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Published on October 17th, 2012 | by john.weir

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Australia’s most haunted site

A child’s giggle in the Commandant’s Cottage, a hand on the shoulder in the solitary confinement cell, footsteps running from the drawing room …. Just a few of the recently reported happenings in the dark of the night at the new Paranormal Investigation Tours that are underway at the World Heritage listed Port Arthur Historic Site in Tasmania, Australia’s most famous  and most disturbing penal settlement.

Ghost tours have long been a draw for visitors to the infamous 19th century World Heritage listed Port Arthur Historic Site on the beautiful Tasman Peninsula.  Believed by many to be one of the most haunted places in Australia, Port Arthur Historic Site has recently launched the scientifically-run adults-only Paranormal Investigation Experience for brave souls who need more than a ghoulish story to get the hairs standing up on the back of their necks.

All the spine tingling reports have been made by the two  tour leaders of the new Paranormal Investigation Experience, a historian and a scientist – both ghost sceptics – who use professional test equipment to try and detect the presence of ghosts and other paranormal activity.  Tours take place in the dead of night – between 10 pm and 3 am – and include visits to theCommandants cottage, Separate Prison, Visiting Magistrates House, The Parsonage and The  Church.

Mel Andrewartha, one of the Paranormal Investigators says of her latest experience: “We were about to start an EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena)  recording session on the stairs in the dark. As I flicked off the main light switches we heard footsteps from the direction of the drawing room …. the entire group was sitting down on the stairs, the only person moving was me, and I didn’t create the noise.”

All ghostbusters need sustenance and a  and the new private dining option at the Visiting Magistrate’s House, originally constructed in 1847, is one of the most atmospheric dining rooms in Tasmania – and the perfect way to set the scene on the night of paranormal investigations. This historic home is right in the heart of the Port Arthur Historic Site and has been fully refurbished to reflect the comfort and style of a mid-nineteenth century gentleman’s residence. It’s a chance to experience a taste of what life was like for the more privileged inhabitants of Port Arthur and an opportunity to enjoy some of Tasmania’s finest and freshest local produce – before heading out into the spirit world of Port Arthur.

Between 1833 and 1877 many tens of thousands of men, women and children were sent to Port Arthur in Tasmania – then known as ‘Van Diemen’s Land’ –   and it here that corporate punishment by flogging was changed to the psychological punishment of torture by solitary confinement.  It is no coincidence that the Separation Prison – including the light proof, sound proof solitary confinement cell – is located next to the asylum.

The penal settlement is located a 90 minute drive from Hobart on the Tasman Peninsula almost completely surrounded by the highest cliffs in the Southern  Hemisphere and shark-infested waters. It is joined to the rest of Tasmania by a small narrow piece of land about 30 metres wide called Eaglehawk Neck fence which was guarded by a chain of savage dogs to prevent the escape of prisoners to the ‘mainland’.

Tour leader Mel reassures her groups: “I am still a sceptic about the existence of ghosts, which is why we are looking for evidence to prove or disprove paranormal phenomena at Port Arthur.  As we say to our investigators each month, keep an open mind, look for the logical reason, and don’t always jump to a conclusion that the bumps in the nights are ghosts….”

Anyone aged 18 or over wanting to join a Paranormal Investigation Tour at Port Arthur in Tasmania can do so on the last Saturday of each month (the next is on 26th October)  and they are also available to groups on an exclusive basis. The tour is currently priced at AU$125 per person (£80) including a light supper.

Images of ghostly occurrences are available.  For updated information on the findings of the Paranormal Investigations, follow http://portarthurparanormal.wordpress.com

For more information on Port Arthur Historic Site please visit www.portarthur.org.au

For general information on Tasmania please visit www.discovertasmania.co.uk

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