Mum’s fright off

Sometimes you just need to get away.

Nappies, school lunches and nocturnal interruptions had turned me into an extra from The Walking Dead. With my fight or flight response well and truly triggered by two unruly rugrats, I staggered to my keyboard and typed in ‘last minute hotels’ in search of one night’s peace.

The room deal offered a great price and free parking. Secluded, quiet and with local attractions just minutes away, the heritage-listed establishment seemed the ideal place to spend a night in self-imposed solitary confinement.

As darkness fell a couple of nights later, I hurried to the reception area… of “Australia’s Most Haunted Site”.

Now known as The Q Station, the location hosted new immigrants for a six week quarantine period during the early days of Australian settlement. Many of the original guests who checked in had incurable diseases like smallpox, scarlet fever and the bubonic plague. The facility holds a longstanding reputation for accommodating apparitions of these unfortunate folk.

A chill ran through my bones. The plan had been to spend the night by myself, not in the company of pox-ridden spectres. What was I thinking when I booked?

Lodgings at the Q Station are spread across a wide campus, surrounded by the haunting silence of Sydney Harbour National Park. To reach my room, I climbed aboard the lonely shuttle bus which materialised from the darkness like a ghostly carriage.

Visions of Sleepy Hollow and the Headless Horseman came to mind.

What was that on the road? A phantom?

A rabbit, very much alive.

And that? A tree branch, reaching eagerly towards the windshield.

Even the wheels of a travel case sound ominous when trundled along a century-old wooden verandah.

Later, enveloped in the luxury of freshly pressed sheets, I struggled to close my eyes. How many tortured souls had lain in this very spot, feverish and cursing all who came after them? I was sure I’d be woken by a tap-tap-tapping on the window or a sombre figure materialising in the room. Ironically, I wished I had not come alone.

Is the Q Station really haunted? Truth be told, I’m not sure.

It turns out, even the threat of a personal visit from a ghost is not enough to keep an exhausted mother awake all night. If any previous guests appeared by my bedside, they at least had the decency not to insist on climbing in.

On my much needed night off at a haunted hotel, I slept like the dead.


Clea Sherman is a (tired) freelance writer. 

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