For anyone who thinks the Ghost Walks of Sydney’s North End are dull, dry discourses, Vanessa Childs Rolls, vice president of the Old Sydney Society (which offers the tours), shares a couple of tales from the first tours of 2011.
“We gave a tour to a group of high school students from Boston recently,” recalls Childs Rolls. “And I could hear them running out of Cossit House screaming from a block away.”
“Then there was the adult male teacher who was so terrified he wouldn’t let go of the guide’s arm,” she says, “He was clinging to poor Megan’s arm.”
The tours, offered for the last several years, have a costumed guide taking visitors on a ninety minute walking tour starting at St. Patrick’s Church Museum on the Esplanade and concluding with a piping hot cup of tea and scones.
The tours are scheduled for every Tuesday and Wednesday evenings beginning at 7 pm. Admission is $10 per person and reservations are required (phone 539-1572). Group rates, birthday parties and private tours are available upon request (any time or date).
While the Old Sydney Society offers more sedate tours of the same area encompassing Sydney’s history and its important historic personages, Childs Rolls says the Ghost Tours, while including an overview of the city’s past, offers dramatic stories of conflict that sometimes includes murders and hangings—often with a supernatural twist.
Childs Rolls says Cossit House is an especially ghost-ridden building. She has heard first-hand accounts of eerie occurrences from past Old Sydney Society staff who worked in the Charlotte Street museum. She confesses she, “hates going into Cossit House in the dark”.
She hopes fear of the unknown will not keep more volunteers from signing up to help with giving the tours. She says anyone wanting to help the Old Sydney Society educate and scare some summer history buffs can call 539-1572.
While Child Rolls admits even though she has led the Ghost Walk multiple times, there are still certain stories, which she wouldn’t give away, which give her the chills.
But her favorite part of the tour is when the tour groups return to St. Patrick’s Church for their tea and scones and “people tell you their own ghost stories”.