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Outback Soldier

MaryAnn, ACT, Australia
June 2007

In the early 90's I married a grazier and moved from Sydney to live on his property "Back of Bourke" in North-West New South Wales. As we lived in the middle of nowhere, to do our grocery shopping we had to travel 320 kms into Bourke every few weeks. It was a pretty tough drive over rugged dirt roads and often took up to 6 hours to traverse depending on road conditions so we often tried shortcuts on the way home to lessen the journey.

I had be living in the outback for just over a year at this time. My husband and I were traveling home from a shopping expedition in Bourke when we decided to cut through a friend's property as it was a more direct route to our place. On the way we had to pass directly past our friend's house so we decided to call in for a visit. It was just on dusk when we pulled up outside the house - dusk lasting for a long period of time in the Outback. It was, however, still quite light. My husband went straight inside while I struggled to unlatch our 3 month old son from his car seat in the back of the car. I was a little bit annoyed with my husband for abandoning me while I tried to get a grizzly baby out of the car seat when out of the corner of my eye I saw a bearded man in khaki shirt and pants and wearing a slouch hat standing just behind me. I though it was our friend, Dave, (he had a beard and khaki clothing was not uncommon among graziers) and turned to thank him for his help. When I turned there was nobody there. I have to say I was quite taken aback and grabbing the baby, now extracted from his car seat, raced straight into the house. My heart was racing and I felt cold and clammy but didn't want to say anything. Outback people being very "no-nonsense" types I didn't think they would take kindly to the hysteria of a "city girl".

A few weeks later I was talking to my husband about the history of the area and he told me how our friend's house had once been a convalescent home for men recovering from injury suffered during the First World War. Still not mentioning what I had seen, I asked him if people had died there and he replied: "Of course! In fact some of them decided to stay on. That house is one of the most haunted houses North-West of Bourke". Now I had no prior knowledge of that house being haunted nor did I tell a sole out there what I had seen. The image I saw was so distinct and solid that I couldn't have imagined it. And lets face it, khaki shirt and trousers, beard and slouch hat - sounds like a World War I soldier to me!

MaryAnn, ACT, Australia
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