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Gallows Ghosts? Mystery at Brisbane’s Tower Mill

Joe Nickell, PhD, is CSI’s senior research fellow. A former stage magician and private detective, he is author of numerous books, including The Science of Ghosts (2012).

According to The Ghost Guide to Australia (Davis 1998, 224), one or perhaps both of the ghosts of two Aborigines convicted of murder and hanged at Tower Mill in Brisbane in 1841—may still be seen there. Residents in the neighborhood in the mid-twentieth century reported that “sometimes when they looked up at the small window facing the street they could see a faint glow and a figure inside the tower, swinging gently from side to side.” No sources are given, but various online sites repeat the claims (e.g., “Tower Mill Ghost” 2016), and Tower Mill is a stop-some times even a point of origin for ghost tours.

I became acquainted with the old tower (Figure 1) in October 2015 when I stayed for several days at a hotel just down the street from the historic site. (I was there to speak at the annual Australian Skeptics National Convention, October 16–18, 2015, spending some two weeks in Australia and New Zealand and conducting several investigations.) Here is my solution to the mystery of the ghosts in the tower.

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About Skeptical Inquirer

Creators of the Paranormal: A handful of twentieth-century figures “created” the modern concept of the paranormal and its leading topics, transporting fantasy, myth, or speculation into a kind of believable “reality.” Most proved to be a chimera. CRISPR-Cas9: Not Just Another Scientific Revolution Dissociation and Paranormal Beliefs Scientific Reasoning at the USAF Academy: An Examination into Titanium-Treated Necklaces Stick It In Your Ear! How Not To Do Science A Testament of Belief Masquerading as Science and much more...