in bed when he awoke to find the bed shaking violently and the room full of smoke.

The man raced into the lounge where he found a log burning on the carpet.

"The first thing the man thought was that Oliver had done it to get him out of the house," Mr Sinton said.

On another occasion, the man was walking down the stairs late one night when the lights suddenly went out. He felt a pair of hands on his shoulders and the man fell down the stairs.

But Mr Sinton asked the man why the ghost hadn't pushed him in the middle of his back, if he was trying to push him down the stairs, and that perhaps the ghost had been trying to steady or guide him.

"Then I asked him whether Oliver might have shaken the bed so he could get up and do something about the fire.

"At this, the man wondered whether Oliver was not the bad ghost he thought he was, but that he was an angel watching over him."


The haunting of Glen Eira

Drew Sinton has had close encounters with a number of ghosts in Glen Eira including:

* In 1993, he met a 26-year-old woman who claimed she was being attacked by a ghostly black shadow in the bedroom of her Carnegie home.

The woman said she was sitting up in bed enjoying a mid-morning coffee when she saw a large shadowy creature appear just above her head.

The woman said a half-man, half-beast ghost with huge paws and claws had hovered over the woman before grabbing at her for a few minutes.

Similar accounts have been reported in Broadmeadows, Hartwell and Heidelberg.

* Caulfield Racecourse has been home to a ghostly punter for many years.

The ghost is said to wear an old-fashioned brown suit and hat and is generally seen at one of the entrances to the historic stadium. The ghost was last seen in 1999 by a security guard patrolling the area late one night.

The ghost disappeared as soon as the guard approached. Two theories are that the ghost is either that of someone who died at the track when it was an army barracks in World War 11 or an old-time punter looking for a place to bet.


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