Gayle is an accountant. Shh Ė donít tell. She thinks sheís a writer.
Grab A Torch and Your Courage and Dare to be Different
Halloween is perhaps the spookiest night on Melbourne's calendar. You can spend it trick or treating in your neighbourhood or you can step out of your comfort zone and join the Melbourne General Cemetery Halloween Night Tour. It is hard not to believe in ghosts on this bucket list worthy tour where things go bump in the night. But truly, it's just Melbourne's wildlife, not the paranormal. Right?
A Spooky night for a tour (Image from Melbourne General Cemetery Facebook Page)
As in other parts of Melbourne bats are about in the cemetery. These are no Halloween props. They are grey-headed flying foxes, which weighing in at just over 1kg are the second largest species of bat in Australia. The bats are nocturnal and fly after dark in search of nectar, fruit and pollen.
Then there are the possums, who have been known to issue calls akin to heart-stopping screams. Perhaps it is fitting that the cemetery houses the final resting place of Taxidermist, John Leadbeater who is the namesake of Victoria's faunal emblem, the Leadbeater's possum.
It is not uncommon for Melbourne's bats to be about the trees in the cemetery (Photo in the public domain via Pixabay)
The Melbourne General Cemetery was established in 1852 and received its first burial the following year. It was the first of Victoria's cemeteries to be designed like a public park. Paths curve and transverse separate religious areas, gate lodges, rotundas, chapels, and landscaped areas with trees and shrubbery.
Over 300,000 burials have been made on the 43 hectare site. Amongst those interred here are explorers Burke and Wills, Prime Ministers Sir Robert Menzies, Sir John Gorton and James Scullin, Governor General Sir Isaac Isaacs, Governor Sir Charles Hotham, Bunurung Aboriginal Tribal Leader, Derrimut, and author Marcus Clarke.
An eerie calm settles over the cemetery as night closes in (Photo from Melbourne General Cemetery Facebook Page)
Many of the headstones in the cemetery tell of horrific deaths. Christopher Gee was a firefighter who met his end in 1855 aboard the American ship Hilaria which had caught fire at the Port Melbourne Town Pier. Mr Gee fell into the hold of the burning ship.
Here also is the grave of the celebrated baritone Frederick Baker known as Federici who had a heart attack in 1888 while being lowered below stage during a performance of Faust at the Princess Theatre. Other performers claimed to have seen him take a curtain call that evening despite his being deceased. For decades after, the Princess Theatre kept a seat for Federici's spirit on every opening night.
The grave in Melbourne General Cemetery of Federici whose ghost is said to haunt the Princess Theatre (Photo by Jack1956 at en.wikipedia CC0, via Wikimedia Commons)
Your guide will not only give you the Who's Who in the cemetery, but will recount tales both of tragedy and of scandal. Their knowledge extends beyond the famous to the everyday people who rest forever in these grounds. Money raised from the tours is applied to the maintenance of the cemetery to ensure its cultural and historic significance can be preserved for future generations.
Tours run on Monday the 31st October, 2016. A Special Children's Halloween Tour runs at 7.00pm. Other tours commence at 7.20pm, 7.35pm, 7.50pm, 8.05pm, 8.20pm, 8.35pm, 8.50pm, 9.05pm and 9.20pm.
Dr Singleton's gravesite at Melbourne General Cemetery (Image by D. Wolfe - Own work - CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
There are no lights in the cemetery so night tours are conducted by torchlight. Be daring, sunset is at 7.54pm so take one of the later after dark tours beneath the dim rays of the new moon. After all it is a far more spirited person who walks a cemetery after dark rather than in the twilight. Tea, coffee, water, cordial and biscuits are available before or after your tour, if you're not too frightened to stay.
Are you game to walk through a cemetery after dark (Image in the Public Domain via Pixabay)
The Melbourne General Cemetery is at Gate Lodge, College Crescent, Parkville. More details are available on the website, by telephoning (03) 8558 8210 or emailing email@example.com Costs are Adults $25.00, Children under 16 $20.00 and Family (2 Adults, up to 3 children under 16) $80.00. Bookings can be made via Eventbrite. These are popular tours so early booking is recommended.
Why? Because itís spooky and it's kooky and youíre up to it.
When:Tours run on Monday the 31st October, 2016. A Special Children's Halloween Tour runs at 7.00pm. Other tours commence every 15 minutes at 7.20pm, 7.35pm, 7.50pm, 8.05pm, 8.20pm, 8.35pm, 8.50pm, 9.05pm and 9.20pm.