The ghosts in Balmain

Ghost Tours Balmain

Balmain is one of the oldest and most historical parts of  Sydney so it isn’t surprising that most places like this are  often full of spirits who had lived there when they were alive.  My grandmother’s place there was an example. Not only was it  an old house, that smelt peculiar but it had its own history of  human tragedy as well. The old terrace home that nanna lived  in by herself in those days was not only miserable but haunting  as it was full of so many sad memories. It had two levels joined  together by an old staircase that led up to an old attic at the  top which was kept locked as the old house was falling down.  Most of the rooms I remember were locked and nobody was  ever allowed to go in there. It was a sad and lonely place, full of  so many unhappy memories from my father’s past from when  he was a child.

I could understand why Dad wanted to get as far away as he  could and move down the south coast. Whenever I sat in Nanna’s  sitting room, I could hear voices coming from the adjoining wall  of the house next door. We always knew whenever anyone was  home and it almost felt as if they were in the same room as you.  Whenever the family next door was having a fight we could  hear everything.

My grandmother, Edwina, was from Lancaster in England. She was a wonderful woman and I loved her very dearly as she was always so very kind and generous to me. She was a small woman with a large wart on her chin. On first meeting her you might think she had just arrived that day off the boat from England as it was hard to understand her as her accent was so thick, even though she had lived in Australia for many years. She was also a widow who lost her husband from cancer when he was in his early forties, leaving her to bring up three children herself. She was also a chronic alcoholic who often stuttered when she spoke.

Now I realise she must have been quite psychic herself because  of the number of spirit people I saw that lived in her house. I  have never in my whole life seen such a large collection of spirits  in one place as often when you are psychic or have mediumship  qualities, your “energy” or what I call “light” will always attract a  lot of spirit people and paranormal activity around your house,  whether you like it or not.

Nanna would not have been able to talk to anyone about her  gift or abilities because it would have been frowned upon as  being evil or bad back then. People would have looked on her as  a social pariah and she would have been more isolated than she  already was because of ignorance and lack of education.  As a society today we often treat people who are different  really badly because of our own ignorance and prejudice. People  who are different will often find it takes time for others to really  accept and acknowledge where they are coming from as, very  sadly, a lot of us still live in fear of things we do not understand.  It is only starting to improve today because of the many gifted  mediums and psychics who are speaking out. It is hard-working  and selfless people like Doris Stokes and John Edwards and  many others who have made the whole spiritual movement  really progress into the public arena.

I often think that, perhaps, if Nanna had been born in a  different era, or somebody had only taken the time to tell her  that she was not alone and that they loved her, things may  have been different. She would perhaps not have had a terrible  drinking problem and drowned herself and all her sorrows in  her addictions. Instead she may have found happiness and not  ended up dying in a nursing home from chronic alcoholism. I  know this as a fact as I have spoken to her many times since  she has passed over and she always tells me how sorry she was  and how she could never cope with what life brought her when  she was alive.

Whenever our family visited from the south coast on the  weekends, I would often see spirit people sitting on the front  veranda. One of the spirit people was a very old grandmotherly  spirit woman, who always sat on an old rocking chair. She  had long white hair that she wore tied back and always stared  straight ahead of her as if she was looking at something. It always  seemed really weird as I never knew what she was watching.  We always pretended not to see each other, but both knew each  other was there. Whenever I would take a long sneaky sideways  look at her, she would instantly disappear into thin air. The old  lady lived in one of nanna’s locked rooms upstairs and I had  seen her on several occasions as well when I peeked through  one of the keyholes.

Sometimes, when nobody was paying attention I would  creep upstairs and just listen to the sounds coming from the  old rooms. I knew that they were spirit people talking, as there  was supposed to be nobody inside and I always felt they were as  nervous as I was.

I sensed other spirit people that came from other houses in  the street and a couple of young spirit children. I believe they  were waiting for me because they knew that I could see them.  I suspect they also brought their spirit friends along as well,  as there would be so many of them lined up at the front of  the house, as if waiting for me to arrive. Nobody else in the  family could see them, of course, except for me. Whenever I said  anything I was told it was just my incredible imagination again.  As you could imagine, I was only a young girl and not  impressed at the time as it used to scare the living daylights out  of me. The mere thought of having to spend time there or even  stay overnight in the house was a living nightmare. I was always  grateful that my mother never wanted to stay as the energy in  the house was empty and depressing and my mother never liked  my grandmother and always insisted on going home almost  as soon as we had arrived. On the rare occasion we did stay  overnight, I never got any sleep as there was always some type  of drama happening in the spirit world.

Once I saw a small spirit boy crying at the end of my bed. At  first I thought it was Peter, the son of my dead cousin who had  killed himself. The spirit looked like Peter, only years younger.  Sitting up sleepily and rubbing the sleep from my eyes, I tried  to ask him what the matter was. As soon as I did this he just  disappeared only to reappear again once I lay back down in the  bed. This was very frustrating as the noise kept me awake.  In the end I did my old trick of just burying myself under the  blankets pretending I was asleep. Peter was only ten, the same  age as me at the time of his father’s death. After the incident,  I never saw him again because the tragedy had eventually split  the family. Dad said that my cousin’s death was an accident, as  he was depressed and terribly unhappy at the time and did not  mean to actually kill himself. Anyone who has ever experienced  a suicide with a loved one will understand the pain and deep  sadness that goes with it as it is incredibly hard to comprehend.  As a small child, it was almost impossible.

Years later, I was given more clarity into the circumstances  around the situation of my cousin’s death. Apparently he was  having difficulties in his marriage at the time and was extremely  depressed and in a poor state of mind, often the case in most  suicides. On that eventful day I could only imagine what he  must have gone through. He must have been in incredible pain  and confusion to have taken so many sedatives. It was later found  that he had tried to vomit them all up but, sadly, was unable to  do so. Instead, his young, athletic body was found dead, lying  tragically over the bath. By the time they got to him, it was far  too late.

I often wondered when I was older, if this is why my  grandmother drank so much because every time I saw her she  was always so merry with a jug of beer in the kitchen ready to  pour. She had already lost a husband in her lifetime, but to lose  a grandchild as well would have been a terrible tragedy and a  heavy cross to bear.

Whenever we arrived to visit my grandmother, it usually  took quite a while for my poor parents to pull me out of the  back of the tiny Volkswagen as I never knew from visit to  visit what was going to happen next. Even though I was often  exhausted from the long drive and carsick from the fumes of  my mother’s perfume anything was better than going inside my  grandmother’s creepy, haunted house.

As soon as I stepped inside the door, I could feel the spirit  energy like raw electricity in the air. I would start shaking and  cold shivers would run up and down my spine, making my hairs  stand on end. Once I had stepped over the threshold of her  house I would immediately begin to feel anxious, in case my  parents decided to stay. As far as I was concerned the place was  crawling with dead people or spirits, all making useless efforts to  grab my attention and I wanted no part of it.

“Why doesn’t she get out of the car?” my mother would ask  my father as soon as we pulled up in front of the old terrace.  “What’s going on? Come on, not again. What is your problem?”  she would screech at the top of her lungs. “Stop being difficult  and get out of the car at once!”

Finally she would scream through gritted teeth with her  arms firmly crossed in front of her. “Now, listen to me young  lady! Get out of the car,” she would repeat, tired of the same  routine every time we arrived at grandmother’s house but she’d  also be dying to get inside for a cup of tea.

“Can you hear what I am saying? Listen to me when I talk to  you. You are just being your usual highly strung self, aren’t you?”  she would moan.

Nothing she could ever say or do made any difference in the  world. Under no circumstances was I going to move until I was  good and ready. As soon as we had arrived my parents were  always arguing anyway, so I had no reason to want to stay.  “Just let her sit there and come inside,” my father would say,  not wanting to get involved with all the stress taking place. “She will come inside when she is good and ready.”

The last thing he wanted was an argument as he already  seemed to have so much on his mind. It was his duty as the  eldest son to keep an eye on his aging and very sick mother  and nothing on earth was ever going to change from that  responsibility. When I felt I had the courage, I would let myself  out of the car silently and finally go inside the house. It was  something that I dreaded doing each time I went there but I  knew I had no choice in the matter. I knew a lot of things about  the house already as I had visited it so regularly over the years.  There had been two deaths in the family already and you  could really feel the sadness and emptiness as soon as you  stepped inside nanna’s home. Dad had not only witnessed his  own father’s ill health and untimely death from cancer when he  was in the prime of his life, but he had also been a witness to his  cousin’s death from suicide.

The only thing that made me laugh was the old toilet which  was way up the back yard, and it felt like everybody was watching  you whenever you walked up the small path to pay a visit. All  the houses were in a row and so close together. They had small  windows up the top which you could look out of. Nanna used  to have what she used to call “a dunny man” that used to come  and collect the toilet pot. He was always really friendly, and  whenever he talked he would have a cigarette hanging out of  the side of his mouth. He only ever wore a tiny singlet, on the  coldest of days which was tucked into a pair of little shorts. He  also wore a pair of thick woollen socks and a pair of sandshoes  as he was always running.

Whenever he arrived in his huge truck, I would hold my nose  and try not to breathe as it stank so much. He was a friendly  man, who used to laugh and tell jokes to anyone who would  listen, while he got on with his business. The smell was intense  and horrible, but we all used to smile, and pretend none the  wiser, to be polite. It must have been a terrible job, but he didn’t  seem to mind. I often wondered how he did it.

Another thing that always bothered me was no matter  how much you warmed the house, it was always cold. My  grandmother was always complaining about all the coke she  used to use, which she had stored out the back. She also had a  gas meter which you had to put coins into. It is not often that  you will find an earth-bound spirit in a lonely house unless of  course they once live there or have an attachment to the home.  I am sure a lot of the spirit people in Nanna’s house had lived  there once before.

Years later when I was a nurse, later on in life in my twenties  and thirties, I would often feel and hear spirits walking around  hospital wards whenever I did the rounds on the lonely dreaded  night shift. Working those types of shifts can be really draining  as you usually do not have time to have a proper sleep and it  takes a lot out of you as you become so sensitive.

At first I thought it was my imagination, but it happened so  many times, over and over that you could not just put it down  to nothing or a loud cockroach. There were definitely spirits  running around the buildings I worked at, as I am sure many  people must have died there. So long as they did not come near  me, I was happy. I had one touch me once and it scared the living  daylights out of me as it was so ice cold. The other nurses that I  worked with all felt the same and had similar situations happen  to them. When we got together we would all joke and scare each  other to death just to keep each other awake, with horrible scary ghost stories. Usually we worked in pairs and walked around  in the dark corridors of the old hospitals clutching torches and  shining them into the dark whenever we heard any noises …  Almost every single nurse I have ever spoken to have all had  paranormal experiences in one way or another.

Excerpt from ‘A suburban Medium’

Kerrie Erwin

Kerrie Erwin is a psychic medium and international author with four books to date. She works as a featured writer for Heart Soulspirit magazine and as a free lance writer. She regularly works in clubs throughout Australia with her spirit shows, TV and radio.