26 August 2014

Lake George- Extract from ‘A Case for Ghosts’ (Part 5)

| JGMontgomery
Join the conversation

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.

Lake George Phantom Hitchhiker

The phantom hitchhiker tale is one of the greatest and most well-known camp fire stories ever told. Man driving car picks up, usually young woman hitchhiker late at night. Hitchhiker seems slightly odd but quiet and pleasant enough. Driver doesn’t stop car but later looks around and notices hitchhiker has disappeared. He stops at next stop and is told that hitchhiker is ghost of someone killed on the highway in some tragic fashion, usually murdered and buried in an unknown grave. Or else they drop the hitch hiker off at a place only to find out later that the place is where they used to live before they were murdered or tragically died.

And so it is with our Lake George ghost, except that there are no records of any young girl being murdered and, even though I have driven that road countless times at night, I have never seen anything odd, not even a real hitchhiker. And so this I am afraid, no matter how many times it is earnestly retold, is an urban myth.

Not so easily explained is the Collector ghost, a man dressed in all black and a top hat that is said to have occasionally appeared since the 1930s near the town of Collector, just north of Canberra. Interestingly this ghost has also been seen walking along the shorelines of Lake George, also at Bungendore, and as far a field as the outskirts of Queanbeyan, just on Canberra’s eastern border.

Given the hitchhiker myth, could it be possible that the Collector ghost has given rise to the story? After all, both involve the lonely stretch of highway that runs along the Lake.

Whatever one may believe, the Collector ghost appears to be very similar in context to numerous other Australian ghost stories with stories of drivers believing that they have hit someone on the road, only to stop and find no body, and when they pull into the next town they invariably talk to the (unnamed) publican who explains laconically and without a blink that the traveller must have seen the (insert local rural town name) ghost. And, unlike Fishers ghost who we studied earlier in the book, there is never any justification as to why the ghost is there, except for vague rumours that someone once got killed doing something, and of course, usually murdered.

Not so surprisingly, the road deaths can easily be attributed to the large volume of traffic that passes by the Lake, being that it is the main thoroughfare from Sydney to Canberra and often onto the distant southern snowfields. Nothing sinister here, no ghostly hitchhikers or top hatted gentlemen, just tired drivers on a long, straight, flat road.

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.

Join the conversation

All Comments
  • All Comments
  • Website Comments

The story about the ghost walking along the Hume Highway near Lake George is true. I will remember this story for as long as I live. I am now 65yo and remember it like it was just yesterday. My family which consisted of mum, dad, 2 brothers and myself. We were driving from Sydney to Canberra in an old FJ Holden.. In those days it was at least an 8 hour drive, you had to go over the Razor back mountain. As we were driving near Lake George we saw a man in the distance ready to cross the road. My dad stopped the car to let him pass, he had on a top hat, wore a black coat and was carrying a bag, to me it looked like an old Drs bag. When we stopped the man just disappeared. We could not believe it but the whole 5 of us saw the same thing. It was pretty amazing.

John Moulis said :

The lake bed was dry and I drove a fair distance to near one of the fences and took some nude pics of me with a tripod for a magazine spread. I finished the photo shoot, put my clothes back on and tried to drive out. Incredibly I became bogged – there was grass growing on the surface but it was wet underneath.

Don’t hold back with essential detail on my account 🙂

Only people who believe in ghosts will think they see them. People who don’t believe in ghosts don’t see them. Funny that!

Hitchhiking was quite common in Australia during the 1970s and ’80s, I picked up several driving too and from Sydney and they were also common within Canberra. The thing which killed it off – so to speak – was the Ivan Milat case in the early 1990s.

As far as Lake George is concerned, I had my own scare on the lake in early 1987. It was before the upgrade of the highway and the Weereewa Lookout/rest areas, and there was a track leading off the highway through an open gate onto the lake bed. The lake bed was dry and I drove a fair distance to near one of the fences and took some nude pics of me with a tripod for a magazine spread. I finished the photo shoot, put my clothes back on and tried to drive out. Incredibly I became bogged – there was grass growing on the surface but it was wet underneath. There were no mobile phones back then and it was too far to walk to the highway to flag someone down. I kept trying to drive out and became bogged further. After about an hour I saw a bloke in a 4WD driving towards me. He was a hang-glider on the peak opposite the lake and had seen the car window flashing the sun. He had a tow rope and towed me out and onto the highway. I saw him again a few weeks later at Woden Plaza and said to him that if he hadn’t rescued me I would have still been there. Still, the money I received after the pics were published in the US was some compensation.

Daily Digest

Want the best Canberra news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riotact stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.