Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Ghosts of Kangaroo Island

Kangaroo Island sits 110 kilometres south of Adelaide South Australia and has four lighthouses, which have been essential to safe passage of ships in and around the island for more than 160 years, Cape Willoughby (1852), Cape Borda (1858), Cape du Couedic (1906), and Cape St Albans (1908.) It is well known and well documented that the waters surrounding Kangaroo Island are notoriously treacherous and dangerous cliffs make up most of the island’s coastline.  Just one example of this is the Loch Vennachar, a three-masted iron sailing ship which sank in 1905, taking all hands with her, leaving a shower of wreckage scattered along the south coast of the island. Only the remains of one sailor was washed ashore and later buried in the dunes of the bay.

In the early days the island’s keepers and their families were completely isolated and for a long time there were no roads connecting the lighthouses to the rest of the island.  At Cape Borda and Cape du Couedic, supplies were brought in by ship and hauled up the cliff edges.

It would seem some of the long gone souls of sailors, lighthouses keepers and their families still remain on Kangaroo Island. The Cape Borda lighthouse keeper’s cottage is rented out to visitors wishing to stay on the island and reports of strange occurrences have been noted, particularly with regular visits from a little girl.

The visitor’s book at Cape du Couedic also reports strange occurrences of unexplained sounds, lights coming from within the cottages and old man visiting.  Perhaps the old man is the Lighthouse Keeper that has said to haunt Cape du Couedic? It is clear from the visitors that they are never quite alone and it is said if you are afraid of ghosts don’t read the Lighthouse visitors book!

The author of Favourite Haunts ‘A Sea of Ghosts on Kangaroo Island’ whilst visiting Cape du Couedic for a few days wrote the following:

‘I was completely restless the entire first evening of our stay. Inside the cottage, it felt as though we were constantly watched. I know it sounds terribly cliché, but this sensation was so intense that it made the hairs on the back of my neck remain permanently raised, as if something was hovering just behind me, deliberately staying out of sight. Whenever I looked up, or turned around, or walked out of one room and into another, I could not escape the feeling that at any moment I would find a stranger staring at me from within the shadows.

Then on the first night, not long after I had dozed off, I was woken suddenly by what I thought was someone whispering in my ear: "My name is John..."’ And in the early hours of that last morning, before the sun had even peaked above the horizon, I woke from my slumber, unmoving, but fully awake and alert. Outside it was perfectly still, not even the sound of a bird could be heard. And then, just as it had been reported countless times in the visitor books, there came the sound of movement from the other end of the corridor outside the bedroom: A shuffling, thumping and tapping, the distinct sounds of someone pulling on boots, followed by footsteps proceeding down the hallway to the front door, first becoming louder at their approach, before gently fading away.

The tales of the ghosts of Cape du Couedic do not reveal, nor even hazard a guess at the identity of the spirit whose footsteps are so regularly heard making their way down the hallway in the cottage. I like to think that it is one of the old assistant light-keepers making his early-morning check of the lighthouse.

Whilst it's easy to make assumptions, it's more difficult to confirm if any of the assistant Light-keeper's stationed at Cape du Couedic, and resident of the same cottage, were actually named John. It'd be a neat coincidence if there was, though.’

Cape Willoughby cottages too, it seems, has its ghosts. Reports of floorboards creaking, fingers tapping on windows, with rattling roof tiles accompanied by the powerful crashing of the surf can give one sleepless nights. However, the information booklet soothingly advises that the unusual noises one hears are only caused by the wind!

Now all that is left for us to find out is if Cape St Albans lighthouse is also haunted!


andrew van rensburg said...

Lovely post Mole. Incidentally the last vessel to sight the Loch Vennachar just before she foundered was none other than the Yongala, which was destined to founder under mysterious circumstances in a storm off Cape Bowling Green, Queensland, six years later.

Mole said...

Gosh - we cannot escape our mystery wrecks, hey Andrew?!