Kambah Woolshed- Extract from ‘A Case for Ghosts’ (Part 6)

JGMontgomery 2 September 2014

History has shown us that ghosts and the supernatural seem to be commonplace and that a large percentage of people in the western world, indeed from all races and religions, not only believe in ghosts but have also experienced something that they believe is of a supernatural origin. Indeed, many people have reported the same supernatural occurrence happening at a specific place over a number of years thus legitimising their experiences, even though they have had no contact with others who may have seen, or heard, or experienced the same thing.

Can all these people be wrong? Are they deluded or deranged? Have they simply misinterpreted what they have experienced? In many cases, yes. And yet, there are still cases that defy explanation.

The Kambah Woolshed

The Kambah Woolshed is a link back to Canberra’s rural past. Nestled in suburbia, with a car park, BBQs and crunchy red gravel paths, it does not appear in any way to be even remotely haunted. And yet strange reports of ghostly screams and howls have been reported from this rustic tin roofed building.

Years ago, when still being used as a shearing shed, the building had corrugated iron walls and roughly hewn beams. Now the walls have gone and the floor is dirt with picnic tables situated strategically under the tin to shade picnickers from the hot Australian sun. The rough-hewn beams still support the original tin roof and in places you can still make out faded wool bale stencils on the wood.

During the day the place is pleasant, even relaxing, and it is easy to imagine children running around the place, laughing and yelling and eating sausages cooked on the nearby BBQ whilst their parents sit quietly on the massive gum picnic tables drinking beers and wine and generally relaxing on a warm afternoon.

My first impression of the place was one of amazement. Here, in the middle of suburbia sat a cultural gem from a bygone era. Walking around and through the building one marvels at the ingenuity and hard work that must have gone into the building of the woolshed. There is no impression of it being haunted.

Although part of a working sheep station up until 1971, it has been said that it was used at times to imprison convicts and indeed, executions have also been hinted at. People in the nearby houses have reported screams coming from the darkness of the building and there is one unsubstantiated report of a man finding a pool of blood on the floor in one of the corners.

While this sounds promising in my quest for ghosts, I find it very hard to believe. For one, I have yet to find any evidence of it ever being used to imprison convicts, after all, why would a working sheep station hand over their shearing shed to be used as a gaol? And the date of the purported imprisonments and executions are listed, vaguely, as around the 1900s which is wrong in a chronological sense given that no convicts were being imprisoned anywhere at that time in Australia.

As for the pool of blood? Well, it is in suburbia and most probably frequented on Friday and Saturday nights by teenagers drinking cheap alcohol and beer, a sure recipe for the odd disagreement or fight. Apart from that, it doesn’t actually have a floor, rather, a crushed and pressed granite surface.

And the screams and noises that are reportedly heard? I think the previous paragraph adequately explains it all.

At night, however, it is very dark and quiet. The suburban houses across the street are dimly lit and quiet. The car park is deserted and lonely. At your feet the gravels crunches softly and the wind makes strange noises in the exposed beams. Black cats slink away behind the tables and BBQs and one does feel some sort of trepidation as a chill seems to run up the your spine. Maybe there is more to this legend than one thinks?

Sitting in the dark of the woolshed I light a cigarette and wonder if the glow from the burning tobacco and the smoke will dissuade any prospective ghosts. A car drives by, its engine a low moan in the quiet still air. Somewhere a few streets away I can hear some adults talking very loudly. Apart from this, nothing is happening.

Surely this place cannot be haunted. Yes, it is dark and old, but haunted? Sitting there alone in the dark I can imagine the place bustling with tough, lean, hard drinking shearers in singlets, swearing and sweating as they shear. But these men are not ghosts, instead they are history. Is history ghostly? Or are ghosts history? And if this place is not haunted, or at least shows no signs of being so, then surely there must be somewhere else that I can examine? And not necessarily a building or structure.

Extract taken from A Case for Ghosts by JG Montgomery (Ginninderra Press 2012). His latest book, WYRD- A Personal Journey Into the Beliefs and Philosophies of the Known and Unknown (CFZ Press Devon England) is now available. A new book Meditations in Orange is now available through Pendragon Publishing & Design, Smiths Alternative Bookshop and Bookpassion.

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