Launceston, architecture and ghosts
Well, no, probably not for science, but we’ve been dedicated, I promise you that. This evening, we went on the Launceston City Ghost Tour, guided by Bill – he of the cape and atmospheric voice.
The night was bitterly cold but Bill set a brisk pace as he walked us around the centre of Launceston, visiting wonderful old buildings, sometimes leading us into darkened cellars and ill-lit garages, and keeping up an entertaining stream of storytelling and terrible jokes.
Launceston is Australia’s third oldest city, founded in 1806. It was from here that Batman and Fawkner set off to found Melbourne and then spend the rest of their lives arguing over who did it first.
Some lovely architecture remains intact from the city’s foundation through to the late 19th century, so naturally it’s a town ripe with folklore and spooky stories.
It’s also one of those places that was lucky enough to fall into economic decline at just the right time to avoid having these wonderful buildings knocked down – so instead of hideous mid-20th century blocks of concrete and pebblestone facades, we still have elegant churches, warehouses, former grand homes and current hotels, many beautifully restored.
For many, seeing the city’s architecture by night will be reason enough to go on the walk, but of course, it’s a ghost tour – so while I enjoyed the visual drama, I was really there for the tales of macabre deaths and gruesome deeds.
There are plenty of both of course, along with mysterious occurrences whose origins are unknown. But Bill grins wickedly and tells the tale anyway.
There are the traditional theatre ghosts, the star-crossed lovers, the cruel murders and the terrible accidents. There are tales of hotel and pub staff disturbed by odd noises and ghostly fingers on skin, and visions of spirits running down halls.
Perhaps it’s true that my most terrifying moment in Launceston was the landing of our Jetstar flight in strong winds that made it feel like the plane was being shaken about like a maraca – but to be fair, the ghost walk was certainly a whole lot more fun than that, too. Vastly entertaining, in fact.
And if you don’t believe in ghosts – you still have the pretty buildings to look at.
When you’re in Launceston, book your ghost tour with Bill or one of the other guides at Launceston City Ghost Tours
Disclosure: Tim and I were hosted by Launceston City Council.
Narrelle M Harris is a Melbourne-based writer. Find out more about her books, smartphone apps, public speaking and other activities at www.narrellemharris.com.