Elie on David Bowie
David Bowie, a name synonymous with greatness. Originally David Jones, he decided to change it so as not to be confused with another star who also tragically passed a few years ago, Davy Jones of The Monkees. His career would soon capitulate into stardom.
I didn't discover Bowie until my late teens, thanks to my mum who was a fan. I have many memories of playing his hit song, "Sorrow" while cleaning the house with my mum as well as "Under Pressure" with another fallen great, Freddie Mercury.
Bowie first came to stardom with his album hit "Space Oddity" with many more hits to follow. As well as a talented singer/songwriter, Bowie was also a natural actor, perhaps best remembered for his lead role in "The Labyrinth", a favourite of many generations of fans.
Bowie will be remembered for his innovation, rejection of traditional image and gender, amazing character personalities, and of course, his music.
David will always be a hero, not for a day, but until the end of time, joining all the other legendary musicians 2016 has taken away from us...
Tina on Prince
Prince (prince Rogers Nelson), was a great man and inspiration to many. Being a singer,a songwriter,a record producer and a multi instrument player he touched most people's hearts in all walks of life. I vividly remember growing up with my older sister playing prince songs (on records) in the lounge room and her bedroom singing along with every word. The movie purple rain was an influential movie to me. It showed me that not every thing in life will be perfect, not everything is forever.
His music was the sound track to a generations life and the ripple effect of his stage presence set a precedent for what a performer should strive to reach at Evey Concert they perform. With over 1oo million albums sold world wide and winning an uncountable amount of awards including being introduced into the rock and roll hall of fame in 2O04 why wouldn't you as a performer want to reach this level of respect and admiration.
He taught me that different isn't bad,different doesn't mean that you should hide,be loud and be proud of who you are. Be eccentric and stand out,make a difference. His support in female artists was next to none in the music industry and was encouraging for a then very young me a positive roll model for a male wanting to include and recognize females and their talents. In a world of red roses be the purple Lilly. Prince left this world at the age of 54 years young (too young) and I have no doubt that his musical mark will be a permanent reminder that just because someone said no doesn't mean you can't do it. It simply means you have to show them why you need to do it.
Party like its 1999 prince, ride in that little red corvette, wearing your iconic purple leather jacket and I'll remember each year to blow you a kiss when doves cry and I see purple rain.💜
Peet on Alan Rickman
Although I'm sure this wasn't the start of his career, my first memory of Alan Rickman was those immortal lines "I'm going to cut your heart out with a spoon". He made the very best Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. I always remembered him after that. Every time I'd see him in a movie, I'd think "That was the dude from Robin Hood."
Then, of course, came Harry Potter. I am a mad Harry Potter fanatic. I am Hufflepuff all the way, and the books are like my bible. So when Mr Rickman first appeared as the devious Severus Snape, I was entranced. Snape is not meant to be loved, and the fact that he has such a huge following is testament to Alan Rickman's acting skills.
When I found out, in that final book that everything Snape ever did... like, EVER did, was for love - my heart just broke. And when I heard that Alan Rickman had died on 14 January 2016 - my heart broke all over again.
"After all this time?"
Danni on Alan Rickman
I think for me Alan Rickman's death had hit me hardest. I fell in love with the character Professor Snape from the Harry Potter book series first, then when Rickman made his Harry Potter film debut appearance as Professor Snape in 2001 it was done; sold; finalised! I was in love. That voice, his talent, the way he perfectly captured what I envisaged as a teenager, Snape to be. Snape to me was a misunderstood character; a young, different and unusual boy who grew into a begrudging and harsh teacher at Hogwarts. A man who felt the sting of unrequited love and built walls to protect himself.
Rickman was from a humble working class background and made his way into theatre pretty much the same way I did. Reading, influence, the magic of the stage and wonders of creative writing fueled his passion. So I followed his footsteps; dreamt of the day I trod the boards of a theatre and wrote for the stage. His ability to so artfully demonstrate comedy and tragedy was what I wanted to do with my theatre. Have the ability to make others laugh and cry all the while experimenting with all things art and theatre. From the Sheriff of Nottingham in "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" right through to the absurdism of Samuel Beckett's "Play", I enjoyed every bit of Rickman's theatrical choices in life. Rickman once said in an interview, "I never said no", and I try to this day to follow that advice when chasing the dream. This was how he influenced my life. Below is a taste of Alan's absurdism. The theatre/film world lost a legend to cancer January 14, 2016 and it feels like yesterday I shed a little tear for this loss.
Jonathan on Zaha Hadid
For me, 2016 was the year the world lost one of its most innovative and groundbreaking architects, Zaha Hadid.
For those who may not have heard of Zaha, some of her well-known works include the London Olympic Aquatic Centre and the Riverside Museum in Glasgow. The British designer, passed away aged 65, after suffering a heart attack while in hospital in Miami in March where she was being treated for bronchitis.
Zaha’s buildings have been built all over the world and she paved the way for women looking to do something amazing in a male dominated profession.
Zaha was the first architect to really have a lasting impression on me. Unlike most designers, her work blossomed from inconceivable creativity, which was beautifully manifested graphically in her art, and finally born into stunning reality as her projects got built. She was an individual of great courage, conviction and tenacity.
Zaha once said, “You have to really believe not only in yourself; you have to believe that the world is actually worth your sacrifices.”
I was privileged to be able to visit a few of her buildings in the UK this year – a wonderful and befitting way to say ‘Goodbye and Thank you’ for inspiring me to be who I am.
Alex on Leonard Cohen
I did my best, it wasn't much // I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch // I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you // And even though it all went wrong // I'll stand before the Lord of Song // With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
Leonard Cohen (Canadian singer, songwriter, musician and, poet) died the 7th of November 2016. He was 82.
Leonard Cohan was very much on my mind when he passed as new cover of Hallelujah by an American A Cappella Pentatonix has just been released and just Bob Dylan just in October has been award the Nobel Prize for Literature "for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition". Leonard and Bob's work and contribution to music were often compared and there isn't a cover of Hallelujah I don't love so Leonard and his dark voice and words were very much on my mind.
What I have always loved about Leonard's songs and lyrics is how they appeared defeatist, I know that sounds incredibly sad but he always seemed to embrace the worst so very well and leave us not necessary with chin up look on the bright side but instead a reminder that from the bottom this is really only one way to go and that is up. This was very evident in how he explored political, justice and war themes. I could also relate to how torn and changeable he was on these themes, sometimes he was ready for the gritty fight and other times he was a sweet hippy speaking of love and peace time. To me, he always seemed very in tune with what was going on and how he was feeling and in that way a true artist using art to reflect back to world what he is seeing.
Like a bird on the wire, // Like a drunk in a midnight choir // I have tried in my way to be free.
Peet on Gene Wilder
When the news broke on 29 August that Gene Wilder had died, a piece of my childhood went with him.
I know Gene was most well known for his portrayal of Willy Wonka, but my main memory of him really just relates to him. It's of being a kid, and seeing my mum laughing so hard she had tears streaming down her face. We were watching a show called "Hanky Panky" - not one of his most well known, but definitely one of the funniest. To see my mum that happy imprinted on my brain and it's something I will never forget, so thank you Mr Wilder.
Another honourable mention that also made an impression on me was "Hear No Evil, See No Evil" where he played a deaf man and teamed up with Richard Pryor, who played a blind man... hilarity ensued! This was one of four movies they made together, their comedy genius bouncing off each other.
Gene was born on 11 June 1933 and named Jerome Silberman. Back in the days when real names weren't chic enough, he changed his name to be more appealing and received an Oscar nomination for his first major role in Mel Brooks' "The Producers".
When Gene died, he left the world with a true legacy in the form of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles - amongst many others.
"A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men."
- Willy Wonka
Amanda on Carrie Fisher
When a celebrity dies many people say 'why are you sad, you didn't know them' but whilst we may not have known them personally, these people touched our lives and gave meaning to certain times in our life.
Once such person for me was Carrie Fisher. With her portrayal of Princess Leia I was shown, as a young girl, that a woman can be a formidable person, a kick ass, bad ass leader of the rebellion who stood up for what was right and took no shit, and Carrie herself was no different!
Her advocacy for mental illness and drug addiction showed everyone that these topics needed to be talked about, discussed and brought into the public eye. Many parts of her life were put on display in her autobiography Postcards from the Edge.
Carrie will always be Princess Leia to me even though she has a vast movie history and to sum up my feelings..
"I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened. "
One of my favourite quotes from Carrie is “I don’t want life to imitate art. I want life to be art.” something we should all remember and live by I think! I will forever be sad that we won't get to see her grace our screens again after Episode 8 or hear her views on the world.
Let it be reported that Carrie drowned in moonlight, strangled by her own bra.
Vale Carrie Fisher 21.10.1956 - 27.12.2016
Written by Elinor Maguire
Halloween has definitely seen a surge in popularity in Australia over the last couple of years and is definitely becoming a more “acceptable” calendar date here in Australia (at the very minimum, after all, it is a celebration steeped in tradition and stemming from ancient practices).
Let me take you down memory lane...a flash back to my 10 year old self (who has always adored anything to do with ghosts/witches etc) dressing up as a witch with my neighbour and parading around my streets “trick or treating” almost 20 years ago. I managed to score $1 (in 20 cent coins) and a banana from one resident, (who obviously felt sorry for, as well as possibly confused by these kids who had on well meaning costumes and were clearly into the whole spirit of Halloween). So suffice to say unfortunately the loot from that particular Halloween was a little disappointing (especially to my 10 year old self). But spooky followers, fear not, for your Halloween is about to get a whole lot sweeter with the range of events on offer this year in the Blue Mountains and surrounds. See what I did there? Ahem.
4 .Old Government House in Parramatta. I have definitely mentioned this fantastic location before with the lovely Megan Stone of Blessed Pathways previously holding a delicious Christmas in July dinner there. For $35, you can wander around by candlelight for 2.5 hours in this historic 212 year old Georgian residence. Many claim to have had strange feelings in particular rooms and have seen ghostly apparitions. I am a firm believer in suppers, and this is definitely provided at Old Government House where you can share your encounters over a cuppa and some cake. Most wonderful! Visit: http://www.friendsofogh.com/ghost.html or call for more details: (02) 9635 8149, Business Hours 0416 026 816, After Hours (Matt)
5. The Q Station, North Head, Manly. Ahhhh, this venue brings back nostalgia of my first ghost tour at the tender age of 16 and is set on the beautiful Heads look out and was used in the 1830s to hold and quarantine people who may have been harbouring infectious illnesses. It is also a sacred and significant site to Indigenous Australians, who are also purported to haunt the property. “Dare to Be Scared” is the Halloween weekend taking place at the Q Station from Friday 28th of October to Sunday 30th of October. Beginning at 8pm and only available with a group booking, get a group of your fear loving friends together and tour around this historic property. See http://www.quarantinestation.com.au/Halloween/ for bookings.
Hope to see you at one or more of these fabulous events. And just remember, real investigators do it in the dark. Happy Halloween!
The Hungry Investigators Elie and Alex attended Blessed Pathways Yuletide Psychic Dinner.
Venue: Old Government House in Parramatta
On the Menu: Alex had the Seafood Pot Pie for entree, Pork Belly and Crackling as his main and Rich Plum Pudding for dessert...and wine...lots of wine. Elie choose the Caesar Salad for her entree, Pork Belly and Crackling as well for the main and Sticky Fig Pudding for dessert
Company included Peet Banks from APPI, Jane Pooley, Deleece Cook, our host Megan Stone and, Imelda Penny the guest medium for the event.
Review and account of the evening by Elie
After our orders were taken for a three course meal (yes dear readers, you read right!) a warmed plate of bread made its way to my table and I eagerly took hold of it, lovingly spreading it with butter after making it a whole week without simple carbohydrates and sugar (anyway, I digress!) With my included alcoholic beverage (red wine, of course) in hand, the laughter and fun began. We started with our entrees and then with the choice of a main course, I went for the winter warmer, pork with crackling and pumpkin, and disappoint it did not.
Whilst the merriment was high and the plates were being cleared from main course, it was time for the psychic readings to begin. Imelda Penny is a spiritual and psychic medium and mentioned she came from a lineage of mediumship in her family. Imelda was quick off the mark and began reading people on the opposite table, eliciting a few tears and some jovial laughter along the way. I also brought my sister-in-law along for something different and she seemed quite pleased with the reading she received off Imelda. Imelda tried to give most people a reading in the room (she told us the spirits were coming through in order) as she read one table to the next which allowed the majority to come away from the event with something to digest, other than their food. The mediumship provided a nice touch to the evening and a great talking point as our dessert arrived. As usual, sitting at the naughty table, we had much raucous laughter throughout the evening and Alex made a pitiful attempt to finish his dessert, in between laughter. Of course not even raucous laughter will stop me finishing dessert (sticky fig pudding, yes please!)
Overall, I really enjoyed the evening. Megan was very professional and made sure her guests were satisfied with their experience, evening handing out evaluation forms to gauge all feedback, which I thought was a sign of a business that takes pride in itself and its events. As Alex mentioned, I would definitely come back “dead or alive.” (He does enjoy spirits of all kinds, hell, so do I!) It was a great combination of dining come spiritual mediumship. If you haven’t already, make sure you give Blessed Pathways a like on Facebook and check out their upcoming events. You’re sure to see me at the next Psychic Dinner event!
The definition of a taphophile is someone who loves cemeteries and funerals. Although I am someone who does not love funerals (let’s face it, I always bawl like a baby, probably more so than the grieving family themselves) I sure do love cemeteries. Whenever I’m on the road, I’m sure to crane my neck to look at a cemetery passing by, imagining myself walking through the plots, reminding myself of my own finality.
My earliest memories are that of Rookwood Cemetery, located within the confines of Sydney. It is the biggest Necropolis in the Southern Hemisphere and is the final resting place of over a million souls. Pretty incredible, right? I would happily skip amongst the graves, practicing my reading skills, becoming familiar with those who had passed over, finding little artefacts such as watches and rosary beads, as well as pictures of the once living. People from different religions, cultures, political persuasions, socio-economic status and different times, all resting under the same sky.
I would define myself as a people person, but that isn’t just limited to the living. Deceased people fascinate me. The word “cemetery” is Greek for “sleeping place”. I want to know the stories of these people before the cemetery became their final sleeping place. What were their names, how long did they live for, where did they grow up and die, did they have a family? A head stone only tells you so much. I am in love with the individual story of one’s life, no matter how seemingly inane it may be. I like to use the details on the head stone and reconstruct pieces of what I think their story might be or might have entailed as well as reflect on what my life story might eventually look like if it were presented on a head stone. (So far it consists heavily of cats and chocolate, so I’m trying to work on the finer details).
So GOOey friends, here are some cemeteries I have enjoyed visiting in the Sydney and greater Sydney region over the years. Feel free to let us know at GOO what your favourite resting places are.
1. Rookwood Cemetery. Located in Lidcombe, Sydney, this cemetery has been established since 1868 and is the resting place of many prominent Australian figures and is also the resting place of my own grandmother. It has an array of mausoleums, monuments and memorials located in its confines and also runs walking tours (which I am adding to my list of must dos for 2016). You could spend days there (and if you’re lucky enough when you pass over, a whole eternity!) A must for any taphophile.
2. St John’s Cemetery, Parramatta. This is the oldest burial ground in Australia, and seems somewhat out of place within the urban sprawl of the Parramatta CBD. I have fond memories visiting this cemetery during my high school years and recall my admiration for a couple of interred souls with the first name of “Hannibal”. Many of Australia’s colonial pioneers are buried here including D’Arcy Wentworth, many of the Blaxland family and Mary Pymble. I am fascinated by convict history and the history of this cemetery will not disappoint.
3. All Saints Cemetery, North Parramatta. On the outside, it may seem a little innocuous, but again, it’s the human story that intrigues me. Parramatta is one of the oldest colonial settlements in Australia, so it is hardly surprising that it has its fair share of cemeteries. Approximately 2,000 people are buried with many in unmarked graves. According to the information on site, this includes many “poor, insane, abandoned, destitute and soon forgotten, most died as inmates of the Parramatta Lunatic Asylum, Parramatta Gaol, the Female Orphan School, Parramatta Orphan School and other benevolent institutions in the area.” There are many other families from backgrounds buried in the cemetery.
Other notable cemeteries I have visited, but need to explore further are Hartley Cemetery (which is well kept and lis one of the oldest cemeteries ocated in the upper part of the Blue Mountains, but is closed at night). Junee Cemetery, resting place of one of Junee’s most well known families, the Crawleys of the Monte Cristo Homestead (well worth investigating!) and Picton Cemetery (often referred to as one of the most haunted towns in NSW).
Some other cemeteries that I would love to one day visit include St Bartholomew’s, located at Prospect next to the Great Western Highway (always creeped me out driving past at night), Waverley Cemetery (you’d never tire of that view) Camperdown Cemetery in Sydney’s inner west, as well Mulgoa Anglican Church Cemetery and St Matthews Anglican Cemetery. There are thousands of cemeteries and bural places across Australia. Put them all on the list!
And while I have plans of being cremated and sprinkled over my favourite geographic locations, while I am living, I want to know - who wants to tag along on a taphophilic adventure?
Disclaimer: While GOO encourages its followers to discover Australia’s fascinating cemetery scene, we encourage you to do so respectfully and within the confines of the law. Many respectful groups and teams operate walking and historical tours of cemetery sites, and we encourage you to look into these. Another helpful website is the Australian Cemeteries Index: http://austcemindex.com/
When not leading others astray by night on ghost tours, Elie teaches squishy little people by daylight and has an obsession for all things cats.
Western Sydney holds fond memories for me. It is where I grew up and began developing a keen passion for the paranormal, from reading stories with witches, ghouls and goblins and eventually progressing to more paranormal literature, telling spooky stories at school and sleepovers and wandering around cemeteries during visits with my deceased relatives. At age 16, I attended my first ghost tour with high school friends and fell deeper in spooky love, 11 years later, I still enjoy attending new and interesting ghost tours, and of course all things paranormal.
So consider this as my ode to spooky Western Sydney, here are my top 5 “must attend” CURRENT paranormal tours and investigations that I have personally attended (and enjoyed!!!), with still more to visit!
No 5. Blue Mountains Mystery Tours. Ok, so this one is a little more west, as in the Blue Mountains, but let’s not get too technical here. As a Mountains local, there is a certain ethereal charm that exudes from the Mountains which is why I ended up moving there. On this tour, Paranormal Pete (a seasoned Mountains local) will take you around very best spooky spots the upper Mountains has to offer in his bus. Some say the bus is also haunted, or maybe that was just me? You will be shown convict graves, visit the Historic Little Hartley village and convict gaol, eerie buildings and my personal favourite, the hair raising “Wells”. Perfect for a guided tour getaway!
No 4. Liverpool TAFE. Yes, you heard right, a TAFE. It is considered one of Australia’s oldest still standing colonial hospitals and was once a morgue and served as a mental institution. Some say these poor tortured souls still linger, with confirmation from current TAFE teachers about spooky occurrences taking place. Run by APPI (That stands for Australian Paranormal and Physical Phenomena) the friendly and personable team will take you around the TAFE where school has finished for the day and ghouls will come out to play. Here you will be whisked away to the tower, locked away in dungeons and exposed to various other ghoulish hot spots in and around the TAFE. If you’re also a sad cat lady like me, look out for the local colonies...
No 3. Casula Powerhouse. By day, it serves as an art gallery and artists’ residences, with various dance, singing and comedic performances during some evenings. But when the guests go home of a night and the space is empty, it is no laughing matter. Johnny O’Keefe himself is said to have witnessed a transparent little girl on stage while performing. Situated on the George’s River at Casula just off the train track, it served to provide the local community with electricity during winter and power shortages. There are many stories of drownings occurring in the nearby George’s River which contribute to the eerie feel of the place. Inside, you will be guided around to various areas including ghostly hot spots of the artists’ residence, art making rooms, and my personal favourite, the theatre. The theatre has often been the source of causing big, burly security men to shake in their boots with the door on the side knocking and banging. A little girl is often seen and heard playing on the stage. Another more sinister figure, “Crispy” as APPI have fondly named him, has been felt and made his intimidating presence known on a number of occasions and GOO’s own Alex Cayas had a spooky incident that was caught on film where he felt like he was being “thrown” in the theatre. Was this the workings of “Crispy”? Perhaps you will need to experience it for yourself.
No 2. Gledswood House: Now unfortunately, I am not inclined to usually see or really “sense” things that may be of a paranormal nature, but I believe to have witnessed the lower half of a long flowing white dress outside on one of the balconies. Perhaps I was just seeing things. As a child, I quite often visited El Cabello Blanco with the dancing horses, but had no idea of what was just adjacent. The homestead dates back to 1810 and the overall feeling is eerie. I exploded into a sudden (unexplained) coughing fit upon entering the stables at the beginning of the tour which concluded upon exiting the stables. Guided by mediums whilst holding clear quartz and herbs for protection which provided a more spiritual approach to the tour, the building was interesting and illuminated by the ephemeral glow of our lanterns. I am fascinated by Australian History (both sides of colonial history) and to walk on carpet that was over 100 years old was amazing in itself. (I am a dork, I know). The house is a rabbit warren of rooms which you are allowed to explore freely after each talk. Beware, you may get touched in the cellar or come in close contact with repeating memories of those who walked the property long ago.
No 1. and my personal favourite: Parramatta Gaol, also run by APPI. I have a great fondness for this venue, as my grandfather served as a prison guard there in the 1970s, so it is interesting to walk around a place where he no doubt spent much of his working life. This is a magnificent venue, its walls made with beautiful sandstone contributing to both its impressive and oppressive nature. Here, you will walk in the footsteps of former inmates and prison guards who had become so institutionalised, that they never quite left. You will get to use lots of different equipment in addition to your own sixth sense, which provides a balance to other tours which may take a more spiritual rather than scientific approach. You will be guided by APPI around various wings (some more imposing than others) and hear the story of infamous prisoners. You are also left to your own devices whilst in the wings, so feel free to make yourself at home and hear what the locals have to say! Definitely a night to remember.
Honourable mentions. These tours are unfortunately no longer operational. But I felt it necessary to mention them as I was fortunate enough to visit them in my earlier years.
Studley Park at Narellan. Once a school with an unfortunate drowning of one of the students whose body was stored in the cellar. Another magnificent building whose eerie walls echo with spirits of the past.
Picton Tunnels. I went here as a teenager to the historic town of Picton where a black cat ran in front of our car, the lights we were gathered under suddenly switched off and the former train tunnel produced unexplainable hand prints on one of my friend’s jackets.
So there you have it spooky friends, if you haven’t visited these spooky locations, check your diary and make some room! What are your favourite Western Sydney locations?