Blackwood’s spooky past

It’s a story that reads like a horror movie script. A country pub is sold to two newcomers, who go on to discover all is not as it seems at the historic establishment.

Bump in the night: Paranormal investigators Sam Gray and Deb Robinson at Blackwood Hotel. They believe the pub is haunted. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

Bump in the night: Paranormal investigators Sam Gray and Deb Robinson at Blackwood Hotel. They believe the pub is haunted. Picture: Luka Kauzlaric

Doors open and close of their own accord. Taps turn on and off. Old-fashioned folk dressed in ruffled shirts and waistcoats loiter about casually on fire boxes.

But rather than be spooked out of town after one-too-many ghostly encounters, the new owners of the Blackwood Hotel have decided to work with the spirits they believe inhabit their pub.

Darren Lynch and Michael Boyd have been running the pub for 18 months.

“The pub is 149 years old and it was initially the morgue. There were 13,000 people living in Blackwood when it as a mining town, now there’s 300,” Mr Lynch said.

“I live here on site. I’ll be laying in bed, the doors are really old and heavy and they make a distinctive noise. I’ll hear them opening and closing, but when I get up and check, they’ll be locked.”

Mr Lynch said mementos of the pub’s past remained.

“Downstairs where they used to do the autopsies, the old table is still there. It’s built in between two poles. It looks like it’s made out of fence pailing.”

He also said the fact the Blackwood Hotel was haunted was no secret among local townsfolk.

“They actually know about it and talk about it. Obviously you’ve got your skeptics but the majority of the town know about it but they don’t want to believe it.”

One of the figures haunting Blackwood’s hotel is believed to be Laura Dalton, who tragically died in 1948.

She was using a petrol iron in the kitchen when it exploded. She died the following day of shock at Ballarat Base Hospital.

Deb Robinson from Twisted History has been running a once-a-month paranormal investigation at the hotel since February. The events give participants a chance to use specialised equipment – such as ultra-violet cameras and electro-magnetic frequency detectors – to sense unusual activity not usually perceptible by humans.

She said several people had seen apparitions of Laura – identifiable by her red hair.

“On the nights when we do our investigations, we see orbs in the parlour and we think that’s Laura,” Mrs Robinson said.

She said other ghosts also inhabited the hotel, including a miner who appeared by the fireplace and another soul who inhabited room 3.

The next investigation will be held September 6. To book, visit www.twistedhistory.net.au