Monday, April 10, 2006

The Rocks (Sydney)

April 7th, 2006:

Having done plenty of historical tours back home, doing another historical tour of an area wasn't high on the list of things to do. However, an opportunity arose to do a different type of historical tour of "The Rocks" area of Sydney: a Ghost Tour!

The Rocks is next to the harbor edge and today is one of the oldest areas of the city. most of the buildings in this area are listed and cannot be altered so that the area retains it old-style charm.

The Ghost Tour started at 7:30PM and I was accompanied by "Janet" from Rugby, England. There was about fifteen of us in the tour group and our middle-aged guide was dressed like an old-fashioned undertaker: all black clothes with a flowing black cloak and a wide black hat.

During the course of the tour we were told about many, many ghoulish characters and the misdeeds each had performed. To make the tour more interesting, we each were assigned the role of one of these characters and as we walked around the city each of us was called on to act out the role of our character, depending on which building or room we were currently in. So, I played the part of a local thug who attacked people with socks full of sand(!) (the idea being that he/I could dump out the sand and wear the sock if the police came by and so deny everything). My character ended up killing a boy and as we stood in the remains of his house we were told that his mother now haunts the area that we were standing in...

As the tour progressed it became more and more clear that a lot of people in Sydney had encountered untimely deaths. We started off at the old city morgue and walked around from building to building and were told how the modern day locals deal with their spiritual lodgers and were shown buildings which remain unletted due to previous tenants being scared away by strange noises and unexplained events.

The highlight, though, came at the very end. We descended about two stories down below a modern apartment building and found ourselves in what looked like an architectural dig. The air down here was warm and due to it being an enclosed environment there was no breeze. There were a number of ghosts haunting this area and the tour guide told us to start taking pictures to see what happens. I was kicking myself at this stage for not bringing my camera, but I could clearly see the results on other people's cameras: strange spheres of light appeared at random on each picture taken(!) The spheres were not visible by anybody as we looked around, but they did appear in the pictures... The guide described them as being the essence of ghosts...

I found the tour to be well worth doing: its a good story and was well told. Its also relatively good value and you even get a free drink in a bar at the end... to steady the nerves...!