The haunted house

Host: Abingdon Downs Station
Written by Iris – former Station Cook, Abingdon Downs Station.

I have heard many stations have their fair share of ghost stories. This is ours, as told by Iris, who was our cook and has recently departed Abingdon to continue her travels around Australia.

 “[… ] Amy Harris and Robert McDowall […] were found shot in Mount Jack Paddock, 2 miles of Abingdon Downs Homestead […]. The deaths were caused by (1) McDowall shooting Miss Harris […] and (2) by McDowall committing suicide by shooting himself […].”

One night at Abingdon Downs, I turned off the lights in the Girls Quarters; everyone in the quarters had already gone to sleep. I went into my room, crawled up under my blanket and checked my phone. All of a sudden, light crept into my room from underneath the gap of my door. The light in the hallway had been turned back on. I muttered something, got up and switched the light off again; there was no sign of anyone there. The night after, the same thing happened again . . .

4-1-amys-house-now-the-girls-quarters-copyAmy’s house, now the girls quarters.

Do you believe in ghost stories? A popular theme often used in books and film scripts is young murder victims who decide to hang around after their death. According to my boss, people who believe in ghosts are more likely to notice their presence than people who don’t believe. Whether this means that certain signs – like a light switching on without explanation – of a ghost’s presence are real or could be explained in a non-ghostly way, who knows. But since it is way too much fun to speculate about this topic, I am going to introduce the story of Abingdon’s own ghost to you.

Amy Harris lived at Abingdon with her two sisters, brother-in-law, and their workers. In 1929, her married sister decided to spend some time away from the station, which caused Amy Harris and her often drunk brother-in-law Robert McDowall to work together on a more regular basis. One day, the two of them rode off on their horses to check up on some fences. They never returned. Later that day, workers found them under a tree, both shot in the head. Supposedly, the alcohol had driven McDowall mad.

4-2-entrance-to-1st-mt-jack-paddock-where-amy-and-robert-were-found-copyEntrance to 1st Mt Jack where Amy and Robert were found.

Numerous girls who have lived at the Girls Quarters have told our boss Anita about their experiences with the ghost. They would tell her that a vacuum cleaner, TV, or light had switched itself on without explanation. Other times, a bedroom door would open just like that. Our boss Anita would tell us: “It’s an old house with old wiring.” Yet, some of us girls do consider the idea that Amy may have wanted to stay earthbound a little longer than her brother-in-law let her.

Amy’s tragic death, and the story that has evolved from it, has created a common point of reference whenever a noise occurs at the station that cannot be explained right away. With a teasing, yet sweet tone, people will say: “Ah hear, it’s Amy!” Some of the girls are frightened by the idea of a ghost hanging around the house they live in. Although, assuming that Amy is real, she is definitely a friendly ghost. It’s just the idea of her presence that freaks some people out.

Sometimes I visit Amy’s grave on my way to the dump; she lies buried at Abingdon’s tiny graveyard, not far from there. Whether Amy’s really still part of the Girls Quarters or not, Amy’s story has certainly become an important part of Abingdon’s history. Her tragic death turned into a kind of myth that is told to every new girl that is to live at the house. I do hope the story will continue to be passed on for a long time, not just to spook people (okay, maybe just a little bit), but mostly to honour Amy, who died way too young.

4-4-amys-gravestone-copyAmy’s grave.


Interesting to note that her name is spelt Amy on her gravestone and Amee in the transcripts. I wonder which one is on her birth certificate.

Note: Information above has been made available through public transcripts and actual witness testimonies located in the Brisbane Library. Story told respectfully with families of the deceased in mind.