Creepy tales of murder, suicide and torture surround Monte Cristo, a late Victorian homestead in the country town of Junee in NSW.
Once a grand home belonging to the wealthy Crawley family in the 1880s, it’s now a museum, antiques centre and mecca for ghost hunters from around the world.
Mrs Crawley is remembered as a strict disciplinarian who mistreated her staff, before becoming a recluse in old age. Later, a series of tragic events would reshape the sordid history of the home.
A caretaker was murdered in the home in 1961; a mentally disabled man was tied up in the homestead’s cottage for many years; one of the Crawley children fell to their death down the stairs; a maid mysteriously fell from a balcony; and a stable boy died from injuries after a fire.
Many of the ghostly apparitions and strange occurences are believed to be connected to the people who died there, including Mrs Crawley.
The property was bought from the last surviving Crawley in the 19690s, and Lawrence Ryan and his four sisters grew up there.
One of the creepiest events happened to Ryan when he was just five years old.
“My parents were hosting a party in the ball room and as I was only little, one of my sisters took me up to bed,” explains Ryan. Every hour one of them would pop their head in to check on me. My youngest sister who was 12 at the time entered my room to see a bearded man sitting on the end of my bed staring at me, he then turned to give her a menacing stare.
“She screamed and ran to the party to tell my parents that there was a weird man in my room, but when they got there he was gone and I was still sound asleep. They searched the house and found nothing or no one. She described him as wearing old-fashioned clothes and they thought it was possibly Mr. Crawley who has been seen in the property a number of times since.
“When she finally told me that story when I was 13-years-old, it all made sense. I hated that room and had always felt like I was being watched. I never slept in the main house ever again and I still won’t.”
Another ghost often felt in the main house is that of Magdelene Crawley, who died after a violent fall on the staircase at 18 months old.
“The rumours surrounding little Magdelene’s death include that she didn’t fall and was pushed by one of the very disgruntled servants. The Crawleys, although upstanding citizens to the outside world, were not perhaps as kind to their own staff,” says Ryan.
“Poor Magdelene could have been a victim of revenge or could have fallen on her own accord; either way many visitors to our house cannot go into the front room due to a sense of overwhelming sadness and fear. I’ve seen grown men come out sobbing,” he says.
Other visitors report feeling sinister presences; hearing shouts and screams; and seeing strange orbs floating in the air.
Monte Cristo is currently open for overnight stays and ghost tours. Click here for more information.