In the early 1870s a man by the name of Thomas Scott visited Western Australia and in particular Pinjarra. He was there for about three days when he mentioned that he had passed an elderly woman dressed in a light dress standing on the Pinjarra Bridge. He did not know it at the time but what he had seen was the Pinjarra ghost who was said to haunt the bridge over the Murray River.
Recounting what he had seen to his friend (known only as Mr C) he was told that the woman was Mr C’s Aunt and that she had been found deceased on the bridge in the 1860s. The belief was that she had suffered an apoplectic fit. Each year since she passed away and for nine days around the anniversary of her death (said to have occurred in early July) the woman in the light dress would appear on the bridge at about midnight.
Along with the apparition, Mr C stated that on the first anniversary of her death they also heard three distinct knocks at the door and a voice, much like his Aunt’s, calling the name of his Uncle.
We all stood looking at each other in mute fear and astonishment – terror seemed to sway every heart now beating thrice three times as fast. My uncle was the first to break the spell. He rushed to the door, closely followed by myself, as if ashamed of his momentary fear, to behold a tall stately figure of a female clad in a light loose dress similar to that she had on at the time she was found dead on the old Bridge. … She was walking or rather slowly gliding as it were in the direction of the old Bridge, which is about a quarter of a mile from our farm.
Curious, and wanting to see the woman again, Thomas set out in the dark with Mr C and several others to stand watch at either end of the bridge and await the return of the ghost.
The night was beautifully starlit with a full moon coursing in the heavens above. To the right of the Bridge was a burying ground and on either side but this lay nothing but the dark, dense forest, that looked in this lonesome hour the very place for a ghost scene.
They arrived at 11:30 pm and waited patiently. The clocks struck twelve but still they saw no ghost. Just over half an hour later they were ready to give up and were prepared to call it all a hoax when lo and behold, the woman appeared.
The apparition was in the centre of the Bridge and seemed to be on the move. It was quite recognisable by all parties and the same that has already been described. We instinctively stopped to watch it for a few minutes. The signal was given by the other party to apprise it, and simultaneously we all rushed to the spot where the apparition stood, visible as plain as day, and – aghast, we stood gaping at each other scarcely believing our own eyes. The figure whether earthly or spiritual had vanished.
Thomas Scott recorded what he had been told and what he had seen in narrative format in his journal which reads as though it could have been fictional. While this may have been the case, when the story was read at a meeting of the Royal Western Australian Historical Society in 1934, Mr J Hammond stated that he too had heard the story in 1863 and that even his sister had seen a forlorn figure on the bridge which she was sure was the Pinjarra ghost.
If you know of the Pinjarra ghost story and have additional information or an eyewitness account to contribute, please feel free to leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.
- Image of the Pinjarra Bridge circa 1850s courtesy of the Shire of Murray’s website (http://www.murray.wa.gov.au/tourism/pinjarra-heritage-trail/traffic-bridge/).
- Extracts from Thomas Scott’s journal obtained courtesy of Curtin University’s website, Legends of the West (http://john.curtin.edu.au/folklore/legends.html).
- 1934 ‘A PINJARRA GHOST.’, The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954), 27 October, p. 21. , viewed 31 Oct 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article32800534
- 1936 ‘NEWS AND NOTES.’, The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 – 1954), 23 May, p. 18. , viewed 31 Oct 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article40718703