The Ghosts of St. John's
By Tom Harvey
22 May 2012
'Whether the ghosts of spirits passed, or accumulated sorrows, accretions of suffering,
Forgotten not, but alone, abandoned,
Bricks and mortar, broken windows,
Frayed curtains and shards of glass, like fractured reminiscences,
and howled whispers'
St. John's Orphanage was established in 1912 to house up to 100 orphaned boys - at some stages of its life it housed up to 2000. Although the institution closed in the 1970s, its presence in the city of Goulburn, a couple of hours' drive from Sydney, still haunts many of its former residents. Though time has passed, stories of cruelty, rape, and torture are still prevalent. No wonder there is not too much of an outcry about plans to tear the place down to build a retirement village.
Whether or not the building is haunted in the traditional sense, by the spirits of the deceased (I did hear a rather audible scream from upstairs at one point - I was the only person on the site); many of the former residents are still haunted by memories. There is a very real sense of sorrow, pain and anguish in this place. It is palpable. I have never felt this sense so strongly anywhere. The bathroom was the worst - I felt physically sick in there (even looking at the image of the handbasin makes me feel it).