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The Old Man in the Bush

Kelly, Southern New South Wales, Australia
February 2003

I'm a Park Ranger, work for the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS). My job is to go in the bush and check the traps that I would've laid out to attract feral animals in the bush. Cosy job in a funny way.

One afternoon I drove to a spot which I'll only name as Mt N. beautiful spot that overlooks a waterfall and thousands of acres of virgin forest. I often hear a story from the old timers about a hut that's supposedly to be haunted by a miner from the late 1860s. I thought it was a load of Horse manure until this day I happened to be close to where the old hut was supposed to be.

I was generally surprised when I found an old slab hut with tumbled down walls and a huge Morton Bay fig tree growing out of the roof. In other words, it was still livable.

I decided to have a peep before checking the traps and I pushed the door open, which fell to the dirt floor and I saw there was an old pellet that was once a bed and a rusty old potbelly stove with broken chute. That was all there was.

As I was about to leave, I thought I heard someone cough. Now, let me tell you this, I'm miles from any house and I would've known if there was anyone up there. I know my wildlife, birdcalls, wallaby calls etc but this was human. I stopped and looked around and there was an old Chinese man with a white bushy beard, who looked like St. Nick to be honest, wearing a colonial hat and the shirt the old Chinese Miners used to wear. Then he was gone. There one minute, gone the next. I searched the area but there was no sign of anyone standing there in the first place. I gathered up the traps, went back to the truck and thought about what I saw.

That night in the pub I got talking to some the old timers. One of them laughed and leaned over and said: "That was Charlie Wong, he's been haunting that hut since I was a boy and longer."
"Why?" I asked.
According to local gossip, Old Charlie Wong was a loner. One day he came into town with bag of gold dust worth thousands of pounds. Each Friday Charlie Wong would come into town with gold dust and send it off back to China. Well, one day old Charlie Wong didn't turn up so a couple of the local policemen or "Troopers", as they were called in those days, went looking for him.

They found him strung up on a tree dead. When they caught the three men who killed him, they said that old Charlie never gave away the location of his gold mine. For over a 100 years Charlie Wong been seen "hanging" around his old hut, scaring the daylights out of loggers and tourists. The Greenies claim that Old Charlie is a Greenie himself..good on him if he is.

I went back looking for that hut but time and the weather and the bush claimed it for I could never, to this day, find the hut. I would love to find the old gold mine if it's still exists.

One quick footnote, the local indigenous people claim the area is haunted by their spirits from the Dreamtime. It is a weird area Mt N is.

Thanks for reading, I have another ghost tale to tell but some other day.

Kelly, Southern New South Wales, Australia
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