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 Air Disaster Memorial
The Air Disaster Memorial on Mount Ainslie is another place reputed to be haunted. I have heard first, second, third and fourth hand stories of cars losing power and failing to start, lights fading, whispered voices, and most oddly, cars rolling uphill of their own accord. The latter I can totally dismiss as an urban legend most probably started by someone who, whilst drunk, forgot to put their car in gear and pull the hand brake on, only to watch it roll away backwards at a later time. The embarrassment alone, if not the alcohol, would be enough for anyone to come up with some sort of supernatural excuse for their stupidity.
In August 1940, just after the start of World War Two, three Cabinet Ministers and the Chief of the General Staff, plus another six people were killed when a Royal Australian Air Force Lockheed Hudson bomber stalled and crashed into the mountain. RAAF emergency crews were on the scene within minutes but the force of the crash was considerable and all were presumed killed instantly.
Almost as ridiculous as the uphill rolling cars is the myth that, if your car stops on the cattle grid near the memorial, a ghostly nurse who was present after the 1942 aircraft crash, and who tried to help, will coming running from the forest and try to get into the car, as if to help you. As the myth goes, she has smashed windscreens to get into the car, simply to help those in there, believing them to be part of the Hudson crash. Of course, this makes absolutely no sense whatsoever as no nurse died in the rescue attempt and as far as I can ascertain, no WWII nurse has ever died on Mount Ainslie.
Having said this, was a nurse involved in the rescue attempt and the whole thing was so traumatic that somehow she left some emotional remnant of herself in the mountain? A residual piece of energy that manifests itself as a ghostly nurse?
Another story regarding the Air Disaster Memorial is even less believable in that a young girl was once found dead under a 500 kilogram cattle grid although the ground around the grid had not been disturbed. Apart from allegedly making your car stall, she doesn’t really seem to do much else at all. Who she is, or was no-one seems to know although she is in no way attached to disaster of the crashed Hudson bomber. In fact, it is doubtful that she even existed and the whole story is an urban legend.
Given this, we still must wonder about the ten men killed on the fateful day in August. They were either young and in their prime, or in positions of great power. And yet their lives were extinguished faster than the fire on a match head in a breeze. Could it be possible that the reports of supernatural and odd events on Mount Ainslie are a direct result of these tragic deaths so many years ago? Do the spirits of these men haunt the pine forests and lonely dirt roads that lead to the memorial itself?
Of course, there is only one way to find out.
The Air Disaster Memorial sits in the Fairbairn pine plantation on the eastern edge of Canberra. Even during the day the area around the memorial is spooky. Surrounded by thick vegetation the memorial is simply a large rock sitting on a round bed of gravel. Affixed to the rock is a plaque dedicated to the dead.
As we have seen, many strange stories are attributed to the Memorial and it is almost a right of passage for young men and women to go there at night although these days the road is locked off and access is difficult. It is quiet and still, in fact, so much so that one imagines that they can hear sounds, even in the light of day. And because the site has this odd feeling one can only speculate that it must be amplified at night, possibly the reason why so many strange stories are told about the place.
And yet, if it is a spooky place during the day, and moreso at night, then why? As we have seen, ten people died in a horrific fiery crash on the very site. But this alone should not make it more spooky or overwhelming than say the site of a train crash, or a car crash.
But it is. Stories of whispering voices and running footsteps, strange lights that fly towards the memorial, photos containing numerous orbs, ghostly sightings of men in old style overalls, screaming voices and even apparitions that appear to follow tour groups, yet quickly disappear when addressed or noticed. And yet, probably the most interesting, and disturbing is the story of Keren Rowland, a 20 year old girl who was murdered in 1971 and whose decomposing body was later found close to the memorial itself. According to Tinny from Destiny Tours her ghost has been seen standing on the edge of a clearing, a brown sepia image that people have described accurately as her, even down to such details as having her hair pulled back, something she rarely did, but had done so on the day of her death.
The area surrounding the memorial is quiet and even in the day one gets the feeling of being watched. The pines guard their secrets dearly. At night shadows loom and recede in torch light and one can be easily forgiven for imagining human shapes in the gloom. Strangely, I am sure that I heard women’s voices chattering and laughing in the distance as I stood in front of the memorial on a cold July night. And yet, thinking back, I am now not so sure.
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 will be available through Pendragon Publishing & Design later this year.