Of all the states in Australia, Tasmania is said to have the most ghosts. Numerous sightings of individuals who passed during the 1820’s and 1850’s have been recorded. This period of time was the peak of the convict period where times were harsher and many people from convicts to aboriginals, experienced terrible pain and misery. During this time, Richmond was a major player in incarceration and slave labor of convicts and for a period of time was the third largest town in Tasmania.
Numerous sightings of ghosts in Richmond Tasmania have been made over the years, here are some of the most commonly reported ghosts:
George Grover – Ghost of Richmond Bridge
The ghost of George Grover at Richmond Bridge is an interesting tale that really adds to the harshness, mystery and interest in Tasmania’s colonial past. His ghost is the most well known of the ghosts in Richmond Tasmania; if you haven’t been to Richmond and visited the historic bridge, have you really experienced Richmond at all?
George was transported to Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania) as a convict. He arrived in October 1825 after being convicted for breaking into a house and stealing.
George spent considerable time on the chain gangs, due to bad behaviour. These chain gangs involved convicts being chained together at the ankles, or to a ball and chain, which made an escape far less likely. These chain gangs were used to construct many of the first buildings and roads. This often involved trekking to Butchers Hills and mining large pieces of sandstone, which the convicts then dragged to Richmond village with a cart.
Four years is a long time in convict days and records have shown that in 1829, George had worked his way up to the role of flagellator. At this time there was a rebuild of the piers of the Richmond Bridge. Grover was said to have rode the stone-filled carts that were dragged by the convicts, whipping them like horses and being generally obnoxious.
In 1832 Grover visited a farm where servants were drinking in celebration of the end of harvest. Grover was said to have arrived drunk and behaved poorly towards the servants. On his way home he rested and fell asleep on Richmond Bridge, where he was thrown over the side.
A police constable found Grover at 2am that morning in a dire position as the shallow water did little to protect Grover from the hard, rocky ground that lies 27 feet below the bridge. He was still able to speak and named the four men who threw him over, before asking to be allowed to die in peace.
The inquest resulted in very little, ex-convict James Coleman being threatened to have his convict servants taken away. While the governor was disappointed that such activity had occurred, Grover’s reputation for being a harsh and widely disliked character may have influenced his leniency.
Grover dies at the age of 27 and was buried in the St Luke’s Church Burial Ground on March 3 1832.
The ghost of George Grover has been seen pacing the length of Richmond Bridge. He has also been seen in the trees on the west bank of the bridge, watching those who cross. Witnesses state that the can sense his intense anger.
The ghost of George Grover adds an additional level of interest in this popular tourist attraction. One can only wonder what angry George would think about that!
The Ghost of George Grover’s Dog
Another ghost on the Richmond Bridge is that of a dog, which is known as ‘Grover’s Dog’. Witnesses, mostly lone females and children, have spoke of a hairy black and white dog follow them as they walk across the bridge, and then disappear once they reach the other side.
The Ghost of the Man in the Straw Hat
Ever since the late 1930’s, there have been reported sightings of the ghost of a man strolling across the bridge, towards the village centre. He can be seen in daylight and occasionally in night, and can be distinguished by his old fashioned clothes. These clothes include a dark grey suit, a straw boater hat and a walking stick. Little is known about this ghost, except that he was assumed to be a former resident of Richmond and is much more friendly than George Grover!
The Ghost of Mrs Buscombe
As you’re driving into Richmond village, you’ll notice a beautiful two storey pink house on your left side. This is Prospect House, which was constructed in the 1830’s and owned by James Buscombe and his wife Elizabeth Buscombe. Prospect House was one of many properties James Buscombe owned, which included the Lennox Arms, a general store and post office. James passed away in 1851 and Elizabeth passed in 1860.
Up until recently, Prospect House was used as a guest house, where numerous sightings of the ghost of Elizabeth Buscombe were reported by guests and employees. Elizabeth is said to wander through Prospect House searching for valuable items which she had lost. There have also been unexplainable reportings such as three people being seen when there are only two. Other reports include mumbling sounds outside of closed doors.
There has also been numerous ghost sightings at the Old Post Office, another one of the Buscombe’s properties. This ghost is friendly and wears a long, brown dress and is believed to also be Elizabeth Buscombe.
The Ghosts of Richmond Gaol
Richmond Gaol has a long history of cruelty and misery. The Gaol was constructed in 1825 and even predates Port Arthur by five years. Most of the gaol is still in its original state, enabling visitors to step inside the tiny, dark cells, close the door and experience solitary confinement for as long as they can tolerate it.
The third cell in the men’s block is said to have a horrible effect on certain individuals who enter or even come close to it. These reactions include hearing groaning sounds and deep sighing and feeling a cold shiver. Others have started shaking and were extremely upset at what felt like an evil presence.
The adjacent Gaoler’s House is also said to be haunted, but fortunately in a less threatening way. Sightings of a lady in a pink dress have been seen by numerous people. Reports have also been made of the ghosts of young children running up and down the stairs. A psychic medium has stated that these were the children of Randal Young, a gaoler from the 1830’s. Fortunately these children are just playing.
Those who wish to learn more about Richmond’s ghosts and interesting past can take a ghost tour. If you can get your hands on the book ‘Ghost Stories of Richmond Tasmania’ by Granny Jones, it’s well worth a read. Even if you’re a skeptic, it provides great insights into the early days of Richmond.