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Swagmans End

Toni, NSW, Australia
September 2004

My family and I moved to a large cropping/grazing property for work in 1994 on the Murrumbidgee River between Wagga and Narrandera NSW. My husbands duties were maintenance, operation of the machinery and green keeper to the main homestead. We did not expect what was to come when we moved. We were moving at all hours of the day and night but the first thing we noticed was when we were moving our goods to the new house late one night, along our 8km driveway, sitting on top of the fence posts were owls. This is no big deal except there was one on every post for almost 150m. We saw this as an oddity and laughed it off as a welcome by the locals.

The next thing that happened was the following morning. We still had a number of trips to make as not all our furniture was there yet, but we slept on makeshift beds in the lounge room the night we had seen the owls. We were awoken by loud banging and thumping from the rear of the house. Then it seemed to go around the house as though someone was trying to find a way in urgently. Upon investigation we found a crow flying directly at the window to the laundry and hitting it. Birds quite often will fly into windows, but this one was persistent. It moved around the house trying all the windows.This was very unusual. We did start to think maybe something was trying to say something, but what was the message? The crow would return and repeat this every 6 months or so for the time we lived there.

Nothing more happened until we had settled in.

The house was set in a remote location on the property with only one other house about 500m away from ours which had been the original homestead, it was rented by a single career woman who was hardly ever home. This end of the property had been the location of the original owners. In the early part of the last century it was a central hub for the area for travelling swagman and itinerant workers to come and seek work during and after wartime. There had also been a tribe of aboriginals in this area living on the river, but they had died of various European ailments following white settlement. This being said, it had a lot of history.

Next to our house about 200m away stood the shearing shed. You had to go past this to get to our house. This shed always gave me the chills when I looked at it. Our bedroom, lounge and bathroom faced this shed and when I went to bed at night or had a shower I always pulled down the blind so I couldn't see it. It always felt like you were being watched from it's side windows.

I began to take notice of the shed when I noticed one morning that the windows on the side of the shed were closed, yet when I went to bed they were open. No one had been down that end of the farm that day or the previous evening apart from us. We actually noticed this happened regularly. The windows would be closed only to find them open again later in the day. We would often hear what sounded like the windows slamming repeatedly, but when you looked they were as they were before. They were just openings in the side of the building with shutters that were hinged at the top like a lid, not from the side like a door and secured in place with a chain in a slot to stop them moving. They were very heavy and took a bit of muscle to lift open, so the only way to open and close them was to use the chain.

We heard much later not long before we moved from there that many years before a young roustabout had been killed in the wool press by accident during shearing one year. I do not know if this was true, but accidents did happen like this in the old days.

My stepson was living with us at the time and he was living in the shearing quarters at the side of our house so he had his own privacy (teenagers!). He had a small dog that used to stay with him in his room at night for company. Often the dog would start to growl at the door or the window as though someone was there and other times it would hide under the bed and refuse to come out. Some nights my stepson would sleep inside on the lounge, but he never really gave a reason until he moved out 12 months later with his girlfriend.

He said that at night he would see the silhouette of a head and shoulders through the glass panel in his door as though someone was standing on the step to his room looking in. Other times this would be at the window at the head of his bed. He also said that he would get knocking on his door at night and on the wall with the window. He had covered the glass on his door with a poster to try and avoid seeing anything and he played music at night to try and drown out any noise he might hear. When he moved out my step daughter moved into his room about 2 months later and she experienced the same problems even though we had not told her anything about it. Her little dog also did the same as the previous dog. We would often hear one of the shearing quarters doors slamming at night without any wind or cause. There were 5 consecutive rooms in a row but no evidence as to which one it was.

Our youngest son and daughter stayed in the house with my husband and I as they were too young and not even at school yet. My daughter hated her their room and hated going to bed because she said that her toys were watching her and moving around the room at night. Our son was only 2 and a half years old at the time and also had misgivings about their room though he couldn't explain why. Often we would hear him talking in his room through the baby monitor as though talking to someone. His sister was not in the room.

One night he was sitting at their little table having their evening meal when he looked up into the kitchen next to him like he was looking up at an adult and said "go away bad man!" and then continued to eat his meal. We were all in shock at this though we had hoped that the "activity" was limited to outside. We were unable to get anything out of him as to who the bad man was or what he looked like.

Often at night we would experience banging or thumping on the outside walls of the house, with no sign of the cause. It was not water pipes. It would thump on the walls, doors and occasionally the windows. No crow this time! The odd thing with this was that the yard dogs did not react at all to this noise.

My husband had a large workshop and machinery shed over near the main homestead where in his spare time would work on his stationary engines we collected. Often he would be ther until all hours of the night. Some nights he would come home early because it was not happy with him being there. It would relocate items and make him feel very uncomfortable and unwanted. Sometimes he would see indistinct forms or shadows around the workshop as well. This presence seemed to be isolated to around the shed because as you got about half way between our house and the shed it would stop and the feeling lift.

Our horses also didn't like certain parts of the property nearby. On the final leg of the driveway about 8-900m from the house is an avenue of gum trees lining the road. This avenue is about 200m long but the trees are not dense, only about 10m on each side and then bare paddocks beyond that. They would start panicking about half way along the avenue, and other times they would refuse to go through at all. There is also a billabong or small lake on the property about 1km from the house and only 600m to one side of the avenue. Here the horses also played up if you took them near the billabong.

We discovered one day during a walk a gravestone at the base of a tree near the billabong all covered in leaf litter. You would have to go past this first to get to the water. It is in this area that the horses shied and tried to head home. If you went for a walk in the evening you always tried to make it back to the house before dark as strange sounds were often heard in the avenue of trees and paddock beyond leading towards the billabong. My step daughter and a friend came back one evening as white as a sheet claiming they had heard strange noises in the avenue with loud bangs and things moving around when there was nothing there. They also claimed to have heard a scream as well as loud moans in the paddock on the billabong side of the trees. At that time there were no cattle in this paddock. I myself had heard strange noises whilst walking through the avenue that I could not rationalise. I am a believer, but I don't jump to the paranormal every time something odd happens, I like to find the cause first. But the noises I had heard I could not explain as well as the unshakable feeling of being watched and followed.

A small book had been put out by one of the original owners of the property describing life on the farm in the early days and within it it tells of a swagman who came to the property seeking work and supplies. He was said to have a large roll of money on him, which was unusual for a swagman. The next day his belongings were found scattered in a line from near the avenue of trees heading for the billabong as though he was discarding items to make an escape quicker like he was being chased. His body or money were never found, but it was beleived he met with foul play. The swagman had been a regular to the property turning up about every 6 months. He never returned.

Were the disturbances we experienced the swagman trying to get someones attention and reliving his attack every 6months for those that are receptive to the other side?
Is that why the avenue and the billabong were such hot spots?

The main homestead near our house also had activity with the sound of light switches clicking on and off like the ones early last century. Odd noises were also heard from time to time throughout the house, though the tenant would not elaborate further. The homestead was large with many rooms and the few times we were there alone of an evening made your hair on the back of your neck stand on end.
I'm glad we didn't live in that house even as large and beautiful as it was. Who knows what walks the halls?

Thank you for taking the time to read my story and would be happy to hear from others.

Toni, NSW, Australia
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