Thursday, December 28, 2006
The other day De Campo and I caught the 12.15pm train to the country. We were heading to a family gathering to celebrate her sister’s birthday. The destination was Riddell’s Creek, but I wasn’t really paying attention. Twenty minutes into our journey, the train made its first stop. With my nose stuck into the great escapism of Paul Auster’s ‘Moon Palace’, I wasn’t really paying attention until I heard De Campo scream “We gotta get off!” She then proceeded to trample my legs gunning for the exit. I looked outside and saw that the station said Diggers Rest and quickly trailed her. We were so late getting to the exit that the train conductor had to phone the driver on his walkie talkie and request a Code Red to get the doors to open. It wasn’t until the train had departed the station that we realised we had gotten off at the wrong stop. Three stops too soon.
When De Campo rang her Dad he was waiting at Riddell’s Creek station with her mother drinking a latte in the good air. He was on the phone long enough to hear the bad news and then the battery on his phone died. De Campo’s brother-in-law called to say that they had got in touch with the parents and that the parents were on their way. Digger’s Rest was too cold for the t-shirt I was wearing, so I put my hand inside the bag De Campo was carrying with her sister’s present in it and pulled out a brown and grey vest that De Campo said she despised. I wore that and it felt good on my back. The green bus shelter we huddled in was missing a window to the east the same direction the wind was coming from, so we removed our clothes and cuddled because I’m told that’s what you’re supposed to do when you’re freezing your ass off these days.
Thirty minutes later her parents collected us. We told them we were sorry and they drove us through the dry hills of Sunbury like hell for leather. So many derelict 70s houses with Range Rovers parked in the driveway. The second we arrived we had three minutes to order food before the kitchen closed. I had a seafood salad with watermelon salsa and a beer.
Just so you know, there are some incredible pubs in the area. Down the highway in Clarkefield there’s The Coach and Horses Inn, formerly The Clarkefield. It’s a big bluestone mansion built in the mid-1800s when gold mining was the thing to do and Clarkefield was a handy rest stop between Melbourne and Bendigo.
De Campo’s Mum met a lady at the chiropractic office where she works who said she knew the new owners of the Inn. The owners took some photos of the stairs and when they had them developed a 13 year-old girl in a taffeta dress was standing there. She wasn’t there when they took the photo. Turns out the place has been haunted for years.
Once a maintenance person was cleaning the windows outside and a hideous face inside came towards him. Window cleaner tried to lift the window (why I do not know), but window is shut-tight whereas a few minutes ago, window seemed to open fine. Hideous face receded into the darkness. Window cleaner tried the window again and guess what? Window opened!
Journalist with a death wish stays the night looking for some spectral action. No occurrences whatsoever. The next morning he notices the pump at the well is dryer as can be. Notes the observation in his log. Seconds later, pump starts to gush!
De Campo’s sister handed me a book called the Ghosts of Australia and it was there that I located a ghost house in my old neck of the woods – on Church Street in Richmond. I used to walk by the place and say Trent Reznor must live here. Chilling in a ‘I dabble with the darkside’ kind of way. Once owned by a one-armed mining lobbyist apparently. He died in bed and his kids jumped off the balcony to their deaths sometime after and to this day people can sometimes see the kids hanging out on the balcony looking gaunt and dejected.
Once a guy felt a hand grab his ankle and his conclusion was that the only reason he felt one hand was the person must have been missing the other!
We barely caught the last train at Clarkefield Station (of which the pub is right there), otherwise De Campo's parents said we would've had to spend the night!