By Ariyana Hossain, year 11
In honour of the Mary Word’s Halloween Edition for 2017 and the season three premiere of Buzzfeed Unsolved, here is a list of some of Australia’s most perplexing unsolved mysteries.
Old Melbourne Gaol
Built in 1840, The Old Melbourne Gaol is a currently a museum on Russel Street in Melbourne. But be careful not to be fooled by its façade.
Beyond the courtyard and its bluestone exterior, the Old Melbourne Gaol has held and executed some of Australia’s most notorious criminals, including serial killers such as Frederick Bailey Deeming and Ned Kelly. Around 136 prisoners have been hanged here in total. Over the decades and still to this day, paranormal researchers and visitors of the museum have claimed to witness numerous inexplicable events. These include witnessing a strange light source crossing the museum walkways, mysterious orbs and cries for help. One specific cry was heard exactly 138 years from the day that a prisoner had killed herself on that same spot. A year later on the same day investigators taped a voice saying “get out”.
Wilga Water Hole
The story of the wailing at Wilga Water Hole, was first reported by the Sunday Mail in 1941. The article recounts the story of a man who build a hut on the banks of the Wilga water hole for himself and his wife to live in. Not long after the couple moved in, the man came home to find his wife distraught and paralyzed with fear. She told her husband that she had been hearing terrifying screams emanating from the water hole nearby; he thought nothing of it and dismissed it as the mere screams of a bird. He returned from work a couple days later to find his wife hysterical once again, and even worse than the first time. It was at this point that the man finally decided to leave the hut along with his wife. He did however decide to warn his colleagues about the water hole.
They too were cynical about the nature of the screams, so some of them decided to camp out next to the water hole for the night. It wasn’t long after they had all fallen asleep by the campfire that night that they were awoken by the deafening sounds of wailing nearby. The screaming seemed to be increasing in volume with every wail, and upon further investigation it appeared that the noises were once again coming from the water hole. Much like their colleague, the men abandoned the area immediately.
Local stories claim that the wailing comes from the ghost of a boy killed by wild pigs near the water hole many years prior to the construction of the hut. Other sources claim that a man was murdered in the area near the banks and his body was tossed into the water hole. The only scientific explanation people have found is that the shrieking comes from a local species of owl.
The Disappearance of Frederick Valentich
Frederick Valentich, aged 20 at the time of his disappearance was a pilot in training. On the 21st of October 1978, Valentich was on a 235km training flight over the Bass Strait on a Cessna 182L airplane. He had around 150 hours of total flying time and despite his ambitions to become a pilot, had previously failed five commercial license examinations and had also been rejected by the RAAF.
This flight however was especially unusual. Valentich radioed in to Melbourne air traffic control and told them that he was being followed by an aircraft around 300m above him. According to his report, the aircraft was large, unknown to Valentich and moving at a very high speed. Moments later, he reported to them that the aircraft was now orbiting above him and had a ‘shiny metal surface and green light’. It was at this point at the controller asked him to identify the aircraft. Valentich then said his last words to the controller: “It isn’t an aircraft”. This was followed by noises of metal scrapping and communications from Valentich were promptly lost. An air search was conducted looking for Valentich and his plane, but despite the four-day search, nothing was found. Some sources believe that Valentich was describing nothing other than a UFO, whilst others believe he crashed into the ocean due to the confusion. Either way, this case remains unsolved.
The Missing Patanela
In the summer of 1988, a ship known as the Patanela disappeared on its way to Airlie beach, leaving virtually no trace behind as if the vessel had never existed. The ship itself was a 19m steel schooner; known to be incredibly robust as it had embarked upon numerous voyages to the Antarctic as well as many global voyages under difficult conditions. The ship was on its way to Airlie beach where the Patanela was going to be used for a charter business. A few weeks into the voyage however, the ship disappeared as it was approaching Sydney Harbour. There were no mayday calls, nor any distress flares. There were also no bodies were found and not one piece of debris from the ship.
It was only a whole twenty years after the ship’s disappearance that a couple on a beach near SA, found a hand-written message in a bottle that had been dated from over a week before the Patanela disappeared. The note read “Hi there. Out here in the lonely Southern Ocean and thought we would give away a free holiday in the Whitsunday Islands in north Queensland, Australia. Our ship is travelling from Fremantle, Western Aust, to Queensland to work as a charter vessel.”. Aside from the note, there was a barnacle-covered buoy discovered off the coast of Terrigal a couple of months after the disappearance. To this day, the ship and its crew remain lost and the case of the missing Patanela remains unsolved.