Ok, so I’ve been called ‘morbid’ most of my life, and let’s face it, if you’re reading this, you’re probably one of those people who loved being freaked out by the creepy things that go bump in the night too. But one of my favourite things to do is go for walks (day or night) in
cemeteries. I love them. I love that they bring about sad feelings, calm feelings, confused and also scared feelings. To me, cemeteries are a reminder that life is short and each day a blessing. I also love the fact that you can find out historical and social stories about the area and possibly visit a few famous headstones too. Melbourne has some of the most intriguing and historical cemeteries in Australia.
The Melbourne General Cemetery, Cheltenham Pioneer Cemetery and Memorial Park and even Friends of St Kilda Cemetery just to name a few of the popular ones hosting tours of famous and infamous people. There is one creepy graveyard but I think you’ll struggle to find it… considering it’s hidden beneath tonnes of concrete called the Queen Victoria Markets carpark! While a few had been transferred to Melbourne General Cemetery, it is said that some remain unnamed beneath the concrete of the car park to this day. So in continuation of my graveyard theme, I thought I’d ask a good friend of Ghost of Oz and one of the leading paranormal peeps down here in Victoria, a few questions about investigating in and around locations involving cemeteries.
With William (Bill) Tabone of The Australian Paranormal Society, Victoria.
Danni: Firstly tell us a bit about APS and your role in the team.
Bill: The APS are an investigation and research team who also conduct workshops, lectures, tours and we provide a consultancy service worldwide to support the paranormal community. We believe in educating the public on all matters of the paranormal and therefore building acceptance of the paranormal in the general public. The team is made up of very experienced investigators with a wide variety of skills. My role in the APS is director and lead investigator roles I shared with Amanda who founded the APS with me.
D: So can you remember your first experience in a cemetery personally? Only if you feel comfortable sharing of course.
B: I have had quite a few experiences in cemeteries but one that sticks out in my mind happened many years ago at the start of my years as an investigator. Four of us were out testing out some equipment at a local cemetery. We had been wandering around trying out the cameras, doing some EVP work and generally soaking up the atmosphere when about twenty metres away I could see movement. Initially I thought it was another person that had wandered in to the cemetery, but as I watched it became apparent it wasn't a person but a dense mist that was glowing blue, it was also moving around the tombstones rather than over them.
My one regret is that I don't have the cameras I have now. No really it was an amazing experience.
D: Oh gosh, I have no doubt that would’ve been amazing… scary and amazing. So ok, what about professionally as an investigator? How do you feel strolling about a field that technically has decaying bodies beneath your feet? Some can’t even fathom the thought yet some are completely at peace with the idea, excuse the pun.
B: Great question. I don't have a problem with it, I always show respect. The way I look at it they are the bodies but the spirit has moved on in most cases. I find cemeteries soothing and a great history lesson. We spend many afternoons photographing the decaying head stones before they are lost to time. If people knew that there are places where they walk in everyday life that have bodies buried underneath. For example most people do not know the Victoria Market here in Melbourne is built on the site of Melbourne’s second cemetery, on top of this most people do not know that there are thousands of bodies still buried underneath, up to ten thousand bodies. I love these places.
D: So do I! I was there the other day and just had to… walk slowly… you know… in case. So are there any stand out moments APS or even yourself personally that you’ve had in cemeteries?
B: To be honest I find most cemeteries pretty quiet. There are many interesting stories that the team has had. One that I really find interesting was with one team member, Lionel, who was exploring a cemetery down on the peninsula, this cemetery is laid out on two levels with a cliff separating the upper and lower levels. One night he was alone on the lower level when he witnessed a large, for want of a better word, creature that flew off the upper level and across, directly above him and into the distance. Lionel described it as appearing as a half human, half bat. Now Lionel is a very experienced investigator and not one to jump to flights of fancy, he was certain what he witnessed that night. I personally have been there with him at night and I must say it was a very creepy experience in that cemetery although I didn't see the creature it just didn't feel right.
D: So you mentioned it was at night, do you think evidence needs to be carefully studied when out in the elements? Especially at night?
B: Most certainly, there are just so many contaminants that can give false readings or evidence or can destroy good captures. There is wind, dust, pollen, moisture, traffic and so much more that is just so hard, impossible to control. Any evidence of interest would have to be of the highest quality to even be considered because of all the possible contamination that can take place. To be honest I do not really think cemeteries are the best places to investigate, they are better places to have personal experiences. Plus I do not think that they truly are the most active places because I do not see why a spirit would want to remain a cemetery rather than a place they loved in life. I am not saying there are not spirits in cemeteries just that I believe that a spirit is more likely to be where they loved or had an attachment or some reason to be at a location.
D: Personally I agree. I’d much rather an historical tour and if something happens, then it’s all in the personal experience. But for those who are heading out to cemeteries to investigate, what would be your handy hints or tips?
B: Initially I would say explore in day light, get a feel for the location, work out the quickest and safes exits. Set up a meeting point just in case you get separated. I would then tell them to make sure there equipment is all in order, especially there safety equipment, torches, first aid etc. I would also say carry whistles if it is a large location to make it easy to locate a team member that may become disorientated or lost. Be sure to wear the appropriate gear. Clothes and footwear. It is really unfortunate to be in shorts and a t-shirt when the weather changes. Also let someone know where you will be and what your exit time may be. Occupational health and safety comes first in all cases. I would also make sure one person is in charge so if the need happens and they need to leave in a hurry there is someone that will make the call and the others need to follow. In general “Be Prepared, Stay Aware and be Careful”, and have fun.
D: Perfect advice for all I think. You said before that sometimes evidence captured from equipment used in the elements can be deceiving and difficult to decipher, are there any particular types of equipment that are a must have or maybe even equipment to steer clear from?
B: I am always happy with just a voice recorder and a camera but I would tell people to try any equipment they want, try different things, test out new ways of doing things, do not be afraid to fail you just might come up with a new way of doing something. Always be aware though of the environment as it will give you false readings and evidence. Lastly I would say to anyone going to a cemetery is be respectful, and learn the history of the souls that went before us because we will all be there one day. Also we are always available to give advice and answer your questions just drop us a message.
D: Most definitely and if anybody would like to get in touch with APS, you can Like them on Facebook and get in touch with them. Thanks so much for your time and advice today and gallivanting with me through graveyards!
B: Cheers and blessings to each and every one of you.
D: Bill will be speaking at Paracon 2016 talking all things Facing the Darkness, Saturday 28th May at 12pm in the Baroque Room at The Carrington, Blue Mountains NSW. Tickets selling fast so get yours asap! www.paraconaustralia.com
Until next time, stay GOOey ghoulies! Danni
Danni is a Drama and English High School teacher by trade, but Danni also enjoys her time frolicking in the forest of the Dandenong Ranges looking for anomalies, writing spooky poetry, Directing theatre and eating wild berries.