The Monte Cristo is an elegant Victorian homestead located in the southern New South Wales country town of Junee. Over the years there have been countless reports of paranormal activity in the house and surrounding grounds.
It was built in 1884 by Christopher William Crawley, a local farmer whose fortune changed after he had the foresight to build the Railway Hotel opposite what was soon to become a busy railway station. When the Great Southern Railway Line opened in 1878, the town's growth exploded and Crawley became a wealthy man.
Monte Cristo's interior includes three bedrooms, two box rooms, a sitting room, drawing room, dining room and breakfast room. The exterior boasted stables to house Mr. Crawley's prized race horses, a dairy, and a grand ballroom which stood opposite the original homestead which was converted into servant's quarters.
Christopher Crawley was born in Sydney in 1841; he died at Monte Cristo Homestead on the 14th December, 1910 at the age of 69. The cause of death was heart failure brought on by a gangrenous abscess on his neck caused by the rubbing of his starched collars.
His wife Elizabeth Crawley was often described as a "Queen Victoria" type figure that wore a black lace dress, lace cap and a cape with a stand-up beaded collar. Elizabeth was said to be an extremely hard woman and ruled the house and servants with an iron hand Elizabeth. After her husbands death Elizabeth spent the remaining 23 years of her life in mourning. She converted the upstairs box room into a chapel and immersed herself in the Bible, reportedly only leaving the house on two occasions.
On August 12, 1933, she died at the age of 92 from a ruptured appendix. In 1948, the last of the Crawley family left Monte Cristo. The graves of Mr & Mrs Crawley and their daughter who died in an accident and an early age can be seen at the local Junee cemetery.
Monte Cristo has had its fair share of tragedy: a maid jumped or fell to her death here; in a tragic accident, a stable boy was burnt to death; and a maid dropped a little girl down the stairs after being pushed by a "supernatural forces, the mentally retarded son of a housekeeper had been tied up on a short chain by his mother for more than 30 years and in 1961 the caretaker of Monte Cristo was shot dead by a local inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho.
Reg and Olive Ryan bought the abandoned and vandalized property on 3rd June, 1963. Reg moved everyone, including his young children and Olive into the run down old house immediately after purchasing it. The conditions at first were terrible there was no running water or electricity most of the doors and windows were missing
Reg believes he has a connection with the house and its ghostly residents. He often recalls how when he first set eyes on the abandoned house that he felt he was somehow being called back to it again and again. This was a calling he could not resist or stop and he knew at the time that he would someday own the property.
Not long after Reg moved into the property in June, 1963, he returned one night to find bright lights streaming out of every doorway and window; despite the fact they had not yet had the electricity connected and owned just the one kerosene lamp.
Reg admits to quite often feeling the presence of others, especially in the Drawing Room, but has never gotten a bad feeling or had a bad experience with the ghosts of Monte Cristo himself. The ghosts certainly do like Reg and his family and have never caused them any distress or harm over the many years that they have lived at Monte Cristo.
Monte Cristo is in more recent years becoming a favourite location for ghost hunters from all over Australia. Over the years there have been countless reports of paranormal activity in the house and surrounding grounds.
Mrs. Crawley is said to be the most dominant ghost of Monte Cristo. It seems that she is very particular about what goes on in 'her' house and will make attempts to unsettle unwanted guests. She has been known to order people out of the Dining Room and has been seen several times in the Chapel, wearing black and carrying a large silver cross. Mr. Crawley is usually seen in the hallway but appears less often than his wife.
An apparition of a young woman in period dress has been seen gliding slowly along the front balcony. A pregnant maid jumped to her death from this very spot. The bloodstained steps below were cleaned with bleach, but to this day, you can still see the discolorations.
The second floor of the house has witnesses at least three deaths. A young woman died after a particularly long and tortuous labor, and Christopher Crawley himself died in what is now known as the boys' bedroom. Sad faces are often seen staring in through the second-story windows even though there is no balcony outside.
The atmosphere surrounding the staircase is one of the most disturbing in the whole house. This is less surprising when you learn that the Crawley's baby girl was dropped from her nanny's arms down the stairs to her death. The horrified nanny claimed that the baby had been pushed out of her arms by an unseen force. Today many young children become extremely frightened and agitated when in the vicinity of the stairs. Several children have suffered asthma attacks when on or near the stairs.
Outside the house, the forlorn figure of a vulnerable young boy is often seen loitering in the vicinity of the coach house. This was the scene of the tragic death of a stable hand named Morris, who slept in the stables but was too ill to get up for work one day. His boss did not believe him and set fire to his bedding. Poor Morris was too sick to escape and burned to death where he lay.
The most recent tragedy happened in 1961, after a local youth had watched repeated showings of the movie Psycho. Late at night he crept up to the grounds of the homestead carrying his rifle and shot dead the caretaker. To this day you can see the words "Die Jack Ha Ha" inscribed in a macabre scrawl on the wooden door of the caretakers cottage.
Monte Cristo is visited annually by well over 100 ghost hunters per year, it is one of the most popular Ghost Haunts in Australia today. Owners Reg Ryan, his wife and family welcome ghost hunters and those interested in Paranormal Research. They have a collection of ghostly photographs that have been taken at the house over the years and are always on the hunt for more.