Historical Snippets, WA History

The Cannington “Ghost”

In mid-November 1898 a ghost began haunting the Cannington cemetery at midnight on successive nights. The “ghost” was clearly a man and on 13 November concerned residents lodged a report with Perth police. They noted that he appeared to be wearing dark tights, was covered with a white cloth and had “large glaring eyes.

Practical jokers come and go, but the ghost joker seems to go on forever.

Despite the obvious scepticism towards the spectre, some people were believers and were so frightened that they took to keeping their lamps burning all night in order to ward him off.

How seriously the police took the report is not known. They had no luck capturing the ghost and after several more nights of “hauntings” the residents of Cannington decided to take the law into their own hands.

On Saturday, 19 November, eight men waited patiently for the ghost to appear in the cemetery. When the ghost finally emerged one man brandished his revolver and threatened to shoot. The ghost, fearing the weapon, did not move and was successfully captured.


Unfortunately for the ghost he was not handed over to the police and was instead punished at the hands of the men. Choosing to hold a ‘paling circus’ they stood around the man and repeatedly hit him with fence palings until, in the words of The West Australian, “the groans and the moans and the usual dull, hollow sounds were what should be uttered by a properly constituted ghost.

Bruised, bloodied and suffering from his injuries, the ghost was eventually allowed to go back to where he came from. Meanwhile, the men, who perhaps initially congratulated themselves, began to worry about their own punishment lest their identities be revealed.

By all appearances nothing more occurred in relation to the ghost. The identities of the men remained hidden and no one was charged with assault. The ghost’s identity and the motives behind his actions were also not revealed. Having endured a harsh (and unnecessary) lesson he never haunted Cannington again.



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