National Film and Sound Archives – Extract from ‘A Case for Ghosts’ (Part 8)

JGMontgomery 16 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.

National Film and Sound Archives

The National Film and Sound Archives is a splendid neo classical building in the old Canberra suburb of Acton and was the home of the Australian Institute of Anatomy from 1931 until 1984. It once had a morgue in the basement where autopsies were performed and even held a collection of human skulls. Not surprisingly there are numerous accounts of supernatural like events in the building, including movement sensors in the basement that are regularly triggered even with no-one present. In addition it has been reported that the electronic counter on the front door often shows that people have entered or exited the building after closing time when the front door is locked.

According to Tim, it was just after 6.00pm on a winters day when Professor Brownrigg walked down the stairs from his office towards the buildings foyer. Reaching the foyer he was astounded to find over a hundred people milling around in the foyer as if there for some official function. As he stood there wondering what was going on and why he had not be informed of the event, a tall man in period costume with a bowler hat, winged collar and walrus style moustache blocked his way for a moment and in this moment. Brownrigg noticed that everyone in the room was sepia like in tone.

And then they all vanished leaving the perplexed and shaken professor to wonder if what he had witnessed was real, or imagined. One would think at this stage that Brownrigg suffered some sort of hallucination yet he was to find out later that others that had worked in the building had reported seeing the tall man with the walrus moustache and that they had no prior knowledge of his experience.

Later Brownrigg documented many strange occurrences in the building including a glass dish being apparently thrown across a room by an invisible force and the sightings of a ghostly woman in an upstairs gallery. As well he became aware of reports of the ghost of a young girl known as the Pyjama Girl who was murdered near Albury on the New South Wales Victorian border and whose body was held in the basement morgue for some time after her death.

And so what are we to make of Brownrigg’s experience? Hallucination? Ghostly haunting? Or maybe even a timeslip? As we have seen, Brownrigg was not the only member of staff to have encountered a tall man with a walrus moustache so we can probably rule out hallucination as an explanation. Tim the Yowie Man speaks of the experience as if it is a ghostly haunting and yet one would have to question why, if ghosts are the spirits of dead people, was there over a hundred people in the foyer gathered for some sort of event? Surely if these people were ghosts in the popular tradition then they must have all died on this site, which they didn’t. Is it possible that these people are the conglomeration of a build up of energy from the thousands and thousands of people who have worked, visited or whose bodies were once held in the building since its inception in the mid 1930s? And if this is the case, why were the people that Brownrigg saw dressed in period costumes? Put simply, how can over 100 ghosts exist in an apparent same time in the same place? Is the National Film and Sound Archive another building somewhat like the National Museum of Australia whereby traditional or normal types of hauntings do not occur? And if so, then why so?

Of course, there is another explanation and that is that Brownrigg experienced a reverse or ‘backward’ timeslip. In other words he was somehow transported back through time to when the building held some sort of civic event, maybe the opening of the building itself? And if this is the case then what of the tall man with the moustache? Did he, on that occasion, come face to face with a ghost from the future? That is, Brownrigg himself? Of course, we have no way of knowing and yet the case for a timeslip seems much more logical than a large foyer full of ghosts who by all reasoning should not, and could not be there.

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, the National Portrait Gallery and Bookpassion.

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