“Clara: Is this a story, or did this really happen?
“The Doctor: Everything ever told really happened. Stories are where memories go when they’re forgotten.”
-Hell Bent from ‘Doctor Who’, season 9, 2015
I love adventuring out into the night and dark places when I’m well enough. So on Saturday 21st August, 2016, I went on a journey I wouldn’t forget. I’m the agnostic/skeptic who’d go on a ghost tour of the Old Adelaide Gaol with Adelaide Haunted Horizons Ghost Tours on a whim as one of my obscure lonely adventures. They are a tour operation run of genuine dark historians as well as paranormal investigators. I, as a fellow scholar, wasn’t expecting something drastic or exciting to really happen, especially not to me. I’m an archaeology student so if the Indiana Jones movies I’ve been recently forced to watch are correct my problems are: Nazis, snakes, femme fatales and quick sand. Ghost baiting is now a skill I can add to my CV with my very own spooky experience. This was a place haunted by some not so nice people unlike the majority of ghosts of the Adelaide Arcade (next blog post’s feature tour.) If and what my experience meant, other than I’m highly suggestible, who knows?
Instead, I arrived early to site as is my practice to check out the digs before other tourists came. The gates were slightly forbodding but how often to you get to be alone in an old scary building and not be the victim of a horror movie? I sipped a cola and told the spirits to do their worst to this lonely adventurer. I’m afraid oh no ghost…
My Boys (said in my best Missy fashion), experienced guides Craig and Michael, gathered up the other intrepid explorers and told us tonight the football was on…so the Gaol was lit up and it was spectacular! I’ve explained my love of dark history and sites in the past and this is one of the reasons. But before booking a tour, check out the company’s reputation for safety and trustworthiness. Before booking, I checked out Haunted Horizons by word of mouth from uni lecturers, fellows tourists, friends and other operators like urban photographers who work in the same domain and got nothing but positive feedback that this team run a tight professional ship with no gimmicks, scare factors or games to mess with their tourists – they are there to research. The team at Haunted Horizons in particular know the Old Gaol very well, the Haunted Horizons team has a wealth of experience under Alison Oborn as the Head Paranormal Researcher, a tour guide and Information Officer for over a decade. They know the conditions and while they can’t make a ghost appear, you’ll still go on an exciting but safe guided tour. And so off we set!
It was a great night to be out as we had cloud cover and it kept in the moonlight. As we walked through the Gaol, we really didn’t need torches except in the buildings as in open spaces our natural night vision kicked in. And the football was on, so it was all lit up spectacularly!
Earlier that I’d month been on the dark history tour of the Adelaide Arcade in Rundle Mall with the HH team, Alison and Kag. I left not surprised but definitely entertained devoid of any ghostly experiences and I’m not going to pretend I’m not agnostic on ghosts (not the most useful trait in an archaeology student until you see what happened next). There was a little haunting and I got to access the tea room and check out the original funky gilt paint (this will be in my interview with Alison in the near future!).
So back to the Old Gaol, Craig was telling an anecdote in the arts and crafts room when I felt a burning sensation around my left wrist under my glove. We lifted it up and Lo! and Behold! I’d be manacled by the looks of the marks. They appeared like rope burn, an indent firmly pressed into my skin like I’d been tied in and burned like I’d picked up a curling iron. My abnormal response to shock was useful here and I found it hard to stop giggling and nicknamed myself ghost bait! The others kinda kept a distance after that!
After my adventures in the craft room, the rest of the tour was relatively uneventful for me except I got an itchy neck when we went to the hanging tower but no cool ghostly marks this time, just a red rash that looked like I’d been scratching my neck. Less impressive than being manacled.
After we’d moved through the Old Gaol, at the end we end of the tour, we had a lock-up session to ghost hunt where participants get placed in cells in the new building in B and A (where executions had taken place before the tower was built). After my experience as ghostbait, I opted out for being locked in a cell alone with a ghost, a first date should at least involvea little romance, flowers, candles, dinner, before the shaking and unearthly groaning from the underworld.
So myself and the other fraidy cats sat quietly on the stairs while the brace went into lockdown in the cells. This is the ghost hunting activity or paranormal investigating part of the night and the HH team record the experiences over the time tourists are in the cells to gather any evidence they can of the paranormal activity. I distinctly from the safety of could hear the creaking of leather boots creaking above. Someone wanted me in the clink that night?! I’ve been bad!
Congratulations to Adelaide Haunted Horizons for their second year running as Best Tourism Operator at the South Australian Tourism Awards in 2016. You can read owner, Alison Oborn’s experience in working in paranormal investigation and dark history in particular at the Old Gaol entitled Ghosts of the Past. We will be interviewing Alison in the near future and I promise some exciting stuff!
You can also book a ghost hunting or dark history tour of the Old Gaol, the National Railway Museum, Adelaide Arcade, National Trust of South Australia and Port Adelaide with the Haunted Horizons team by at:
Or by ringing: +61 407 715 866
Or find them on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/AdelaideHauntedHorizons/
All pictures copyrighted and used by permission of Adelaide Haunted Horizons Ghost Tours 2016. Some pictures taken by author Clara Santilli (brunette in blue duffle coat).