Picton ghost tour comeback attracts spirited debate

Tourism potential: People from all over NSW used to visit Wollondilly in the hopes of seeing a ghost.
Tourism potential: People from all over NSW used to visit Wollondilly in the hopes of seeing a ghost.

MIGHT Picton ghost tours make a comeback in Wollondilly?

Mayor Matt Deeth said this week his council was happy to consider any tourism-generating ideas.

This follows colourful online debate this week for and against the tours, a decade after the death of tour operator Liz Vincent.

It was a common sight on weekend nights in Picton to see the local historian followed by a group of (hoping to be) frightened tourists with torches, as they were told ghost tales.

Frank Kaiser-Lauterbach from Wollondilly Tourism joined the debate on the Wollondilly Living Facebook page: We have spoken about if these tours could be done again. We now work with the Council, so there might be a way to make this happen.
The Advertiser asked the Mayor to respond.

"I'd be keen to look at the issues and problems last time, and see how we could make it work this time for everybody," Cr Deeth said.

"We're open to any proposal that promotes tourism in the shire, we're talking to operators around how we could create local walks, and trying to help with agri-tourism too.

"If there is any potential operator out there, we want to hear from them."

Cr Simon Landow, administrator of the Wollondilly Living Facebook site, echoed those sentiments.

Someone else needs to pick up the mantle, was typical of the online comments, some calling the ghost tours brilliant, with others commenting on their spooky experiences, particularly in the Mushroom Tunnel.

"I had my arm [feel like it was] rubbed and my hair was curled like around fingers....I had to leave," one person recalled.

But others were critical.

Supposedly haunted: The Mushroom Tunnel at Picton.

Supposedly haunted: The Mushroom Tunnel at Picton.

Alan Wood stated: "I was the Rector of St Mark's Picton from 1999 to 2007 and had to tell Liz repeatedly to stay off private property because of public liability insurance issues."

A nearby resident added: "It wasn't much fun having people shine torches through windows or vandalizing the church graveyard. While [Liz] wouldn't encourage it on the tours, they would still do it after the tour finished."
But another resident stated: "Yes, some tours I went on seemed to have a few idiots unfortunately. She did firmly tell them and always reminded us to leave quietly and respectfully. Even if you didn't believe in ghosts you certainly got a great history lesson and met a local gem."

Liz was known to be frustrated by her experiences with Wollondilly Council, including financial demands she said made the tours unviable.
As well as the tours, Liz was known for her engaging enthusiasm and wrote historic books, and articles for newspapers, and promoted local heritage, big shoes to fill for anyone considering a reboot.