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Spirited away - part 1

Posted by
Stephen (Canberra, Australia) on 15 October 2011 in Documentary & Street and Portfolio.

The courtyard at St Josephs Orphanage (1906-1974) in Goulburn. This is one of two abandoned buildings I visited by night.
I ventured inside one of Australia's most haunted buildings. But first, some background to set the scene for you.

I met with the Spirit Chasers group for a tour of haunted and ghostly sites in the city of Goulburn. As Australia's oldest inland city, Goulburn is rich in history and architecture - as I found in this series. However, its social history also has a dark side. One or two of the orphanages in the city were more like cruel places of internment. The ghost stories are a legacy of that shame.

We explored two closed and abandoned orphanages. Spirit Chasers have exclusive access to investigate these sites. On my tour, we went in at night, armed only with small torches to pick our way among the debris and ruins of the empty rooms and corridors. I'm told you can hear noises such as mournful cries and loud banging. People have had their clothing tugged and pulled by unseen hands.

The place is full of hidden dread. Many of the children were foundlings - abandoned by their families who in some cases were too poor to take care of them. Single mothers often placed their children in the orphanage for a short stay - but never saw their kids again. Children had their names taken away - to exist from that point on only as a number.

These were stolen generations who have yet to receive justice.

The cold, grey mood is so sad in this memory and in these comments. You can read more of their stories at this link - make sure you scroll down to the comments and check out the embedded photos.

The Spirit Chasers site can be found here.

NIKON D5000 25 seconds F/5.6 ISO 800 11 mm

Ani from Bordeaux, France

A terrible story ! It's important to try to rehabilitate the memory of these children tortured with your pictures Stephen.

15 Oct 2011 5:45am

kiwisa from North Shore, New Zealand

So sad and unfortunately more of these stories of the early last century orphanages are the same. Good night shot, so steady...I would have been trembling too much.

15 Oct 2011 5:51am

PRASHANT from Mumbai, India

Interesting info....nice shot.

15 Oct 2011 7:35am

Nigel from Avening, United Kingdom

This will be interesting

15 Oct 2011 7:48am

Ahmad from Isfahan, Iran

I like those lights with nice tail .

15 Oct 2011 8:14am

L'Angevine from Angers, France

je ferais bien attention où je marche

15 Oct 2011 8:31am

jpla from St Barthélémy d, France

Joli shot nocturne ! Je te souhaite une agréable journée

15 Oct 2011 8:37am

San G. from United States

An interesting story to accompany an interesting photograph. Thanks for the background. Around 1900 my grandfather's mother died. When she did, he and his siblings were taken to an orphange by their father. In those days, men worked and the mothers raised the children. If there wasn't a mother ... the kids couldn't be raised at home. Sometimes (if they were lucky) people had an extended family, and could rely on an aunt or grandmother. When my great-granfather remarried, he got the kids out of the orphanage. Later, when my grandfather had three children himself, his wife died. He thought he had to do the same thing, but he was able to find a relative for each of them, and "farme them out". A year later he had remarried, and was able to reconstitute the family.
When you shared this story, it gave me chills, thinking about what it must've been like for my poor grandfather. And, what it truly was like for the children in your story. It's good to remember what we have to be grateful for.

15 Oct 2011 8:56am

@San G.: Thanks, San G, for sharing your own story.

CElliottUK from Reading, United Kingdom

"Children had their names taken away - to exist from that point on only as a number." That alone shows the inhumanity of the place. A truly sad story

15 Oct 2011 9:12am

Mhelene from Paris, France

Fantastic ...abandoned and by night ...!!Great mood and some haunted light in this beautiful photo !

15 Oct 2011 9:14am

janina from Melbourne, Australia

...the idea has memories for me, too! I look forward to seeing your take on the place.

15 Oct 2011 9:16am

hugo poon from hong kong, Hong Kong

What a strong image Stephen... and such terribly sad stories to read along!!! How I was struck! Must be an unforgettable venture!

15 Oct 2011 9:18am

arvin25 from Iran

Very nice with the red bricks that shines at night....

15 Oct 2011 9:47am

grouser from Ludlow, United Kingdom

Horrible but great back story to set the scene and also your state of mind at the time. In reality the torch trails are the nearest thing to a ghost I suspect, but well captured all the same.

15 Oct 2011 10:08am

yiannis krikis from thessaloniki, Greece

very nice nocturnal - I like the light lines at the left

15 Oct 2011 10:34am

Don Levesque from Saint John, Canada

Great night scene! A interesting but very sad story.

15 Oct 2011 11:49am

Scene by Sharon Photography from Kingston, Ontario, Canada

Such a horrible tale ~ and, unfortunately, I am sure it is very true. However, the opportunity to shoot in a place with so much history and intrigue would be fabulous - I look really forward to seeing more photos of your adventure here. I dearly love shooting old, run-down buildings - the tales and stories such places hold intrigue and facinate me.

15 Oct 2011 12:14pm

Florence from Paris, France

Are you a Ghost Hunter dear ? :-))))

15 Oct 2011 12:31pm

Williams from East LaHave, Nova Scotia, Canada

A dramatic shot, a terrible drama.

15 Oct 2011 1:49pm

Jules from Drayton, United Kingdom

powerful image and story - unfortunately wherever you look there are stories of our inhumanity to our fellow men and women; but sadly, worst of all is towards our children..... and they call us a civillised society

15 Oct 2011 2:13pm

Adela Fonts from Barcelona, Spain

Impressive lights belonging to ghosts sure ... thanks for your informative text ... A picture accompanying it royally. thank you very much Best regards, Adela

15 Oct 2011 2:20pm

Thierry Pouleur from anseremme, Belgium

bien vu , belle photo nocturnre

15 Oct 2011 3:13pm

Sam from Chennai, India

A powerful image. Very unfortunate to read these sad stories of children and families.

15 Oct 2011 3:13pm

Rick from Toronto, Canada

A very atmospheric image with wonderful informative text. Sadly, some of the most haunted locations are linked to the type of ill treatments and tragedies which seem to engender haunting. Kingston Ontario, a small city of limestone that is quite old by Canadian standards, is very haunted. There were horrible doings once upon a time.

15 Oct 2011 3:17pm

marci from in, Morocco

these stories remind me of Savannah, GA - full of hauntings!

15 Oct 2011 3:52pm

Heinz from Hamm, Germany

die Geschichte hört sich nicht gut an.
Ein sehr gutes Foto.

15 Oct 2011 4:31pm

tataray from france, France

Ohhh Triste...
Belle photo de nuit.)

15 Oct 2011 6:22pm

myky from Ontario, Canada

Shocking and heart wrenching history behind this building. It must have been incredibly eerie to visit this site. You have really set the tone in this introductory image.

15 Oct 2011 9:25pm

RBL from Oxford, United States

A frightening night scene to accompany your information about the children and orphanage...I look forward to the series.

15 Oct 2011 9:28pm

Dokmateo from Madrid, Spain

A frightening composition. An interesting mood you have captured. The story is amazing but sad. Can't wait for this series.

15 Oct 2011 11:28pm

Steve Rice from Olympia, United States

The story of this place is the haunted part. Although, I do see something going on in your frame that looks a bit spooky.

16 Oct 2011 1:33am

Chris Pereira from San Francisco, California, United States

love the composition! the lighting is great!

16 Oct 2011 5:26am

JMS* from CHONBURI, Thailand

Je ne comprends très bien ou tu veux en venir ?

16 Oct 2011 6:00am

CElliottUK from Reading, United Kingdom

"Children had their names taken away - to exist from that point on only as a number." That's inhuman

16 Oct 2011 6:16am

peter.K from blue mountains, Australia

good background info Stephen, bit spooky and your image says it too...

16 Oct 2011 9:30am

London Caller from United Kingdom

Hello! How are you?
What have you been up to lately?
Went to Kuala Lumpur last week.
Had a great time there.
Tomorrow, will be going to Singapore.
Next week, will be flying back to London.

16 Oct 2011 9:42am

Emanuel Högberg from Borås, Sweden

cool shot, made more interesting with the light trail

16 Oct 2011 12:02pm

Shaahin Bahremand from Tehran, Iran

nice shot
well done

16 Oct 2011 12:41pm

Mariana M. from Waterloo, Canada

such a super and mysterious image ;)

16 Oct 2011 2:14pm

franz from Baden, Austria

great night shot, chilling background info ...

16 Oct 2011 2:22pm

Marie LC from Entre montagnes et Bretagne, France

I'm afraid !

16 Oct 2011 4:29pm

john4jack from Corvallis, Oregon, United States

well done

16 Oct 2011 8:27pm

JCJ from Troyes, France

i didn't believe ghosts exist, until now! ;)

16 Oct 2011 9:16pm

Jason Politte from Conway, AR, United States

Very cool shot Stephen - the moving light really breathes life (or death?) into this scene. Excellent frame and the stars are an added bonus. Well done!

17 Oct 2011 12:09am

Z from Shanghai, China

The image is perfectly presenting the mood of abandoned and sadness..How creative the exposure to be used to make the light beams surreal at the left side.

17 Oct 2011 1:20am

Bettina from Los Angeles, United States

What a sad sad place and story. I don't know if I'd have the stomach. At least unseen hands didn't take you camera. It's a great shot though!

17 Oct 2011 3:58am

Eric Cousineau from Sherwood Park, Canada

The light painting gives the shot a wonderfully ethereal feel Stephen! Nicely captured! ;-)

17 Oct 2011 2:25pm

ORBIT from Kerman, Iran

What a scary shot

18 Oct 2011 7:00am

25 seconds
ISO 800
11 mm