When a crew was in Australia filming for the ‘Ghost Hunters’ TV series, they left Monte Cristo Homestead saying it was the most haunted place they had ever been to.
“It’s not that we have more ghosts or more spirits,” explains owner Lawrence Ryan.
“It’s that we have more activity.”
That activity occurs on an almost daily basis according to Ryan, who has been at the property since his parents purchased it in a dilapidated state in the ’60s.
“It’s constant,” he says. “You hear your name called out, but nobody is there. Sometimes you smell smoke and there’s no fire lit. Sometimes it smells like death. When we first moved in you’d hear footsteps on the balcony … but there wasn’t actually any timber in the balcony at that stage”.
Since word got around about the increased paranormal activity at Monte Cristo, it has become a tourist destination, bringing visitors from far and wide to Junee, NSW – a Riverina town halfway between Sydney and Melbourne.
Tours of the homestead are a popular way to explore the spooky property, but the real spirit seekers can opt for an overnight stay ($195pp), which includes a three-course meal, an evening tour, and a cooked breakfast the next morning … if you make it through the night.
“Plenty of people find it too much and leave … about every three or four weeks people take off in the middle of the night” admits Ryan.
“We’ve found people sleeping in their car the next morning because they can’t handle it in the house”.
Whether it’s because of the unsettling experiences they have (such as feeling a sense of immense pressure on their chest in the middle of the night, or a sense of someone playing with their feet as they try to sleep – both common anecdotes), or the fact there is an entire room in the house dedicated to dolls that look like this, is up for debate:
Ryan also says that animals are very wary of the house.
“There are about 14 cats around here. But they tend to stay outside … we’ve never really been able to keep animals in the house – ever since mum came downstairs one morning and found the family cat on the kitchen floor, skinned and disembowelled with its eyes gouged out. Someone suggested that another wild animal could have done that … but all the doors were closed and locked.”
According to Ryan, the house has a dark past which has lead to the presence of uneasy spirits.
“The original owner, Mrs Crawley, lived 22 years after her husband’s death. She only left the house three times after he died and she is possessive of the house … she doesn’t want anyone else to have it.
“Also, back in that time, it wasn’t uncommon for young maids to fall pregnant to the owner. The story is [Mr Crawley] had ten children to his wife and ten to the staff. There was a maid that committed suicide. That was what the report said. But the word in town was that she was pushed from the balcony to cause a miscarriage. But they called it suicide. There’s still a big white mark on the front step where they used bleach to remove the blood”.
Ryan says the spirits tend to leave him alone these days, but he sees the effects on other people on a regular basis.
“If you come into this house and you are disrespectful to the spirits, you won’t last to the end of the tour. You’ll feel that sick.
“And I have seen some serious reactions in people. It’s something you never forget. I’ve seen the fear of god in people’s eyes … I’ve seen that about four times. It’s a genuine expression you could never fake. You wouldn’t wish it on your worst enemy.”
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This article originally appeared on Escape and was reproduced