The Shakespeare Hotel in Barcaldine in western Queensland may look like any outback pub: a grand building with sweeping verandas, simple bedrooms panelled with timber VJ boards and a gaggle of beer-drinking regulars perched at the corrugated iron bar.
- The owner of the Shakespeare Hotel in Barcaldine, in western Queensland, claims it is home to two ghosts
- One guest staying in room 4 claimed to wake up with his bed halfway out the door
- Employees say they often see or hear mysterious things, like a silhouette of a man playing the pokies on CCTV
But the nearly 100-year-old hotel, which is up for sale, comes with a few extra features most pubs don’t boast: the owner says the building is home to two ghosts.
The resident spirits have taken pride of place in the Facebook advertisement posted by Heather Hoskin and her husband Barry, who bought ‘The Shakey’ in 2004.
“The hotel has two ghosts, one in room 4 [a cheeky bugger who moves things around] and a gentle previous owner who sometimes walks the halls and sighs,” reads the ad.
Ms Hoskin said she had never believed in ghosts before owning the pub, but after five years working there, she now had no doubts about their presence.
‘He’s just cheeky’
Ms Hoskin said one particularly spirited ghost — a “cheeky” man she nicknamed Bob — liked to cause havoc for guests in one specific room.
“One young man staying in room 4, his bed ended up halfway out the door one day,” Ms Hoskin recalled.
“We were all in fits listening to him talk about it.
In the time Blake Moreland has been managing the pub, Bob appears to have moved next door to room 5.
Mr Moreland does not put guests in that room if he can avoid it, and never tells them the room is supposedly haunted.
But they can tell.
“I’ve had patrons come to me and say: ‘Was anyone in my room last night?’ Mr Moreland said.
“[I say] ‘No, no-one’s been in your room’ [and they reply] ‘Well, someone’s touched me on my shoulder during my sleep’.”
Mr Moreland often finds puddles of scotch on the bar floor during his morning clean-ups.
It is directly underneath the electronic nip dispensers, which you have to physically push to operate.
The hotel sent the dispensers away to have them recalibrated, in the hope it would resolve the issue.
“There’s a cheeky ghost who’s quite thirsty and likes his scotch,” Mr Moreland said.
In addition to his night work as a prankster and early morning tipples, it seems Bob also likes a flutter.
Silhouettes of a person sitting at a pokie machine often show up on the cameras in the bar and office.
It’s always the same one: the left-hand machine on the wall furthest from the door.
But when Mr Moreland goes to check the pokies room, there’s no-one there.
‘She was a very comforting presence’
Ms Hoskin and Mr Moreland disagree on who they think the second ghost might be.
Ms Hoskin believes the spirit is that of a previous female owner.
“I used to go [upstairs] and walk around, because it’s so peaceful and beautiful up there, and there was just a presence there,” Ms Hoskin said.
“Every now and again she would just touch me ever so gently on the back of the neck and sigh.
“She was a very comforting presence.”
Mr Moreland believes the second ghost is a young man called Charlie who died out the back of the pub in the early 1890s.
He believes Charlie is the reason why the doorbell in the pub’s kitchen kept on going off, even after the batteries were removed.
“He’s the one who likes to push the doorbell for attention,” Mr Moreland said.
“He wants someone to be around.
Regular patron says ‘spooks’ are in the beer, not the pub
Eighty-eight-year-old Viv Johnson has been coming to The Shakey since the 1960s.
Most days the footy fanatic parks her small frame on a stool at the end of the bar closest to the internal door, and orders the same thing: three small pots of beer, paid for with cash out of her Brisbane Broncos wallet.
Despite the fact people have been reporting strange occurrences for nearly six decades, Ms Johnson doesn’t believe the pub is haunted.
She says the abnormal experiences are just a figment of the imaginations of shearers who used to drink at the hotel.
“In those days, the shearers let their hair down on the weekend,” Ms Johnson said.
“They’d wake up in the morning and say [to previous owner Bluey Sterling], ‘Hey Bluey, there was a ghost in there!’
“There was no such thing. They’d get drunk, mate, and wouldn’t even have a clue.”