Still manning station 93 years after his death?

Is assistant station master Mr Priest still coming to work, 93 years after his sudden death?

It’s Halloween tomorrow – a time when traditionally the veil between the living and dead is at its thinest and the spirits of those long since departed get to wander the earth once more.

It’s only natural that in a place with such a colourful, and at times violent history such as Gympie would have its fair share of ’local haunts’.

The Mary Valley Rattler and in particular the Old Gympie Station seek to recapture the ambiance of a bygone era.

But they may have captured something else because at night, once the passengers and volunteers have gone, work at the station possibly continues for a former employee.

On April 8, 1927, a man identified simply as Mr Priest, 39-year-old husband and father of two, was struck down with a sudden illness and died two hours later at his home.

The Brisbane Courier reported at the time his role was as an assistant station master.

It’s possible though, that someone forgot to tell Mr Priest that his shift at the Gympie station is over.

Since 2011, both the station and the rattler carriages have been visited by a number of paranormal investigators.

Drifter Paranormal investigators heard nothing when recording in May 2014 at the empty station, but noticed a lot of other activity.

When they played back their recording there was a “clear ’normal’ voice saying what sounds like ’clear the way’ in an Australian accent.

“There were no people within 60 metres,“ the investigators said.

“The recording has a male spoken (ie not whispered) voice saying what sounds like ’clear the way’, in an Australian accent. No amplification needed,“ the investigator wrote when posting the video.

“The voice sounds right next to me. In almost seven years of investigating allegedly haunted places, we have never captured a ’spoken’ voice before.“

The investigators also made a second recording when they were in the Rattler dining cart.

They were trying to encourage a reaction by saying they were thirsty and would someone pour them a drink.

Almost immediately after the request, you can hear two liquid ’slops’ like someone pouring a double shot, followed by a ’plop’ like an ice cube.

You can find both of the videos of these encounters on Youtube.

A team of four paranormal investigators spent a night in one of the old carriages back in 2011 and they concluded hair-raising results.

Using energy monitoring systems, meters, audio recorders, shadow detection devices, surveillance cameras and trigger devices, founder of the Paranormal Paratek group, Darren Davies said they definitely detected flashes of white shadows running through the old carriages.

“The carriages were locked up and no one but my team and I were inside the Rattler. We could hear loud bangs from one end of the carriage then suddenly at the other end.

“It was definitely a spooky place at night time,“ Mr Davies said.

The stately elegance of Kingston House Impressions, in addition to being a firm favourite eatery for many locals, is also quite possibly the hang-out of a former occupant.

The home was originally built as a stately home for a mining manager and his family in 1901 and it was turned into a surgery and maternity hospital in the 1930s.

It also became the residence of Dr Cunningham and his wife and a young doctor – Dr Stanley.

Dr Stanley was found dead by Dr Cunningham’s wife from an apparent (and suspicious) insulin overdose.

Soon after Dr Cunningham left the house and his wife for Tasmania, while his wife was left in a state of shock.

Since then, after an extended vacancy during the 30s and 40s, many people have reported strange happenings.

Current owner of Kingston House Kim Jones thinks Dr Stanley has been in residence ever since his mysterious death.

Kim said her staff treat the strange goings-on at Kingston House with good humour and says ’Dr Stanley’ is a friendly ghost who is not threatening.

“My first scary experience happened within the first year of buying the building (1996),“ she said.

“I saw glimpses of a dark shadow flicker past the restaurant and the bar.

“Most of my staff over the years have heard footsteps and have seen a dark figure in the doorway but as they turned to look, the figure was gone.“

Kim’s spookiest experience happened at midnight when she was sitting by the fire, ready to go to bed. As she walked to the door the CD player turned on and music started to play.

She walked back to the CD player and turned it off, trying to convince herself it wasn’t the ghost who did it.

Kingston House guests have told Kim they feel many different spirits in the building but despite that Kim doesn’t feel uneasy with her house guest.

“He is a friendly ghost and we don’t feel threatened,“ she said.

“My staff and I feel his presence every once in a while.“

Paranormal investigators from YouTube channel Night Watchers Australia paid a visit to Kingston House in August and one of the hosts, Pete Cazzolato, thinks he saw the good doctor.

“I saw a dark shape in the doorway and as I watched it moved. My reaction is on the video,“ he said.

He may well have because in recent months one of Kim’s staff members saw a dark shadow walk from one end of the veranda to the other, passing the doorway.

Kim believes Dr Stanley stays in the house because he hopes someone will reveal the truth about his mysterious death.

No fewer than four hotels appear on our list of “local haunts“ and possibly with good reason – between 1867 and 1900, in Gympie’s goldfield heyday, there were 157 licensed premises.

The Empire Hotel is one such premises which can trace its genesis to the late 1860s.

Witnesses at the Empire have reported seeing an apparition of a lady in a red dress in the top floor hallway leading to the guest accommodation rooms.

Some even think they know the identity of the ghostly figure – Alice Rogers, second daughter of the licensee of the hotel in the later part of the 1880s.

At that stage it was known as the Miner’s Arms and Alice “a fine and girl of about 18 years“ had complained of a headache on July 19, 1889 and had gone to her room to rest.

It was discovered later that she had “taken Rough on Rats by mistake“ – a nasty poison.

Despite the doctors being called, young Alice died that night.

There have been sightings of a ghostly figure in the basement and former manager of the Empire Michelle Lapham said she hated going down there.

“Sometimes when you closed up at night and you’re the only one there, you would see things out of the corner of your eye. It was creepy,“ she said.

Despite that, investigators in 2011 were unable to find any incidence of paranormal activity in the hotel.

Visitors and staff to the historic Railway Hotel have experienced all kinds of strange things like shadows and eerie voices.

A quick search of Trove uncovered an especially gruesome death of a seemingly well groomed and well-to-do stranger on May 23,1906.

The Gympie Times of the day recorded a particularly detailed account of how the man, at the stroke of 4pm, died from a gunshot to the middle of his forehead with a revolver.

The man, who was more than a week later identified as W L Nicholls, arrived by train from Bundaberg the previous day and according to the landlord at the hotel had been in good spirits.

The death, ruled as a suicide, is slightly suspicious due to the location of the bullet wound and also because the man told the landlord he had made arrangements for his luggage to be sent to him from Bundaberg, and because of the man’s positive demeanor.

All he had in his possession at the time of his death were a few shillings and a white handkerchief with the name J. Steele embrioded in the corner and several live revolver rounds.

Despite the fact that original hotel was destroyed by fire on February 1, 2015, people living and working in the ’new’ building have heard doors open by themselves or have seen silhouettes.

When investigators from the Paranormal Paratek group monitored the hotel in 2011 they detected “minimal activity“ there.

At the historic Royal Hotel it is thought the sad tale of a jilted lover is the reason “Gerald“ the ghost will apparently not leave.

As the story goes, the ghost is waiting for his love to come back after she ran off with another man.

People who have worked in the hotel in the past regularly got the sense from strange goings-on that “Gerald“ is still there, waiting to be reunited.

Over at the Jockey Hotel, former venue manager Sharon Hunter said while she worked there, she saw some hair raising things.

“Things used to fly off the bar and stools were pushed off too,“ she said.

“I’m sure I’ve seen black shadows on the CCTV footage and there was an eerie presence downstairs that made your skin crawl,“ she said.

The original building was built in 1883 but was completely gutted by fire in 1904. It was rebuilt soon after. The new brick building on the site was built in 1996.

Regarding deaths at or near the hotel, there was only one we were able to ascertain for sure – that of Alfred Stewart in July 1927.

Apparently Alfred was regular patron and a homeless man who had taken to bunking down in the nearby show grounds.

He was suddenly taken ill while visiting the hotel and died in hospital soon after.

This report mirrors another alleged incident in more recent times.

Rumour has it that a “showy“ was sleeping off a big night on the veranda of the hotel in 1995 and that when the publican tried to rouse him the next day, it was discovered he had died.

Other places believe to be haunted in the Gympie region include the Gympie Nursing Centre where rumours abound of “two small girls“ playing around the area who lived in a farm house with their mother and father on the site before the nursing home was built. The girls’ father has also been sighted apparently, but never the girl’s mother.

The historic Gympie Court House is also said to have a “presence“.

A short report made to contains just 19 words.

“Painters renovating the 1901 historic building claimed to have seen a ghost that repeatedly interferes with the clock tower,“ it reads.

Rumours of a death during the construction of the main building of the St Patrick’s College have lead to several people claiming to have strange experiences there.

A former student who attended the school when it was run by the Christian Brothers said a lot of “strange happenings“ had gone on there, and he had once seen “a clock doing a full spin like a top before sitting back down.“

Another building thought to contain a restless spirit is the Gympie Fire Station.

Former fire personnel have reported strange apparitions and things being moved inexplicably.

One former fireman said it was a well known fact a now deceased member of staff would make his presence felt when there were happenings he didn’t agree with.

“I’ve seen things that would make your hair turn white, things that just can’t be explained,“ the source revealed.

“The tower, especially, isn’t somewhere you want to stay on your own for too long,“ he said.