For someone so sceptical of all things supernatural I’ve had a very otherworldly week. By coincidence (or was it?) I had two midweek jaunts bringing me closer to the paranormal than I usually venture. The first of these was a Ghost Tour of Historic Sydney which takes place in The Rocks. The second was a visit to Irish restaurant Mulligan’s for dinner and a psychic reading. Not bad for a world weary cynic.
On Wednesday, Supplier Relationship Manager Michelle and I braved the cold and made our way to Cadman’s Cottage just opposite the Overseas Passenger Terminal in The Rocks. There stood a mysterious shadowy figure, attired in a long black overcoat and top hat, and holding a lantern and an old school doctor’s bag. So far, so Exorcist. He introduced himself as Richard, our ghost host for the evening. I like to call him the Mulder to my Scully. They fight crime.
Not that I hadn’t been looking forward to this tour. I’m something of a horror movie aficionado, I love history and I’m a sucker for a good yarn and this Ghost Tour is pretty much where these 3 intersect in a Venn diagram entitled “A few of Aisling’s favourite things”. There were 20 of us gathered at Cadman’s Cottage when Richard asked us to spread out in a semicircle around the lantern. He handed each of us a prop in turn and gave us a brief description of the characters we would represent in the following tales. All the stories, he assured us, were true and could be further researched. The nerd in me, who constitutes approximately 90% of my entire being, got a little bit excited. It came to my turn and Richard handed me a skeleton with no legs. I was The Legless Ghost. This, Alanis Morissette, is what I like to call ironic. Michelle was given a hat and told she would represent the ghost of Amelia. We were intrigued.
For the next hour or so we wandered from location to location, each of them an arcane corner of The Rocks, each with a history steeped in blood, misfortune and melancholy. It was fascinating; these gloomy locations are so far from what one usually associates with The Rocks, far from the rabble rousing and easy cheer that usually permeate its historical streets. As each person took his or her turn to come forward and hear their fate, the stories unfolded one by one in the bitter cold of the night. About half way through we walked into the ruins of some old cottages in the heart of The Rocks. “Step forward please, the Legless Ghost”, boomed Richard in a voice that sounded like a judge’s gavel sending me to the Gallows. I stepped forward, ready to hear my fortune. In fairness, I already knew it didn’t end well. My ghost was legless and not in a happy, four tequilas kind of way. I won’t spoil the story for anybody who would like to go on the tour. Needless to say I met with an untimely and extremely grisly death at the hands of others. Those feckers! My ghost still haunts the area; there have been reports of people hearing erratic thumps that may be the sound of a helpless, legless body trying to escape on bloody stumps. Nice.
The Parbury Ruins were our final destination of the evening. These ruins of an 1820s cottage were unearthed during construction of a residential apartment complex in 2002. Today it is an archaeological site instead of a carpark, and a favourite haunt of paranormal enthusiasts. There, in the dark, cold, subterranean ruins, the mystery of Amelia (and Michelle’s hat) was related to us. Amelia died a very slow, very painful and, some would say, very suspicious death. Her ghost still lingers among the crumbling walls of the home where she should have spent a happy life. Richard tells us that many of the tour guides have had firsthand experience of Amelia’s otherworldly shenanigans. With the lights out and an eerie, uneasy calmness nestling itself in the cold, for a moment it’s not hard to believe that something can linger on after death, that some part of us, as yet unexplained by science, can leave an impression in the air long after our bodies have settled in the earth. Then again, probably the scariest thing for the residents above was the price they paid for a harbour view apartment…without a car space.
Back above ground, in the land of the living, Richard handed us a brochure with two for one drinks tickets for the Harbour View Hotel. Neither of us fancied making our way home in the cold at that stage so we popped our heads in for a quick bite to eat and a warm up. It was cosy, bright and very rowdy, a stark contrast with the last couple of hours. Michelle proceeded to order TWO PINTS and drank them in front of me. I wondered would her ghost haunt the hotel if she happened to meet with a premature end!
My brush with the supernatural continued on Thursday with a trip to Mulligan’s Irish Restaurant on Cleveland St. I had heard so much about this place where the food tastes homemade and you get a psychic reading with your meal. The menu sports all the traditional Irish fare that you’d expect. It read like a list of Sundays from my childhood, lazy wintry days spent eating hearty food at my grandmother’s house where the fire was always blazing and the apple and rhubarb tart was sublime. The Catholic religion never did quite quash the pagan tradition in Ireland and the two are often uneasy bedfellows in the tall tales of old crones and untimely deaths told in the evenings after dinner, always in the good sitting room. So it’s not odd to find a traditional Irish restaurant with a little mystical flavour. The food was good (although not quite as good as Nanny Ryan’s), the atmosphere was warm and the tarot reading veered from the uncannily accurate to wildly off the mark. All in all it was good fun. And I was expected to live past the weekend which bode well for my skydive. Phew!
What’s the deal?
GoDo crew member Aisling is taking one for the team and taking on the challenge of Dry July. This July, Aisling is going to show you how to have a good time for a whole month, without alcohol, GoDo-style. To reward her commitment to the cause, and keep her focused, we’re sending her on a bunch of activities to show you the stack of alternatives to sitting in a dingy pub this winter. And, because it’s such a great initiative, GoDo is donating the value of each activity Aisling embarks on in cash to the Dry July cause.