by Tracie Griffith
Research for the Port Fairy Ghost Stories project has been underway for nearly two years now. We started with a long list of rumoured stories from our group of intrepid ghost hunters and expanded on this as locals suggested additional leads. Along the way, we discovered that many of the stories are actually based on historical events, people and locations. There are also a number that (so far) could not be verified through published or first person accounts. Some of the stories, although compelling, have unfortunately not produced a ghost.
One of these is the Cox Street Axe Murder. This story began as a whisper that something terrible had happened on Cox Street many years ago and a ghost could be found there. Maria Cameron was quick to inform us of the shocking murder of Stewart Wade by his mother exactly one hundred years ago this year (November 2016). We collected newspaper articles on the murder and obtained the trial submissions. We also tracked what happened to Flora after her incarceration at Sunbury Asylum. It is a sad tale that many locals are completely unaware of.
For me personally, the most disturbing aspect of the story is that little Stewart was not issued with a death certificate and was buried in an unmarked grave. The story was suppressed for the benefit of the living and while this is understandable and the kindest possible outcome, his short life and tragic death have been forgotten in the process. Maria has suggested that a commemorative plaque be laid at the Port Fairy Cemetery for Stewart and others who are also lying in unmarked graves. It would be a fitting way to honour Stewart’s memory, so long after the fact.
Please visit the website often and subscribe to our newsletter to keep up-to-date with the project’s progress. The ghost stories belong to Port Fairy and we want the town to benefit from their promotion. The project aims to be self-supporting and beyond the initial start-up costs, any profits from the sale of the book will be donated to a local charitable cause. We are also seeking to promote the work of local artists who feel inspired by the subject matter and wish to get involved. And lastly, if you have a Port Fairy ghost story, of course we would love to hear from you!