It was the middle of summer, heat radiated off the black asphalt road. Yet a chill hung in the air as I stood in front of the most haunted house in Australia. From the outside the Parsonage house looked like any other on Colonial Row. In front is open, green parkland with great views of the prison hospital.
The Parsonage is located in the historical township of Port Arthur, a short drive from Hobart in Tasmania. Originallyconstructed in 1842, it was the only two storey house to be built at Port Arthur which is reflective of the senior status shown to Ministers.
Reverend George Eastman arrived with his family in 1857, of who would run around the settlement disrupting operations and annoying the convicts that were put to work. Although Reverend Eastman served at other convict establishments across Tasmania, and despite his popularity at Port Arthur with the towns people and convicts he clashed with authority.
The Parsonage is believed to be one of the most haunted buildings at Port Arthur, when Reverend Eastman died in an upstairs bedroom. While authorities tried to lower his body, within a coffin, out of a window, the rope broke and the coffin flew open. The result was his body fell into the gutter. Witnesses have reported smelling a foul, rotten odour, hearing moaning noises and seeing strange lights in the building ever since. A woman in a blue dress is also seen wandering the building. If you have been to the house you can see why the window was used instead of taking the coffin down the stairs.
Still, it is understandable why the ghost is upset. No-one appreciates being dropped out of a second floor window.
In the early 1880s the Parsonage became a post office and slowly became a central meeting place for the township once the prison closed and in the late 1870s when the post office moved out of the settlement. The building has hosted dozens of residents and several names throughout its existence.
Today as you walk through The Parsonage, sit a moment in the dining room and be still. You may just feel the icy cold chill of the Reverend’s spirit lurking in the shadows.