FOR 10 years it has been left to the spirits of obedient souls and the ravages of time, but Ballarat’s historic Sacred Heart Convent is about to be opened again for the world to see.
Behind eight foot walls, the clandestine and sprawling Victoria Street building was home to the Sisters of Mercy convent and boarding school from 1881 until 1995, but its locked doors have kept its secrets inside ever since.
From June 30, the curious public will be able to join night time ghost tours of the building’s chapel, kitchen, classrooms, nuns quarters and grand staircases and hallways.
Hosted by guides and psychic mediums from Paranormal Australia, the lamplit tours will bring to life the stories of those who lived – and might still be present – in the sacred site.
Many historic details have survived a decade of neglect, with perfectly preserved stained glass windows and soaring woodwork in tact throughout the building.
Christine, who did not want her surname published, is a guide and medium who will help lead tours.
She said recent night visits behind the walls had already produced encounters with the ghost of Mother Agnes Graham who was a founder of the convent.
“This building has been allowed to be all alone, giving the ghosts free rein to live in the space that is theirs,” she said.
“When I come in, I don’t know the history of the building, but I read who or whatever I find.
“Mother Agnes actually ran away from home to become a nun, leaving her father furious in Ireland because he had plans to marry her off,” Christine said.
With the help of historical research, visitors will join small groups to tour the convent, which is being cleaned of mess caused by birds and animals.
Christine said many Ballarat residents had links to the site, and others would have wondered what history lay within its walls.
“I am told the bacon factory fire in Ballarat East in 1909 produced some incredible flames, and a delicious smell for the convent.
“We plan to give new life to its stories,” she said.
Bookings for the tours can be made at www.ballaratghosts.com.au
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