Monday, October 8, 2012

Loch Ness

Fort Augustus Abbey sits in all its splendour at the very edge of Loch Ness.  I have stayed there.  Its archaic walls tall and foreboding, a walk along its cloisters revealing a large chess set in the sheltered courtyard. As you walk down a little gravel path that winds between trees, you suddenly emerge beside a boathouse to find yourself at the water's edge. Two white wooden chairs, placed at the shore's edge, allow you to sit and watch the water and the distant hills, the view softened at the edges by a gentle breeze tickling at the foliage beside the waterway.


As you sit, watching, the light disappearing, draining from the vista, you may by chance spy weird ebbs and flows in the deep fresh water of the loch.  These make you strain your eyes, watching and hoping that, from beneath its steely-blue water, the head of the famed Loch Ness Monster may breach the surface.


Urquhart Castle is also located beside the Loch, its crenellated ruins, stark and sharp stones an interesting juxtaposition to the swirling waters of Loch Ness that nip then retreat at the shores along the castle's edge.


It seems that the idea of an unusual aquatic animal may date back to the Picts, an ancient Celtic tribe that, through its fairly life-like rendering of animals, has recorded a water-faring creature of unknown origin and species. The biography of  St Columba is the first written record of the Loch Ness Monster, detailing an account of St Columba, the man purported to have brought Christianity to Scotland, standing on the shore waiting to meet a Pict Chief and witnessing a "monster" breaching the surface of the loch, about to devour a man.  It is said that St Columba invoked God and asked the creature to leave, at which command it obediently disappeared.
Picture taken by George Edwards

There have been many accounts and grainy photographs of this strange and mythical creature.  A recent one was taken by fisherman George Edwards on the Loch.  Countless expeditions, using specialised sonar equipment, have tried to catch the elusive beast frolicking in the deep water. 

I think it's lovely to imagine the huge creature, rolling and rollicking, its immense carriage buoyed by the deep, cold waters of the Loch, flicking its heavy tail against the gentle rise and fall of the water, teasing at the human psyche so desperate to witness the mythical beast.


Friday, June 8, 2012

Spooky Places and Megalophobia

There is a place in the East of Australia that doesn't feel right. Warranted, the first time I drove across it was on a stressful occasion, on a rainy night. The fact the place felt ominous I merely put down to the ambience and my state of mind that night. A year later I again traversed this natural basin in the landscape, this time in bright sunshine. It is an expanse of land void of trees or shrubbery but covered in short grasslike foliage. There are a smattering of properties scattered across its foreboding length. These homesteads are only obvious because of barbed wired fences and the occasional gate, with a tall house behind them set back from the road, jutting from the flat landscape. The first homestead you pass as you enter the plain is called Hells Gate and it gets worse from there.

I suffer from a weird phobia that has haunted me my entire life. It's called Megalophobia. Basically it's a fear of large and looming objects. Mine seems to be specific to huge ships in the water looming above me and large spouts of water or high fountains. Even as a baby I apparently screamed if a ship was shadowing above me in any way, even in a picture a book, such an image would make me cry. I recall a Disney book with people jumping to the safety of the water, from a burning ship, and being terrified of the image. I remember an incident as a small child of sitting playing in the shallow water, my back to the sea, and unbeknownst to me a catamaran gliding silently into the shore behind me. I was frozen with fear. Even the scene in the recent movie Cowboys and Aliens, with the overturned paddle steamer in the desert, made my palms sweet and my heart rate increase.

What has the plain and my weird fear got in common. On about my third trip across this foreboding piece of land, sitting low in my seat because the landscape makes me so uncomfortable. I jokingly said to my travel companions
"You know what would make this place really freak me out?"
Knowing of my fear they laughed when I explained that a huge ship traversing the flat landscape outside the window of the car would terrify me. Just as we laughed and I turned to look to my left...three huge ships, placed inexplicably in a landlocked paddock, amidst that flat and barren landscape appeared.
I could barely breathe and I was overcome by dizzying nausea.
Perhaps some farmer had bought these three ships and transported them to this place with some grand design in mind but instead ended up leaving them to rot in the fields just beyond his house. I could see no rational explanation at all and nothing about their presence there helped calm my fears about this spooky plain.

Some random images of abandoned ships..... 0.0

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Round House

The Round House
Built in 1831, on a high limestone ridge at Arthur's Head, the Round House overlooks both the sea and Fremantle. comanding a view from the Indian Ocean down High street directle to the Town Hall and beyond.  Designed by architect Henry Reveley the building has twelve sides, giving it the round appearance that gave the structure its name.  Within its walls are eight cells, surrounding a central courtyard.  There is also a goalers residence. The Round House has a long and harrowing history and many believe the events that occurred in and around it have led to it being a haunted place.  It certainly has a presence.

I have often walked along the street below the looming Round House, or climbed the staircase to see the view from the hill on which it was built. At  times I have spared a thought for the ill- fated John Gavin

It was in the shadow of the imposing Roundhouse that John Gavin became the first European executed in the Swan River Colony.  He was a fifteen year old boy, sent to the colonies.  John  murdered George Pollard, the fifteen year old son of his employer.  Due to the fact that John was so thin and frail it was decided at his execution which was to be a public affair, his legs would be weighted so he would die quickly. He was so afraid that he walked slowly and had to be assisted on his way to the gallow. John Gavin's body was unceremoniously  buried in the shallow sands near the Round House and  not even given the dignity of a Christian burial.
The Perth Gazette at the time commented

 "that on the western precipice of the Australian continent:There, without rite or ceremony, the remains of this miserable lad were inhumed, but though the place of his sepulchre be unknown to all, yet may. God grant that awful example made on so young a lad, may ever be before the minds of all of us young or old."

 In 1837 a tunnel was designed and constructed by Henry Reveley to assist the Fremantle Whaling company in moving whale carcasses from Bathers Beach.  This was the first underground engineering construction in Western Australia. 

The  Round House is a very interesting place to explore and there are many who have claimed to have seen the ghosts of those that were tormented within and just beyond its walls.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

South Fremantle Coogee Power Station

                                       South Fremantle Coogee Power Station (March 2012)

It's funny how something can feature in your whole life, be just there in the peripheral.  You know it's there but you don't really pay attention, such is the case with the South Fremantle Coogee Power Station.

I have passed the building on a regular basis my entire life. On occasion as a child I recall watching it as it swished by the car window wondering what went on in what seemed like a very large geometric building.

Construction started on the coal powered power station in 1946, and the art deco style building was completed and functioning in 1951. The beachside location of this structure was chosen because of its proximity to the general metropolitan population, the nearby railway, which helped with the transportation of coal to the building and the seawater that was used in the plant cooling process.

In September 1985 the plant was closed and so began the derelict and in some cases dark history of this building.  The long windows are all gone and tattered plastic strips flap uselessly in the breeze from the rusted metal frames.  The building has been used by all manner of homeless people and it's graffitied walls add to its appearance of abandoned desolation. The building has warnings about access within its deteriorating structure. Rumours abound of satanic rituals being performed within its confines.  There have been suicides from its five storey heights and there has been mention of four murders within its walls and the rooms below ground level.  

Piccadilly Theatre

 Piccadilly Theatre (taken Feb 2012)
The Piccadilly Theatre in Perth was designed by William T Leighton.  A well known Western Australian architect,  he designed the building in an art deco style. The building's style reflects much of the eclectic art deco design style that originated in Paris in the 1920s. The fascination with geometric and neoclassical aspects of art are evident in the structure of the building as is the architects adherence to functionalism.

The building was opened in 1938. Australian born sculptor, Edward Kohler created the statues in the complex. The face being one I only recently noticed as I looked up, the statue is placed above eye level on the building, an interesting discovery for anyone happening upon it.
That the building is haunted is no surprise to me. Though I have lived in Perth my whole life I have been in the building once. After purchasing tickets and walking into the cinema I had to leave before the show started as I had an extreme feeling of foreboding, all of this well before even hearing a mention of it being haunted. I always "listen" to the feel of a place.
A repairman is purported to have seen a dark shadow in the theatre that was believed to be the ghost of a former manager of the complex. Other reports talk about a customer who was inadvertently locked in the cinema after closing time and as the trapped occupant stumbled around in the dark looking for a way out he supposedly stumbled and fell down a set of stair dying in the cinema overnight.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Vampire Hunter Kits

Despite the controversy regarding their authenticity it's hard to deny that these Vampire Hunting Kits are a work of twisted art.
Allegedly they became popular in the 19th century for those travellers that found themselves traversing the countryside of Eastern Europe. There are rumours that some hotels in Eastern European countries offered tourists Vampire Hunting Kits for a small fee, to use at their whim during their stay.
With Vampire legends dating back to prehistory, and with the publication of The Vampyre by John Polidori and Bram Stoker's Dracula, one can see how a Vampire Hunting Kit may have become a desired necessity.