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Monte Cristo

Monte Cristo Homestead in Junee, NSW, is reputed to be Australia's most haunted house. Unlike its British equivalent, Borley Rectory however, Monte Cristo still stands and attracts thousands of visitors every year.

Monte Cristo was originally built by William Crawley for his family in 1884. The Crawley family owned the property until 1948. The house then stood empty, under the custodianship of several caretakers, for 15 years when in 1963 it was bought by a couple called the Ryans who restored it to its current condition.

Many Victorian era houses around the world are alleged to be haunted but few, if any of them can boast such a wide array of ghosts as Monte Cristo. The most frequently encountered is claimed to be that of Mrs. Crawley, who was known to rule the household with an iron fist. She has been reported in the chapel, where she spent much of her time after her husband's death, and also in the dining room, which, it has been claimed, she angrily orders visitors out of.

The phantom of an unknown woman in period dress has also been reported to walk along the verandah. This is the same verandah from which a maid once fell to her death, so one possibility is that the ghost could be that of the unfortunate maid.

In the boys bedroom on the second floor, the ghost of William Crawley has been reported. It is thought that he died in this room from blood poisoning from his starched collar. Eerie footsteps are often heard from the second floor, even when it is known that nobody is there. The footsteps are said to sound like feet falling on wooden floorboards even though the entire floor is now carpeted!

One of the most gruesome incidents in the house's history was when the Crawley's baby girl was being carried down the stairs by her nursemaid. The nursemaid slipped and dropped the baby, who tumbled down the stairs and died from her injuries. The nursemaid later claimed to have been shoved by an unseen force. Children have been reported to act strangely and feel agitated around the vicinity of the staircase.

People have seen faces peering in at them through the upstairs windows, even those which do not have balconies outside.

The stables were also once the scene of a very tragic death. A stable boy was too ill for work one day, and when the stables caught fire the unfortunate boy, too ill to move, was killed in the blaze. Agonized screams believed to be those of the stable boy, have been reported from the stables. 

Another tragic was that of Harold, a mentally impaired man who was the son of the Crawleys' housekeeper. He was kept shackled in the caretaker's cottage for most of his life, until one day his mother died and he was discovered. He was sent to an asylum for the insane and died soon after.

A more recent death occurred in 1961 when the caretaker, Jack Simpson, was murdered in the caretaker's cottage. A mentally disturbed youth shot Simpson dead and scrawled the words "DIE JACK HAHA" onto a door. The grisly inscription can still be seen.

When the Ryans moved into the homestead, Olive Ryan found several mutilated dead kittens in the breakfast room.

Disembodied voices have also been heard in several parts of the house.

The spectres of Victorian children have often been spotted in the Knot Gardens.

These are just some of the mysterious reports from what must surely be Australia's most haunted house.

P A McHugh

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