OPINION | Famous ghost makes presence felt

GHOST SPOTTING: Young people at Fisher's Ghost Bridge back in the 1950s (when it was still a bridge over a creek, not a road over a drainage culvert). 'Fred' sightings are not uncommon at that end of Queen Street.
GHOST SPOTTING: Young people at Fisher's Ghost Bridge back in the 1950s (when it was still a bridge over a creek, not a road over a drainage culvert). 'Fred' sightings are not uncommon at that end of Queen Street.

Last Saturday night was June 17 and I was told someone took their kids to Koshigaya Park to try to ‘spot Fred’.

Nice to see the tradition of searching for Fisher’s Ghost is still alight, even if barely a flicker.

Back in the 1950s, hundreds of people used to flock to the site on the moonlit anniversary of his murder.

The landscape was different back then. Even as a child of the 1960s and 1970s, I recall it as a true creek, not the grassy drainage culvert it is now beside Koshigaya Park.

Fred’s body in 1826 was found near where the railway now passes Campbelltown Library and Namut Early Learning Centre – indeed, that centre is named after Namut, the Dharawal tracker who found Fisher’s body.

It occurred to me we’re only nine short years away from the bicentenary of the famous murder.

Dunno about you, but the 50th anniversary of Fisher’s Ghost parade feels like it was yesterday, and that was 11 years ago, so 2026 will be here before we know it.

So, this week I just wanted to take a light-hearted look at our mysterious ectoplasm.

Perhaps the most famous account is the story of the so-called 'ghost post’. Workmen at Fisher's Ghost Creek in 1973 dug up an old bridge railing and the energetic promoter of the then-Campbelltown Picnic Races, Deirdre O’Dowd, had it restored and used as a finishing post.

Fred wasn't happy.

The rain was so heavy the horses swam up the track. It was rescheduled, repeatedly, but was a washout each time.

It made front page news when the race club dug up the post and returned it to Deirdre. And, yes, the sun shone gloriously on their next attempt.

I was still in school at the time, but years later I asked Deirdre what happened to the post. She had stored it in her garage and copped a huge water bill for leaking pipes underneath her garage.

In 1991, I was there as a reporter when Deirdre ‘surrendered’ the post to mayor Gordon Fetterplace. It was stored at the then-new library - which immediately suffered plumbing problems.

The stories of Fred's activity multiply at the southern end of Queen Street, where Fisher had his farm.

The Town Hall Theatre is arguably the most regular haunt with many members recounting flickering lights, eerie footsteps and misty figures walking on stage during rehearsals.

At Fisher’s Ghost Restaurant (now sadly a ruin) but back in the early 1990s a popular eatery, the owners were confounded at how wall paintings mysteriously moved around at night.

But, Beatrice Charters told me one of the best yarns. Her family in the 1960s moved into a house that stood near the creek (the site of today’s Red Rooster).

‘We were upstairs and could hear my grand-daughter, Tracy, who was only aged about three, talking to someone’, she recalled.

‘But when she walked in, nobody else was there. We asked her who she had been talking to, and she told us it was Uncle Fred.’

There was no Fred in the family, and it was only afterwards they heard of the legend of Fisher's Ghost.

When our paper moved into the old bank building in 1991 we were originally all downstairs, with only the back copies stored upstairs.

One day I was searching some old issues. Hearing a strange high-pitched voice talking to me from the hall, I walked out expecting to find a staffer mucking around – to find nobody.

An icy blast of air passed through the hall and a flock of pigeons on the back landing burst away.

I got downstairs as fast as my legs could carry me.

A few weeks later, new staff arrived and, working on Saturdays, they reported a high-pitched voice calling upstairs – but no one was ever there.

Yet, our editorial section soon afterwards moved up to the top floor, and despite many nights there working alone as the editor, I never again heard or felt any weird stuff.

Do you have a ‘Fred’ story to share?