Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Terowie Train Station - Hidden Secrets

Terowie Train Station - Hidden Secrets

<Begin Transcript> 
The mid-north town of Terowie sits 220 kilometres north of Adelaide, in South Australia. It is an important landmark town in the state for its many historical buildings. Terowie Train Station opened in 1880 when the broad-gauge railway line from Adelaide reached the town. The first train arrived on December 14, 1880, carrying Sir William Jervois, Governor of South Australia
 Not long after, a narrow-gauge line from nearby Peterborough was extended to Terowie station. Terowie railway station, from then on, was used to unload goods from the broad-gauge line, onto trains on the narrow-gauge line, to move goods through the state, and interstate.
 The Adelaide to Red Hill railway line was extended to Port Pirie in 1937, taking away some of Terowie’s train traffic.  When Leigh Creek Coalfields opened, traffic through Terowie increased again, but this line was soon made obsolete with a new Stirling to Maree line opening in 1957. The Port Augusta to Broken Hill line was converted to a standard gauge, which saw railway lines north of Terowie converted to broad gauge in1970, making Peterborough the breakpoint of gauges and rendering Terowie obsolete.
During World War Two. A large military camp was established close the railway station, enabling the military to move troops and ammunition swiftly across Australia to wherever needed. The break of gauge at Terowie meant that the town was vital for the Silverton to Burra, Adelaide to Perth and Adelaide to Alice Springs routes. During the War, all north-bound men and goods were transhipped at Terowie.
While changing trains on the 20th of March 1942 at Terowie U.S. General MacArthur made a speech about the Battle of The Philippines, in which he said:. “I came out of Bataan and I shall return”.
The Terowie line was reduced to a crossing loop with the line closing in July 1988,
Today Terowie is a historical town much loved by its residents. The train station stands as a monument to the railway workers that opened up the outback to exploration, commerce and tourism. <End Transcript>

Researched by Allen Tiller

Saturday, 7 March 2020

Cornwall Hotel - Paranormal Investigation

Cornwall Hotel - Paranormal Investigation

Eidolon Paranormal was invited by When The Lights Go Out Paranormal to investigate the alleged haunting of the Cornwall Hotel in Moonta, South Australia. While experimenting with the Project Paranormal ITC app, the teams captured a very clear command. 

Is this evidence of the paranormal?

When The Lights Go Out Paranormal - Facebook: 

Eidolon Paranormal - Facebook: 

Friday, 6 March 2020

Hidden Secrets - Dead Mans Pass - Gawler

Hidden Secrets – ‘Dead Man’s Pass – Gawler’

<Transcript>  Before European settlement, Dead Man’s Pass and the Gawler region was the home to the indigenous Kaurna Peoples.

Known originally to European settlers as The Para Pass, the river crossing was first used circa 1836. Colonel William Light is recorded as having stayed at a camp near the pass in 1837, while exploring the Barossa Valley region and attempting to find passage through the Mount Lofty Ranges towards the Murray River.
  The crossing got its name after an exploration party returning from the Barossa ranges came across an exhausted traveller, whom they offered respite too. Once stopped at the crossing they checked on their new companion who had fallen asleep in the back of their dray, only to find him dead.
 Having no tools with which to dig a grave, they placed his body upright in a hollow tree and covered it as best they could with sticks and branches.
Not long after, another travelling party happened across the gruesome site, and, after taking samples of the gentleman’s clothing, encased him with clay in the tree. The name “Dead Man’s Pass” was adopted circa 1842 as the permanent name of the South Para River ford, in honour of the dead man found in the hollow coffin tree.

There are many different accounts of the finding of the dead man. No one is certain which account is true. Perhaps there is a little truth to be found within each version of the story.
 Dr George Nott wrote of finding the dead man in 1860 in his book: Short Sketch of the Rise of Progress of Gawler.
 In his diary Colonel Light wrote: “13th January 1839. Returned to the Para. We halted here the rest of the day. Having heard of a dead body being there under an old tree, we examined the spot and found it. There is a mystery in this affair as it had been kept a secret. The skull is large, and the flesh almost entirely gone. Part of his dress remained. His trousers of corduroy seemed good as far as his knees - under those much torn. His short on one part contained much coagulated blood. The body was covered over again and some of his clothes packed up and conveyed to Adelaide.”
 In the book “The Story of Dead Man’s Pass” The Honourable B.T. Finnis of Gawler wrote a story with a slight variation to Colonel Light’s.

“Travelling with Colonel Light on one occasion before the selection of the Gawler Survey, we camped at the Gawler River and whilst resting there we were surprised to find a dead man buried in an upright position and plastered with clay. No part of his body was visible except the toes. The
wild dogs had evidently discovered the corpse and had somewhat mangled the feet. It was evidently a white man’s burial place from the clothes. The story that was circulated in Adelaide as to the cause of the death of this unfortunate man originated with a party under the charge of
Mr Bernhard. It was stated that travelling to the north, having a dray with them, on nearing the ford of the Gawler River, a man in a distressed state rushed from the scrub west of the line of the road and fell down in an exhausted state, perishing for want of food and water. He was taken
every care of, but died very soon after meeting this party, which precede ours on the way north. They had buried him in this tree and plastered him in to save his body from the wild dogs. We afterwards called this tree
“Dead Man’s Tree,” a large hollow gum tree. The dead man was supposed to have been a sailor, escaped from some ship off Port Gawler, who had lost himself in the scrub in his endeavour to reach Adelaide, and thus perished miserably.”

In yet another variation, The Southern Australian newspaper on the 16th of January 1839 published an article titled “Suspicious case”. Which read;
“The body of a man, buried some time ago in the bush to
the northward, was exhumed last week by Colonel Light and Mr Finniss whilst
those gentlemen were out on their surveying expedition, and it was found that
the shirt, vest and trousers of the deceased were stained with blood, and his
pockets were turned inside out. The clothes were brought to Adelaide for
examination by the authorities and we hope a strict investigation into the affair
will be held. At the time of the reported death of this man in the bush, many
months ago, no inquest was held, as there ought to have been, and we trust the
coroner will not be allowed to neglect his duty.”
Dead Man’s Pass became a much-used crossing into the main street of Gawler as the only roadway for bullock drays and horse and carts. The ford crossing became a secondary way into town once a new bridge was built in the 1860’s on the Adelaide Road.
 In 1869, Gawler Council surveyed a new roadway at Dead Man’s Pass. Council workers began constructing the new road and came upon a skull and bones. Examining further, they found an almost complete skeleton. The bones were taken to office of James Martin and examined by Doctor Nott. Dr Nott concluded that they were the bones of a very tall European man owing to the size of the thigh bones.
 It is thought the bones were those of the man buried in the base of a tree some 30 years prior. The unknown man’s remains were interred in an unmarked grave in the newly formed Gawler Cemetery, now known as Pioneer Park.

In May 1890, a footbridge was installed at Dead Man’s Pass, erected by Mr T White.
In 1901, Patrick Condon, a Gawler Corporation employee had a fatal accident when his night cart flipped when it fell down an embankment, and landed on him, killing him.
Also, in 1901, a young crippled boy was found dead in Black Hole billabong at Dead Man’s Pass. Anton Johann Link's clothing were found on the banks of the billabong by another young lad, who went to search for him, only to find Anton floating in the water, dead.
In 1914, Mr S. Fotheringham held the town of Gawler to ransom. The Dead Man’s Pass footbridge crossed the river onto his land. He offered to sell the portion of land to the council for 50 pounds, or that they pay him 8 pounds a year in rent. Both the East and West Munno Para District Councils (The Two Councils governing Gawler at the time.) agreed to buy the land, but ultimately the East Munno Para Council refused. Fotheringham, in response to the refusal, fenced his end of the walkway bridge with barbed wire, and threatened to cut down the tree on his property that the bridge was suspended from. In April the same year, an agreement was made with Mr Fotheringham, and the bridge reopened.
Floods in 1917 extensively damaged the footbridge, with water being recorded as being as high as Ayers Road and reaching the buildings of the former gasworks
In 1923, raging flood water washed the old footbridge away…the bridge was repaired in 1924 and stood in place until the early 1980s when it was finally removed for public safety
In 1952, The Advertiser reported that Ernest L.B. Potter of Croydon, recollected that when he was 10 years old, his uncle Edward Potter, a geologist, uncovered a large skull while digging a hole for an underground water tank. The skull was found to be that of a Diprotodon which is from the Pleistocene Epoch of Australia., Diprotodon Optatum became extinct about 25, 000 years ago and was known to exist while indigenous populations were in the area. These animals grew up to 3.8 meters long from head to tail and stood about 1.7 meters tall at the shoulder.
 Its closest relations today are the wombat and the koala.

There are many stories of paranormal encounters at Dead Man’s Pass. If one cares to visit the “Ghost village” website, one can read the story of a young man and his mate who were riding their bikes down first street. They were going too fast, and one kept hearing a voice in his ear say, “go right!” indicating to turn right into Gawler Terrace.
 The boy didn’t have much time to make a choice, if he swept left around the dead man’s pass bend he would go into oncoming traffic, if he managed to turn right, he wouldn’t make the turn.
 Going against his instincts, he turned right, and ploughed straight into the curb, flying through the air, and hitting a massive gum tree.
 He lay there stunned.  He looked up and saw two figures standing over him. A man and woman. The man said, "You're lucky to be alive, lad," and the Lady said, "Take heed, boy, you only get one chance like this!"…
The boys mate came over to see if he was ok. Laying on the ground, without a scratch on him, he asked his mate where the old people had gone. His mate replied that he hadn’t seen anyone, but he had heard his friend talking to someone. He then said he had watched him fly through the air, over 33 feet of gravel, and then land, almost softly on the big gum tree.

 The land at Dead Man’s Pass has previously been owned by the Pile Family, and from 1907, the Riggs Family, who allowed the Gawler Three Day horse Events to run across their land. In 1978, Gawler Council purchased 20 Acres of Dead Man’s Pass and designated it a reserve.
Today Dead man’s pass is a beautifully kept park with walking, cycling and nature trails. It is home to many native birds and animals and is easily accessed and explored.

Thank you for watching Hidden Secrets. <End Transcript>

Researched, filmed, edited and produced by Allen Tiller.
© 2020 Allen Tiller.

Resources used in research:

Gawler History Team -

Anne Richards, Reference and Research
Librarian Number 8 in a Series of Historical Pamphlets produced by Gawler Public Library
© 2007 Gawler Public Library

National Library of Australia
State Library of South Australia
Australian Museum
South Australian Museum

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

“A Ghost Named Tom” - Edmund Wright House

“A Ghost Named Tom”

Edmund Wright House


 Edmund Wright House - SLSA B 43000

  Built between 1875 and 1878, the building now known as The Edmund Wright Building was designed by architects Edmund Wright and Lloyd Taylor for the Bank of South Australia, which was an independent branch of the South Australia Company, formed in 1835, in London.
The building opened on the 2nd of June 1878 and cost 63,000 pounds to construct.

  For most of its life, the building has been used as a bank, changing hands from the Bank of South Australia, to the Union Bank in 1893. Later becoming the ANZ Bank from 1951 until 1971 after which it was sold to Mainline Investments.
Mainline Investments proposed a 19-story office block to be built on the site in 1971. A public campaign saved the ornate building from demolition. The Minister for Public Works purchased the property for $750,000 and renamed it Edmund Wright House. It has since been used by The Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages, and as a migrant resource centre. Its lower bank vaults are used on occasion for music recitals and meetings.

  The design of the building is in the style “Corinthian” and features carved friezes, carved spandrels, carved keystones, and a carved tympanum featuring the banks shield.

  The former vaults of the bank in the basement, and the upper levels of this building, are thought to be haunted by a man named “Tom” who is said to have been stabbed to death in the building, although no record of such an incident can be verified.

 Debbie, who visited the Adelaide City Library during my residency for the Haunted Buildings in Adelaide project, once worked inside the building and described how the lift would often operate by itself, she would look up expecting someone to leave the lift, but it would be empty…
  Lights also had a habit of being turned on or off within the building when no-one was visibly near the light switches, but perhaps the eeriest of experiences for Debbie was the calling of her name (and of other staff members) by a disembodied voice in the building, one that none of the staff recognised, or could locate the source from which it emanated!

© Allen Tiller 2019

Tuesday, 24 December 2019

Phineas Philip Davies (31 March 1865 – 28 Dec 1885)

Phineas Philip Davies (31 March 1865 – 28 Dec 1885)

Commemoration Day, December 28th, 1885. The South Australian Colony’s only warship, the HMS Protector was sitting off the coast at Glenelg, awaiting to fire its guns in salute to the forty-ninth year of the settlement of the colony.

 It was the first time the HMS Protector had been allowed to fire its guns in salute.
 The canons fired five times, then suddenly, the ship's flags were lowered and it steamed of towards Port Adelaide.
 Onboard, the crews were in full medical mode. The canons had fired, but something had gone wrong, and two crew members were seriously injured.
 Daniel Cann, in charge of canon number 5 was severely maimed by an explosion of the canon and was sent to Semaphore Hospital. He survived the explosion but lost an eye and was disfigured.

 Phineas Philip Davies, on the other hand, had received the full force of the blast from the cannon breech and died on board the ship.
An inquest was held on Tuesday the 29th of December 1884 at the Largs Pier Hotel by the city coroner Mr T. Ward.  The Coroner and Jury were taken to the warship to inspect the gun. Sitting alongside the gun was the coffin and body of Davies.
 Master Gunner Haisom explained to the audience how the gun works, and then what they believed went wrong.
Haisom explained that Davies was positioned at gun 5, position two. Haisom had himself gone around to every gun and supplied each with a bucket of water to sponge out the excess gunpowder after each firing. He then informed the gunners they had 50 seconds to reload after each firing.

 At 12 o’clock they began to fire the guns.
The number 5 gun fired two rounds, with its crew, including Davies, preparing for shot three. Davies entered the charge, which exploded on contact. Davies had neglected to sponge the gun after the last firing, leaving lit residue in the canon, which exploded the new 10 Lb powder charge.
 Davies gun commander, Daniel Canns, was subsequently accused of not delivering the order to sponge the canon between shots, something that was standard procedure.
 The jury deliberated on the evidence for quite some time, but in the end, delivered a verdict of accidental death.

The remains of Protector at Heron Island in 2008 at low tide

A memorial was erected to Davies at Cheltenham Cemetery and was claimed by the Royal Australian Navy in December 1986. The Memorial to Davies was installed as the headpiece of the South Australian Naval Memorial Garden at H.M.A.S. Encounter until the memorial was relocated to its current position in April 1995.

Front Inscription

Sacred to the Memory
Killed By Premature Explosion
Of A Cartridge When Firing Salute
At Glenelg Commemoration Day 
28th DECEMBER 1885. 
Aged 20.

Erected By His Shipmates
And Naval Reserve


This tombstone marked the site of the
grave of Phineas Davies in Cheltenham
Cemetery for 100 years and was claimed
by the Royal Australian Navy in December
1986. It was installed as the headpiece of
the South Australian Naval Memorial
Garden at HMAS ENCOUNTER until the
Garden was relocated to its present site
in April 1995.

(Note: Phineas Philip Davies was born on the 31st of March 1865 in Dunedin, Otago, New Zealand)

Researched and written by Allen Tiller © 2018


1885 'CORONERS' INQUESTS', South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA: 1839 - 1900), 30 December, p. 7. , viewed 02 Aug 2018,

1885 'The Fatal Accident on the Protector.', The Express and Telegraph (Adelaide, SA: 1867 - 1922), 30 December, p. 5. (Afternoon Edition.), viewed 02 Aug 2018,

1885 'THE-FATAL ACCIDENT ON THE PROTECTOR.', The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA: 1858 - 1889), 30 December, p. 6. , viewed 02 Aug 2018,

Adelaide (S.A.). Corporation 2003, Historical walking trails, Adelaide, South Australia, City of Adelaide, Adelaide Australia, Death Index, 1787-1985 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010.

Madeleine Ryan, History SA, ‘Naval Memorial’, SA History Hub, History Trust of South Australia,, accessed 2 March 2018.

Scott, Jenny, 2012, Davies, Phineas Phillip, The State Library of South Australia, 2 March 2018,

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Sunshine Café Murders

Sunshine Café Murders

139 Gouger Street

  In 1944, at the age of 20, John Balaban was sitting in his bedroom in Romania. He had just finished reading another of many philosophical books, a hobby he took up after his abusive and habitually drunk father had suicided by hanging himself.
 On this morning, John concluded, after all that he had read and been through, that there was no God. At that very point, Johns bedroom ceiling opened as if lifted from above, and a bright cloudy light lit the room.
  God, in the image of a man with long white hair and a grey beard smiled down on John and said unto him;
“John, it is alright if you don’t believe in me anymore. You do anything your conscience dictates and you will be happy.”

   After Gods visit, which Balaban stated ‘was not a dream’, Balaban thought he could do anything, as he was no longer afraid of the law.

John Balaban:
Source: 'BALABAN TO HANG', The News, (29 July 1953)

In 1946, only two years later, Balaban who was prone to violent rages, was admitted to a mental health facility in Romania. 

 In 1947 Balaban committed murder in Paris when he strangled to death Hungarian national, Reva Kwas.

Balaban moved to Australia in 1951. 

In 1952, he killed prostitute Zora Dusic in her Torrensville shack by first strangling her, then cutting her throat with a knife he found on the dressing table.
 In 1952, Balaban married Thelma Cadd, and went to live with her, Thelma’s young son, Philip from a previous relationship and Thelma’s mother, Mrs Ackland, at the family business, The Sunshine Café on the corner of Gouger and Morphett Streets in Adelaide.
 John and Thelma got along for a while, but the relationship soon became unstable, and John claimed he was tired of Thelma’s constant complaints, about, in his words “everything!”

 On that fateful day, April 11th, Balaban began drinking and found himself near the River Torrens parklands. At some point, he had a fight with a woman in the female toilets of the parklands, and when stumbling around outside, found a large iron bar. He made his way along the Torrens and sat down with a man and woman and had a few drinks with them, before assaulting them both with the iron bar, and walking away.

  Later, he was chased near the Torrens Tennis Courts by an unknown man, then turned upon his assailant with the iron bar, and beat him senseless.
  After his rampage, Balaban returned to the Sunshine Café. He believed everyone was against him and decided he would kill his wife as she, in his mind, was the reason he had become angry and gone out fighting and assaulting people.

  Balaban began his murderous spree by hitting his wife on the head with a claw hammer, beating her to death. He then thought he might kill Mrs Ackland in the same manner, and afterwards Phillip. In his deposition to the courts he stated; "Phillip sat up and cried, and I hit him, I thought it better that he dies too than live under a shadow.”
 In his cold-blooded killing spree, Balaban then went out to the sleepout where Verna Manie (a café employee) slept, and killed her too.
In a chilling statement, Balaban, during his court trial, went on to say; "I only killed those at the Sunshine Cafe because they deserved to be killed."

John Balaban was hung in the Old Adelaide Gaol on the 26th of August 1953.
  The ghost of the notorious homicidal maniac, John Balaban, is alleged to have been seen in the old Adelaide Gaols “Hanging Tower’, and was identified by a witness after seeing a photo of Balaban in the front foyer, and identifying the man she had seen sitting on a bench inside the tower.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

A Ghost at the Jens Hotel Mount Gambier

A Ghost at the Jens Hotel Mount Gambier

In a recent blog post (found here: I described the alleged haunting of the Jens Hotel at Mount Gambier.

Among the many spirits said to haunt the hotel is the spirit of female child. She is believed to be around 4 years old and is alleged to haunt the ground floor. It is believed she is waiting for her mother to return.

This photo was sent to me by a former worker at the Jens Hotel who claims that the image in the picture closely resembles that of a 3-year-old child, the daughter of a former publican, who died in the hotel.
What do you believe, ghost or not?