Monte Christo Homestead is an historic Australian property located in Junee, New South Wales. The town is located in the Riverina north west of Canberra.
It was constructed by local pioneer Christopher William Crawley in 1885. An impressive double-story late-Victorian manor, Monte Christo stands on a hill overlooking the town.
The Crawley family remained in residence until 1948. The house then stood empty under the care of several caretakers until 1963 when it was purchased by Reg and Olive Ryan, who restored it to its current condition. It operates as a museum, antique store and tourist attraction.
Monte Cristo is claimed to be Australia's most haunted house, with reports of ghostly figures, strange lights, invisible forcefields, phantom sounds and animal mutilations. These are attributed to several tragic incidents in the property's past including the murder of a caretaker in 1961 and the imprisonment of a mentally impaired man for many years in the dairy. During the Crawleys' occupation a young child is said to have been fatally dropped down the stairs, a maid to have fallen from the balcony, and a stable boy to have been burnt to death.
This historic two-story house with its wide verandas and beautiful wrought iron work is now open to thousands of visitors each year - and they all want to know about the ghosts and tragedies associated with this sprawling mansion.
The original occupants were William Crawley and his family in 1884 and it would appear that from the Crawley family most of the stories of ghosts and hauntings and many other tragic happenings seem to originate.
In fact the ghost of old Mrs Crawley has been seen many times in her former room and in recent years. It is believed that after William Crawley died in 1910, from a carbuncle on his neck becoming infected by his starched collar, Mrs Crawley only left the house on two occasions in the remaining 23 years of her life: no wonder her presence still lingers. Then there are the mysterious lights, apparitions.
"We moved into Monte Cristo on June 3rd 1963 blissfully unaware of the Homestead's often gruesome history, those dubious revelations would be some time off.
We had been in residence about three days when we ventured downtown one foggy evening for supplies, on the return trip we turned the bottom corner of the driveway and straightened up towards the house, as we did we saw light streaming out of every door and window; we got such a shock I stopped the car and we sat staring up at the brilliantly illuminated homestead dumbfounded.
Olive didn't want to continue, felt sure there must have been a burglar up there, I replied to the effect we hadn't been away that long and had better go and investigate.
As we drove cautiously through the gateway the lights abruptly disappeared, again Monte Cristo was lost in fog and darkness.
We tried desperately to rationalize it, different people suggested the source of light was our car headlights shining onto windows of the house; but there wasn't a single pane of glass in the entire house, electricity hadn't been connected and the only source of light was a kerosene lamp not left lit.
This was the first of many strange, puzzling and sometimes frightening experiences that have occurred over the intervening years we have not found answers for.
Our first experience was eerily replayed 27 years later when our 21 year old son Lawrence was driving home one night the rest of the family were at a ball in Wagga, as he turned into the driveway he discovered all the lights of Monte Cristo ablaze but as he passed through the gates they disappeared again without explanation."
THE ENTRANCE HALL:
"A local Council worker, I will call John R., came up to the homestead on Council business one afternoon and entered Monte Cristo in good spirits, suddenly he backed out and left. I later spoke to him downtown and his explanation was that he didn't like Monte Cristo and would never go up there again - he never has!"
"On one of the house tours I was showing a mother and daughter through, having covered the ground floor without any problem I preceded to lead them upstairs and waited for them to catch up in the hall.
After waiting a few moments I peered over the banister to see where they were, finding both appearing to have trouble moving and on reaching the landing midway seemed incapable of ascending further. Both said in a worried tone some unseen force was stopping them going up, however once they moved down and away from the steps the problem disappeared.
The stairs often cause us problems, especially with children. Little children around the ages of three or four continually cause an uproar on or near the staircase, I've often wondered since learning about the death of a child on them if there's a connection?"
"Neil, a nephew of my wife Olive, and his girlfriend attended the 1992 Monte Cristo Ball and after it concluded in the early hours of the morning the lass wanted to use the toilet before retiring, however feeling frightened by the dark house asked Neil to escort her.
After waiting in the hallway for her Neil proceeded to escort her back towards the stairs which lead to their room, suddenly from the top of the darkened stairs a voice seemed to drift from nowhere, looking up they both saw a young woman dressed in white who said softly twice: "Don't worry, it will be all right" and vanished before their eyes."
THE DINING ROOM:
"The presence of Mrs Crawley is strongly felt in this room by psychic's, when the ABC brought a group here for the "Big Country" we served them lunch and diner in the room. On several occasions during meals medium Van Blerk got up and left the room without explanation, waited outside a few moments and returned to his seat.
He later told us Mrs Crawley had ordered him out of the Dining Room, so for harmony sake he waited until her presence had left the room before returning to his seat."
"When we moved into Monte Cristo this room served as our kitchen, it was in this room Olive found dead and mutilated kittens."
"In the early days I would sew on the front veranda when the weather was fine and on several occasions heard the distinctive sound of a womans' high-heels walking above me on the balcony, this was unusual as there were large sections of floorboards missing and the footfalls never missed a step as they reverberated across the full length of the balcony. Sometimes I'd call out thinking it was a member of the family but never received a reply, on investigation I discovered no one was on that floor at the time or more commonly no one home at all but myself.
Late one night both Olive and one of our daughters heard the French doors that lead off the balcony into the upstairs hall open, close and someone walk along the hall, go down the stairs and then return by the same method 15 minutes later. Being alone in the house both thought the footsteps belonged to the other, until Olive called out to see if there was a problem and to their mutual bewilderment discovered neither had left their bed in hours.
As the years passed we got used to these phantom footsteps, after hearing them so many times could differentiate between footsteps made on lino or wood. Although we have now had the hallway carpeted for several years, the sound was very distinctive although not unnerving it still causes a bit of concern.
Box Room, Mrs. Crawley's Chapel The TV travel show "Getaway" came to Junee in 1992 to film a segment at Monte Cristo. Before the cameras started rolling reporter, Rebecca Harris, entered the Box Room to scout a suitable location to film.
While in there she felt overcome by a strange sensation and compelled to leave the room, that evening while filming the producer could not get her to re-enter the room and finally had to compromise by filming the section on Mrs Crawley's Chapel out on the balcony but within view of the door."
"Unexplained Tears A radio announcer from FM93 in Wagga Wagga brought a friend from Tasmania over to view the Homestead, the tour went normally until the Drawing Room was reached. Upon entering the room his eyes started running for no apparent reason and he felt sad and distressed, also very embarrassed and apologized profusely.
Upon leaving Monte Cristo their next stop was Junee Cemetery to visit the graves of notable Junee pioneers, again he suddenly felt gripped by grief and began crying. Getting his wits about him he looked down and found he was standing on the grave of the child who died mysteriously on the stairs of Monte Cristo, was the sense of grief and sadness felt at the homestead and now on the grave that of a mother for her lost baby?.
Soon after an elderly English lady entered the room and started crying uncontrollably, we took her to the Entrance Building and gave her a cup of tea to comfort her, she was extremely embarrassed and at a loss to explain her sudden and apparent grief.
A Spooked Priest The Catholic Priest who conducted our marriage ceremony, Father Mac, paid us a visit one afternoon and was contentedly looking through the house while we readied lunch. Fifteen minuets later I went to escort him down to the Dining Room and as I approached from behind watched him enter the Drawing Room, abruptly back out, make the sign of the cross and blessed himself before leading me down the stairs in a great hurry. This incident remains vivid in my mind and I regret never having the courage to ask what he had seen or felt and often wonder what caused his premature departure."
"A husband, wife and 15 year old daughter stopped in on their way from Sydney to Wagga, the family deciding Monte Cristo would be a pleasant diversion. As we entered the Boy's Room the girl started to shake and her skin cover with goose bumps, unable to catch her breath she started having an asthma-like attack and turned purple. We rushed her outside preparatory to taking her to the local Doctor, but as soon as she was out of the house she immediately returned to normal, she had never had an asthma attack in her life.
The conclusion of this particular episode took place two weeks later on the family's return to Sydney, they returned to Monte Cristo and asked if the girl could go back into the room, we did, and she had a repeat of the first visit. It thoroughly shook her parents and I doubt they will ever return again."
PHANTOM FACE IN THE WINDOW:
When our two eldest daughters were young they shared this room for several years, it has no verandah outside just a blank wall dropping away to the ground far below. Many a night they would call us in and whimper about a man's face that kept appearing out side the window. Describing him as a younger man with sideburns, always dressed in work clothes, it happened so often they got used to it and ignore his presence.
In the same room my wife's cousin John and his wife had a bone chilling experience they were reticent to recount for fear of being thought mad, apparently John was laying there awake when a figure all in white appeared, floated around the room and disappeared out the closed window.
"Same room again, a serene ladies face appeared at the foot of the bed, this happened to a friend of ours called Mario. It didn't really scare him he told us, startled him a trifle and thought it unusual to see a face appear without a body."
A GHOSTLY VISITOR:
"One night we were holding a function in the Ballroom and I sent our youngest daughter, Shiralee, to check on her little brother asleep in the Boy's Room, she came back quite distressed and explained how as she rounded the corner from the staircase could see a young man in work clothes standing, staring down at her brother Lawrence, she could describe him right down to his work clothed with a hole in the sleeve, it took us hours to calm her down sufficiently.
In the same room we had a guest, a married man in his thirties sleeping there one night, at around 3AM I was awoken by his terrified screams of: "Reg!...Reg!..." Running down the hall I found him standing in the middle of the bed shaking like a leaf claiming there was someone else in the room with him, we had to give him another room before we could all get some sleep."
A MOTHER TO BE
"One young mother-to-be on entering the room recently started to sway and lose colour, on removing her to the Girl's Room she recovered almost immediately.
A few moments later she asked if she could re-enter the Boy's Room and stayed about 5 seconds before rushing out pale and shaken, she apologized to the rest of the tour group and said she had to check if it was just her imagination and now knew it wasn't."
My husband and I, along with our daughter visited this home earlier this year and although walking through it caused the hairs on the backs of our necks to rise, we didn't witness or feel anything out of the ordinary. Until, we entered the old dairy and the room where a young man had been chained up for years. The room was oppressive, cold - even though the day was hot - and eerie. Was there a spirit there? Who knows, but I won't dismiss it just because I don't understand.
It's a gorgeous home and well worth a visit or stay overnight if your game.
Reference: Monte Christo website.