Sunday, 25 March 2012

The Plunkett Street Poltergiest: A Paddington Haunting...

The view from Paddington to the city, c. 1902 (State Library of Qld)
Brisbane's inner-city suburb of Paddington - Queensland Holidays website describes the area as, "Speckled with quaint cottages turned enticing shop-fronts, restaurants that spill out onto the pavement and a mixture of traditional tin and timber houses and renovated Queenslanders.  Visitors will love browsing for quirky keepsakes, vintage and designer fashion, antique and second-hand treasures, retro goodies, home wares and artwork. The bars are a combination of boutique cocktail lounges and casual pubs and the restaurants are well known to the breakfast crowd, who can be found either enjoying a quick catch-up before work or a lazy weekend coffee."  Back around the turn of last century, however, the emerging suburb had a very different feel to it...

In the first few years of the new century, Paddington was in a state of rapid expansion.  In the lowland areas beneath the stately heights of Musgrave Terrace, blocks of land were being snapped up for very reasonable prices upon which workers cottages & stereotypical  "Queenslanders" were hastily constructed...within a stone's throw of the dilapidated former North Brisbane Burial Grounds.  At this point in history, the condition of what had been Brisbane's first "free settlement" cemetery was deplorable - the surrounding fences had fallen & the bulk of the palings had all but been spirited off for use as firewood in the surrounding houses, allowing wandering livestock such as cattle, horses & goats to readily graze amongst the crumbling headstones.  However, a more morbid activity regarding the cemetery occurred in early 1900's Paddington - as the number of workers cottages & "Queenslanders" grew surrounding the cemetery, the number of headstones & grave surrounds in the cemetery seemed to decrease.  Whilst the price of land in the area was reasonable, the costs of upmarket building materials such as sandstone flagging & cast-iron balustrading were not.

Some of the "Queenslanders" throughout Milton & Paddington began to sport fancy balustrading on their verandas, supposedly sections of pilfered ironwork that had originally skirted the borders of the wealthier graves in the Paddington Cemetery.   Similarly, some workers cottages began to boast fancy sandstone pathways from their front gates to their front doors...the result of stolen headstones from Paddington Cemetery turned face down.  About 12 years ago, I was invited to a couple's renovated Queenslander in Paddington just off Musgrave Terrace, to talk to them about a suspected haunting.  They'd not long owned the property, but were concerned that whilst the previous living owner had left, a more immaterial soul had not.  After making some small talk in their kitchen whilst coffees were made, I was ushered out onto their back balcony to "get down to business" & discuss their haunting...& was shocked to discover a very large & weathered headstone propped against the railing of their entertaining area next to their patio table!  When I questioned them about the headstone's origins, the only information they could provide was that they'd found the stone hidden under the house not long after they'd purchased it...possibly a remnant of the nearby Paddington Cemetery.

Whilst supposed thefts of monumental masonry & ironwork from the Paddington Cemetery is open to debate, we do know one thing for sure - on the 30th November 1911, after enduring decades of neglect & a rapidly expanding city centre on its doorstep, the Paddington Cemeteries Act was passed to allow for the area's resumption for public use.  The public were duly notified of the decision by the  Lands Department - relatives of those buried within the confines of the cemetery were given until the 1st December 1912 to make application to have remains & monuments exhumed & re-interred at the expense of Government.  However, by that December, few applications had been lodged with the Public Estate Improvement Fund (Lands Department) - ultimately, the Brisbane Courier reported on the 7th June 1913, "removal of remains of persons buried in the old Paddington Cemetery has been completed.  Under the contract about 45 tombstones and the remains of 100 persons were lifted & removed to other cemeteries" - cleaning & levelling work on the site began 5 days later on the 12th June.

By the 20th June, the Brisbane Courier reported, "Under the Act passed to deal with the Paddington Cemetery, provision was made for reserving a strip a chain wide near the church.  It is intended to utilise this for the storage of the tombstones standing over the remains of persons whose friends did not ask for their removal to other cemeteries.  The removal of these tombstones will be commenced shortly."  Records of the time reported that 505 unclaimed memorials & headstones were removed from the greater cemetery grounds, and were stored in the allocated area alongside the current Christ Church in Milton.  Not long after, the vast bulk of this masonry vanished from alongside the church, never again to see the light of day - one completely unfounded work of fiction put forward recently by a self-professed "historian," claims that the headstones were crushed & used during the Great Depression (1929-1932) as road base on Hale Street - this quite simply is not true, although I'm sure it helps to sell his books.  Ultimately, the monuments & tombstones were spirited away to a known location, a topic we'll visit in a future article, & the possibility does exist that some of these stones found their way into the possession of property owners around Paddington.

Jump forward to 1952, to a 50 year old house in Paddington's Plunkett Street...constructed when the Paddington Cemetery was seeing out its final days.  Occupied for only a short period of time by young married couple Edmund & Mavis Norris, & their eight month old daughter Julie, it became apparent on the 5th of June 1952 that something was amiss in their residence.  Throughout the month of June, the couple were disturbed by mysterious noises within their house.  The disembodied noises continued on a regular basis into early July when the story of the Paddington Ghost finally hit the media, & the story was broadcast across Australia on the 7th of July.  The West Australian, out of Perth, reported that the Norris's were considering leaving their home due to the ongoing haunting...The Canberra Times ran a very similar article confirming that Mrs Norris had first heard the ghost about a month previously, & it was regularly heard traversing the house at midnight.  However, The Courier Mail came through with the goods & reported heavily on the Plunkett Street haunting....

According to the article, "Scores of people travelled to see a "haunted" house at Paddington yesterday [Sunday]."  It was reported that for the past month, mysterious sounds had been heard throughout the house, "like those made by a slightly built woman moving about."  It had been noted in The Canberra Times article that on one occasion when Mr Norris had heard the sounds, he had run out into the hall to confront the culprit only to hear the footsteps walk right past him!  According to the Norris's, scores of children had been hanging around their house all weekend in the hope of spotting the spook, & countless telephone calls had been received from surrounding residents curious to know whether the ghost was up to its old tricks.  The Courier Mail had also received their fair share of calls from Brisbane residents hoping to wade into the debate...all with their ideas as to the origins of the haunting.   A woman spiritualist had even offered to spend a night in the house in the hopes of identifying the ghost.  On the 29th of July, as the ghostly happenings at Plunkett Street were still occurring, the Morning Bulletin in Rockhampton also made mention of the story as a segue to a similar haunting in a Rockhampton house.

Alas, on the 6th of August the story took a 180° turn, again in The Courier Mail.  According to the quite brief article, given that previous interest in the story had been fairly sensational, the Paddington Ghost had now been "laid."  After scores of people had visited the house in the hopes of witnessing the ghostly goings-on, the haunting had apparently reached its conclusion - it was reported that Mr Norris had heard sounds in the ceiling of the house early on Saturday the 2nd of August, & had gone to investigate...only to disturb a large female possum in his roof building a nest.  So, our article comes to an end with a number of poignant questions - in the July 1952 newspaper articles, it was suggested that the sounds could possibly be the result of possums...yet Mr Norris seemingly didn't check his roof for the proceeding month??  The Norris's, who were not newcomers to Brisbane & the possum population, claimed to be hearing footsteps throughout their house, which on one occasion walked right by Mr Norris...were the couple prone to flights of fancy, & let their imaginations run wild on ideas of spooks & spectres??  Or...had the Norris's grown so tired of the constant visits by surrounding residents, that claiming the culprit was a possum finally bought them peace & quiet from a curious public...even though their resident ghost still walked the house at night??

Whatever the answer, the story of the Plunkett Street ghost still exists in the annals of Brisbane history...whether you choose to believe it was simply a possum all along, or entertain the idea that a possum was a scapegoat to cover up an actual haunting that was drawing unwanted attention.  Regardless, the Plunkett Street residence is not the only Paddington house that has been rumoured to contain a ghost resulting from the destruction of the North Brisbane Burial Grounds...

The "ghost" - published in The Courier Mail on the 6th of August 1952

Sunday, 11 March 2012

The greatest story (n)ever told: Brisbane's "2nd Most Haunted" rating...Part II

And so we venture into Part II of Brisbane's "2nd Most Haunted" Scandal - ironically, Part I (found here for those who need a refresher) has become the 2nd most-read article on the Haunts of Brisbane, in just one week.  So, without further ado, here is the rest that you've been eagerly waiting for...

When we left last week, York had just been pronounced "The Most Haunted City in Europe" by the Ghost Research Foundation International in 2002, & were apparently in the running for the global "Most Haunted" accolade.  According to a further article published on the BBC News website on the 9th of August 2002,  "Parapsychologist Jason Karl, president of the Ghost Research Foundation International (GRFI), said the city has more spooks than any other."   However, serious questions were already being asked throughout the global paranormal fraternity as to the legitimacy of York's two "Most Haunted" awards in England & Europe - had every English & European paranormal expert provided solid data on their respective regions, & worked collaboratively to definitively "prove" that York in England, above all other cities, possessed the greatest number of hauntings??  The answer to this question was best summed up in the very first sentence of the above BBC News article - "York has been named Europe's most haunted city by a ghost expert."  So...no collaboration occurred...no poll was carried out...no transparency existed...both accolades were awarded purely on the say-so of one man - Jason Karl.

Without leaving to much too the imagination, only 10 months later, York came through with the goods yet again in the global accolades...miraculously uncovering a further 364 hauntings to push their 2000 total of 140 ghosts to a staggering 504 ghosts by July 2003!  Once again, parapsychologist Jason Karl, under the auspices of the Ghost Research Foundation International, awarded the title amidst international media hype, & in turn named the runner-up cities...which is where our story takes an amazing turn, as Brisbane finally appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, on the "Most Haunted" list.  It was at this point that Brisbane's "2nd Most Haunted" rating hit its first MAJOR snag.  If you remember back to last week's article, I pointed out a crucial detail that was published in the Sunday Mail on the 13th of October 2002 - "He ["Jack" Sim] has 250 Brisbane sites where ghosts have been reported, on a database."  Keeping that rough figure in mind, let's have a further look at the totals in the runner-up stakes, as interpreted by Jason Karl & the Ghost Research Foundation International...

On the 12th of July 2003, the Irish Independent ran one of the first articles [actual scan here] on York's third consecutive "Most Haunted" award, & provided figures for the top three place-getters.  According to the news piece, "Intensive research into ghostly events around the globe found the north of England city had a total of 504 recorded haunted sightings compared to 300 in Los Angeles, the second most haunted city in the survey, & 225 in Brisbane, Australia."  Wait...WHAT?!?  Brisbane was ranked in third place, not second??  A month later, on the 29th of August 2003, the BBC website ran another article on York's award, stating, "Intensive research by the Ghost Research Foundation International (GRFI) of major cities around the world including Los Angeles, Paris and Brisbane has drawn the conclusion that York is the most haunted city in the World - with a total of 504 recorded hauntings!"  In a box alongside the web article, further numbers were provided on other city's rankings - 250 in Brisbane, 230 in Chicago, 120 in New York...Los Angeles' ranking was absent, which gave the impression that Brisbane might just have been ranked second, although the prior Irish Independent article had already let the cat out of the bag on Brisbane's real ranking!

Ultimately though, the Ghost Research Foundation International was to fold soon after, & parapsychologist Jason Karl's reputation was to be seriously called into question.  Ironically, at the same time York was being issued with its 2002 "Most Haunted in Europe" award, Jason Karl was  starring in the first season of British TV's "Most Haunted" series - & not surprisingly, Jason's history was being publicly exposed.  Born as Jason Smith, he had made his television debut on a children's game show called Knightmare in 1988.  "After studying media, photography, television and film at North Oxfordshire School of Arts & Technical School in Banbury, he moved into variety work and gained his British Actors Equity Card whilst performing various interactive live theatre shows at Alton Towers and Chessington World of Adventures for The Tussaud’s Group."  After the first season of "Most Haunted," Jason was accused of being an actor playing a parapsychologist - a qualification he did not hold, nor ever has done.  To this day, Jason Karl has earned a reputation for tacky ghost game shows & attempting to sell private "ghost hunts" on eBay.  After his personal demise, & that of the GRFI, history would likely also forget about the "Most Haunted" awards...or would it??

Jump forward six years to the 3rd of February 2009, when, out of the blue, an article appeared in the City News entitled Brisbane claims "spooky city" title.  The write-up claimed that Brisbane was one of the most haunted cities in the world, "according to new book The International Directory of Haunted Places and website www.hauntedplaces.com."  We already know that the International Directory of Haunted Places was not new, & had been published nine years previously - this news piece was nothing more than a simple rehash of the article run in the Sunday Mail in October 2002 (detailed in last week's Part I)...but why on earth was this material being dug up again after so many years, & who was behind it??  Eight months later, the answer became apparent - in the October marketing lead-up to the peak ghost tour date of Halloween, a self-penned advertisement for Ghost Tours appeared on business promotion website Services Recommended - for the very first time, the claim that "National Geographic voted Brisbane the 2nd most haunted city in the world" finally surfaced.  It was clear that "Jack" Sim was responsible, but none of it made any sense - Brisbane had been designated "3rd Most Haunted" by the GRFI six years previously, & National Geographic had played no part in the ranking??

The most amazing revelation in this saga, however, came one year later in 2010, once again in the October marketing lead-up to the peak ghost tour date of Halloween - on the 28th of October 2010, Channel 10's 7pm Project ran with a segment on Brisbane's "2nd Most Haunted" status...not surprisingly, "Jack" Sim & his tours featured predominantly.  Ironically enough, the 7pm Project was quick to add on their website that, "Local historian Jack Sim, who runs Brisbane Ghost Tours, says Brisbane was voted the world's second-most haunted town by no less an authority than National Geographic.  (At this stage, 7PM's Interweb correspondent has been unable to track down the original list.  In the meantime we'll take his ["Jack's"] word for it, like we took that Charlie Chaplin time traveller video dude's)."  So, it was clear that even the 7pm Project were highly suspicious of the claim, but run with it they did...& almost instantly, as though the "2nd Most Haunted" moniker had now been completely validated purely on the authority of the 7pm Project, a ridiculous banner was posted on the Ghost Tours website (located at the top of this article, & also [HERE] on the Ghost Tours website in full form).

7pm Project's Segment on Brisbane's "2nd Most Haunted" claim...

However, "Jack's" publicity stunt clearly backfired, as residents across Brisbane began to heavily question Ghost Tours about National Geographic's involvement.  2 days after the 7pm Project's segment, The Boggo Blog published the first article questioning the legitimacy of the claim, a topic they again followed up six months later in April 2011 (I strongly advise reading both of these accounts).  Needless to say, "Jack" Sim & Ghost Tours were silent on the matter...however, by May 2011, posts began to appear on the Ghost Tours Facebook page, again requesting clarification.  After ongoing pressure, Ghost Tours finally posted a statement on the 30th of May 2011:


Without giving too much away just yet, one detail in the statement was very, very clear - the only time Brisbane had been mentioned in conjunction with Chicago for haunted potential, was in the 2003 web article published by the BBC, where Los Angeles' ranking had been omitted & it "appeared" as though Brisbane had been designated "2nd Most Haunted" by the GRFI!  So it was now clear - "Jack" Sim's entire marketing campaign was teetering on a knife-edge, based purely on a single misleading article published seven years beforehand on account of a GRFI award.  So, what of this mystery National Geographic article??  According to Ghost Tours' statement, a scan of said article, which had apparently drawn on GRFI's findings, would be posted to once & for all set the record straight...yet four more months passed, without a scan in sight, amidst further ongoing pressure by the public.  On the 12th of September 2011, Ghost Tours yet again posted an official statement:


After being backed into a corner for non-disclosure, Ghost Tours clearly contradicted their statement published over 3 months beforehand - the company now needed to locate a copy of the article to scan (which they seemed to possess 3 months earlier), & the scan would be posted publicly in the very near future to alleviate any concerns about false advertising on the company's part (the article did exist & was not a lie?!?).  Surprisingly, it was now stated that National Geographic had based their article on data supplied by the Ghost Tours camp, who had "happily supplied information to NG"...this was in stark contrast to the previous statement, whereby information came from a "Paranormal society who they interviewed for an article on The Most Haunted City - which was quoted as York."  To this day, six months later, no scan of the National Geographic article has surfaced on the Ghost Tours site...& has not done so for one very good reason - IT DOES NOT EXIST!

So...what is the truth??  In order to expose Brisbane's "2nd Most Haunted" myth, I took the liberty of writing to the Headquarters of the National Geographic Society in Washington D.C. with two simple questions - had the National Geographic Society ever undertaken a poll, from which an article was published, on the most haunted cities in the world?  If so, had Brisbane been voted, by the National Geographic Society, as the 2nd most haunted city globally?  The answer, which is best viewed in its original typed & hand-signed form on National Geographic letterhead [right here], was a resounding no!  However...one last detail was provided that would crack the scandal wide open, & expose Ghost Tours & "Jack" Sim once & for all...

According to the correspondence, "the October 2008 issue of National Geographic Traveller Magazine contained a short article titled "The Most Haunted City in the World?" concerning York, England."  The article in question covers 9 pages, & is written purely about York.  And for that matter, the Traveller Magazine is nothing more than a spin-off publication - yes, it it published by National Geographic, but at the same time it is not the National Geographic Magazine.  On investigation, a blurb exists independently at the end of the article on York, entitled Beyond York: More Ghost Cities - & for the first time ever, independent of Ghost Tours & their inability to provide this information, here it is on the Haunts of Brisbane word for word:

"Apparitions have been "sighted" in many spots around the world, but there are certain cities that, like York, tout an abundance of resident spirits. Making the top ten on many lists? Ghost-ridden New Orleans, from the spooky French Quarter to the Garden District and the city's graveyards; the Old World capital of Prague, whose dark streets have been visited by a headless horseman and a wandering skeleton; St. Petersburg, Russia, where sightings have included the ghosts of Russian mystic and royal confidant Rasputin and a social revolutionary, Sofia Perovskaya, who appears on a bridge with a rope burn apparent around her neck; and Florence, Italy, with wraiths that drift along the walls of the Belvedere Fort and various ghosts - a cleaning lady, a woman knitting - at Pensione Burchianti. Then there is Brisbane, Australia, ranked after York by the Ghost Research Foundation International, with more than 240 sightings, including phantasms who wander the stairs and ride the elevators of City Hall."

So, there you have it - one measly, generic sentence regarding Brisbane!  National Geographic has never run a poll on the world's most haunted cities, National Geographic has never voted Brisbane the 2nd most haunted city in the world (& nor did the Ghost Research Foundation International for that matter), & National Geographic has never published an article on the most haunted cities in the world in which Brisbane featured (a small blurb tailing an actual article in a spin-off publication does not count).  In Ghost Tours' statement above on the 12th of September 2011, they are very quick to point out that "Accusing us of lying is unacceptable on this webpage" - well, Ghost Tours, where do you stand now??  "Jack" Sim, as owner & operator of Ghost Tours, has blatantly & purposefully lied to you, the paying public, in order to sell tickets on his tours - this lie has been almost 14 years in the making, through manipulation of information via the media, as has been demonstrated in Part I & II.  I urge you all to spread the word by sharing this article amongst your wider friends at work, on the weekends, on your Facebook accounts - it is high time for "Jack" Sim to be held to account for running such a fraudulent marketing campaign, & for Brisbane's "2nd Most Haunted" rating to be laid to rest once & for all.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

The greatest story (n)ever told: Brisbane's "2nd Most Haunted" rating...


If you read one ghost story this year that stands your hair on end & drops your jaw, this is definitely the one!  Over the next two weeks, the Haunts of Brisbane will embark on a 2-part article, laying what has been one of the most sordid ghost tales in Brisbane to rest...for good.

This tale anchors its roots all the way back in mid-1998, when a small-time tour company lurched onto the scene in Brisbane.  Registered under the simple, generic name of Ghost Tours by Cameron (a.k.a. "Jack") Sim, local Brisbane "goth clubs" were bombarded with flyer hand-outs to drum up interest, & almost instantly the media's attention was piqued.  Ghost tours in Brisbane were a new concept, a venture that had only existed in southern states like Melbourne, through operations such as the Haunted Melbourne Ghost Tour (established in 1997, & clearly mainland Australia's longest running ghost tours, unlike Brisbane's Ghost Tours claim).  The original Brisbane ghost tour, & there was only one, took tourists on a 60 minute walking tour via a handful of sites in the city for a sum of $10 a head.  In June 1998, local newspaper The Queensland Independent published the first article promoting Brisbane's new tourism venture, detailing a tour that journalist Louise Rugendyke had taken with "Jack" Sim, "decked out in a black fedora hat, a dark pinned-striped jacket and matching pants."

In the article, "Jack" was directly quoted as stating, "Brisbane is probably the most haunted city in Australia" - clearly a massive declaration from a completely inexperienced tour operator who had just launched an untested tour operation, in direct competition with other well-established & successful interstate ghost tours.  It was clear from the get-go that "Jack" Sim was determined to earn long-ranging notoriety for his new tour venture...& the seeds for Brisbane's greatest rumour were finally sown...

At the same time in 1998, American author Dennis William Hauck had embarked upon a bi-monthly periodical entitled the HAUCK REPORT - a small-time web-based journal promoted through his U.S.-focused Haunted Places Directory website.  Both the report & website were comprised of reader-submitted supernatural encounters, book reviews & plugs for paranormal organisations & ghost tours.  Dennis had cut his teeth as an author in the 1970's, writing numerous articles on UFO's & Sea Monsters for various pulp magazines.  However, by the mid-1990's, Dennis was known predominantly for two books - William Shatner: A Bio-Bibliography, & Captain Quirk, which, amongst other things, detailed William Shatner's UFO abduction experience in the Mojave Desert shortly after the cancellation of the "Star Trek" television series - a premise ironically paralleled in the 1999 sci-fi comedy movie Galaxy Quest.  However, in 1999, Dennis began to compile material for a book which would attempt to list as many haunted places around the world as possible.

 The International Directory of Haunted Places, published in 2000.

Released in September 2000, the paperback edition of the International Directory of Haunted Places listed "more than 750 geographically arranged entries on haunted houses, sacred sites, UFO landings & other supernatural locations" around the globe.  14 sites around Brisbane were listed in the Directory - 7 cemeteries & 7 buildings, & virtually not a single ghost story between them.  Even very basic details such as suburb & road names were incorrect for the majority of listings, which begged the obvious question - who on earth had supplied this information on Brisbane for the listings??  The answer was quite simple, clearly stated by the author on page IX of the book's Introduction - "I would also like to thank...[J]ack Sim for the material from the Brisbane Ghost Tours."  So, once again, "Jack" Sim was trying to convince the world that Brisbane was the most haunted city in Australia...by blindly listing as many potentially haunted sites in Brisbane as he could (all 14 of them, half of which were cemeteries!), in an attempt to get the jump on any other Australian city.

Unfortunately for "Jack" Sim & Ghost Tours, the International Directory of Haunted Places was just that - a very long list of "haunted" sites around the globe.  Not once in the book were cities ranked as to their haunted potential, nor was a "Top 10 Most Haunted" list published.  So, imagine everyone's surprise two years later when the Sunday Mail published an article on the 13th of October 2002...just over two weeks before the peak ghost tour date of Halloween.  Entitled, Ghost town! - Is Brisbane one of the world's most haunted cities?, the article stated that, "Brisbane has been voted the most haunted place in the southern hemisphere by international ghost-hunters.  [T]he International Haunted Places Directory and New Zealand association NZ Ghost ranked Brisbane above even the former Tasmanian penal colony Port Arthur for eerie activities.  Their websites list Toowong Cemetery, Boggo Rd Jail, City Hall and former hospital Whepstead Manor, at Wellington Point, as the area's most haunted spots."  But how could this be?!?  The International Directory of Haunted Places paperback had at no stage made any such claim about Brisbane's haunted potential two years previously??

Unfortunately, the "International Haunted Places" section on Hauck's Haunted Places Directory website had...although not quite to the extent of the Sunday Mail's report.  According to said page, "Brisbane in Queensland is the most haunted city in Australia and locations covered from that city will include the Old Government House, the Parliament House, and the Brisbane Arcade, and City Hall, where at least three ghosts haunt the hallways.  One is an elegant woman, another a maintenance man who continually rides the elevator that killed him in a freak accident, and the last is an American Sailor stabbed to death in a fight with another sailor in the downstairs tearoom.  Brisbane cemeteries are also hotspots of paranormal activity."  Very amusingly, New Zealand association NZ Ghost, still a small-time website in 2002, had cut & pasted the exact same statement on their website as if it were their own!  So, no..."International ghost-hunters" had not voted Brisbane the most haunted city in the Southern Hemisphere - Hauck's website had made the outlandish claim that Brisbane was "the most haunted city in Australia," which in turn was blindly regurgitated on a New Zealand amateur ghost-hunting website...a far cry from the Sunday Mail's "most haunted city in the southern hemisphere!"

So, who on earth had supplied this misinformation to the Sunday Mail about Brisbane's "most haunted" ranking??  Once again, the answer was clear - Ghost Tours operator "Jack" Sim, who was extensively quoted throughout the Sunday Mail article, making every effort to promote his business alongside the completely ridiculous claim that, "500 people a month are signing up for night trips to Brisbane graveyards and city murder sites, or sleepovers at Boggo Rd Jail."  Choosing to publish the bogus information they'd been fed by "Jack" Sim, the Sunday Mail clearly ran with the story without making the slightest effort to verify the claim.  However, one choice statement towards the end of the article stands out - a crucially important detail that will play a major part in next week's PART II of this article - in the Sunday Mail report, "Jack" was quoted as saying that, "He has 250 Brisbane sites where ghosts have been reported, on a database."

Meanwhile...in England...the city of York was attempting to earn itself yet another "most haunted" title.  Two years earlier in 2000, York had vied for the title of "Most Haunted City In England," a title it apparently "won" with over 140 hauntings.  However, by 2002, at a time "Jack" Sim was desperately trying to earn a marketable commendation for his Brisbane business, York again was making the news.  In the same year, York was "pronounced" the "Most Haunted City in Europe" by the Ghost Research Foundation International, according to the British newspaper The Guardian, on the 10th of August 2002.  "Sweeping aside the wailing nuns of Rome and a range of marshland manifestations in Scandinavia, York's ghosts are also now in the running for the global "most haunted" accolade. Jason Karl, president of the Ghost Research Foundation International, which awards the titles, said yesterday: "My colleagues and I have travelled extensively for the last decade and nowhere have we found more ghosts.""

So...exactly who was Jason Karl & his organisation Ghost Research Foundation International?  On what grounds was Jason Karl & his organisation qualified to "award" such titles of "most haunted?"  How on earth could York with its 2000 title of "Most Haunted City in England" with 140 ghosts challenge Brisbane with its 2002 claim of 250 ghosts for "Most Haunted City in the World?"  And, most importantly, how the hell did National Geographic get tangled up in all of this mess???

Stay tuned for next week's PART II, when everything will finally be revealed!