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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Paranormal / Spiritual News: Night Gallery, Ghostly Tasmanian Asylum and Haunted Costa Rica

Queensland's Night Gallery

dailyexaminer - Along with a beautiful, heritage-listed location and a renowned collection of artworks, it seems Grafton Regional Gallery can now boast another drawcard – its very own resident ghost.

Members of the Queensland Paranormal Research and Analysis Group (QPRAG) recently conducted a night time paranormal investigation at the gallery's historic Prentice House in Fitzroy St based on reports from visitors and volunteers of ghostly occurrences there over the years.

After going over hours of data collected on the night from video cameras, digital voice recorders and electromagnetic field (EMF) meters, the results are in and the team believe they have found strong evidence of paranormal activity.

“Our conclusion is the gallery is rated a Category: 2 (Paranormal Activity captured but no visual evidence),” said Chris, one of the investigation team leaders.

This means the data gathered by the group ticked many of the boxes indicating paranormal activity, except for the holy grail of ghost-hunting – capturing an apparition on video or camera.

However, what the team did get were several digital sound recordings containing what they believe is Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP), which is unexplained recorded sounds or voices.

The team sent these recordings to The Daily Examiner.

One of the recordings contains a male-sounding voice clearly and commandingly saying “go!”, while another contains what also sounds like a male voice saying something unintelligible.

These recordings turned-up on digital sound recorders placed near the gallery's staircase, which became a focal point of the overall investigation.

The team has ruled-out these voices coming from its own members, with the recordings being made either during a lock-out period on the night when the entire team was waiting outside the gallery, or in the case of one recording, during a period where two members were inside, but sitting in complete silence.

Along with the voices, Chris said several unexplained bangs and scrapes were recorded; irregular EMF activity (which is believed by ghost-hunters to indicate paranormal activity) was noted, and; two video cameras positioned inside the gallery were inexplicably turned off while recording, despite having plenty of battery power left.

The power switch on one of these cameras was actually found to have been physically turned to the “off” position, but no one was anywhere near the camera at the time.

Chris said a combination of these incidents, and others, led the team to the conclusion there was indeed paranormal activity at the gallery.

She also said the gallery investigation had proven to be one of the team's most eventful.

“Now that we've reviewed all the data, I think it's probably one of the best ones; it's the most we've ever picked-up in one night,” she said.

“That's the thing – you can be on a site for three hours and not pick-up anything, but with the gallery, we've got at least half-a-dozen things which are questionable – we have no explanation for them.”

Chris said the South-East Queensland-based QPRAG team was keen to return to Grafton soon and had its sights set on historic Schaeffer House, which is said to boast a ghostly tale or two of its own.

To celebrate the QPRAG team's findings, youngsters will soon get a chance to do some ghost-hunting of their own at the gallery, with day-time children's ghost tours to be held during the April school holidays.


Tasmanian Mental Asylum's Haunted Reputation the Tasmanian town of New Norfolk stories about apparitions, strange sudden smells and unearthly happenings at the site of the former mental asylum have been circulating the local community and more recently the internet.

A former mental health hospital, Willow Court has unofficially become a drawcard for people who believe in the supernatural.

Now the Derwent Valley Council is determined to find out once and for all if there is any truth to the stories.

Councillors recently voted in favour of a paranormal investigation in at least two of the wards still standing.

A team of three from the Australian Paranormal Investigation Unit are now planning a two or three night stay in ward C and Alonnah that once housed the criminally insane.

Decommissioned by the Tasmanian Government in the 1990s, some of the wards have been knocked down to make way for development. Others are still empty - trashed by vandals.

Glenn Hevey, Nick Jarvis and Aiden Sullivan have long held an interest in Willow Court and the supernatural.

"I've loved it all my life," former New Norfolk boy Nick Jarvis said.

"What spurred my interest even more was the paranormal side of Willow Court and almost on a daily basis I've been getting reports of people seeing things and hearing things."

Three years ago, the three young men decided to get serious and set up the Australian Paranormal Investigations Unit.

They contacted the local Derwent Valley Council and the small team of ghost busters were given official council approval to investigate three wards that once housed the criminally insane.

"We went through the appropriate channels went through council, the committee endorsed it and it was voted on and approved. So it was a long process and we're pretty happy to be in that position," Mr Jarvis said.

The three men are certain there is a spiritual presence at the site, but believe it or not they have never had the camera when a spirit has appeared.

"When I was driving down the main avenue here at Willow Court, I was driving over some of the speed humps and the headlights shone on a white apparition figure," Mr Jarvis said.

This time they are determined to record a presence.

"We've got voice recorders to capture electronic voice phenomena, including static or stray noises. We've got electromagnetic field metres to hopefully capture any presences. We've got cameras, and we've got temp guns which we use with temperature readings to work out if there are any temperature spikes or drops," Mr Jarvis said.

Sceptic Leyon Parker wishes the team luck, but holds little hope for success.

"I think it's a waste of time," he said.

"I suppose people can choose to waste their time any way they like. If these people want to waste their time looking for ghosts that don't exist it's not my job to tell them they shouldn't do that."

To be convinced he says he would need "photographic evidence, there would have to be electronic recordings of some sort, the clearer the better, probably accompanying eyewitness accounts and it would certainly help if there was a sceptical mind there at the time this occurred".

There are some people in Tasmania hoping no such evidence is found, in fact they would prefer if Willow Court's history as an asylum for the state's mentally ill was not dragged up.

Locals have never been keen to admit having a relative at Willow Court, a family secret often considered more sensitive than a person's convict ancestry.

For that reason there are some councillors who are against a paranormal investigation.

Barry Lathey believes the asylum's more recent past should be left alone.

"I think this site is a bit too close to the people that were incarcerated in here and I think it would have, or may have, an adverse affect on their families," he said.

Former Mayor Tony Nicholson worked at Willow Court many years ago.

With strong memories of the patients, he believes the supernatural investigation is disrespectful.

But the ghost busters say finding a spiritual presence at Willow Court could silence the sceptics and have economic spinoffs for the area.


Haunted Costa Rica

thecostaricanerws - During the last few years, there has been an increased interest in ghost hunting, both in the United States and worldwide. Shows such as Ghost Hunters, Paranormal State and Ghost Adventures-to name just three-have sparked a flurry of spirit seekers to visit locations reputed to be inhabited by people who have traveled over to “the other side.” Costa Ricans-expats and locals alike- also seem to have caught the ghost-hunting bug. So the question arises: Where can you find haunted locations in Costa Rica?

Perhaps the best-known location for paranormal activity is located within the shadow of Irazu Volcano. Some 38 miles from San Jose, near Cartago, is the Sanatorio Carlos Duran. Driving from Cartago, as you head toward Irazu, follow the road to the left which heads to Prusia and you will find it there. Dr. Duran felt that the location and the climate would make a perfect place to treat patients stricken with tuberculosis and leprosy and so, in 1915, he built the hospital.

Throughout the years, the sanatorium/hospital was transformed from a medical facility to an insane asylum and, for a time, also served as an orphanage. However, the Colossus of Costa Rica, as Irazu is known locally, decided in 1973 that Dr. Duran’s hospital had run out of time. The 1973 volcanic eruption forced the hospital to close once and for all-at least for the living.

Residents in and around Cartago have long reported spectral encounters throughout the hospital grounds. Ghost Hunters International, a spinoff of the popular Ghost Hunters show on the American SyFy channel, made Dr. Duran’s sanatorium one of two Costa Rican locales that were investigated. Encounters range from sounds, feelings of sadness, shadow images, and items being tossed out of the patient’s rooms. One of the more persistent stories is that of an image of a nun who is seen on the grounds. Perhaps she is tending the sick in the next world, much as she did in this one.

The town of Cartago is also home to a famous ghost tale. In Parque Central, Cartago, you can visit Las Ruinas de la Parroquia -a spot where churches, of one type or another, have stood since 1575. Legend has it that in the 1800s, a young priest fell in love with his sister-in-law and had a scandalous affair. The affair was discovered by his brother, the mayor, who killed the priest in a jealous rage. Soon after the murder, the original church was destroyed during the earthquake of 1841. It was then rebuilt and almost immediately after completion, it was destroyed again in the quake of 1910. An earthquake continually halted all attempts at reconstruction of the church, prompting the townsfolk of Cartago to give up on reconstruction, deducing that the grounds were evil and haunted. Although only the outer walls of the building remain, visitors tell of a headless spirit who continues to roam the church grounds.

The other site, which the Ghost Hunters International team investigated, is San Lucas Island. Though inhabited by various indigenous groups since roughly 1000 A.D., the island is best known for its infamous prison. Prior to its construction in 1873, under the orders of Tomás Miguel Guardia Gutiérre, it was used by the Spanish as an internment camp for natives who were subsequently killed at the site of their ancestor’s burial grounds.

During its tenure, San Lucas had a reputation as both one of the most dreaded prisons in Central America and as the final destination of some of the most horrific criminals in Costa Rica. Murderers and rapists were intermingled with political prisoners and, as might be expected, many perished. There are countless stories of torture and of the suffering of those sentenced there. Among the many ghostly encounters recorded is that of a nurse who was reportedly raped and killed by the prisoners while she was treating them. It is said her ghost can be found in one of the holding cells which has two drawings of a woman-allegedly made with her own blood.

San Lucas is now a national park and there are several tour companies offering the adventurous the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of the ancients and of the ghost hunters.

For those seeking a more inviting location to check out the paranormal, a visit to the beach at Playa Grande is recommended. Rumored to be an ancient burial and ceremonial site of one of the long forgotten tribes who lived in the region, Ticos and non-Ticos alike have reported various ghostly encounters. At the very least, there is the sun, the sand, and the ocean which can certainly compensate for a lack of paranormal activity.

Costa Rica also has its’ own version of the banshee. Although she is known throughout much of Central and South America, La Llorona (the Crier) has a unique Costa Rican identity. Maria, (the Crier’s name) apparently got involved with someone while she was married and had his child. In despair, she is said to have thrown the baby into the river before taking her own life. She wanders the length and breadth of Costa Rica, usually near water, looking for her lost child and crying a warning to those thinking of having an affair.

Ghost hunting in paradise? Why not? It’s just another facet to explore in this green and beautiful land of Pura Vida.



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