On the Monday morning after reading the front page of the free Mercury newspaper that was left at my front door and discovering I had missed the grand finale of the Dark Mofo weekend...that's if you don't count the Dark Mofo Nude Swim, (which I knew I wouldn't be there for anyway, as I was off to Port Arthur), I prepared to check out and hit the road for Port Arthur.
Ogoh! I Missed the Burning
I got there not long after the tower had opened for the day, so I had the stairs leading up to the top of the tower all to myself...all 259 rickety wooden stairs.
|You only have to climb 259 rickety wooden stairs like this to make it to the top...gulp!|
And when you look up to the top it is just as scary looking, too.
As I walked to the top...slowly and with a firm hold on the railing just in case those stairs under my feet broke, like they seemed to be threatening to do, I would stop and take a look over the rail and break out almost into a cold sweat.
|It's a bloody long way down, too...if you should fall over the rail|
|Screen captures from the movie 'The Walk'|
I know they say "fear eats the soul", but "heights f#ck with my head", so to speak.
|The view looking down the shaft right from the top of the tower|
|Looking out over the Derwent river to the Tasman peninsular|
|The supposedly haunted house below the shot tower|
|The haunted church remains of Port Arthur, Tasmania|
He then told me that he had captured a few ghosts on film himself with this method.
I didn't capture any ghosts on my photos while there but I did have some creepy encounters which I wrote about in this post in the link below -
The Conjuring, Too?
Not only is Port Arthur reputedly the most haunted place in Australia, but it is also the scene of Australia's worst mass shooting, which happened 20 years ago.
Port Arthur massacre (Australia)
"The Port Arthur massacre of 28–29 April 1996 was a killing spree in which 35 people were killed and 23 wounded. It occurred mainly at the historic Port Arthur former prison colony, a popular tourist site in south-eastern Tasmania, Australia.
Martin Bryant, a 28-year-old from New Town, a suburb of Hobart, was found guilty of the shootings and given 35 life sentences without possibility of parole.
Following the incident, it emerged in the media that Bryant had significant intellectual disabilities. He is now imprisoned in the Wilfred Lopes Centre near the Risdon Prison Complex.
Following the spree, the Prime Minister of Australia, John Howard, introduced strict gun control laws within Australia and formulated the National Firearms Programme Implementation Act 1996, restricting the private ownership of high capacity semi-automatic rifles, semi-automatic shotguns and pump-action shotguns as well as introducing uniform firearms licensing. It was implemented with bipartisan support by the Commonwealth, states and territories."
I must admit that I didn't know all that much about what happened 20 years ago, apart from a ruthless madman who gunned down over thirty-five people and ruthlessly stalked down a little girl hiding behind a tree after just killing her mother and older sister.
I'm kind of glad that I didn't know the details until after reading the book I bought in the Port Arthur gift shop.
I do remember the horrific story coming on the radio 20 years ago as I had just left Ormiston House in Brisbane after a nice day at an historic site with my own wife and young boys and while it would be a day or two until we heard about the maniac stalking the young girl, I still couldn't help thinking what if that had happened to us when we were just having a nice family day out?
Carol Altman's book is an excellent read that not only documents what happened on that day, but also documents just how many lives that incident shattered and how it bought the Tasmanian tourism industry to almost a standstill for four years afterwards.
After Port Arthur
I had a new deep respect for the people of Tasmania and particularly the Tasman Peninsular after reading that book and recalling all of the places I visited and people I met down there.
|Left click image to make bigger to read the names|
John Howard would introduce the semi-automatic gun ban in Australia after this shooting rampage and that three people with the last name Howard were killed here.
I also thought is was a coincidence to read this chapter in the same book, as the Brisbane Lions are the team I follow in the AFL and I would see them play at the MCG the following weekend after visiting Port Arthur, when I was in Melbourne.
The Brisbane Bears and the Fitzroy Lions merged in 1996 in become the Brisbane Lions.
|Watching my team take on Richmond at the MCG in Melbourne 2016|
|The Brisbane Bears and the Fitzroy Lions merged in 1996 in become the Brisbane Lions.|
My youngest son got to hold the first trophy the Brisbane Lions would ever win through a stroke of luck after he had played an Auskick game at the Gabba for Springwood (which is the suburb where the Brisbane Lions clubhouse is now located and which I live pretty close to at present) when the Brisbane Lions were playing St.Kilda in 2002 and we were walking back from the dressing rooms and I asked the guy if I could get a photo of my son next to the trophy and he said to me let him hold it and then take the photo.
Yellow: The Colour Of Sync?
|My youngest son holding the Brisbane Lions first Grand Final trophy|
I was so ignorant of what had happened at Port Arthur 20 years ago when I visited on the two days that I was there that I didn't even realize when I took this picture above of what I thought was a creepy old convict building that it was actually the remains of The Broad Arrow Cafe where 20 people were gunned down and met their deaths in 1996.
It wasn't until I was leaving on the second day that I found out that was not an old convict building that had been burned out like the church in that same fire, but the cafe partly dismantled as part of the memorial.
|The Fairy Wren stepping out to greet me at Port Arthur|
I heard the familiar chirp, as I have them living next door to my unit in Brisbane and then the bird came out in the drizzling rain to greet me, like some kind of sign.
Superb Blue (Fairy) Wren – Mandala 23 The Sky-Blue Scope
"These inspiring and cheery little birds are very adaptive to intrusions of humans and seasonal changes. Superb Blue Wrens are at home where ever they are. They move about jauntily foraging for insects and larvae while maintaining their territories and use the energy of their little community to protect their territory and be aware of any danger. They teach you in how to be resourceful, let go and use flexibility when faced with intrusion or find opposition in life. They ask you, is it time to shift the way you are thinking and allow a change of perspective. Their wisdom is about using male and female energy correctly.When the Wren with its brown colours (female) appears it is suggesting you get on with your mundane chores to achieve your creative endeavours and goals. While the sight of the Wren with its bright blue coat (male) is letting you know it is time to show your true colours and let those around know what you are capable of.
Be open to inspiration and let the music into your day!"
The weird thing with these Fairy Wrens was that although I had never seen one in my life before until I started my new job, when my wife left me and I had to find a new place to live because of the pending divorce and house sale, these Fairy Wrens were all around my rented unit and in the trees next door.
I learned to recognize their bird-call when I used to watch them when I went outside to have a smoke (yes I took up smoking to help me breathe slowly and relax, because my stress was through the roof at the time, as my mother was battling lung cancer [ironic I know], my father was going into a home because of Alzheimer's, my oldest retarded [I don't give a f#ck if that sounds politically correct, or not] brother was going into a home, because my parents couldn't look after him anymore...and basically, I couldn't care less if this new habit would kill me, or not...because that would take something I didn't feel I had much of, the way things were going...time) and their antics and song would soothe my nerves.
The guy who gave me the job where the Fairy Wrens sung had a sister who had been missing for over a year at the time and it would be another year before the police would notify Chris that her remains had been found.
Human remains found by police searching Darwin site
I haven't heard from Chris since the police notified him of the grisly find, as he had finished working for the company that week and six months later I was made redundant from that company, so neither of us work for that company anymore.
I often wondered how Chris felt having a family member presumed murdered, but missing, and while I never brought up the subject with him, nor him with me, nearly every time I would see Chris at work I would think of his plight.
When I saw the Fairy Wren pop out in the memorial garden in Port Arthur the first thing I thought of was the first time I ever saw one in real life was at the company that Chris hired me to work for and the plight he not so secretly carried around with him until the day he left the company of having a missing family member.
|Two souvenirs I bought at the start of my road-trip|
The Owls Aren't There Anymore It Seems
I then narrowly escaped being run up the back by a four wheel drive and into a bus in a highway accident that did appear to claim a life, or lives just outside Gosford, on my way from Port Macquarie to Sydney.
|The crash outside Gosford which nearly claimed my car, as well.|
A body may easily be killed, but the soul lives on, I believe.