Fire is often feared, however, the indigenous perspective allows us to view fire as a tool, to utilise it, to make the country healthy and help in its biodiversity.
Cultural burning is the traditional fire management practice of the indigenous people. Unlike back burning fire is used to enhance the health and wellbeing of country as-well-as assist the growth of the ecosystem across the land.
In traditional fire management, fire is not feared but used as a tool. It is done through slow, cool and low-intensity burns. To avoid any danger, fire practitioners like Batemans Bay Aboriginal Land Council work crew supervisor Andrew White, reads the land to determine the best time of year to burn.
“Back burning is really hot, intense fire, so it degrades the land,” he says. “We read country types to determine when it should be burnt and what time of year it should be burnt”
Healthy burns as described by Mr White, is white smoke with black ash. This differs to black smoke with white ash which is described as an unhealthy burn and can often be associated with back burning.
“That’s the whole difference between being an RFS firefighter to a fire practitioner,” Mr White says, “We utilise fire for our benefit and we walk with fire on country to utilise it.”
Andrew White and other fire practitioners use knowledge passed down through generations to take care of the land.
In an effort to educate others, Andrew White and his team assist local landowners to enhance the growth and health of their properties through guidances and the transition of knowledge.
“She’s really happy with the outcome,” Andrew says whilst recounting a visit to a local’s residence. “The first two days after the burn she was seeing kangaroos coming back.”
There was a significant change in the land and the resident experienced a higher rate in diverse native animals on her property. From here word began to spread, and more landholders jumped on board.
This allowed the Aboriginal Lands Council to access significant headlands, which are important to Indigenous people across the country.
Not only is traditional fire management useful to different country types but it is more efficient in saving water and money for equipment.
“We don’t need water tanks, and equipment doesn’t sit with us. When we burn, we don’t use water to put it out, we utilise different country types,” Mr White says.
It can help suppress wildfires and it really helps with the diversity of our landscapes. It eradicates weeds and is less labour intensive.”
Previous cultural burning of country assisted in the preservation of land during the devastating 2019-2020 summer bushfires.
“It suppressed the fire that much that it didn’t catch back to the canopy and for maybe a kilometre or two past our burn site there’s still canopy intact so that’s harbouring all these animals now that would have had no chance anywhere else,” Mr White says
Unfortunately, however, due to restrictions the land council are only authorised to conduct burnings on small pockets of land instead of a broad-scale approach.
“If we had done a bit more broad scale burning on the country, you’d see these outcomes more frequently and there wouldn’t be so much devastation,” he says.
We’re trying to teach people that it’s manageable, we don’t want to do all the work, we just want to help them, share our knowledge so they can manage their own land correctly,” he says. “We aren’t withholding our knowledge; we want to share it.”
If you would like to learn more about traditional fire management please visit, firesticks.org.au
The nausea, the pain and the mental strain placed over the 19-year-old became too much. She sat in the hospital bathroom, holding herself close, alone yet crowded by excessive thoughts. She lifted her phone and started to record.
“This is so dreadful… this is terrible, this is something I have to do, and I know I’ll get through, it’s just, this is my life for the next four to six months,” she shares. “Day four, it sucks.”
I met up with Emili months after COVID-19’s claustrophobic isolation. The tight wrap of her arms reminded me greatly of the fragility of life. After many months of lockdown, I noticed how her hair had changed. No longer was it a thick shade of dark brown but now it waved lightly over her pale cheeks. Its reflective light brown was highlighted by her wide smile, matching her cosmically brown eyes. Her face lit up the room with a rare positivity, yet her voice was croaky – alluding to the reality of her treatments.
In 2020, 19-year-old Emili Milosevska was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin Lymphoma. Over many months of chemotherapy, Emili has won the battle against the tumour that called her lung home. Emili’s outlook on life remained positive throughout, relying on a number of tools to help restrict chemos intense blow. As the chemo progressed and the negative thoughts shrouded, Emili embraced humour to ward off their ugly heads.
In late 2016, a 15-year-old Emili experienced a nasty, recurring cough. It got worse, and doctors diagnosed her with asthma, but the puffers never helped rid of the asthma attacks.
“The thing is they did the scans… but they diagnosed it wrong,” Emili said.
Then last year the physical pain started. Doctors scoured for an answer, and after the years of suffering, she finally received the news that a large tumour had been discovered. After learning the news, the joy-filled Emili decided to give the tumour a name in an effort to de-emphasise the defeatist grip it would hold over her life. Rob began to press against her nerves, causing such immense affliction. The pain was overwhelming and exhausting. Rob was an unwanted foe, thus began the demanding and debilitating process of chemotherapy.
The first 14 days of her first chemotherapy cycle brought many challenges. Doctors attempted to find medications that could be taken home so Emili could continue her treatments in the comfort of her abode. This process, however, was difficult. The medication caused a number of problems that Emili was not equipped to handle.
“I remember that I was hallucinating. I was sitting in bed; I couldn’t move I was so high.” Emili said.
With a hallucinating spell cast over her, she noticed a nurse who attempted to kidnap her. She cried out in horror and began to hyperventilate. The nurse, in fact, had no plan to kidnap Emili, only wishing to continue the work in which they started. In actual fact, Emili had taken medication, anxiety medication, meant to generate a calming effect. However, the opposite occurred.
As the second round of chemotherapy approached, fear tied Emili down. Memories of the first cycle and the torment 11 days spent in hospital had, ate away at her nerves. But her strength and resilience allowed her to face the wall of anxiety as she danced her way into TikTok.
“You know how positive I am, how crazy, so this process was a lot easier for that, because of my mentality.”
Emili still had a long way to go, not only having to experience the dread of chemo, but she also had to endure gut-wrenching fertility treatments. The thought of children had previously occurred to Emili in passing conversations with friends. She never wanted to go through the horror that is childbirth, so she often thought of adoption. In spite of this, she still had the option to conceive a child of her own.
One night, however, whilst at a friend’s party, she found herself crying in a kitchen, isolated the crowds and absorbed in a phone call that changed everything. The treatments didn’t work, the option was no more.
“What do I tell my future husband about kids, how do I bring that up?”
When speaking of this night, I saw a comfort in her eyes. The knowledge that adoption is still an option allowed positivity to take over her young mind. She sat and spoke of her future Gary and the ways in which adoption could be spoken about. Funnily enough her humour began to reveal itself during the disheartening conversation, as the name Gary did not only belong to her future imagined husband but belonged to her hospital IV pole.
Emili’s individualistic experience with chemotherapy was one of positivity and resilience. For Emili she was able to scare cancer off in only two months. She told herself that even though the road was long and coarse, cancer was not going to be the end.
On day four of the first cycle Emili found herself trapped, surrounded by claustrophobic dark thoughts. Split-second conceptualisations of demise began to plague her once pragmatic mind. It was bad. She asked herself, is life worth this treatment? She continued to reflect on family and close friends who became main channel of positivity and assistance throughout.
Whilst we sat eating Emili could not stop talking about the love that continues to grow for her family in which her strength stemmed.
“I feel like it’s harder for the family and friends then it is for the person… I had to go through there’s nothing you can do, but other people have to see me go through that experience.”
With the prescribed medications altering Emili’s hormones, she began to have breakdowns. The strength of her parents shone through during the most difficult of times. A Mum who helped her daughter in showers where the water became a feared enemy of long, transparent glass. When she found herself in compromised positions unable to muster up the strength, her father became her muscles.
During hospital chemotherapy sessions, her father embraced Emili’s style of dry, sarcastic humour, as he began to laugh and joke with doctors.
“Would you give her another bag (of chemo),” he asked the doctor, only to be met with a confused expression.
“Why?” the doctor replied.
“Because she won’t shut up,” he laughed.
Even when retelling the story over coffee, laughter caused Emili’s eyes filled to the brim with tears.
It goes a long way to show just how parents will act when their child is sick, craving to create a smile no matter what. Trying to provide comfort when the idea of such is hard to imagine.
The first cruel cycle led her to want to give up. On the fourth day of an unbearable 11 days in hospital, she sat in the bathroom crying. This became a significant factor in shaping Emili’s idea of hospital, now never wanting to go back. A breakdown was had alone. Emili’s physical and mental state ready to give up. She let it out, standing there unable to convince herself that she could do this alone. Even with the comfort provided by doctors and family, Emili turned to her faith.
“I’m giving you my life God, you want to take it away, you want to use it, you want to abuse it, do whatever, but this is in your control now. I’ll be here for the ride and you do whatever you want to do.”
It wasn’t until the journey home days later where Emili sensed a change. The hardest and most draining part of the first cycle was coming to an end and a shift was felt. The pain and exhaustion began to drift slowly away as her father began to drive further from the hospital. Her life was no longer in her control.
Knowing God held her life, she sat back to await the next chapter of her story. It caused her to shift from dark thoughts and the rollercoaster of emotions began to calm. The sense of a higher power taking control over her life allowed the weight on her shoulders to decrease.
From this Emili started to sing again, play music again. She sat in the bathroom singing, not crying. From here things began to look up and as she sat in that car, reminiscing of the days in hospital, the pain that began to fade and her mood began to change.
My life with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder has placed a strain on the very relationships that once gave way to warmth. It holds me close and tight and doesn’t let go until I am left feeling the brunt of its cruelty.
I suffer from disturbing, intrusive thoughts, over which I have no control. These intrusive thoughts can be cruel, and invade my brain throughout the day. With no warning. They threaten the very foundations in which make my life bearable – friendships and relationships.
These destructive thoughts hold me back from enjoying existence. They make me question who I am.
OCD calls on the demons hiding in the most remote corners of my brain to come downstairs and ruin my optimistic outlook on life. They convince me that I’m a despicable human and a danger to myself and others.
I won’t discuss in detail the context of my thoughts, what I will say though is that they cause such immense grief, I often feel my stomach may very well expel from my body.
The thoughts come in tsunami-like episodes, getting worse as time moves on, leading to one of the most heartbreaking episodes of all.
It had been a long night. I had been locked away from the outside world for just over a week. One could call it a self-isolation of a brain, my brain. It had been occurring for months, years even, somewhat episodically, but this time, it was all too much. I couldn’t handle the strain my brain placed over me. I had called a few helplines who suggested going to see someone but little did they know I was already in the process of finding someone. But as it was approaching Christmas, the wait for an appointment was well over 3-4 months.
My friend and I had planned to meet up for dinner and dessert, however, my eyes, stained red from distress, gave way to crucial evidence. She had been there for me two years earlier when the thought of still being around in 2019 felt like a mere fantasy.
It wasn’t an ideal situation. I sat in my car for 15 minutes trying to calm myself down. Once I felt the air float back into my lungs, I escaped the confinements of my car and made my way to her work. The sun, in its slow process of setting, shone a light shade of pink throughout the plaza.
“Just keep looking at the sunset,” I thought to myself. “It’s going to be a new day soon and this will all be a distant and faint memory.”
When you’re about to panic or on the verge of crying, the best thing someone can do is ask “R U OK?”, but I’ve found that this causes the flood gates to burst open, leading to a tsunami of emotion. The tsunami releases all the negativity trapped inside, explosions and cascades of gasps and tears tearing through the silence of their response. This occurred that night as I waited in the empty plaza outside the department store. Waiting. Breathing. Silence.
“Hey!” she said.
“Shit,” I thought.
Her smile often brings joy and the warm fuzzies, but on this day I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming army of joyless demons crush against my chest. The infection spread from my chest to my stomach as my hands started to tremble. I let out a nasty cry and fell into her arms.
She was the first person I told my thoughts to.
Everything spilt out in a rapid eruption of words and tears. I told her of the thoughts that caved away into the deepest parts of my brain, and how I had no control over them. These thoughts, intruding around my body as if on vacation refused to withdraw.
After 30 minutes of ugly crying, my friend thought it best that we call a mental health crisis helpline. Another 30 minutes went by. My ugly crying grew stronger and my friend performed her duty as a translator, relaying information onto the mental health officers.
I was too busy attempting to breathe. By 9:30 pm we were in the hospital’s mental health ward. Unfortunately, not my first time sitting in an emergency department due to mental health complications. What felt like a 30-minute wait turned into a 6-hour wait.
A lengthy couple of months ensued. I saw several mental health officers including a psychiatrist who put my mind at ease, informing me that these thoughts weren’t me. Asking me a very important question:
“If these thoughts, in any way, represented the type of person you were, then why would they cause you so much distress?” He said. “So much distress that it caused you to question your place on this earth.”
I finally had the answers, I was diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
It was a relief when I finally had an answer for the thoughts. These maleficent thoughts were so overwhelming that I questioned my place on this earth. And for the week leading up to that night, my brain spun into what felt like a never-ending cycle. Continuing to ask the same three questions:
Why are these thoughts in my head?
Why are they coming back with more ferocity than the last time?
Should I still be alive if I have these thoughts?
The truth is, at that time I wasn’t sure why I was having them; I didn’t realise that OCD could bring about such nasty thoughts. Thoughts that made me feel physically sick. It was as if a hand had made its way down my throat, stuck these ideas in my gut then withdrew in a hurry. Scurrying far away, leaving no evidence it was once there. It left doubt in the pit of my stomach. I asked myself – Am I this sick? Am I capable of these ideas? Is this me?
If these thoughts did in any way portray the kind of person I was, then in no way did I want them to be true. This is why that night I was in such distress. Once I was suffering from this “episode” it felt as though the thoughts would never end. With my previous episodes, I had managed to force the ideas to disappear after 2 or 3 days, but I couldn’t this time.
When I realized I had no control over them a wall of shame crashed into me. This was the moment I decided to lock myself away. Fortunately for me, I had already planned that dinner date with my friend. My stomach wanted to stay locked away, but my brain saved the day. My body activated the “Save Sarah Mode”, hoisting me up, out and into the car. On my way, I went.
Luckily for me, there are be people in my life I could and still to this day can trust. You can spill your guts to them, metaphorically that is.
Even if you feel like you are alone, stuck on a boat in the middle of the ocean, someone will eventually turn up, even if they are also stuck in the middle of the ocean, maybe in a dingy. Together you will form an unbreakable bond, forced together by the wildest of fears and thoughts and anxieties that crash against you like the wild, unpredictable waves they are.
My friend, that night, was my lifeboat.
There is this misconception that OCD only encompasses cleaning, organising, washing hands or turning light switches on and off. Now, even though these are common compulsions, it doesn’t represent everyone who has the misfortune of living with OCD. And for me, it made it difficult to speak up about my diagnoses.
Since experiencing this terrible uncontrollable episode, I have found peace. I am now able to open up to people regarding my OCD. I am able to accept that these thoughts aren’t me. And I am not able to control some thoughts that come my way.
If you or anyone you know require assistance in relation to distressing thoughts and/or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.
A mattress set alight, with a boy left inside. The boss did not believe that the stable boy was too sick to work. So, he set his straw mattress alight to make the “lying” boy jump out of bed and get to work. The boy, in fact, was unwell and did not get out in time. His spirit is said to remain.
And then there is Harold, who for 40 years was kept in chains in the caretaker’s cottage. The disabled man was found curled up at the foot of his dead mother. He died soon after, at a home for the insane. The sounds of his chains can still be heard through the dark cold Junee nights.
Today, a maid in period clothing roams the balcony of the homestead, even after falling to her death more than 100 years ago. The stairs below are rumoured to be seen, stained in red by some who visit. What makes this story even more heart-breaking, is the fact she was pregnant at the time.
A black lace dress and ice-cold air. She’s waiting. Wandering along the hallways of the Victorianesque Monte Cristo, one must be careful not to disturb her. Known for her harsh mistreatment towards her employers, recluse Mrs Elizabeth Crawley, is known to still haunt the residence.
And then there’s Mr William Christopher Crawley who built the house in 1876 and continues to haunt the land.
Along with that, a caretaker was shot and killed within the walls of the home in 1961. A man who had seen Hitchcock’s “Psycho” three times, walked up to the homestead and fatally shot Jack Simpson. The words “Die Jack Die. Ha. Ha. Ha,” were written on the wall at the murder scene.
Homestead manager, Lawrence Ryan, says that even though Monte Cristo homestead might not have as many ghosts or spirits as other locations around Australia, however, they have more activity. That is what makes it stand out from the rest.
The site is built on top of a layer of quartz crystal, allowing spirits to regularly contact the physical world. It’s like the bat signal for ghosts.
North Queensland is home to a watering hole shrouded in mystery and connected to ominous deaths of young men. Seventeen men were held, submerged under the rushing waters of Devil’s Pool by an unknown force.
According to the Dreamtime Storey, a married woman, Oolana of Yidnji, fell in love with Dyga, a man from a passing tribe. Before Dyga and Oolana were able to flee, they were confronted by her husband at Devil’s Pool. She threw herself into the water calling for Dyga to follow. However, as she turned to him, Dyga vanished with his tribe.
The legend says that by plunging herself into the waters, Oolana shook the stream into action, causing the land around her to vibrate, with boulders flying into the creek, causing the water to plunge at distressing rates.
Oolana’s spirit remains in the waterhole, luring young men to their deaths. The heartbroken soul is still heard today, crying out to her lover.
The youngest to be swept under by the rapids was John Dominic English. In 1940, the eight-year-old went to the pool with his older brothers and sisters. As he could not swim, he sat on the rocks watching his siblings. However, after a few minutes, left unnoticed, Dominic’s brother was left in shock as Dominic was no longer on the rock but in the waters below.
Footsteps echo, chains rattle and figures of those who never made it out walk the dilapidated halls. Within these walls, patients were once restrained by chains, trapped in straitjackets, with some even forced to receive electro-shock treatment as medication was not yet available.
Those facing electro-shock treatments had company in that of Matron Sharpe, who, as described by nurses, would sit and bring comfort to them. However, nurses indicated that, while Matron Sharpe was not there in the flesh, the room would turn icy-cold. She can still be seen prowling the halls.
As very few patients walked out of the asylum alive, it’s believed they’re buried in unmarked graves dispersed throughout the land. Their spirits left wandering the grounds.
Tommy is said to tug on the clothes of visitors in the Bijou Theatre, previously said to be the kitchen area. He wasn’t only a patient but a kitchen hand, assisting in the transportation of deceased patients out of the hospital on the “meat wagon”, as it was colloquially known. He passed away in the area, contributing to the hauntings over the years.
Not only a kitchen, the Bijou Theatre was also the Reaction Hall, where patients would sit and play music, perform in plays or attend church services on Sundays. Women who visit the former hall have reported seeing the apparition of a young girl. The girl will often approach them in an attempt of desperate communication, but her words cannot be understood.
These sightings are not alone, unexplained figures are not an uncommon sight for visitors. With shadows consistently wondering the halls. And if these occurrences aren’t creepy enough, children’s laughter can be heard echoing throughout the distant halls and wings of the hospital at night.
The faceless, happy and polite spirit of Federick ‘Fred’ Carr appears often in the gaol. However, in 2000, the faceless spirit appeared, but this time, something came upon the face. A smile. Fred was hung in 1927, for the murder of his wife, Maude. Up until his death, Carr exclaimed his innocence.
Two more notorious spirits are said to appear in the goal; Governor William Baker Ashton’s footsteps can still be heard through the walls and The Hangman Ben Ellis is said to appear throughout the halls.
Forty-five executions took place within the walls of this gaol, including the only woman to ever be executed in South Australia.
In the town of Humpty Doo stands a house. The house, for over 20 years, is home to a spirit. This spirit would come to be known as one of Australia’s poltergeists. Those who lived at the property were subject to fits of rage. From shards of glass to spanners, several objects were hurled their way.
Just like a scene from a classic horror movie, three priests, two Catholics the other Greek Orthodox, wandered up to the ominous house to exercise the malevolent spirit. The spirit was not impressed with the display, throwing knives in their direction. Out of
nowhere, a pistol cartridge fell from mid-air. and if this wasn’t enough, one of the priests reported a crucifix was propelled across the room.
A haunted building, a paranoid owner and an eerie hotel room. No, this isn’t The Shining.
Throughout its many years providing for thirsty visitors and workers after a long day, the Kalamunda Hotel has experienced its fair share of spookiness. Not only home to tourists, the hotel is also believed to be home to dwellers of the supernatural kind. This led staff to contact a local clairvoyant, who confirmed their suspicions.
In another tragic tale involving a balcony, a young, pregnant teenage girl jumped from the hotel’s second floor, dying on impact. The hotels original owner, Paddy Connolly, who allegedly loved the ladies, was believed to be the unborn child’s father.
Along with this young spirit, a number of other ghosts appear to haunt the building.
An irritated handlebar moustached-man in his 60s, a beautiful woman in her 30s donned in a white collared, Victorian-era dress and a mischievous seven to eight-year-old girl who loves to happily wander the halls with her rag doll. And the vision of a man. Hanging in the dark distance.
To top it off, Room 24. Lights glow, visions appear, and guests left bewildered. According to one source, a suicide occurred in Room 24. Leaving the area occupied by some maleficent soul. The hall outside of the room is said to remain cold, even during the warmest of days.
Gallows, an execution yard and underground tunnels. To this day, the hangman awaits visitors. Longing for the 40,000 convicts that called this prison their home for 173 years.
The 1830s saw convicts frequent the prisons service chapel; however, this was anything but a sanctuary. Beneath the chapel’s floor, inhumane solitary confinement cells are located. These cells connected by tunnels that wound throughout to the underground gallows that saw Tasmania’s last hanging in 1946. Executions at the penitentiary saw 31 men and one woman meet their grim demise.
Even though the penitentiary was mostly demolished in the 1960s, the past and spirits of those long gone remain in salvaged parts of the building.
One of the spirits is believed to be that of Solomon Blay, the notorious hangman known to have executed more than 200 people. Beware of Blay, he does not take kindly to those who touch his noose or other equipment in the area. If one dares enter the area, they will be met with not only the hangman’s spirit but the smell of urine and blood that has stained the air.
Red eyes are seen in the darkness of one particular holding cell. Just a short walk from the gallows the cell where many awaited their deaths resides an evil entity. This entity does not take lightly to visitors, once throwing a man against the cells wall.
If one continues down the dark tunnel to the solitary confinement cell, they will hear the sounds of those long past; voices, unexplainable sounds. Women who visit the prison are often subject to harassing behaviour; with some experienced being kissed and groped by unknown forces.
If one dares to face the glowing red eyes and haunted tunnels of one of Tasmania’s most haunted penitentiary’s, tours are available.
Those who visit this 1860 cottage, experience the smell of burning flesh. The smell is believed to be from 17-year-old Florence Blundell, who burnt to death in 1892.
It was a Thursday night, home alone with her two-younger brothers. Her parents out, visiting neighbours. Her brothers slept, but as the clocked chimed 9.00 pm, an incident occurred which would haunt the house for years to come. Screams. Cries for help. They were confronted by Florence in the kitchen, with clothes alight. After many attempts to put the flames out, they ran to their neighbours for help. However, the injuries sustained by Florence were too much. Later passing.
Even though long gone, she appears to pass visitors regularly. Unlike most spirits discussed here, it is believed that Florence welcomes visitors. She is seen playing in the gardens near the cottage.
Those who visit also report that items will mysteriously move around inside. And for those visiting, wearing necklaces could summon Florence further, as at the time of the incident, she wore a necklace.
In 2010, a visitor who was inside the cottage saw an all back shadow who went from a seated position to walking across the room and stare out the window. The visitor sure didn’t stay for long after, bolting out of the cottage.