Last weekend, the day before I was due to leave Brisbane for the drive home to Sydney, I went on the XXXX Brewery Tour at the famous Castlemaine Perkins brewery in Milton. I’m not too much of a beer drinker to be honest, but I am fascinated by large industrial workplaces. It’s one of the many touristy things I’ve always wanted to do while I actually lived locally, but never got around to doing.

I chose the “Brewery, Beer and BBQ” tour. After we’d finished the walkthrough of the premises we were all treated to four beers at the bar and a freshly cooked barbecue.

I’d gone on the tour alone, and out of the group of about 20, there was another guy who had also come along by himself. He ended up sitting with me for the barbecue and we got talking. You know when you meet someone who inspires you and makes you think to yourself, wow, what an awesome person this is?! He fell into that category.

His name was Alan.
He was from LA. Supported the Lakers.
Initially I thought he was in his early/mid 50’s. It turned out he was 67.
He’d been a school teacher for the past 30 years and had only recently retired.
He travelled through Australia back in 1996, and was now on a return trip 15 years later, retracing his steps to see if much had changed, and visiting some of the country that he didn’t get to see last time.
His trip was going to culminate in December in New Zealand, where he’d booked tickets to U2 in Auckland. He’d already seen them about eight times in the past.
Over his lifetime he’d set foot in 104 countries.
He refuses to stay in a hotel, and has only ever opted for accommodation in youth hostels. That way he gets to meet people.
All his friends back at home think he’s crazy.
He lives to travel, and has no plans to slow down any time soon.

We spend about an hour drinking our complementary ale and chatting about all kinds of things, from beer to travelling to iPhones to Lady Gaga. He was such a cool & friendly guy who was genuinely happy to be alive, with the world at his hands, and living life to the maximum capacity. There is no way at all that he had the mindframe of a 67 year old – he was as youthful and full of zest as any one of his past students would have been the day they graduated from high school at 17 years of age.

If I could be half as active and happy as Alan when I’m his age, I would consider my life a success. He proved to me that there is no such thing as growing old, if you don’t want there to be.

This morning, for the second morning in a row, I rose from my slumber unusually early. Yesterday it was 2:45am for the ANZAC day dawn service, but today’s wake-up alarm was a slightly more reasonable 5:45am. Laugh at me all you will, my friends, but I had all intentions of heading on down to Circular Quay along with 5,000 screaming teenage girls in order to catch the Justin Bieber gig that Sunrise was putting on.

Just before I was due to leave home though, I heeded to the fact that the riot police had cancelled the event due to the overly raucous crowd refusing to abide by safety announcements, resulting in a number of tween girls getting crushed. I was quite disappointed – not at the ironic hilarity that fans had flown across the country for this moment only to screw it up for themselves – but because I genuinely did want to see him perform. I’d heard so much about him via Twitter and wanted to see for myself what the hype was about.

Which left me in a debacle as to what to do with my day seeing as it was so early and I was already wide awake. So I randomly decided to hop on the next train to Newcastle!

The first thing that struck me was the painfully slow three & a half hour train journey just to travel 160km. If I was still living in London I could have passed through three whole countries in that time, for heavens sake! A lot of the scenery was pretty spectacular though, especially around the Hawkesbury River area, so I couldn’t really complain.

Approaching the city though, the train line ran past the ugly rears of run-down, graffitied old shops & buildings, and my first impression as the locomotive pulled into my destination was as follows:

That really is what I thought. I was now beginning to understand why Daniel Johns’ music is so out there – clearly, growing up in Newcastle makes artists go crazy.

Following a minuscule and overpriced breakfast at a waterfront cafe, I felt like I’d not only wasted a good sleep-in, but written off a whole bloody day! Still, I thought I’d make the most of my time there and at least walk around the city for an hour or so and take some photos.

Thankfully, my dim impression of Newcastle was soon to change 😀

It turned out to be a gorgeous little town. I climbed the 40m tall Queens Wharf observation tower, then made my way down the Hunter Street mall, discovering some amazing buildings from the earlier part of last century, before making a detour to a beach nearby the famous Ocean Baths. I continued along toward Nobbys Head and journeyed up the breakwater, discovering some inspirational and heartfelt graffiti written on the rocks along the way. I returned back through the local funfair, and finally climbed the hill to the very impressive Christ Church Anglican Cathedral.

On the train bound for home I overheard something really cute and so typically Australian. We passed through the Novocastrian suburb of Cardiff, and an old man sitting across from me said to his wife, “Do you know where they get the name Cardiff from? It’s actually a small town all the way over in Wales which is a part of England!”

I now take back what I initially said about the unofficial capital of the Hunter region. You’d think I would have learnt by now after so much travel, but it just went to reinforce the fact that it does pay to break outside the walls of your immediate surroundings when you first arrive at a destination.

So thanks to the Bieber Brigade and their crowd-crushing, warning-ignoring ways which led them to ruin their own and everybody else’s fun, I was able to make the delightful discovery today that Newcastle is definitely not a hole!

PS. and unlike Rihanna, who inspired a previous blog about my travels in Rome, I really don’t mind this Justin Bieber kid at all 🙂

In August of last year I took a trip to Amsterdam for a long weekend:

I ate a muffin and I saw some pretty colours:

Then I floated back to my hostel room, laid my exploding head down on my fluffy white cloud, and wrote the following:

There is a guy in the room. He is looking in his locker. He just took a sip of a drink. I think he’s taking a pill as well, it looks like he’s getting one out of the foil wrapping. But no, he’s not, he’s just getting out his toothpaste. Brushes teeth. I can hear the gentle whispering of the brushes against his molars, with the trickling of the basin tap in the background. Perhaps I should request that he closes the tap valve so as to cease said trickling? No, that would be foolish of me because he just closed the valve himself. Leaves bathroom. Changes shirt, sprays deodorant. He is moving too quickly for me to make note of his actions, I ask in my mind that he slows down but the fucker doesn’t catch my drift, he keeps on moving and moving, quicker and quicker, my world slows as his becomes fast, fast like a rocket, fast like the speedboat I hear in the canal outside my window, which on my following moment of awareness introduces its road-handling abilities indicating that it’s not actually a speedboat, it’s a motorcycle, and I do possess a motorcycle learners licence so perhaps I could ride off into the unknown and use that to gain my advantage with the situation. This here situating moment that I currently notate, as I return for a brief sobering moment to compose the fact that I bear a magical auric shade of green. And not in a way which particularly refers to compassion with ones surrounding ecosystem, although I’d say much the same about the green in question. This is the emerald oasis of absolute confusion, fascination, morbid darkness and intrepid awakeness which emanates majestically from my harrowing hallway of whispering echoes. The hallway upon which nobody dares speak their truths, utter their desires, or bask in any form of brashen hopefulness altogether. Are they the sinners who retire amongst the trio of perpendicular shadowed edges? I hastily sermon my response as a yes, a yes for humankind who wishes for nothing more but love and peace coexisting with all lifeform, defiance not existing for but a second. As I pause to reflect among said goings-on, one realises where ones true foolishness lies. ‘Tis where the greying embers plunge away the golden.

Oh skyscraper in the sky,

Were you merely a scraper, the moons rays you would not reach,

Caught abreast your cracked, crooked lips.

The epitome of our evolutionary evils rests amongst the laurels of your tall, cumbersome self.

Were you not prefixed “sky,” the heaven’s blazing self you’d nay embrace, trapped amid fields of brashen development.

But skyscraper, the two criteria by which you fulfil, encompasses all such qualities of a yearning and ever-exploring wisdom beyond worlds of whomever is physically highest.

My tuneful self slowly returns to one of less melody, as the horizon draws near centre from its previous unbalanced windowframe. I have returned, but my travel sickness may linger with her aromatic breeze.

I read it the next day and was like :-O

Muffins are bad, boys & girls.

A few weeks ago the 7PM project ran a competition to win a Rhianna CD, and all you had to do to enter was leave a message on their forum describing what your favourite thing is that starts with R, and why? I ended up writing a mini-essay as my competition entry so I thought I might as well post it here and tell the world why my favourite thing that starts with R is Rome!

I went to Italy in July of 2009 for a weeklong holiday, incorporating a few days in Rome, a daytrip south to Naples and Pompeii, then up north through Pisa, Florence, Venice and finally to my mum’s birthplace of Trieste.

I have many fond travel memories of my European adventures, but one of the fondest of them all was the evening I went to a small and quite hard-to-find pizzeria in central Rome called da Baffetto. It was just around the corner from Piazza Navona, and it was suggested by my trusty guidebook to be the best pizzeria in the city. It actually looked quite dodgy and run-down from the outside – you couldn’t see inside the windows because they were blocked out with newspaper – but the smell was heavenly, and there was a substantial lineup of people waiting outside the front door, so I decided to give it a go.

It took about 10 minutes and an encounter with a cranky Italian waiter to reach the front of the queue, and when I finally stepped through the doors I found the place was so packed that they had to sit me at the same table as someone else – a happy & smiling girl who looked to be in her late 20’s and was still perusing the menu. We got chatting and established that English was our common language. She was an actress from Spain and had a few days in Rome for business, and I soon found out the reason she was at this restaurant was because she had the same guidebook as me (albeit in Spanish of course). She too wanted to experience the best pizza in the city!

Our hungry tummies were not at all disappointed when our pizzas arrived. To the eye, I will admit that it looked pretty average, but it actually turned out to be the most delicious, crispy, cheesy, flavoursome, amazing wood-fired pizza I have ever eaten. The base was just the right consistency, and even though I initially thought the toppings were lacking, I soon discovered it was composed of the perfect amount. Every portion of the delicious, meaty salami was savoured, every string of mozzarella was devoured with fevorous intent, every sprinkle of oregano adding to the flavour sensation that made up this true Roman pizza:

My newfound Spanish friend and I ended up having a brilliant night. Thanks to her ability to speak Italian, we made our way afterwards to a bar in the inner-southern suburbs called Big Mama (also listed in our guidebooks as one of the top nightspots to hit) where we were lucky enough to see a genuine Sicilian folk band, performing a unique style of folk music my ears had never before been graced with – and something I never would have done had it not been for meeting Carmen. I still to this day haven’t quite figured out exactly what the bladder-like instrument was that the band were using (it was very similar to a bagpipe yet at the same time, completely different), but it sure sounded amazing:

Two nights later, Carmen and I again met at the same pizzeria for an encore meal. This time I ordered a rocket and prosciutto pizza; it was just as incredible as the first. We sat outside and were grouped with four Italian guys who were in town to watch some football, and I somehow managed to make polite conversation with them using the few Italian words I knew and the small amount of English they knew, along with a bit of translational help from Carmen. We then decided to share another pizza between the two of us, and after a delicious tiramisu and a shot of Limoncello to wash it all down, we bade our football fans goodnight and headed towards a proper Roman coffee shop for an espresso. It was pretty disgusting but I’m glad that I tried it, and before heading home we stopped by the Trevi fountain to bask in its glory and take a few happy snaps.

Walking back to my hostel with a smile, I realised I finally fulfilled an experience I’d been waiting for since I arrived in Europe a year beforehand: that kind of travel experience I’d read about all too often where you meet a random person in a random city who you were clearly “meant” to encounter. And what better thing to bring us together than the best pizza in the city? I left the Italian capital the next day a much richer person – and that, my friends, is why my favourite thing that starts with R is Rome.

* * *

I ended up winning the Rhianna CD but unfortunately I don’t at all dig her style of music. Does anybody want it?!

Hello my friends,

Well I do hope you’ve all had an exceptional 2009! As I reflect on the past year, I realise that it has been the most incredible one so far, and I look forward to an even better 2010. One of my resolutions for next year is simply to be more creative and to put a further emphasis on writing songs, poems and stories. I do seem to have lacked quite a lot of motivation since I got back to Australia, which is disappointing considering creative expression is something that makes me feel complete.

Only last week, however, I was fortunate enough to stumble across a blog entitled “Hearts unbroken & Words untold.” It’s written by a Belgian girl who goes by the name of Froebby, and I was left incredibly inspired by her enchanting prose and her open, honest heart. Please do yourself a favour and give her blog posts a read; I’m sure you will see what I mean! Her heartfelt writing style encouraged me to write this little story (mostly in between phone calls at work, I might add) about the joy of what we think to be true love, followed by the insane amount of confusion that awaits when we realise that it’s not. Admittedly it does have a sombre ending, but it is based ever so slightly on the truth, and I see it as a lesson that we should always strive to remain true to ourselves and those around us in order to achieve happiness.

So thanks Froe, for motivating me to achieve my resolution before the new year even begins, and I wish everyone a very happy 2010 🙂


She Must Have Been Sleeptalking

A busy day exploring a faraway city draws near an end, and the two touring sweethearts make their way through the havoc of the inner-northern suburbs to the location where they will retire for the evening. Putting the general chaos of their day behind them, the couple display an ambience of nervous anticipation for the hours ahead, as this coming night is due to be their first spent together. Alone. At one. At last.

Entering the room they reflect on the day’s precedings before making preparations for their inaugural twilit companionship. Nearby, the dull roar of the subterranean carriages shake the walls ever so slightly, in precise harmony with the rumbling of their hungry hearts. She rests her head gently upon his shoulder as he grasps her slightly trembling hands in his, providing a much-needed quietude prior to the forecast storm. A sense of peace washes over as they take in the space before them which they will shortly occupy, their inhibitions gradually fading as the late summer sun merges with the darkening urban horizon. Their surrounding air becomes lighter than light itself; an aura of magnificence emanating from these two perfectly entwined souls.

Sublime to the eye, sweet to the smell and pure to the touch, she remained every inch the beauty he recalled from his yearnful, endless memory. This was a memory that delved back a multitude of epochs, beyond the fruit, beyond the flower, beyond even the fateful event seemingly millennia ago where the seed was first sowed, paving the way for their impending and everlasting reunion. To her, he was the brick, the support, the solid rock she had grasped onto so tightly in the dawning months leading up to and including this moment.

It was a journey of unimaginable proportions and enigmatic synchronicities that finally culminated in this extraordinary state of communion. From every corner of the universe, all entities involved throughout the duration of this amorous journey wept ethereal tears of togetherness, filling the small but intimate room with their unconditional love. Finally, here they were. Alone. At one. At last.

The overhead iridescence dims, yet the radiance within the room increases infinitely. The silken sheets glide effortlessly over their joy, her arms linking onto his, skin to skin, breast to breast. Their lips draw near, held apart briefly by the warmth of their devoted respiration, before plummeting into divine union, the richness of their embrace sending waves of violet flame shimmering unanimously down their spines. His electric hands saturate her surface, the exponential spark of a thousand strokes permeating deeply into her psyche. Her hair shimmers a vibrant shade of gold as his kiss intensifies, both parties joyously giving, receiving, and eventually succumbing to all that is and all that ever will be.

Time ceases. Love abounds.

She gazes into his closing eyes, savouring every breath he draws and inhaling the luminous energy of which he expels. Whispering softer than that of her velvet skin, she opens a direct line to the centre of his being. Scarcely a moment before he drifts into his most heavenly of slumbers, he becomes engulfed by those
three ………… I
ambrosial ….. LOVE
words …..…….YOU

She must have been sleeptalking.

She awakens at the crack of dawn, and with delicate hesitation, establishes her day by means of a lukewarm shower. Her situation puzzles her whilst the falling water indifferently washes away the thrill of the foregoing evening. Tightening the hot water valve with marginal force, a complication becomes apparent, understandable only to her, as the now-icy stream infiltrates her heart. Unbeknownst to him, her tears of sorrow painfully seep into the drain on that sombre morning.

Tolerating the kiss welcoming her to his glorious day, she is eager to leave the room and get on with exploring the sights of the metropolis. With last night’s adoration far from mind, a hardening bubble appears between his confused advances and her aloof responses. He appreciates her change of gesture, yet his mind cannot cease its stirring, constantly wondering what it was that he has done wrong.

As their second day nears an end, he offers comfort lying closely beside her, gently stroking her cheek with the back of his fingers. He questions her as to why she has appeared so detached. Returning to a similar state of quietude experienced the previous night, albeit a more solemn ambience this time around, she remains unwilling to ignite his confusion any further. She rolls to her side and assumes an artificial state of sleep, careful not to reveal her struggling, silent sobs.

For what seems like countless hours, he lies on his back and stares at the ceiling, his eyes running repeatedly along every nail, contour, crack and defect that he can make out on the dimly lit timber boards above him. Even the spider is aware of his intent glance, his eyes like laser beams, slowing the arachnid to a painful crawl. Wary of making contact but yearning more than ever to lie within her tender hold, he rests his arm by hers and attempts to calm his shattered identity.

On the brink of his drifting off, he becomes subconsciously aware of her shifting arm, and involuntarily adjusts his own to keep his source of chaotic comfort nearby. In an instant and unprovoked fit of rage she snaps her arm away from his touch, and straight down that direct line to the centre of his being she furiously yells
three …….. DON’T
acerbic ….. TOUCH
words ……. ME

He snaps awake. He studies her over. Her eyes: closed. Her muscles: relaxed. Her breathing: heavy and defined. He recoils to the far side of the mattress, feeling every inch the predator that she falsely made him out to be. Despite burning into his endless memory, he will never again mention the horror caused by her sudden nightmarish outburst.

She must have been sleeptalking.

* Coleman’s mustard
* Lincolnshire sausage
* The slow food market by the Embankment… mmm spit roast hog, garlic hummus and pigeon!
* Eating organically
* Rachel’s organic Greek style yoghurt with honey, and the Coconut yoghurt as well
* Puccino’s hot chocolate
* Jaffa cakes
* Chocolate that tastes ever so slightly different to Australian chocolate
* Digestives
* (The innocence of originally thinking that Digestives were tablets to help relieve indigestion)
* Yorkshire puddings
* Toad in the hole
* Fish & chips on the Brighton pier on cold winter days
* Mushy peas
* Proper steak & ale pies
* Authentic cave-matured Cheddar cheese
* Breakfast fry-ups
* Ploughman’s lunch
* Walkers Builders Breakfast crisps
* The word “crisps”
* Proper cups of tea (without sugar)
* Tea cosies
* Going out to folk music nights
* Countless amounts of gigs by well-known acts every night in London
* Australian acts who tour Britain and who are greeted with the rapturous support and applause of us expats
* The incredible assortment of theatre, comedy and musicals on nightly display throughout the city
* Locally-owned pubs built on atmosphere
* Historic and unique pubs
* The Tooting Tram & Social
* The Selkirk
* The fact that hardly any pubs have pokies
* Supermarkets that sell alcohol
* Off licences
* Guinness that actually tastes like Guinness should
* Real ale
* PINTS of beer as opposed to those pathetic little “pots” that us Aussies drink!
* Being able to fly to Europe for 20 quid
* Collecting stamps in my passport
* The red circle with the blue line
* Tube station advertisements
* Studying the tube map trying to work out which route will get me home the quickest
* Choosing random stops to get off at and explore, ie. Maida Vale and Ealing Broadway
* Oyster cards
* Night buses home from Brixton
* Cycling through Thornton Heath, Norbury, Streatham, Tooting & Colliers Wood on the way to work
* The massively long escalators at Angel
* Northern Line train carriages
* Coal miners with erections (you had to be there to understand!)
* Double decker buses
* Tube station buskers
* People slagging off Gordon Brown and Boris Johnson in the newspapers
* The Metro, The London Paper and The Evening Standard
* (but not the London Lite, that’s just shite!)
* Page Three girls
* Inquisitive dogs on trains
* Squirrels
* Urban foxes
* Mole hills
* Friendly Wandle Path street cats
* Wild blackberries
* Playing pool, table tennis and guitar on lunch breaks
* Hanging out with Team Six Nations and the rest of the A&C folk every day
* Staff bags
* Team snacks
* Cold, drizzly, overcast weather
* Snow
* Conservatories
* Regional accents
* People telling me that I’m losing my Australian accent
* People mistaking me for a Kiwi or South African
* Making fun of the Welsh just like we make fun of the Kiwi’s 🙂
* The M25
* The fact that motorways are referred to by number rather than name
* Rows of terraced houses
* Independently owned boutique high street stores
* Robbie Williams
* Take That
* Top Gear
* QI
* Cash In The Attic
* The Apprentice
* Jeremy Kyle
* Simon Amstell
* Dara O’Briain
* Susan Boyle
* Dave
* The BBC
* Castles
* Cathedrals
* Actually wanting to walk into a church to marvel at its history and architecture
* Church cemeteries
* Being nine hours behind
* Dyson air blades in airport bathrooms
* Heated towel racks
* The lady who reads the O2 voicemail message
* The lushness of the Wimbledon Common
* The deer within Richmond Park
* Microchipped bank cards
* Not having to select Cheque, Savings or Credit every time I make a transaction with my bank card
* Not being charged for every transaction you make at a cashpoint that is not owned by your specific bank
* The word “cashpoint”
* The word “innit”
* “You alright?”
* The museum quarters at South Kensington
* Hearing about people’s suggestions for places to visit
* Heading out to random towns and villages on the weekend
* The hilarity of Brighton “beach” that doesn’t actually possess any sand
* Boston & Stickney
* Edinburgh… my favourite place in the entire world
* Hanging out with Jess 🙂
* The British postcode system
* Toilets with levers instead of buttons
* The homeless girl in Thornton Heath who keeps asking me for 36p
* The fact that the school year begins in September
* Electric showers
* The bulky but cute three-pronged electrical plugs/sockets
* Camden and Portobello Markets
* Rough Trade Records on Talbot St nearby Portobello Market… the best record store ever
* The music shops on Denmark St
* Incredible, historical architecture
* Red telephone boxes and post boxes
* Bobbies
* Big Ben
* Leicester Square
* The Thames
* The endless fascination with the Royal Family
* British people in general
* The Union Jack
* God Save The Queen

* 1p and 2p coins
* Living in Thornton Heath

The end!

So I’ve just this afternoon come back from my road trip around Scotland and I thought I’d share one of the more interesting experiences I encountered along the way.

I flew into Edinburgh on the 3rd of March, and was completely blown away by its sheer beauty. I didn’t know much at all about the place before my visit, so after checking into the backpackers hostel (directly opposite the magnificent Edinburgh Castle) I hopped onto a tourist bus and took the hour-long journey around the city, listening into the highly entertaining and interesting commentary provided along the way as we passed the local sights. I was especially intrigued to hear about Edinburgh’s bleak past, in particular the townspeoples fascination with public executions over centuries gone by, and also the crime, disease and harsh environment associated with the industrial revolution.

As the bus drove past South Bridge we were given a glimpse into the history behind the 19 archways built back in 1785. Apparently there were hidden, haunted vaults built deep inside the bridge, a few rooms of which were actually accessible to the public on one of the many ghost tours conducted throughout the city. So naturally curiosity got the better of me and I went on one of these tours to see the vaults for myself.

It was 10pm and a group of about 20 brave souls met outside the Tron Kirk, the meeting point for the Auld Reekie Terror Tour, described as follows:

Join us if you dare! This is a no holds barred, adult only tour. We will take you on a journey through the streets of old Edinburgh. It will be dark and dingy and you can imagine for yourselves how the characters of old stalked these very alleys, doing unspeakable deeds and leaving a grisly legacy behind. Hear in every gory detail about the persecution of the witches during the 1600’s and how the plague caused a slow and agonising death. Then, only if you’re ready, enter our underground vaults, home of the South Bridge poltergeist!

Our guide Luke arrived wearing a trenchcoat and carrying a walking stick, and he took us on the initial walk around the cold, dark alleyways. He explained along the way how the booming population of ye olde Edinburgh, mixed with the burden of a man-made wall around its outskirts, meant that the only way people could be housed was to build the city upwards. Of course, structural engineering was not at the standard that it is today, so it came to happen that the timber floors built above the one-story stone buildings eventually collapsed, killing a great many people and rendering the survivors homeless. In time to come, the governing body of the city conveniently declared that all homelessness be illegal, punishable by execution. Those who didn’t want to face a beheading had no other choice but to live underground in the dirty, decrepit South Bridge vaults.

Into the vaults we headed. We were situated within a long, wide corridor, with three rooms built into the left hand side. The first room was a room that is actually still in use today by a group of local Wiccans who perform magick rituals on a regular basis. It was closed to public use, but you could see its full Wiccan setup in the dim light with its pentagram and wands hanging on the wall, and a stone circle in the centre. The second room, we were told, was the most haunted of the three rooms according to the many spiritualists who have studied the vaults. This is where the famed poltergeist was supposed to have resided; a single entity consisting of the souls of those who passed away from the trecherous, disease-ridden conditions of years gone by. However it was the third room towards the end of the corridor that interested me the most.

The Wiccans had actually chosen this particular room as their original venue for performing their rituals. They had it set up in a style much similar to that of the first room we encountered, with the pentagram and stone circle, however all that remained today were the stones, encircling a few cold puddles of water that had dripped down from the ceiling above. We were told that not long after the Wiccans commenced using this room, some very strange things started to happen. For example, objects within the room would move. The temperature would suddenly drop, then rise back up again. The water dripping from the ceiling would only drip within the circle itself, and never form puddles on the outside. People started feeling strange sensations, as if they were being held back or choked. It was clear that the room was possessed by a highly negative energy.

Eventually the leader of the Wiccan group decided to camp overnight within the circle, intending to perform some healing rituals in an attempt to ward away this unaccommodating, disturbing spirit. The night began without trouble, however it wasn’t long before the entity made itself apparent, and the Wiccan leader soon realised that he was fighting against something way beyond his own capabilities. After experiencing an agonizing discomfort and noticing scratches appear over his body, he fled the room and vowed never to set foot in it again.

Among other horrendous occurrences, it was in this room over two centuries ago, that a notorious criminal murdered at least sixteen prostitutes. It is said that the entity haunting this room is made up of the demonic remnants of these poor women.

At the conclusion of the story, Luke invited us to take a step inside the stone circle and experience the energy for ourselves, if we so dared. We were all gathered around the outside of the stones, and it was plain to see the effects of the storytelling had caused quite a lot of unease within the group. Luke confessed that on many occasions he has witnessed members of his tour groups either faint or begin losing their breath upon entering the circle, but that didn’t stop two girls from our group bravely taking a step inside. I followed. I have no fear. We had a quick hug in the middle, before stepping back out and confirming that we were all in fact ok. Nothing out of the ordinary happened, and neither of us felt any form of discomfort. We continued on with our tour, which concluded soon after in a pub where we all had a drink and eventually parted ways.

Now it’s completely understandable at this stage if you think the whole experience of being in a so-called “haunted” environment is a good example of human psychology accentuated by the theatrics of a few hair-raising tales about ghosts. But I haven’t finished my story yet!

It was well past midnight by the time I got back to my hostel room after the tour, so I got changed, went to bed, and had a nice peaceful sleep after a long day. I woke up fairly early in the morning, around 7:30-ish, and did the usual stretch and yawn thing that you do to encourage yourself to get out of bed. I scratched my head, wiped my eyes, and rubbed my hands down my face. It was then that I noticed blood on my hands.

I had a bleeding nose.

I’ve not had a bleeding nose since I was about nine years old.

You can draw your own conclusions on this one my friends, but in my mind this was no coincidence. This was the work of a troubled soul, giving me a warning for wrongly and selfishly entering its territory.


Thrice around the circle bound, evil sink into the ground
Thrice around the circle bound, evil sink into the ground
Thrice around the circle bound, evil sink into the ground


Here is an interesting link regarding a study into paranormal activity within the vaults:

This is the one and only photo I managed to take within the vaults. Unfortunately it was pitch black, but you can just make out an artefact and a few crosses on the rear wall.

If you enjoyed reading this, then perhaps you’ll also enjoy reading about my other ghostly experience at the Toowong Cemetery, Brisbane, in October 2010: A Strange Thing Happened At Toowong Cemetery

I gaze at the palace, aware of the balance
Of scale and beauty in all that we know
Every end has a start, every light turns to dark
As is proven by watching the sun resting low

Hoping you’ll be with me soon
Under the Viennese moon

Priceless antiquities, modern complexities
Ballet Giselle on the clock tower tonight
Alive by projection, the modern selection
Of venue brings crowds by the thousands to sight

The rapturous applause as the leading girl soars
To the stage in the arms of her charming young man
Inspires a sigh as I look on up high
Past the bell and the spire and the Austrian flag

Hoping you’ll be with me soon
Under the Viennese moon

Roses appear like ornate chandeliers
On the balconies, teeming with scarlet and white
Pure reflections of nature’s perfections
Conveyed to the Gods of the Viennese night

So the young and the old, the warm and the cold
The dancers, the dreamers, we all have one wish
To live with the powers of Viennese flowers
And by moonlit skies pronounce, “ich liebe dich”

And I know that you’ll be with me soon
Under the Viennese moon

The scene appearing in front of me as I wrote this poem:
Ballet Giselle on the clock tower projection screen, with the Viennese moon in its full glory to the left…

© 2008 Daniel Schaumann

Well I’ve been in this lovely country now for about four days and as much as I miss Australia it’s so amazing to be on the other side of the world experiencing a different culture! So I’ve sat and compiled quite a list of random observations and things I’ve learnt that make this place what it is 🙂

* 99% of houses are built out of either stone or brick
* If the streets aren’t narrow enough, the footpaths are even narrower
* Massive traffic lights. And they go yellow agan before they turn green
* Big white-on-blue arrows to remind you which way you turn around a roundabout (presumably so Americans know what to do?)
* If you ask for a large cappucino, they give it to you in a soup mug. Don’t ask for a muggucino cause they don’t know what that is
* Strawberry picking is a very popular pasttime for locals on a Thursday afternoon
* They sell alcohol in grocery stores!
* They don’t seem to check for ID outside pubs & clubs
* The weather is nowhere near as cold / windy / rainy / cloudy as I thought it would be (yet!)
* Church grounds contain public cemetaries.
* Marmite (lol… eww)
* Tea, tea, and more tea
* Conservatories are a novel and popular way to trap the sun’s heat
* Toilets here flush with handles, not with buttons
* The postie delivers mail direct to your front door
* You hardly see any old lemon cars on the road
* Phone numbers have 11 digits in them which makes them so hard to remember 😛
* Baked beans and mushy peas come as side dishes with pub meals
* No such thing as pots or schooners – they’re all pint glasses
* We complain about the price of fuel in Australia, yet it’s another 40 or 50 cents per litre more expensive here
* Electrical sockets and plugs look funny!
* Rabbits run out onto the road in front of you
* The price of food and household products are nowhere near as expensive as people put them out to be. Quite on par with Australia I think
* The local car boot sale is about the same size as a small city
* Customs don’t check your bags at Manchester airport
* You need to pay licence fees for free-to-air TV
* Phone boxes really do look like the ones out of Doctor Who
* Never, ever say the “S” word. (you know, the one that rhymes with “knocker” and means “football”)
* Sausage buns are called “baps”
* A nap is a “kip”
* Computer keyboards are all manky! The ” is where the @ is supposed to be!
* Home & Away is about two months behind 🙁
* Radio 1, Radio 2, Radio 3, Radio 4, Radio 5……. etc etc
* People think Sydney is the capital (and only!) city in Australia
* Bedrooms often come with the obligatory wash basin
* Apparently, “Bruce” is a very popular Australian name
* Locals are not willing to admit that the skills of the Australian cricket team don’t quite match up to theirs
* Every town or village has at least one massive church in it
* There are no designated parking bays on roads. People just park in the lane itself and others have to manoeuvre their way around
* Chavs
* Double-decker buses
* Shops & pubs are often built out in the middle of nowhere in the countryside. And people do come to them
* After you send a text message or make a phone call, your phone automatically shows you your remaining credit. (well we might have that in Australia for all I know but I’ve never seen it before and I think it’s pretty cool!)
* Distance is measured in imperial (miles), yet volume is measured in metric (litres)
* Pigeons actually live in people’s backyards, not just in McDonalds carparks where they scavenge chips and burgers

I shall speak to all you chaps again very soon. May God save the Queen,