They may not pay rates, but ghosts are ... ahem ... alive and well in Boroondara. Reporters Tracey Cheeseman, Marcelle Nankervis and Natalie Birch and photographer Tony Gough investigate.
Cynics may scoff, but ghostbuster Drew Sinton is adamant he has seen ghosts - one right here in Boroondara.
And not just any ghost, a jealous lesbian ghost.
Mr Sinton, who runs The Haunted Bookshop and leads The Haunted Melbourne Ghost tour, is a ghost investigator with years of experience.
Like X-Files agent Dana Scully, Mr Sinton approaches each case with a healthy dose of scepticism, especially after an increasing number of hoax reports.
In fact, Mr Sinton no longer offers his services as a free ghostbuster after cranks and practical jokers became rampant.
But at a Burwood house in 1992 his doubts were shelved when he saw a ghost.
Mr Sinton and a spiritual medium had been called to the home by two women complaining of poltergeist activity including rattling doors, pots falling from cupboards and burglar alarms constantly being triggered.
One of the women, who said the same events had occurred at a previous house, believed it was a dead uncle following her.
But, after holding objects from around the house (psychometry), medium Kelly Roberts believed the ghost was a woman.
Ms Roberts felt "great bitterness" in a small porcelain figure and asked who had owned it.
"The two women refused to answer, and it was all very odd," said Mr Sinton.
"But eventually they admitted it had belonged to a woman named Bev - a previous lover of one of the women.
"Bev had died from a blood clot caused during a jealous rage when she ran into a coffee table and injured her leg."
Mr Sinton said he believed the women were telling the truth, but found the whole story "bizarre".
"But then the room temperature quickly dropped 8C and, all of a sudden, I saw a black shadow move across the room," he said.
"All four of us saw it, and even the cats in the room watched.
"Many times I have tried to rationally explain what I saw, but I have come to the belief that it was definitely a ghost."
Have you ever felt like someone is watching you, even though you are the only person in the house?
Have you ever had a cold shiver run down the length of your spine for no apparent reason?
Have doors closed unexpectedly, pictures fallen from walls or any other unexplained phenomena occurred in your home?
If so, you may have been visited by a ghost.
Julie Snodgrass, from the Esoteric Bookshop, in Glenferrie Rd, Hawthorn, said this was a common occurrence, but many failed to realise it all pointed to ghosts.
"A haunted room is often converted into the spare room or junk room of a house," said Ms Snodgrass.
"The room may have a lot of light and heaps of potential, however there is something uncomfortable about it, so it never gets used."
Ms Snodgrass has become somewhat of an expert in ghosts, largely through her interaction with a regular customer who has a special gift.
Describing his experiences over the years, Allen's tale could be straight out of a Hollywood blockbuster.
"Allen can see them, feel them and hear them," said Ms Snodgrass.
"He became aware of his gift when he was 10, and at 63 he is still helping ghosts move into the next realm.
"Ghosts are people who have died suddenly, have committed suicide, or who have chosen to remain to complete a task or job.
"Mostly, they don't even know that they are dead. All they see are other people walking around in their homes uninvited.
"To get rid of ghosts, Allen needs a detailed plan of the house and its location. Then he travels to the astral plane via meditation.
"(In this state) he can travel through doors when he enters the house and he sees exactly what the ghost sees, so the house may be decorated like it was 1892.
"Allen then explains that they are no longer living. Many just leave, while others are dragged out kicking and screaming.
"Allen then guides them outside where they are met by a large green hill with a road up the centre.
"He walks them up and over the hill. When they reach the other side it becomes dark, and this is the point where Allen sends them on their way."
Ms Snodgrass said she became interested in ghosts when Allen came in one day and agreed to cleanse her shop.
"It originally had an awkward feeling, but once Allen spoke to the ghosts, the whole mood changed. It was quite incredible," she said.
"If a home is haunted, you should talk to the ghosts and let them know what has happened, even if there is no response.
"Sometimes this is all it takes to get rid of unwelcome visitors."
Drew Sinton, of Melbourne's Haunted Bookshop, knows of a number of ghosts in Boroondara. These are some of them:
* In 1949, the Argus reported the tale of a ghost seen at a Barkers Rd house every year. The half-dressed ghost of a young boy was seen leaping from an upstairs bedroom window at midnight at the same time every year. Legend has it that a tyrannical father late last century locked his small son in an upstairs bedroom. The child tried to escape by tying bed sheets together and lowering himself from the high window. The boy slipped, and the sheets tangled around his neck. He was hanged just 30cm off the ground. The house stayed empty for years as rumours of the death and ghost spread. The street number of the house has been lost over the years.
* Also from Kew comes the story of a Georgian-style house built on the site of a demolished monastery. Occupants of the house were alarmed by marks and depressions that appeared on a bed and looked as if someone was sitting there. Some psychic detective work revealed the bed had been placed on the exact spot where a stone bench had once stood in the monastery. An old monk, who had been fond of sitting there, had died when a stone block fell on his head. It appeared his ghost still came to sit at his favourite spot. (source: Ghost Guide to Australia by Richard Davis).
* In 1991, a Kew family moved out of their High St home, opposite the Boroondara Cemetery, after a number of strange events occurred. Lights flicked on and off without warning and three members of the family saw a female ghost. A woman, her mother and seven-year-old neighbour said they saw a woman with her hair up and wearing a long trailing skirt. At different times it brushed past the owner. "What I witnessed was brief . . . she passed through a shaft of sunlight, which caught the rear half of her profile," said the woman (who did not wish to be named) in a written report. New owners also have seen the ghost. The house was built in 1918 for a doctor and his wife. The wife died, leaving her husband alone in the house. The owners believed it was the doctor's wife's ghost that they saw.
When Progress Press asked Boroondara residents if they believed in ghosts we found some shoppers in Glenferrie Rd had even experienced the paranormal.
Leah Cattanach, of Kew: "I used to live in a house in Kew where really strange things would happen like doors slamming, and you could hear people running up and down the stairs all the time. It used to freak my friends out."
Belinda Smith, of Clifton Hill: "Yes. Friends have told me they've seen them, and relatives, who are too young to know about them, have also seen them. A young relative saw a little girl and described her perfectly, but she had died a long time before the family moved in."
Perry Telios, of Hawthorn: "I believe in ghosts. My friend thought her house was haunted and she eventually had a priest come in and do an exorcism. If there's a devil and a God, there must be ghosts - it's common sense."
Richard Woodham, of Hawthorn: "I don't believe in ghosts. When they plant you that's it."
Leigh Aitken, of Eltham: "Sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. If I'm in a scientific frame of mind I don't think they exist, but then sometimes I can't help but think that they could be out there."