Wednesday, February 23, 2011

ABC News

Do you believe in ghosts or are you a sceptic?
In the Tasmanian town of New Norfolk stories about apparitions, strange sudden smells and unearthly happenings at the site of the former mental asylum have been circulating the local community and more recently the internet.
A former mental health hospital, Willow Court has unofficially become a drawcard for people who believe in the supernatural.
Now the Derwent Valley Council is determined to find out once and for all if there is any truth to the stories.
Councillors recently voted in favour of a paranormal investigation in at least two of the wards still standing.
A team of three from the Australian Paranormal Investigation Unit are now planning a two or three night stay in ward C and Alonnah that once housed the criminally insane.
Decommissioned by the Tasmanian Government in the 1990s, some of the wards have been knocked down to make way for development. Others are still empty - trashed by vandals.
Glenn Hevey, Nick Jarvis and Aiden Sullivan have long held an interest in Willow Court and the supernatural.
"I've loved it all my life," former New Norfolk boy Nick Jarvis said.
"What spurred my interest even more was the paranormal side of Willow Court and almost on a daily basis I've been getting reports of people seeing things and hearing things."
Three years ago, the three young men decided to get serious and set up the Australian Paranormal Investigations Unit.
They contacted the local Derwent Valley Council and the small team of ghost busters were given official council approval to investigate three wards that once housed the criminally insane.
"We went through the appropriate channels went through council, the committee endorsed it and it was voted on and approved. So it was a long process and we're pretty happy to be in that position," Mr Jarvis said.
The three men are certain there is a spiritual presence at the site, but believe it or not they have never had the camera when a spirit has appeared.
"When I was driving down the main avenue here at Willow Court, I was driving over some of the speed humps and the headlights shone on a white apparition figure," Mr Jarvis said.
This time they are determined to record a presence.
"We've got voice recorders to capture electronic voice phenomena, including static or stray noises. We've got electromagnetic field metres to hopefully capture any presences. We've got cameras, and we've got temp guns which we use with temperature readings to work out if there are any temperature spikes or drops," Mr Jarvis said.
Sceptic Leyon Parker wishes the team luck, but holds little hope for success.
"I think it's a waste of time," he said.
"I suppose people can choose to waste their time any way they like. If these people want to waste their time looking for ghosts that don't exist it's not my job to tell them they shouldn't do that."
To be convinced he says he would need "photographic evidence, there would have to be electronic recordings of some sort, the clearer the better, probably accompanying eyewitness accounts and it would certainly help if there was a sceptical mind there at the time this occurred".

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