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Monday, December 30, 2013

A Spooky Tale: Pinky Visits a Ghost Town

                                                              Image Credit

The days between Christmas and New Year are strange

It’s almost like being in a kind of dead zone… accompanied by an eerie feeling of knowing we’re living the final days before the new beginnings of the next year.

“We need to do something,” declared Scotto yesterday, the sweat dripping down his forehead in the 35 degree oven we call the lounge room. “Let’s go on a day trip somewhere.”

Scotto loves to drive his new “Batmobile” on the highway, so I scanned my tiny brain for somewhere we could pay a visit to, in our parched hinterland.

“We could go to Ravenswood,” I offered. “It’s about an hour drive away.”

“What’s there?” queried Scotto, swatting away a slow, heat-stricken fly.

“Nothing,” I replied.

“Let’s go then! It might be cooler there. It might even be raining.”

Poor Melbourne-born Scotto hates the heat and lack of rain here in North Queensland.

“Ravenswood’s a ghost town,” I lectured Scotto in the car on the way. “It used to have a population of about 4500 back in the 1890s because of the gold rush but now only a couple of hundred people live there. I’ve heard there’s even a haunted pub!

Just don’t blink or you actually will miss it,” I warned as we approached the tiny hamlet.

Our first stop was the historic cemetery. 

Ravenswood Cemetery 

Our shoes crackled across the brittle, dried out grass and we pondered over the sad gravestones of little children and young women who’d probably died in childbirth back in the 1800s. 

“Why are there so many little kids’ graves?” asked Scotto.

“Diphtheria, Typhoid… they didn’t have antibiotics back then,” I answered feeling a little melancholy.

Grave at Ravenswood Cemetery

We both suddenly jumped in fright as the shutter on Scotto’s camera began automatically firing over and over.

“That’s weird…” he stared at me with a pale face. “Why’s it doing that?”

"Maybe something wants to be seen?" I answered with false bravado.

                                What the F-f-f-f-f!

The temperature when we climbed back in the car was close to 37 degrees and there was not a cloud in the sky.

We had a quick look around the museum.

“Where are you two from?” probed the elderly woman at the door when she overheard Pinky jokingly whinging about the extortionate two dollar admission fee.

“I’ve lived here all my life,” she continued with a toothless sneer. “People are shocked when I tell them that... I can think of worse places to live.”

“I can’t…” I thought, as I feigned interest in the three glass cabinets containing boring old rubbish from the nineteenth century.

“Don’t forget to have a look at the old jail out the back,” the woman called out when she noticed Scotto and Pinky attempting to slither out the door unnoticed.

Ravenswood Museum
                     I think they must have forgotten about someone...

“Time for a beer!” announced Scotto. 

Railway Hotel Ravenswood

The Railway Hotel (circa 1890 and one of only two remaining hotels) was straight across the road and as we walked in to the establishment the local bar flies stared at our city slicker attire with barely concealed derision (no they didn’t... but it would have been funny if they had).

We ordered counter lunches whilst three poodles, a couple of tiny terrier pups and a biggish mongrel had a full on barney around the bar, barking, growling and nipping each other.

The beer was great; ice cold and refreshing, the fish and chips delicious.

Pub Lunch

“We can go and have a look at the old mine after lunch,” I suggested.

Open cut mine Ravenswood

We did. There’s nothing spookier than an abandoned mine. The hike up to the lookout had a steep ascent with a 10 degree gradient, so in the searing heat our thirst had re-established itself and it was time for another beer.

“I think this is the haunted one,” I informed Scotto as we pulled up outside the Imperial Hotel.

A table of locals out the front of the pub, unashamedly gawked at the Batmobile as Scotto (showing off) did a powerslide in the gravel as we pulled up.

“They’re staring at your car!” I commented. “Probably never seen a car like this in these here parts.”

Scotto was thrilled at the attention and disembarked from the Batmobile feeling like a superstar… right up until he fell in a hole and nearly went ass up.

The entire table erupted in loud guffaws and watched us hobbling across the road in embarrassment.

“Have a nice trip?” chortled the matriarch of the group.

“Yeah, I’ll be back in the fall,” muttered a sheepish Scotto.

Bar in Ravenswood Hotel

Behind the bar stood a tiny, attractive blonde girl; she was clearly a backpacker by the sound of her Scandinavian accent. 

She stood out like a dog’s hind leg (sic) against the back drop, with her golden hair and white smile. "How the hell did a backpacker have the misfortune of winding up here?" I wondered.

We drank our beers and Scotto insisted, quite passionately, on returning the empty glasses back to the bar. 

I suspected it was more to do with the stunning blonde barmaid inside, rather than his impeccably good manners.

“Let me take them back…” I suggested.

“No. I’ll do it,” he replied (quite firmly).

“Nice car, yah!” I heard the Nordic goddess trill to my husband, who stood with an irritatingly silly grin on his face.

We left the pub and decided we’d seen enough for one day even if we hadn’t espied any ghosts as such.

“Did you have a nice day?” asked the shop keeper at the antiquated post office/store we called into to get water for the journey back.

“Yes thanks,” Pinky mused. “We saw the museum and the mine, had a lovely lunch at the Railway Hotel and a final roadie at the Imperial just before.”

The shop keeper stared at me, his pupils dilating slightly, his face blanching.

“The Imperial Hotel has been boarded up for the last thirty years,” he choked, “ever since that young, Swedish backpacker was murdered by a jealous miner’s wife.”

                                     I swear every hair on Scotto's head stood on end!

Ravenswood goat

N.B: Some of this story may have been made up… a bit.