Tag Archives: ghosts

Ghosts on the Run…Friday Fictioneers 7th June, 2019.

When the Ledoux Family rented out their home in Antibes, they had no idea a couple of famous ghosts would move in along with their heads.

Louis and Marie-Antoinette had evacuated Notre Dame toute de Suite after accidentally sparking the fire which almost turned their beloved Lady into a pile of ash.

Of course, it wasn’t Versailles. However, they loved the beach and their new found freedom. Louis could barely keep his hands off his beloved Queen in her alluring bikini, although didn’t like wearing budgie smugglers* at all!

“Mon Cherie, nobody would ever think to look for us here.”

…..

Don’t ask me where the inspiration for my take on today’s prompt came from, except to say that I was quite taken by the stairs at the front and floating to the top. Stairs like that are not kind to me. By the way, Budgie smugglers is an Australian slang term for men’s tight-fitting Speedo-style swimwear and the term received a lot of press thanks to our former Prime Minister Tony Abbott who was often photographed wearing them. He is a volunteer lifesaver.

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields. This week’s prompt was provided by C.E. Ayr. Thanks, C.E.

We’d love you to join us. Every week, Rochelle posts a photo prompt and we respond in 100 words or less and I’ve been quite amazed at what we’ve been able to accomplish in so few words. Makes me ponder the need for the novel.

Best wishes,

Rowena

Ghosts of Memphis…Friday Fictioneers.

The stench of raw sweat and the blood of a thousand broken dreams permeated the decaying walls of the old boxing gym, and Hope Unlimited Church had bought it for a song.

This was where Australian boxer, Les Darcy, had fought his last fight. The grim reaper might’ve claimed his body. The Lord had claimed his soul. Yet, all the boxers knew that a part of Les Darcy still lingered in the ring and wasn’t giving up.

There must’ve been something about Memphis, because Les Darcy wasn’t the only king, who’d come back from the dead to haunt the living.

……

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Australian Boxer Les Darcy in 1910.

James Leslie “Les” Darcy was born on the 28th October, 1895 at Stradbroke, near Maitland, NSW, Australia and he had all the makings of a folk hero. His remarkable ring record—he lost only four professional fights and was never knocked out—was associated with a quite extraordinary physique: a muscular body apparently impervious to the heaviest blows and a reach 7 ins (18 cm) greater than his height of 5 ft 7 ins (170 cm). He neither smoked nor drank, and spent most of his income on his family; he attended Mass most mornings, one of his closest friends being the local priest. His decision to leave Australia secretly, in breach of the War Precautions Act, provided the controversy (and the enemies in high places) without which no hero-figure is complete: his lonely death in Memphis, Tennessee at the age of 21, gave him an aura of martyrdom. So powerful a legend did he become that fifty years after his death flags flew at half-mast, and a memorial at his birthplace was unveiled by Sir William McKell, former governor-general. When he had been dead for two generations, he was still inspiring the pens of Australian nationalist writers- Australian Dictionary of Biography

Australian author, D’Arcy Niland, had a life long interest in Les Darcy and spent many years compiling notes and stories and even traveling to America and interviewing those who knew him back in 1961. However, Niland died suddenly and was unable to complete the story. However, later in life his wife author Ruth Park took on that challenge. Using the extensive material they had collected over many years, Park wrote Home Before Dark: the story of Les Darcy. It was published in 1995 by Penguin Australia.

As a personal aside, my grandparents were close friends with D’Arcy Niland and Ruth Park. Indeed, the night before D’Arcy Niland passed away, my parents met for the very first time when my grandmother held a soiree in their Lindfield home for upcoming young pianist, Gerard Willems. My grandmother was teaching my mother the piano at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music at the time, and my father was sent up to the station to pick her and Gerard Willems up. So, it seems that night marked more than one line in the sand.

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields. You are more than welcome to come and join us either as a writer or a reader. Simply click Here to go through to the linky.

Sleeping Beauty…Friday Fictioneers.

The dawn light shone magestically over the lake, and Diana miraculously woke up and swam to shore. Droplets of water sparkled in her hair like diamonds, but Diana didn’t look for a towel. She had to see her boys. Nothing else mattered.

“Wombat! Ginger! Mummy’s back. Here I come ready or not.”

But there was no answer, only a haunting, eerie silence, echoing like a maddening scream. Frantically, Diana searched behind every tree, but they were gone.

“Wombat? Ginger?”

Suddenly, the spiralling vortex slowed right down, almost moving frame by frame. Macabre and out of synch, Diana she’d become a character in a movie, where someone else was calling the shots. Nothing was real. She knew the lake, but was this crumbling ruin really Althorp House? It must be, but why wasn’t anyone  home?

….

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers. Hosted by Rochelle Wisoff Fields and you can read the contributions Here. After reading one if the comments tonight, I’ve dramatically re-written this piece, which has taken it well over the 100 words but I was a bit spellbound by this fairytale of fairytales. Who wouldn’t want to give Diana back to her sons? Not the Diana pursued to death by the papparazzi but their Mum…Mummy!

xx Rowena

R- Ross & Richmond Bridges, Tasmania.

Welcome to Day 17 of the Blogging A-Z April Challenge.

My sincere apologies for waking us up before the birds again this morning. There’s coffees all round and then we’re off.

Map Queenstown to Ross

We have another long drive today. We’ll be driving 270 km from Queenstown and heading East to Ross Bridge on the Macquarie River where we’ll be having Scallop Pie for lunch. Then, we’ll be driving South to the Richmond Bridge, 25 kilometres North of Hobart where we’ll be sleeping tonight. As we’ve already been to the Red Bridge in Campbell Town, I won’t confuse you by taking you to three historic bridges in one day. That is, as much as I love squeezing the carpe out of the diem.

Preparing this post has highlighted a swag of difficulties confronting the travel writer. Not that I’m a travel writer per se. However, I travel, I write and probably more importantly, I produce quality photos, using a digital SLR and not a frigging phone!

Although I haven’t considered this before, perhaps the problems with travel writing are inherent from the start. As a traveller, you lack that local knowledge and could easily get all sorts of facts wrong. Or, produce an account no more interesting than a shopping list you’re ticking off before you move onto the next place. Ideally, if you’re covering a place as large and yet as small as Tasmania, you can also draw on multiple visits to expand your scope. I’ve certainly been doing that on our Alphabetical Tour of Tasmania. Another difficulty I’ve faced as a travel photographer, is trying to capture the landscape at its peak when you haven’t got time to lie in wait for the perfect weather, lighting, timing, composition, angle. You can bump up your chances, but you get what you get and just hope to bump up the second rate stuff when you get home. That said, dramatic storm clouds and rain, can create incredible moods. The landscape doesn’t have to be all sun and blue sky.

Finally, that brings me to my difficulties putting together this piece on the Ross and Richmond bridges. Although they’re both convict-built, sandstone bridges, they actually do look quite different to each other and you certainly couldn’t pass one off as the other anywhere except in my memory.

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A Family Photo at Sydney Airport as we left for Tasmania in November, 2005.

Back in November, 2005 we visited the Ross and Richmond River bridges on the same day when we were driving from Bridport to Hobart. I clearly remember buying a famed Scallop Pie and eating it in from what I thought was the Ross Bridge and yet there we are in front of the Richmond Bridge and the Ross Bridge and I’m so confused! Of course, given that was 12 years ago and a lot of water has flowed under the bridge, I’d be forgiven for forgetting the detail. That is, if I wasn’t setting myself up as some kind of quasi expert on the place simply by posting a few photos and text to the World Wide Web. Put the wrong name on the wrong bridge, and I might as well jump off it then and there. All cred is gone. Well, perhaps that is an excessive response, but you get my drift.

In addition to memory mix-ups like that, there’s also memory gaps, which no amount of prompting can dare I say: “bridge”.

While I was researching Ross Bridge tonight, I found references to numerous stone carvings on the bridge and wondered how I’d missed them. As a photographer, I have an eye, especially for something unique and exceptional like that. Hey, I find interest in simple reflections in a myriad of surfaces. How could I miss that? What was I thinking?

Truth is, that when I looked through my photos, sure enough I’d zoomed in on those carvings and they were there as large as life. My eye was good. My brain’s just been overloaded. Humph! What did I say about too much water under the bridge? Indeed, the bridge has well and truly been washed away.

This is why I’m so thankful that after the holiday’s over, I can go home and do my research. Go through the historic newspapers online, read other accounts and really ramp up those often sketchy travel notes.

I would also like to mention that by returning to our 2005 visit to Ross and Richmond, I was blessed to dig up a string of beautiful photos of our family as it was back then. Indeed, I felt like I’d jumping into a time machine and even if I couldn’t touch and feel our Little Man, I could sense him with all my being and so much love. That was a remarkable experience as he’s 13 and racing towards becoming a man.

Starting off with Ross Bridge.

The Ross Bridge, which crosses the Macquarie River, was completed in July 1836. This sandstone bridge was constructed by convict labour, and is the third oldest bridge still in use in Australia. Commissioned by Lieutenant-Governor George Arthur, it was designed by architect John Lee Archer, with the convict work team including two stonemasons, James Colbeck and Daniel Herbert.  Although Herbert was credited with producing the intricate carvings which run along both sides of the bridge, so much still remains unknown about them and they’ve become something of an enigma.

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This photo clearly displays the stone carvings attributed to Daniel Herbert.

As an aside, I thought you might enjoy this newspaper snippet about the town of Ross written in 1909. As much as we might enjoy these gorgeous, time-capsules of days gone by, they could also been perceived as “dying towns”. Or, places which have gone to sleep:

“Ross is a midland town, founded in the early days of Tasmanian settlement, and has been associated with her changeful history through many long years, but for very obvious reasons has not kept pace with the general progress of the State. Indeed, the present condition of Ross shows more of retrogression than progression.”

It goes on to mention Ross Bridge:

“Ross Bridge which is constructed of material taken from local quarries, is a fine, structure, and when first completed, with its stone pillared approaches and steps to the water’s edge, must certainly have presented a pleasing and artistic aspect. ‘Elaborate chiselling in leaf pattern has been executed round the edging of the double arches spanning the Macquarie River. The parapets are solid and massive. The centre block on the outer sides contains the following inscription: ‘ ‘Colonel George Arthur, Lieutenant Governor, 1836  while the end. blocks of the parapet show the words ‘Captain Wm. Turner. 50th, or’ Queen’s Own, Regiment, superintendent.’ An inscription’ on the inner side shows this bridge to be 69 miles distant from Hobart and 48 From Launceston.

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Richmond Bridge.

Richmond Bridge is Australia’s oldest bridge. Crossing the Coal River 27 km North of Hobart, the foundation stone was laid on 11 December 1823 and construction continued using convict labour until completion in 1825. A painting of the bridge in it’s original condition was commissioned, which may be viewed here: http://bonniewilliam.com/honours/architects-and-masons/

Not to be outdone by the Ross Bridge with its impressive carvings, the Richmond Bridge has intrigues of its own, including murder and intrigue.

In 1832,  George Grover, a much hated convict overseer, was walking home after the Harvest Festival,  and fell asleep drunk on the Richmond Bridge. Seizing the opportunity, he was thrown from the bridge on to the rocks, seven metres below. He was found alive by a police constable early the next morning, and named the four men responsible before  dying of internal bleeding. However, no one was ever convicted for his murder, reputedly as Grover was so widely despised.

Grover had been transported from England for burglary in 1826. “By 1829 he was the javelin man and flagellator at Richmond Gaol. Apparently, he was employed to ride atop the man carts carrying stone quarried from nearby Butcher’s Hill, violently whipping the prisoners as they pushed the load. Grover relished his role as overseer and abused his power. He gained a reputation for cruelty. He whipped and beat men he perceived weren’t working hard enough.

However, the story doesn’t end there.

Grover’s ghost is reputedly haunting Richmond Bridge, along with another ghost known as “Grover’s Dog”. He is described as a dark silhouette without discernible facial features, which sometimes stalks people as they cross the bridge as he paces the length of the bridge in death as he did in life. In more dramatic accounts of this haunting, his ghost has been seen in the trees west of the bridge watching people as they crossed the bridge. At other times, people have sensed his anger, he evidently is still disturbed by the way he died.

Another ghost seen on the Richmond Bridge is a large, black or white ghost dog. This apparition is known as “Grover’s Dog.” This ghost is seen only after dark. Lone females and children who have crossed the bridge at night claim they have seen this dog and it’s friendly. Several women have said they were accompanied across the bridge by this ghost dog only to have it disappear once they reached the other side.

I’m not quite sure what to make of these ghosts, but I love a good story.

Map Richmond Bridge to hobart

Before we call it a day, we’ll be hopping back in our cars and heading to Hobart for the night. My apologies, especially as so many of you aren’t used to driving such distances. However, that’s what you sign up with on the A-Z Challenge… 26 day gallop through whatever it is your pursuing with only Sundays off to curl up under the doona (duvet).

Yet, I hope you like me, are finding the journey is worth it. Now, I’m itching to go back to Tasmania to appreciate all my research in the flesh.

Have you done much travel writing? Or, do you enjoy reading about travel? What are some of the pitfalls you’ve experienced with travel writing? Please share.

xx Rowena

References

http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php/article/the-mysterious-art-of-the-ross-bridge

http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/article/the-meaning-and-significance-of-the-carvings/http://tasmaniantimes.com/index.php?/article/kim-peart/

Jorgen and Norah on the Ross Bridge

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-03-12/richmond-bridge-conservation-works-tasmania/8347030

https://seeksghosts.blogspot.com.au/2016/06/tasmanias-haunted-bridge.html

B- Bridport: A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Welcome to Day 2 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge.

Today, we’re cruising from Ashgrove Farm in Elizabeth Town to Bridport, in North-Eastern Tasmania. Driving from nearby Deloraine, it’s a a 129km drive, taking about about 1 hour 34 mins. However, it could take a lot longer if you stop off at any of the vineyards around Piper’s Brook. With our supplies of cheese and crackers from Ashgrove Farm, it only seems fitting to wash them down with a drop or two.

Bridport is many things to many people but for Geoff’s family, it was also where Nanna and Pop lived and they weren’t far from the beach either. Nanna was known for her canaries and she used to bake the canaries a form of sponge cake loaded with egg yolks from the chooks as well as caraway seeds. Nanna was also renowned for her homemade bread, which took out prizes at the nearby Scottsdale Show.

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Anyway, since you can’t go to Bridport to see Nanna these days, I’d better keep moving and I’ve actually gone back in time to 1883 to provide a local description of the place as well as a mention of a local ghost…

“We are now having beautiful weather, so good that it makes us think summer is close at hand. The approach of summer always sets people thinking of excursions, picnics, and visits to the seaside. Here we are always at the seaside, and perhaps do not realise quite as much enjoyment from a ramble on the beach as people who only get a sniff of the briny once in 12 months. Still we sometimes take a stroll on the sands and enjoy it. I often think if Bridport was better known, and there were better facilities for getting from Launceston to it, in time it would become a favorite seaside resort. On the east side of the bay there is a splendid sandy beach (none better in Tasmania) for upwards of 10 miles at low water. This beach is hard and firm as a macadamised road, being a splendid stretch to either ride, drive, or walk on. The west side of the bay the coast is rocky, making a nice resort for robust ladies and gentle men to scramble about on. There is also good bathing, boating, shooting, and both salt and ‘fresh -water fishing ; in fact Bridport is the very ideal summer retreat that plenty of people are looking for. We were enlivened for several nights with the visits of a “real genuine ghost.” I don’t think it was a bad sort of ghost in the way they generally go, but it managed to frighten two -or three people very muchly. I think if anything the ghost scared the people more than the earth quakes have done, so we may conclude the ghost has scored one on the earthquakes. A few evenings ago some of the ghost friends went to interview it, but as it did not come up to time they all went home again very much disgusted to find they had no chance of offering it the stock whips, stones, and other things they intended presenting his ghostship with. We have had no visitations from it since. Most likely his satanic majesty has found work for it in another quarter.”

Daily Telegraph (Launceston, Tas. : 1883 – 1928), Tuesday 2 October 1883, page 3

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How could you ruin a breath-taking view like this with cabling? You’ve got wonder about humans!

In addition to sharing with you about the beautiful beach and coastline, I thought I should also mention Bridport’s wombat population. I have vague memories about Geoff’s aunt telling me about a local wombat which walked around the shops back in the 1940s and was well known around town. I couldn’t find any reference to it online. However, I did come across “Norma’s Ark”,  which operates out of Norma Baker’s Bridport home. We were quite conscious of the sheer number of dead animals besides the road, particularly Bennett’s Wallabies and Norma does a fantastic job nursing injured animals and then returning them to the wild. You can read more about  Norma and Norma’s Ark Here.

While this is hardly a comprehensive tour of Bridport, it does provide a few insights and I hope you’ve enjoyed it. I look forward to catching up with you tomorrow!

xx Rowena