Haunted fire station approaches 75th birthday
GYMPIE'S haunted fire station turns 75 next month and the milestone will not slip by unnoticed.
The anniversary of Queensland's oldest operational fire station is a special date for Gympie auxiliary lieutenant Greg Albury.
With more than 30 years service, Mr Albury has been using his spare time searching the town's records for history on the fire station.
And his search has been digging up some fascinating material since the station was built during the Second World War in 1940 for $7000 pounds - worth about $523,000 in today's money.
Amid the many tales and numerous landmark fires helping shape Gympie's
identity, the Gympie fire station is widely thought to be haunted.
Sitting in the meeting room in the upper levels of the station earlier this month, Mr Albury was relaxed and brimming with enthusiasm for the approaching anniversary.
But come nightfall, Mr Albury made it clear he would be packing up his materials and steering well clear.
The station is said to be haunted by former fireman Henry (Mick) Bennetts.
Mr Bennetts met an untimely end in 1950 when he fell from the then windows at the top of the station.
These days, full-length glass panels replace the windows that led to the former fireman's death.
Stories have long persisted about Mr Bennetts' ghost remaining at the station, and countless unexplained
occurrences have backed up the folklore.
The fire station's computer technician was working on the station's computer equipment once when he felt someone was over his shoulder.
"He turned around and saw the door behind him close," Mr Albury said.
The hauntings have also deterred cleaners from working in the evening.
"They turn up in the afternoon while we are still here," Mr Albury laughed.
Perhaps for good reason.
One cleaner recounted to station officers of being alone there one night and hearing someone give an instruction. As no one was at the station, the cleaner moved to a daylight schedule.
A commemorative plaque and clock in the station, provided by the former officer's family, are a lasting tribute to Mr Bennett. The clock itself has become a magnet for ghost stories.
Mr Albury recalled a training session when the clock began chiming on the hour despite having had no batteries put in it for years.
There are countless stories to be told and many will be retold on Monday, August 24, during anniversary celebrations at the station in Bligh St.
Invitations have been sent to dignitaries, including local and state officials, and there are plans to close off the street on the day for a few hours.
A highlight on the day will be Gympie's old fire truck, which will be borrowed from the Gympie Gold Mining and Historical Museum.
"We really want as many past and present firies there," Mr Albury said.
"As Queensland's oldest operational station, it would be a shame let the day go by unnoticed."