Shortie; Talking Boards; the hangup over “hells hotline”

This is just a small post because I want to show off 🙂

I would like to take this opportunity to tell you all about my newest acquisition; a traditional-style Ouija™ Board signed by the God of talking boards himself, Robert Murch.

Oh and the Emmy-nominated writer of 30 Odd Minutes and Ghost Adventures – Jeff Belanger – but, whatever 😉


Isn’t she beautiful? The planchette also glows in the dark – useful! – but what I love is the design of the board, which hasn’t changed a great deal for the last 100 years. It has a beautiful old-world Occult feel about it that I love.

I have used talking boards before, though all of my (serious) experiences with them so far have been with the Psychic Circle Board by Amy Zerner. Now I’m not including the times that we made a spirit board whilst sleeping over at my friend’s place when I was 8. That was just… ridiculous, and – I will admit, knowing what I know – rather stupid.

I first saw the Psychic Circle Board in a Psychic Skills workshop with Andrea Kaldy from Validate. I suppose in the beginning I perhaps felt a little comforted, or less afraid, because the board didn’t look anything like a Ouija™ Board (I had no idea that Ouija was actually a brand, not the type of board) so therefore the chances of waking up the morning after the board session tied to a bed, talking in tongues and projectile vomiting would be slim.

I know now that regardless of the look and name of a board, they both do the same thing; they communicate with the other side. A duck is a duck even if it comes in different colours.

However, it did kind of give the entire experience a positive spin. Which is probably why I don’t see the talking board as something ‘evil’ and ‘dangerous’ and likely to start spawning hellportals.

Sure the tool itself, if used the wrong way, can cause harm. But so can anything; matches, knives, hammers, drills etc… you get the idea. I personally would not feel safe using a board by myself, or without declaring boundaries to whatever may – or may not – be listening.

Those are my only rules… and they are mostly because I known of my own inexperience. I’ve used boards between ten to fifteen times; which when I think about it seems like a lot, but in reality is only a very small amount of practice.

I won’t start playing with my new Ouija™ Board at home with my housemates (even if I could get them to try), and I sure as hell won’t be trying it alone, because I don’t know.

What don’t I know? Everything.

I don’t know for certain if talking boards really speak to the deceased – although I have seen some interesting evidence that implies that they do – or if they can be hijacked by negative spirits or invite in beings that people refer to as demons.

I don’t know that they will… but I also don’t know that they won’t.

Better to practice playing with fire whilst in the presence of a firefighter than my drunken friends or by myself.

This doesn’t mean that I will condemn others who seem to be doing something that I think is irresponsible with a talking board. Hey, it’s their life, their spirit and their limbs. We’re all adults here and we should be able to put on our big-boy pants and do what we feel comfortable doing in a cautious and respectful manner.

Australian Premiere of Paranormal Investigators: Phasmophobia

On Friday the 25th of January I was granted the opportunity to attend the Australian Premiere and advanced screening of episodes 1 and 2 of Paranormal Investigators: Phasmophobia.

Held at the Creative Spirit Centre in Minchinbury NSW, the screening was to a full house and was complete with showbags, lucky door prizes, raffles and a silent auction with all proceeds going directly back into production for the series.

Donning my Limited Edition PI:P t-shirt (with a few minor alterations due to me overestimating the size of my torso), I did my trademark sunset dash from work to the premiere and arrived just in time to take my seat and start fan-girling it up!

It was a fantastic opportunity for me to finally meet the guys (and girl) behind Ghost Shack and Apparition Technologies. Ghost Shack and Apparition Technologies are the wonderful companies that provide a lot of local investigative teams with their equipment, with App Tech manufacturing their own products on Aussie soil and Ghost Shack distributing the newest paranormal gizmos from the states.

It was a lovely talk about boots, business and ghosts.
(If you have the opportunity, click the links to check out their pages!)

Of the show itself, the production value was flawless. I have a few meager experiences with Indie Films, but this locally produced offering really took the cake. From the soundtrack to the almost documentary-style format, it really was a unique piece of work unlike anything I’ve seen before.
There is less emphasis on investigators producing documentation, with the team from Moonlark Media choosing to focus instead on the psychology of fear and the ways that it affects people in who find themselves in paranormal situations.

This is a refreshing twist on the usual format of Paranormal Reality TV and as such was much more engaging that striving to hear what may possibly be an EVP or the outline of a Shadow Person.

The challengers themselves were very well picked and diverse in their personalities: Rosie – the best lungs of the three, who has no qualms with telling any present spirits exactly what to do (with a few bleeps) and the creator of the catch phrase; “No! You’re just a bathroom!”
Effie – the enthusiastic nerves of steel who was the only challenger during these episodes to conduct her challenge with only the light from her Mini DV, in a location that I would never even enter alone during the daytime.
Sarah – the level-headed thinker who I think showed perhaps the most diversity of reactions amongst the three. Calm and collected during sun-up, logical and aware of her limits when the sun went down.

Aside from my initial outrage when realizing that they had been given torches for their challenges (!!!!!), I found that with the diversity of the challengers it is easy to relate to exactly what they would have been feeling and experiencing – as most of the time it was exactly how I would (and did) react.
Yelling at ghosts to stop making scary noises not included. That just took gusto. Props to Rosie!

Jokes aside, the episode was revealed to be a very insightful lesson into what Paranormal Investigation truly involves when concerning mindset as well as emotional and mental reactions to what may or may not be paranormal activity.

I feel that this hasn’t particularly been something that has been addressed much in the public view. There is very much this ‘us and them’ divide between investigators and the audience. They are seen as superhuman people with insane amounts of bravery who are highly trained ghost hunting machines who laugh in the face of spirits, elementals and demons.

Ala-Zak Bagans.

Just look at that hunk of spunk.

I’m sorry, I just had to use the excuse to post a shirtless Zak.

I’m sorry… where was I? 😛

In a scientific field such as the paranormal, it makes sense that things such as psychology and physical reaction be more closely scrutinized. I believe it is close to – if not more – important as the scrutiny of documented evidence in an investigation. After all, the greatest investigation tool is said to be the investigator themselves. A better understanding of the human reactions that shape the ways in which we see, hear and experience things in a state of adrenalin will birth a better understanding of the things that we are seeing, hearing and experiencing.

It is unfortunate that something like this has not gained much more publicity. As the Director and Co-Producer Attila Kaldy said on the night, unfortunately there is no bankable reason for Australian studios to pick up a production such as this for tens of thousands of dollars when they can pay a fraction of that cost and satiate the mad Bagans fan-girls (and guys) by airing another season of Ghost Adventures.

What locally produced shows like this must rely on is a solid fanbase fed by word of mouth and the wonderful invention known as the internet. The production of Joss Whedon’s Dr. Horrible caused an avalanche of success and although a large part of that can be attributed to the ‘Whedonverse’ fanbase, the fact still remains that this was a low-budget production that ended up returning production costs TENFOLD.

Yes. Tenfold. From 200k to 2 million (including dvd sales, iTunes purchases etc after the free 5-day premiere online).

Aaah… the sweet smell of hope!

Personally, all I believe that the guys from Moonlark need do is post the trailer online for episodes 3 and 4. The last 30 seconds had me hanging off the edge of my seat.

The good news is that it will be airing on TVS in Sydney during the middle of the year (so lots of winter nights spent curled up on the couch with a doona and a bottle of wine) as well as a few other local stations in Australia. (Check out the Paranormal Investigators: Phasmophobia page on Facebook for more details)

The bad news is that the middle of the year is almost four months away!

The great news is that there’s talk of more advanced screenings! Yay! So make sure you follow them on Facebook to make sure you don’t miss out.
Get ya Ghost on!



Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire! (Challenging the Dark – Part II)

Finally! Part two of my Challenging the Dark duet I have lovingly dubbed: Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire!

When we left off we had just wrapped the filming of Paranormal Investigators: The Challenge at the undisclosed location. I was lucky enough to be invited back for a second night of investigating: unplanned, unscripted and unreal!

After the events of Friday night I did the sunset race from my workplace in Chatswood to the location. Riding high on 45 minutes sleep, sugar, two cans of Mother and a plastic bag full of organic fruit I was ready to charge back into the dark, guns figuratively ablazing. When I arrived the teams had just finished dinner and were getting ready for the night.

We revisited some of the buildings from the night before – including my first challenge building – though this time I had a chance to feel what it was like to be a part of a team investigation.

Seeing seasoned investigators at work was a huge privilege, I think I learnt more that night than I had ever gathered watching 6 seasons of Ghost Hunters.

Nothing compares to the real thing; being out there in on the location and experiencing first-hand what usually only translates on television as a ‘Did you hear that?’ and ‘I think I saw something’. Ironically enough, I don’t think I heard anyone say ‘Did you hear that?’… the noises and phenomena that we did hear were plainly heard by all.

During the night I believe I experienced contact with a spirit for the second time, though this time it was on a much more personal level; I felt something that it wanted me to feel. What was even more interesting was that what I experienced validated an earlier experience that another team member had had earlier that afternoon… and I was oblivious to this until it actually happened.

I will admit, I did slip up once when I forgot to curb my tongue and may have offended whatever spirit may have been present. Which in itself was another lesson; respect!… and never forget exactly what you may be dealing with is a human being that has its own thoughts and feelings. This particular spirit had quite a personality… and was not afraid of letting itself be heard!

Like the first night of investigating, I take these experiences with a grain of salt. I’m not going ‘OHMAIGAWD ITZ A GHOST!’ rather relaying what I believed I experienced. There were so many little things that struck me as seeming beyond coincidental, perfectly timed noises… even a bang in response to a question in which I asked the spirit to do so. Yes… me… speaking to the other side! It’s certainly an exciting prospect!

By far the highlight of the entire weekend (looking back on it now) was the last building of the night, where team members came into contact with something that most probably never had been human. I’m inclined to agree, though my own experiences were based on feelings rather than visual experience… though I did see a team member’s head twisting… when it most certainly was not.

We were separated into pairs for safety. My buddy was Beth from WSPR, who not only grounded me throughout the whole experience but helped me look out for my own sanity.

To describe what was happening during that investigation is hard. As a researcher I place a large amount of value on physical evidence and have been trained to discard a lot of the internal ‘evidence’ so to speak. There was no denying though, that there was something in that building… and it had a frightening sense of humor.

When things turn from small noises and bullet-casings being tossed to visual hallucinations and physical sensations… to put it simply: shit gets real.

One of the team called it a night after being profoundly affected by the presence in the building. Fortunately, Andrea – our medium – had suddenly been taken with the urge to go down to the building barely five minutes earlier, and was on hand to help ground him and get rid of any bad vibes that may attempt to stick around.

I’m going to recount what I felt in this building, what I appeared to experience, and let you make the decision for yourself. I’m not out to be proven right or wrong… this is just my story 🙂

To simply stand or sit in that building was like having a sandbag placed on your head. Like you’ve just eaten a very filling meal, you feel heavy and relaxed… but then… not. Your body is relaxed, but your heart is galloping around your chest.

I remembered at the time what an old Taekwondo instructor had told me about adrenalin; it’s our ‘fight’ or ‘flight’ chemical, back from the days when were weren’t at the top of the food chain. Your body shuts down and your senses open wider, so wide that you can hear the person three feet away from you breathing in the dark.

At the danger of disclosing a little too much from the shooting, we did a little work on our inner senses – yes, the dreaded ‘P’-word: Psychic senses – on Friday evening. Before the investigation started on Saturday night I went through the same exercises and, well, I’m not sure if they worked… but this presence felt… other.

I can’t explain it. It’s like trying to explain to a horse what its like to fly. If you close your eyes in a dark room you can feel the others around you, they have that unmistakable ‘human-ness’. In Essentialist terms: this thing lacked… anything that I was familiar with so I can’t place it within my own paradigm.

It felt alien.

I felt like we were not the most powerful things in the building… and let me tell you: for a moment, it’s terrifying.

Not knowing what something is or what it is capable of really reminds you that the big, bad world out there actually is quite big and bad. There are things that are beyond our understanding.

Hell, even I can’t understand what went on in that building! To quote Sherlock Holmes: “My mind rebels at stagnation”… but this simply drew all the hamsters to a screeching halt on their little squeaky wheels.

There were a few very strong personal experiences from other investigators, including visual sightings and even physical contact with this thing. An investigator was seen splitting in two! Only for a few seconds though, before the hallucination snapped away.

As for my own experience, I finally got to see a door open by itself. Yay!

As we were leaving the building I was following Craig (from WSPR) along the hallway out of the building. After he passed a doorway on the right, which was cracked open maybe two or three inches, it opened with enough force to bounce back off the hinges and begin to close again. I stopped dead in my tracks and the first thought I had was that he had bumped the door on the way out.

Valid, yes. However at the barely-open angle that it was at, he would have essentially run into it. It would not have swung open by itself. I asked him if he bumped the door and he said no. It was even still coming to a stop as I asked him, and as I’m inclined to believe people when they answer my questions, I chalked it up mentally as unexplained.

I had my full spectrum camera in my hands… alas… the battery had run dead shortly after we entered the building, and I had already changed to my backup from the first building that we investigated that night. The irony of the situation was not lost on me… which made me wonder; is this why a majority of experiences like this go undocumented? Is it simply a case of a being not wishing to be documented?

It was a nice little bang to end the weekend on.. and I finally scratched one of the personal experiences off my Paranormal Bucket List; see a door open by itself!

After the investigation quite a few people were still a bit wired, so we returned to the Nurses Quarters – our rooms for the night – and had a nice long chat over a few cold beers.

Contrary to what I had originally thought, I slept like a baby that night… and that morning… all the way through to 1pm! I was the last to leave, but it gave me a chance to drop into my folks house and spill my guts about my amazing weekend over a well-deserved Maccas lunch 🙂

I suppose in conclusion, the moral to this story is to always take the chance to challenge yourself. I did more than push the boundaries of my own comfort zone, I freaking leapt off the cliff of comfort and dove headfirst into my own fears… and in return, I’ve emerged a much stronger person.

Funnily enough, watching Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures has now become slightly scarier to me. Mainly because I can relate a little bit more than I used to. They still have bucketloads more gusto than I will for a long time… but it’s something to aim for.

I was warned. PI is addictive. I’m already thinking about the next dark and scary place that I can charge headfirst into with my trusty Full Spectrum camera… armed also with my shiny new digital recorder (coming in a few weeks! :D) and my Full Spectrum floodlight!

For those of you who missed my last post: Australian Paranormal Phenomenon Investigators (APPI) is running two public investigation nights in Liverpool in Sydney’s Southwest. Deets can be found here, and places are limited so make sure you pick up a ticket!

Hopefully I’ll see some of you guys there! Until then, keep talking to the darkness… cause one day it just might talk back 🙂


Australian Paranormal Phenomenon Investigators (APPI) Paranormal Investigation Nights!

Grab a hold of the chance to take up a place on the team for a real investigation in South-Western Sydney!
There’s going to be a special 3-hour investigation of Liverpool TAFE on the 23rd of Feburary, as well as a sleepover event on the 27th!
Of course The Ghost Writer would never pass up the chance to get spooked senseless again! Come join in the fun!
Ticket information is available on their page. Don’t miss out!

Click to buy tickets!


Spirited Photography – I think I snapped a Ghost!

I know I still owe people Part II of my “Challenging the Dark” duet, but I thought I might just quickly take the time to address what I see as a burning issue in the Paranormal Community.
Ghost Photography; can I take pictures of ghosts?
In the days of the world wide web it pretty easy to Google “Ghost Pictures” and be submitted to an fantastic onslaught of pictures ranging from apparitions, ectoplasm and orbs to angels, faces, demons and “white mist”. With each of these pictures comes a myriad of arguments for and against the apparent ‘validity’ of the photo/picture-type thing.
So I took the time to write down a little list that I go through when I am faced with a picture that claims to have captured some form of paranormal activity… including my own!

1 – What is this photo of?

Sounds like a fairly simple question. Not really. What is the claim of this photo? Is it of an apparition/orbs/white mist? Try and nail down exactly what you’re looking for so you know what characteristics it has. If there is a caption, try not to take it to heart straight away… sometimes an unbiased look on a picture can debunk any sort of paranormal explanation. Like this:

Wooooooooo! Nice Jacket…

First look… claimed to be an ‘unearthly mist’. What would you describe this as? Smoke? What sort of thing makes smoke like this? A cigarette? Behold! Cigarette smoke:

Being an ex-smoker and an amateur photographer I know what cigarette smoke photographs like. Up close it would be out of focus, as found in the first photo because the camera was focussed on the girl and the smoke passed between the girl and the camera. Hence; ‘ghost mist’ debunked.

2 – What is its context?

Where, when and why was it taken? Was it taken in a graveyard at midnight after you heard a noise behind you? Or is it a family happy-snap that you took of the kids playing in the living room five years ago? This is all important. Knowing the circumstances of a photo can help you debunk or find support of a claim in the picture.

Orbs? (*Shudder* The amount of garbage orbs claims out there make my toes curl… I took this one btw :P)


I took it around 9pm as we were walking to the Redbank Tunnel in Picton, NSW, Australia. I was in a group of about 10 people and it was an unsealed road through private property to the tunnel.First alarm bell should ring at ‘unsealed road’. Unsealed means dirt, dirt means dust. Night means flash and dust+flash = dust refractions. Not to mention the fact that I was in a group of people supports the dust theory, as that means that there was at least 20 feet marching along that dark road!

Taking a picture after – say – hearing a disembodied voice, then finding an anomaly in the picture then has a little bit more pulling power. Because not only do you have a personal experience and then the anomaly, if you were to actually capture the EVP you then have a powerful combination of evidence that something was going on!

3 – Does it support itself?

Are there frames before and after the said anomaly? This I feel is the most important thing and – alas – the rarest thing to find on the internet when looking at paranormal photos. Most people will find a anomaly and post just the odd picture and claim it as a ‘ghost/spirit’ etc without showing the before and after shots.
Was the anomaly there the frame before? Did it stay to the frame after? This is why I personally always take shots in threes. Most of the time if I see something I can check back and forward and see ‘how long’ it was there for.

DSCF0082DSCF0080  DSCF0081

So if you full-view these three you may catch what looks like a grey ‘figure’ on the right-hand side of the frames 2 and three. When I first saw these I had a ‘Oh holy shit!‘ moment… then I checked the frame before them. Notice how this grey ‘figure’ started on the bottom of the frame? Closer inspection made me realise that it is the same shot three times, only the last two I shot the picture with a portrait orientation. The first would be what was really going on, and it dawned on me that what I was seeing was the beginning of the tunnel and a very conveniently-placed rock.

Unfortunately sometimes you can get annoying situations like this:
DSCF0097Redbank tunnel light

Two photos, taken in the same minute… anomaly in the last shot (this was a few years ago before I developed my ‘rule of three’).
This was at the entrance to the Redbank Tunnel… an very special place to me, as it was where I saw my very first orb. I stood where I had seen them all those years ago, turned my back as if I was walking away, took two selfies and walked off to rejoin the group.
As interesting as this small light may be I have no ‘after’ shot. Shame really.
The Redbank Tunnel is 180 meters (592ft) long. Whatever this was, it was too small to be ambient light from the end of the tunnel (as it would be shaped like an upside-down horseshoe) and completely the wrong colour (white or a cool tint would suggest starlight or moonlight). Too dim for a train (The country trains are freaking BLINDING!) and seemingly off the ground of the end of the tunnel as it sits too high in the frame.
There were no people in the tunnel, as it is condemned, we didn’t hear them, and the tunnel is regularly swept for trespassers before the tours by a security guard.
Interesting? Yes. Paranormal? Maybe. Unfortunately it hides in that gray area a little… if I were assessing it as ‘solid proof’ I’d turf it due to the difference in camera angle and lack of a third shot. It’s more… shaky possibility.

4 – When in doubt, throw it out!

I’m a huge advocate for treating paranormal investigation as a (somewhat instinctual) science. Meaning that every theory and finding should be backed up by hard evidence. No guesswork, no maybes. Unfortunately, when you’re dealing with something as unpredictable as spirits or things that you cannot replicate with constant results, that’s when things get hazy.

Instead the importance of documentation and supporting evidence must step up and take the slack. Here’s an example:


This pic is courtesy of Ghosts TV – an Australian duo that operate out of the North Shore – i.e. North Sydney. It was posted on their Facebook page on 13/1/2013 with the caption: “Alright Ghost TV friends. This one is really odd… What do you think this is?”

I will not debate the validity of this team (as much as I’d like to) as they have a habit of upping brow-raising photos (doing more harm than good sometimes) but I will explain the process that I took when analysing this photo.

* No context; no place, no time, no date and no explanation as to why this photo was taken… or who even took it. (Minus)
* No claim is made as to what we are seeing. We are left to decide for ourselves. (Plus)

*Let’s look at what we know:
Its a square, meaning it quite possibly was taken on an iPhone and saved/cropped via instagram. Supporting  evidence to this theory? Low resolution, pixellation and bad ISO.
At the back of the table the skirting board is blocked out of view and the back of the chair is also out of view. However we can see through aspects of the apparition… what we can’t see through is a constant thickness resembling a soft-edge brush from Photoshop. There are also colour irregularities on the back of the chair; Two splotches unattached to anything that don’t fit with the colours surrounding them.
Interestingly enough, we can see the leg of the table clearly… which lies in front of the blocked out skirting board. If this were to imply movement then why is nothing else around the skirting board blocked with same density and colour of the bottom of the apparition?
This entity casts no light on the walls, yet somehow cast ENOUGH light be be captured by a standard camera. Standard digital camera sensors (the ‘eye’ that captures the image) are manufactured to see exactly what the human eye can see. They have a special chemical coating on a piece of glass in front of the sensor that blocks out IR and UV light, meaning that it really does only see what we can see. (Unless you are like me and like gutting your camera and pulling out said IR/UV blocker for snapping full-spectrum pics :P)
There is also no reflection of this entity in the shiny surface of the vase OR the vinyl floor, you can see the table legs clearly).

*Professional deductions:
The movement of the ‘hands’ of the apparition resemble a photographic technique known as Light Painting where the shutter is held open longer than normal photo, whilst the photographer moves a bright light around the frame to illuminate certain shapes or parts of the body/buildings etc. This can also apply to the face, if the person where to blow out a candle in the frame.
The purple splotches on the floor also resemble the colour mode of the paintbrush in Photoshop. They have no light or substance of their own, no definition and no texture, only the colour of the picture is tinted purple.

A weak piece of evidence. It is presented in a way that does not support what it implies itself to be (an apparition), there are too many inconsistencies within the photo that do not support the placement of the apparition against the background of the photo and the camera itself is an illogical tool of choice – seemingly capturing something that it should not scientifically be able to capture.

That said. There have been times when a spirit has made itself known on a standard camera without being visible to the naked eye. However there is just not enough support to allow for this possibility.

Not necessarily fake, but unlikely. Thus… thrown out!

I’d like to know what you think? Do you think that they have captured something here? If so, what? Comment me!

Happy hunting!


Challenging the dark – Part 1

This story begins on Tuesday 1/1/2013.

I received a text message from Nicky, a lead investigator from WSPR and one of the team featured in Paranormal Investigators: Phasmophobia (some of you may have seen my post on the series here). She asked if I would like to be one of the ‘Challengers’ for an upcoming episode at <location undisclosed>. Of course, after picking myself up from the floor I agreed. What better way to find out exactly what happens on a real investigation than to be dropped into it head-first?

I will admit, I was starting to have some reservations as the shoot drew closer. First and foremost was my Achluophobia (fear of the dark), then my brain moved onto possession, impression, physical contact and the general terror that I would make a complete fool of myself in front of a camera. This mainly came from the last time something paranormal happened to me (the orbs in the Redbank Tunnel) where I simply screamed and ran. This is hardly the way I wanted myself to react in front of seasoned investigators and the audience of the series… and frankly the idea of going all ‘girly victim’ made my stomach crawl more than the idea of romping around in the dark.

But I stuck with it. On a personal level I like a good challenge and as a journalist this would be an opportunity not to be missed! At least that’s what I told myself…

I met at a local McDonalds with Craig, Nicky and Richie from team WSPR as well as Belinda – the other challenger – and her son. We set out from there and arrived at the location in the late afternoon.

As we drove into the location (I was following the WSPR crew in my car) I saw Nicky point at the sign and thumped my head on the steering wheel: of all of the places in Australia that I would not caught dead in after sunset, this was in the top two.

Each building we passed had broken windows, a surplus of cobwebs and a whole lot of darkness inside. Oh goodie gumdrops.

When we reached the building that HQ was set up in, I was introduced to the rest of the team: the investigators from Validate; Attila, (the director) Andrea, (the host of Phasmophobia) Michelle and Anakin, as well as Jarad, Kat and Beth from team WSPR and Access Paranormal.

Now I can’t divulge too much on the walkthrough that we did around the building, but we were told a few stories on the happenings and what the building was used for when it was operational. There were two buildings that we would be investigating in all (one of them thoroughly gave me the creeps) and after the walkthrough we were given a crash-course on Psychic Awareness as the sun was setting.

I will admit: as open-minded as I (think) I am, I’m just the tiniest bit cynical of psychics. I could probably write an article on why, but I’ll keep this short. At that point in time, I was willing… but not quite believing.

Then the sun set… and there was no backing down.

Fed on a mix of 2-minute-noodles, protein bars and chocolate, I volunteered for a particular challenge first (I can’t say what it was or even how many there were… sorry!). I headed into the building with a DV, my converted full spectrum camera, an IR light and a prayer that whatever it was that liked to hang around in this building didn’t like the taste of Jacqueline.

It was so black that I could barely see two meters in front of me. That was, initially, the scariest aspect of the entire night. I simply couldn’t see what may or may not ‘charge’ me in the dark. Which is stupid, I know… I mean, what was it going to do? Cobweb me to death?

Now I do have some full spectrum shots I did when I was in this building… I’m pretty sure I’m allowed to put them up here. They were taken on a two second timer, one after the other. The movement of the IR light is because I was balancing the camera between my DV and the IR light rig. I didn’t have my tripod with me so I had to try and be as steady as I could. The focusing is also off because I was a little speedy with terror… I wanted to snap these shots and get back to having at least one hand free.

Cause… you know… Ghostly Kung Fu requires one free hand at all times.


I dunno… but, thankfully, I didn’t examine them close enough to catch the black patch (in the middle shot) on screen when I was in the building. If I had then there would have been a lovely Jacqueline-shaped hole in the wall leading back to HQ.

During that investigation, my experiences in the building changed me. Thinking back on it… as I slowly moved from one end of the room to the other I essentially left the old me sitting on the floor with her back to the wall. The new me was walking slowly deeper into the dark and closer to whatever it was that I could hear at the back of the building.

When the others came to get me I was a little reluctant to leave. I literally skipped out of the door with a stupid grin on my face and headed towards the next challenge/s with a kind of dorky enthusiasm.

In the other building the mood was different, to say the least. It was a bit more guided than the last challenge/s, but yielded some impressive results. (UGH! I want to tell you all so badly, but I can’t!!!)

It was in this building that I had my second pivotal moment. Yet again, I can’t say what it was, but it was fun. By the time we had finished in there, I well and truly had my finger in the pie of Paranormal Investigation.

At the end of the night Belinda and I finally had a chance to talk to each other about our experiences before I had to make the sunrise dash home to catch 45 minutes sleep before I got up to go to work.

That was not fun by the way. Not fun at all.

Night two was a completely different kettle of fish. This time I was an observer at the investigation. I got to see how it’s done by experienced investigators, as well as having the chance to have a go myself.

We were joined by Don from The Spirit Level and two of Jarad’s friends, who were new to the practical side of things like me.

It was a huge learning curve, watching the teams go to work, and a huge buzz to receive so much activity after the events of the previous night. This also may have been due to the thunderstorm that rolled in at sunset and stuck around for a few hours.

There’s a theory that natural energies like thunderstorms, running water or limestone have the ability to charge the atmosphere, thus giving any spiritual entities extra fuel to burn when doing their thing.

The building we first went into (which was the first building I had entered the previous night) did feel different. There was a feeling of anticipation in the room… and it wasn’t just us. The walls, the doorways…the very air itself felt charged.

I was fortunate enough to do four investigations in that building. The first I can’t fully explain – because it will be included in Phasmophobia – but it was more than a little mind-blowing.

Keep tuned for the second half of my recap! Ups coming soon!

Who ‘Ya Gonna Call?

The cult following of American television shows like Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures has revealed a new interest in the unexplained. Suddenly it seems like it’s not quite so crazy to believe in ghosts. But are Americans the only ones who like chasing down things that go bump in the night? I decided to investigate the newest Paranormal Investigators to hit the screen… a bit closer to home.


It’s already been established that I’m afraid of the dark.

Sure I can potter around the odd graveyard or two by myself in full daylight, but as soon as the sun starts setting I usually hightail it with my tail between my legs to my lovely safe car… with the lights on… and the music blaring.

Yes. I’m recounting last week’s trip to Old Picton Cemetery.

To me the idea of walking around in the pitch darkness and chasing shadows in a 150 year old gaol, or an abandoned asylum seems absolutely crazy. For some, though, it’s exactly how they love to spend a Saturday night.

And then, there are people like WSPR… who stride into the dark deliberately seeking the deepest, creepiest corners you could imagine… and then poke around a bit and see if they can stir anything up.

I was lucky enough to have the chance to speak to Craig Powell, the co-founder of Western Sydney Paranormal Research (WSPR). WSPR is a group of 11 Paranormal Investigators whose hobby it is to chase down the things that live under the bed and make noises in the attic.

Their purpose is to document evidence of the existence of paranormal entities and help clients gain some sort of knowledge about what – or who – they may be dealing with. Mainly, though, they seek to bring this knowledge and understanding of the paranormal to everyone.

Whether it’s a private residence having a problem with strange knockings or a general investigation of a 130 year old asylum, these guys are most definitely not afraid of the dark.

As a team they have investigated countless private homes, as well as more notorious public locations such as The Oaks Historic Homestead, Maitland Gaol and Callan Park Mental Hospital. They were even part of a live investigation at The Hero of Waterloo Hotel which was featured on 2DayFM on January 13th 2012.

Armed with an arsenal consisting of EMF (Electro-Magnetic Field) detectors, digital voice recorders, SB7 Spirit Boxes and a psychic or two, they willingly march into the darkness in the hopes of understanding one of the great mysteries of life; is there life after death?

“I believe there’s life after this life,” Craig says, “… but I am probably one of the biggest skeptics. There’s no use knowing that there’s a ghost in a room unless I can document it.”

And document it they do! Aside from audio clips and photos on their website (, videos of their exploits are regularly uploaded to Youtube in a serial fashion. Since 2010 they have clocked over 50 thousand views on their channel ‘WestSydneyParanormal’ and managed to catch the eye of the American producers of Bio Channel’s ‘My Ghost Story’.

Craig and his partner Nicky (also a lead investigator of WSPR) were lucky to travel to L.A. in January to film an episode concerning their experiences for ‘My Ghost Story’. The series, which airs on Bio Channel through pay TV, is a collection of personal ‘ghost stories’ told by the witnesses themselves and backed up by whatever footage or evidence they managed to capture at the time of the happening.

Craig’s own ‘ghost story’ happened in the historic Maitland Gaol, which is a favourite of the WSPR team. It concerned an incident where an inmate – believed to be the spirit of George Savvas – had left a mark indicating his method of death (which was by hanging) across Craig’s neck whilst fellow WSPR investigator Jared Weston filmed the event.

“I asked the spirit how they died.” Craig explains, “As Jared is filming me, this dirty big mark is coming up from across my throat… like a big red welt from ear to ear.”

The story, however, does not end there. Eerily enough, when the ‘My Ghost Story’ crew was shooting the ‘B-roll’ footage back in Australia during May, it seemed that the spirit also wanted his own airtime.

Upon re-entering Maitland Gaol, the director of the shoot gave them instructions to recreate the scene for the show. Craig explained to him what had happened.

“The director said ‘Okay boys, stand there and pretend to look at his neck.” Craig recalls, “And wouldn’t you know it? This dirty big red mark started to appear again… on cue.”

I will admit that when I heard this story, my hair stood on end. Luckily happenings like this, when people are touched, are rare. Any other person – myself included – would take that as a cue to leave, but not WSPR.

“When you get that feeling that you shouldn’t be there, that’s exactly where you need to be. We want something to happen. The places you don’t wanna be are the places that you have to go.”

Now, after working in the dark for almost 3 years, Craig, his partner Nicky and the WSPRS crew are featured in their own version of reality tv; ghost hunting with local film-maker and friend Attila Kaldy in his newest independent film series.

Paranormal Investigators: Phasmaphobia is being produced by Moonlark Media, a local film-making company run by Attila and his wife Andrea. They already have a few notches on their belt from series such as My Project UFO and PI: Paranormal Investigators.

It was Attila’s own childhood experiences were what first prompted his interest in the explained. He received his first book on UFOs at the age of 7, which started the ball rolling.

“I’m passionate about story-telling and art,” He says, “Film-making is… a form of art.”

Attila has been working closely with WSPR for while, sharing time on and off camera whilst editing and producing his own work in the background. Phasmaphobia, as his newest realization, is something that Attila says will be unique to the genre of Paranormal Reality TV.

“[Phasmaphobia] is where people have the opportunity to face one of their greatest fears. It looks at the psychological effects and how interpretations can vary when under stress.”

So far production for the series is going full steam ahead. The spirits are compliant, the problems have been quite minimal, and they are not letting distance play any part in holding them back.

A few weeks ago they travelled to an undisclosed country town 1.5 hours south of Sydney to film for the series in an old local pub. More recently, however, they finished an investigation at Jenolan Caves in the Blue Mountains in Sydney’s West.

With apparently no shortage of potential sites to investigate, and an enthusiasm that knows very few boundaries, there seems to be nothing that can hold them back…. But is there a market for this in Australia? Attila believes there is.

“Without a doubt. However it is still a niche audience in Australia with our limited population as opposed to Europe [and] the US.”

Although American television has helped promote discussion about the unexplained – spurred on by fan-based social media coverage – it can be a double-edged blade. Many of these shows have been rife with rumors of being staged or even fabricating evidence for views.

“Sometimes media and reality a two very different beasts, especially with a large network controlling the content.” Attila says, “It’s great working with Craig, Nicky and the WSPR team. The personalities in front of the camera are genuine. They’re honest people. That is one of the many reasons why we chose to work with WSPR on this project.”

Paranormal Investigators: Phasmophobia is due to hit TVS Television Sydney in 2013. For more information on the series log on to Facebook to follow:

Paranormal Investigators: The Challenge

WSPR – West Sydney Paranormal Research 

Moonlark Media

Or Twitter @teamWSPR

Peace out Paranormal Peeps!\m/ Jaq \m/