Murray Pioneer journalist MORGAN BURLEY decided to put the spooky rumours of the Renmark Hotel to the test…
From a young age, I was aware that something existed beyond life, but I was never quite sure what.
Since moving to the Riverland eight months ago, I had heard tales of the unique and paranormal history across the region, so I decided to dig a bit deeper, and that’s when I found Riverland Ghost Tours.
After hearing rumours of supposedly haunted areas around Renmark, I arranged a private tour of the Renmark Hotel with historian Ann Ryan, medium Kathy Flanagan and her husband Richard.
The Renmark Hotel opened its doors to the public in 1897 as Australia’s first community-owned hotel, and has since been the topic of paranormal speculation.
To prevent previous claims influencing me, Kathy kept the history of the specific rooms to herself.
While I tried to keep an open mind, it’s safe to say I experienced a number of unexplainable occurrences, including footsteps in an empty hallway, thick shadows in the middle of vacant rooms, strange odours in specific spots but not others, and muffled but distinct screams that sounded like they were right next to us.
“It’s highly active tonight,” Kathy said after a woman’s muffled cry came from an empty room.
Although I won’t spoil the paranormal history of the hotel, Kathy said she was passionate about organising tours in the venue.
“The Renmark Hotel is important to the group because of its rich history,” she said.
“It bring in tourists far and wide to our beautiful region, and Ann holds an important role as historian, because she’s helping us preserve the hotel’s history.”
Ann is currently renovating areas of the original hotel and transforming them into a museum, with original furniture pieces now moved to designated rooms.
Kathy said she saw a gap in the Riverland tourism sector and decided to follow her passion.
“I have encountered so many paranormal spots locally, and there was nothing in the Riverland of this kind,” she said.
“There is huge interest in the region for something like this, and it brings something new to the Riverland and helps local businesses.”
Kathy aims to educate the public on the local history – both physical and spiritual.
“There is no limit to what you can experience, and education is a powerful tool if we experience things ourselves,” she said.
“I want to educate people that there is life after death, and death isn’t something to be feared.”
For more information or to reserve your spot on a local tour, visit the Riverland Ghost Tours Facebook page (www.facebook.com/renmarkParanormal).