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The story of Fishers Ghost of Cambpelltown, a rural city founded in 1820 and settled with convict farmers, is considered to be the best known ghost story in Australia today.

The story has captured the hearts and imaginations of Australians and Campbelltown residents ever since the story of the ghost first surfaced. But was there really ever a ghost or was it just a wild story?

Fishers Ghost is still celebrated by the township of Campbelltown
The story of Fishers Ghost is still famous in Campbelltown and they have many places named after the ghost

bone line

Take yourself back to the early 1800's. Australia was then a rough, rugged and mostly unsettled wild country. It was then full of convicts who had been shipped to Australia for punishment for crimes such as stealing loaves of bread, murder and any other acts deemed as criminal.

Frederick George James Fisher was a 35 year old ticket-of leave man who originally came to Australia from England as a convict. He left England on a ship named the 'Atlas', and arrived in the colony in 1816. Soon after he acquired his ticket of leave. A ticket-of leave was something convicts, who were particularly well behaved, could gain for themselves to be able to buy themselves land and settle without being imprisoned.

He soon bought 30 acres of land in Campbelltown, the house being close to the spot which the Old Post Office now occupies (left). The farm was located between the main street which is now renamed Queen Street, bounded on the north by the line of Lithgow Street and on the south by a line from Allman Street. His property extended out to and ended at the Bow Bowing creek line.

The Town Hall Theatre is the site of George Worralls Farm Fisher prospered on his land and had purchased himself more land located at Appin, Cabramatta and Nepean. A little known fact about Fisher was that he was also the first man to attempt to make paper in New South Wales.

Fisher's close friend, confidant and neighbour was a man named George Worrall, who was also a ticket-of-leave man. He rented the property next door to Fisher and must have much envied his prosperous neighbour. Worrall rented a cottage 140 yards south of Allan Street, the site occupied by the first Campelltown Town Hall and now contains the local theatre.

George Worralls house is now the local Theatre

At one time, Fisher got into debt and counted on his best friend Worrall to help him out. He signed over his property to Worrall to either stop it from being seized by the law or to give the impression he had no assets. Fisher was then arrested and sent to Jail. Worrall was noted to be boasting at this time how his own land had suddenly increased by 30 acres. He was heard to say "It's all mine now.....all that was Fred's.....he give it to me 'afore he went to prison,'.

Fisher was released 6 months later and did the natural thing, returned to claim his property back off Worrall.

Frederick Fisher then suddenly and mysteriously disappeared on June 17, 1826. The last that was seen of him was by Jane Hopkins on June 17th, 1826, who saw Fisher give money to some men who worked on his farm to buy drink.

Worrall, while walking around town wearing Fishers pants, told a story of how Fisher supposedly returned back to Sydney and then sailed back to England on the Lord St Vincent (also reported as the Lady St Vincent in some accounts) and had therefore left Worrall in charge of his estate. The story was soon investigated and it was discovered that no ship by that name was docked at Sydney. Suspicion turned on Worrall as to mysterious disappearance of Fisher.

Locals such as James Coddington also became suspicious when Worrall offered to him for sale a horse and other property belonging to Fisher. He claimed Fisher had fled back to England fearing he would be prosecuted for forgery, whilst Coddington himself recognized a forged receipt for Fishers items, presented to him by Worrall.

Fishers friends who had dined with him on the night he dissappeared all wondered where Fisher really was, and noted how Worrall took immediate possession of Fishers property. But where was Frederick Fisher?

A £20 reward for any information on the whereabouts of Frederick Fisher was advertised by Hon. Alexander Macleay, Colonial Secretary, in the Government Gazette at the end of September, 1826. It is also reported that the Sydney Gazette carried the same ad.

The Monitor of November 3, 1826 reported news that the discovery of Frederick Fisher's murdered body had been made at Campbelltown after Fisher had been missing for four Months. The report continued to tell that the search had continued for some time until on Tuesday, October 31 "by the aid of some black natives" the body was discovered in a field three feet below the surface of the ground.

"The face was completely flattened, the head fractured......Suspicion, it is said, attaches to a man resident in the neighbourhood......."

Worrall was arrested by Robert Burke, chief constable of Campbelltown after the body was found by George Luland. The name "Luland" was mistakenly reported in some newspapers as "Looland".

Luland was sent to the creek to investigate by Wm Howe, the local police magistrate, although it is not reported anywhere why he sent Luland or for what reason he sent the Constable to the creek.

continue onto Part II


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