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Adelaide Gaol Ghosts - A guards story

Investigations > Adelaide Gaol


Interview with Andrew

Alison Oborn


A few years ago, SAFM took one of their radio shows into the Adelaide Gaol for a night’s stopover. Most of what took place was usual media stuff and nothing dramatic seemed to arise. However one phone call came in was of interest us, this being from a gentleman who claimed to be a guard stationed there between 1986-88. He told the show of a paranormal experience whereby he was called to an area of the Gaol, as a prisoner was thought to be escaping. The reason for this was because a figure was picked up on the security cameras. On arriving in the area it was found to be vacant with no prisoner to be seen. On double-checking back with security, they were quickly told that the figure was still being seen on the monitors.

For the years following this show, this has been nothing but a story, as we had no way of verifying it. However, a few months ago this very gentleman turned up on one of our tours at the Gaol and soon contacted me so that he could tell his story. The following interview is his personal experience in the Gaol.


Alison: Thank you Andrew for contacting us and giving us some of your time for this interview.

Andrew: My Pleasure.

Alison: Can you tell us a little about the Gaol and in particular the ‘paranormal’ type experiences you have either heard about or experienced yourself?

Andrew: When there were noises or smells and you were working, we would put it down to the criminals etc. as there was always smells e.g. boiler house, kitchen, maintenance but the other night on the tour was quite remarkable. For instance the bakehouse.. standing in 6 yard, there was the smell of freshly baked bread but when stepping away… nothing. And when we went down the laneway… again freshly baked bread… not like a lingering smell, but like you had just walked past buttercup or something.

Alison: Did any of the others smell it?

Andrew: Oh yes we ALL smelled it on the tour. I thought it was remarkable, but when we all moved off, it was gone.

And then in the New Building some of us were looking up the stairs for one reason or another, especially with the stories of the old guard etc, so we spent most of our time looking up there. I remember seeing this head up there (points to the door in the office area off to the left) because that was a canteen for the years I was here. The head looked out very quickly and went back in. I saw it quickly out of the corner of my eye, but I wasn’t the only one, as there were 3 or 4 others that saw it exactly the same time which I found interesting. I would have said male.

I don’t believe what is here is harmful.. but I hear you had a nasty shove?

Alison: Recounts the time she was at the foot of the stairs between the 2nd and 3rd cell and had a violent shudder pass through her body, forcing her head to crash back against the wall and chilling her to the bones.

Andrew: Well that 3rd cell we had a lot of problems with prisoners wanting to get out of there in the middle of the night.

Alison: Did they actually report saying why? What it was they saw or felt?

Andrew: I cant’ remember but I do remember responding once myself to this and we had to get the prisoner out. But the talk amongst ourselves was that the prisoner was just wanting to get out and we didn’t actually interview them about it. For us to stop having to play 8 ball somewhere and then have to go move the prisoner out was just a pain in the neck to us at the time. So it was a case of get them out, put them in another cell and shut them up as quickly as possible, so we never stopped to ask them. The officers did talk about things amongst themselves and they did talk about that cell and how they thought themselves there was something with that cell, especially as they had several people complain, so it makes you wonder doesn’t it.

Alison: Did you ever hear anything in the Gaol, like people walking around?

Andrew: Well this staircase… (New Block) and the rooms under it. The first door is where we would put our hats, lunches etc, also it was where the SCO (Senior Correctional Officer) used to sit. We would also sit in there during the first and second watch. There would always be an officer stationed there. But the problem about being in the New Building was the fact that so many people who worked there said it was so haunted (and anybody working here would have known that). In fact it was so well known that when they had a new officer on duty there, others would use the walkway outside and come up to the window and would stand at the window with a torch shining eerily up at his face and just stare in the window to scare the hell out of the new officer and we would always be doing stuff like that particularly with the new officers.

There was a new officer (name supplied), who did a nightshift in the New Building, when he could hear the noise of the 8 balls moving on the table and he thought it was the patrol officers who may have come in for a game in between patrols. He thought nothing of it and quickly finished the chapter of the book he had been reading and then went around the corner to have a look to say hello, and he came through the barrier and looked down but there was nothing there and no sound either. They discussed this amongst themselves and put forward natural theories like could the prisoners have taped it and replayed it (as they all had ghetto blasters etc), but as the officer pointed out… yes but it was just the balls and no background noise. If the prisoner had done a tape, and because of the background noise that happens in a working Gaol, you would have heard other noises as well as the balls moving. But then that very same night he goes back to his book again, when he can hear footsteps coming down the metal staircase. So he comes out of the office and looks through the barrier and through the staircase. He said he could still hear the footsteps but could see nobody on that staircase. And that was the last night that he ever worked in that New Building. He never wanted to work in it again.

Alison: “It is good to hear they were being heard back then too!” Alison then recounts the story of these same footstep passing her and Jeff on the stairs, causing her body to react as if a static breeze had gone by.

Andrew: Another bloke (John, full name supplied), worked New Building in A Wing bottom. They used to have an officers station on the right hand side when coming in. The cell next to it was used as a storeroom for brooms, mops etc, as A Wing was locked off to everywhere else and so had to have their own gear. John was in on one of the night watches. Control room staff had rung him and told him that one of the prisoners in a cell there was trying to speak to them but the sound was muffled and they couldn’t work out what he said saying. He goes into A Wing… he sees the red light on outside the cell (lights would come on so they knew which prisoner was trying to contact them), but it slowly dawns on him that it was the storeroom cell and nobody was in there. So he gets on the phone back to control and said it is a storeroom. They said they had it on the tapes so he opens it up and switches off the button. They said it was just a muffled faint voice that couldn’t be made out. Every time the intercom system was accessed the tape would roll and it would be recorded.

And then there was this one night. I was on patrol, and (Full name supplied) John was in control. Jock (full name supplied) was on patrol with me. We went into 2 yard and recreation room as guards often liked to get the stack of plastic plates and just throw them around and then just walk out and leave them lying there, as it used to annoy the prisoners. Anyway John gets us on the radio and says there’s something between the walls and to go and have a look as somebody is down there. Don’t know why we walked a different way round, but this time we went past hanging tower to section 4 corner. So we came around the corner but can’t see anybody. John was shouting to us “right in front of you, right in front of you”. and we just stood there and radioed back…. “No, there’s nobody here”. We were feeling uncomfortable standing there though. We headed out of there and back to the stairs to the control room which nobody ever liked, mainly because they always felt unsafe. (Control room was up the small stairs and into the old Governors Quarters). When up there John says “look” and on playing the tape back there was a form, (described as more solid then a misty form). My first thought was ‘yeah alright.. there must be something wrong with the tape’ mainly because these tapes of course were reused. They used to have 7 tapes – Mon-Sun and they used to run on 1 frame every 20 seconds unless something happens and then you would hit record at normal speed. I believe this tape never got recycled as it had something unusual on it but I don’t know. Wasn’t doing anything on last day at the Gaol and everything got boxed.

3 months later I was watching this thing on a supermarket in America. Groceries would be thrown off the shelf so they put up security cameras. They called some ‘ghostbusters’ in. I was watching this and they put their own video cameras up and they explained why. They flooded it with infrared lighting. The interesting thing is that all the big cameras with big boxes in the Gaol had 2 big lights… and they were infrared lights which made the night seem like day. I started to wonder if this had something to do with it. The question is.. was the tape knackered, but you have to remember that they saw it on the monitor at the time not just the tape.

Alison: Questions on the possibility that it could be insects on the lens of the camera. This causes a misty type image moving around and can look humanised etc.

Andrew: No it just looked like somebody standing there and it didn’t move around.

Alison: Would you know what would be on tape label if it was kept?

Andrew: Not sure if they would have kept it. They would keep incidents e.g. riots, drug drops etc and they would keep those as part of evidence. It would be taken off the tapes and would be put on a master tape. A ghost sighting would not be seen as an incident that would be called up at later a date for court. So may not be put on master tape. But it would be on a master tape if it exists still.

Alison: Discusses the story of the end cell in Yard 4 used as a library and how prisoners complained the books would be thrown around at night. Alison asked if it couldn’t have been just guards messing around.

Could have been, but if it was the guards he would have heard them approaching as guards couldn’t go anywhere without them being heard due to the footwear and the keys rattling.

With that we move on to general chatting and the interview finishes.

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