Halloween in April?

Given that Australia is opposite and upside down from the rest of the world, it is no surprise that creepy things have started happening to me in April, a month normally regarded for its happy tulip blossoms, sunshiny-days, and spring frolicking. But in Australia, it’s the start of autumn, and April brings short, dark evenings, rainy days, and, so it appears, a haunted encounter.  I guess down under, Halloween finds you in April, October be damned (pardon the pun).

The town of Katoomba, for those that haven’t been, is a small, mountainous town about 2 hours from Sydney, in the heart of the Blue Mountains. Once known for its mining trade, it now caters to tourism, and attracts mountain enthusiasts, as well as a more (ahem) eccentric crowd. It’s not unusual here to see a man walking down the street in a skirt (no, not a kilt, it’s a skirt, I’ve seen him more times than need be), or a cockatoo sitting on a bar, whether as a pet or favorite patron of the bartender, I do not know.

The art-deco main street of Katoomba

Overall, it’s a great place to spend a weekend, do some bushwalking, and take in some spectacular scenery and some cute retro cafes. But, on the outskirts of town, something more sinister lurks..sceptics, stop reading here.

There is a building on the outskirts of town, past the railway station and before the cinema. The first time I saw it, I felt a shudder in my bones. Something wasn’t right. This large building, complete with ominous watch tower, lays abandoned and tangled in overgrown brush, graffiti, and warning signs to keep out. Jack Nicholson might be lurking inside, typewriter and meat cleaver in hand.

For anyone who has read Stephen King and Peter Straub’s Black House, this might be the place. The weather seems to be a bit cooler, and the sky a bit darker, when you pass uneasily by. The other night, I literally ran past it to get it out of my sight quicker. But I’ll get to that in a moment.

The building, if I have my facts right, and, please correct me if I don’t, was built around the turn of the century as St. Mary’s, a boarding school and convent. At some point down the line, the school was closed, and a community centre later took over use of the building. Most recently, it was damaged by fire and now derelict, though it remains hold of a heritage status.

The building in question, daylight hours..still scary? (yes.)

Back to the bone chilling bit. While walking past this building the other night (I couldn’t avoid it- 21 Jump Street at the cinema!), the ominous and eerie feeling returned, as I knew it would. Glancing over into its direction, I saw something I was not expecting to see. In the look out tower, there was a light on in the window. I did a double take to make sure it wasn’t a reflection from a street lamp, but it wasn’t. It was so bright you could almost see in the windows, if one were brave enough to look. I am getting goosebumps just thinking about it again. After the film (funnier than I thought, plus cameos by Ice Cube and Johnny Depp-win!), I again passed by the building. This time, no light. Just complete blackness.

By the time I got home I was in such a panic, I think I speedwalked all the way home. I resisted the image to stop at the pub  (yes, the cockatoo one), only due to the fact that I was wearing a t-shirt with a picture of Bigfoot on it. (please, don’t ask, and yes, I need to do laundry)

BUT WHY WAS THERE WAS A LIGHT ON! But the building is abandoned, partially destroyed by fire, and has no electricity or power! So how can this be explained? Ever since I was really young, I have always gotten weird feelings or felt odd in certain places that felt dark, unnerving, or evil, but this building is seriously off the Richter scale of uneasiness.

Maybe some things that go bump in the night are better left alone.

Has anyone else seen this building, or know more about its history? A quick google search revealed there are a number of ghost stories affiliated with this place- if you’ve ever seen it, maybe you too will feel like Halloween has come early.

But be careful…if you go into the woods tonight, you’re in for a big surprise….

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