'Funny feeling' about Fort at night

Maitland Gaol - most haunted site 

FORT Scratchley is one of Newcastle’s most iconic locations, steeped in history and a former home to Aboriginals, convicts and soldiers.

Its underground tunnels provide a creepy atmosphere for visitors and there is belief the site could be home to the supernatural.

Newcastle Ghost Tours owner Renata Daniel is eager to investigate the former coastal defence installation to see if there is evidence of any spirits lingering.

She said her company would conduct four ghost tours this year to take people down the tunnels after dark.

‘‘Most of the volunteers will tell you the place isn’t haunted, though over the years there’s been mentionings of things happening,’’ she said.

‘‘When we came here in November there were certainly spikes in activity in one or two areas.’’

While Ms Daniel admitted there were no reported deaths or well-known stories of ghosts at Fort Scratchley, she believes the history and the amount of people that have worked there could reveal activity upon investigation.

She has been leading ghost tours of Newcastle and investigating private homes for about two years.

‘‘Fort Scratchley is an extremely important historical place for Newcastle,’’ she said.

‘‘I’m trying to do something that includes that historical element with the tours but also explores the spiritual side.’’

Senior tour guide Len Young said he wasn’t sure whether the fort was haunted but admitted the atmosphere changes when the sun goes down.

‘‘There is a funny feeling about the place at night, when the wind’s whistling it can be very eerie,’’ he said.

‘‘One lady that came on a tour just couldn’t go into a room, she said she wasn’t welcome here.

‘‘I’m not a believer but I’m also not a non-believer.’’

Ms Daniel believes a night tour would offer a  different experience for visitors.

‘‘We won’t go looking for ghosts, we leave people to their own experiences and it’s about tuning in,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s very much a historical tour but we will be there with our equipment to investigate the place.

‘‘Coming here at night is completely different. We’ll turn out the lights and try to experience what it would’ve been like for soldiers in the tunnels watching out for enemy ships.’’

More than two-thirds of respondents to the Herald online poll said they believed in ghosts. Out of 384 responses, 65.6per cent said yes and 34.4per cent no.

Share your story: janek.speight@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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