Haunted Locations: Kapunda Cemetery

Over on Facebook I've been uploading a lot of photos from our various trips and touching on some of the more unusual places we've visited. I've also been looking at some of the haunted places we've gone into and through, so as not everyone is added to our friends list I thought I'd copy/paste some of the commentary and photos to here for all to see. First up, one of the haunted places we've attended, Kapunda Cemetery.

The Kapunda cemetery has a strong history as being fairly haunted and it didn't disappoint us in the slightest. The cemetery lies in the shadows of the ruins of the Kapunda Reformatory. The Reformatory was built in the 1800s and was used to house children who broke the law, no matter how minor the law might have been. It was also used to house orphans, the intellectually disabled and other otherwise difficult members of society, generally people considered to be insane or just misfits. Instead of ADD people back then had the Reformatory.

The Reformatory was the site of an investigation which still makes the locals shitty if mentioned. It was hailed as being a very haunted place indeed and instead of celebrating this notoriety the locals instead pulled the Reformatory down.

So who is the ghost? No-one really knows but the word VERA was seen scratched into the walls of the Reformatory more than once and it has appeared in the dirt of the cemetery. A figure of a girl with a lamp has been seen prowling the cemetery and the same figure has been seen walking from the Reformatory to the cemetery.

A girl named Vera was confirmed as being an inmate of the Reformatory. Sadly, like so many others of the time, she died inside the walls. We didn't find her grave but more than one person has stated that she often rises from it.

So, what happened to us? read on, McDuff...

The main entrance to the cemetery. In the background you can see a palm type tree - that's the site of the Reformatory.

This is the site of the Reformatory. All that's left now is a few bricks. The Reformatory lay between the trees - you can see the faint outline of the foundations.

As we moved about the cemetery we started to get the sensation that we were being watched. Nothing new there, we get that sensation often in these places. However the cemetery is about 10 kilometers from the town itself and not a house in sight.

About this time Lyndal had stopped taking photos and had given me the camera. As we stood we could both hear the clear sound of someone walking behind us. We turned, no-one there. I wandered over to where it was, nothing. We went back and again heard people walking - now, the important thing is that there was no wind and no-one anywhere near us. The sound was clearly footsteps so I pointed the camera behind us and began to snap. As soon as we looked or I took a photo the sound stopped.

This is one place where we heard footsteps. We could hear them as I took the photo.

Same here. The footsteps were strong by this point as if someone with heavy boots was coming towards us. By this point my hackles were raised and we both began to feel very uneasy. Again, the camera shows nothing, but again, we could hear footsteps while this photo was being taken, they seemed to come from the tree.

One last photo of the trees where the footsteps were being heard. By this stage we decided that we'd probably pissed off whatever was wandering around in broad daylight so we left. We'd taken pile of photos, but these ones are the ones where the ghosts were out and coming for us.

I could feel the presence of something in the cemetery, but then I feel that in many such places. It was very strong here, as strong as any cemetery, and it wasn't a benign presence. I firmly believed that whatever was there might have wanted to cause us harm if we'd hung around much longer. We both heard the footsteps and I definitely want to go back and see if I can't root the bastard out. Lyndal was so spooked that she stalled the car and then raised some dirt as we sped off. Fun!


Steffy. said…
Hey, I went out to the Reformatory just tonight at about 11.30pm.
Its the creepiest thing going out there because we pulled in by the closed gate and sat there with the headlights off just watching for awhile until we suddenly saw these small beams of light getting closer to us. My friend started freaking when one came incredibly close to the car so we flashed on the headlights and there was nothing there...but the gate was now open.
We hung around for a few more minutes until we all started feeling abit uneasy and scared and then suddenly one of my friends pointed towards the trees and as we glanced towards it we saw a figure just watching us.
We sped off soon after that.
Decided to read up abit more on it tonight and just wanted to share my story.
My friend has also been there before and seen things and woken up in the morning with strange bruises.
Its a creepy place for sure.
Go back there at night, its worth it.
Anonymous said…
Danny Boy - the girl ghost you refer to is Ruby Olive Murray Bland. Vera was wrongly identified in an early book called 'Ghosts of the Barossa".
Ruby died in Kapunda Hospital as a result of events at St Johns. The place was closed the day after her death and all the girls either sent into Service or transported to Redruth Gaol.

Ruby was buried in an unmarked grave. The one that bears her name is not hers. It was 'discovered' as part of the Catholic Churches attempt to cover-up the issues which remain there. She is however, buried close to that end area of the Cemetery.

Investigation into the Reformatory have continued well past the time of the Channel 9 documentary with Warwick, though he remains marginally involved.

The Reformatory remains 'home' to many ghosts, not just Ruby or Fr John Martin. Back when Mother Mary McKillop first established the Reformatory, it was already known to be haunted. Mother Mary herself refers to this in a letter to one of her Sisters. An extract from hat letter appears in a story about her life.

Be careful if you wander around the area at night. It's not the ghosts who are likely to cause you injury, but the broken bricks and concrete slabs.
Daniel said…
Yeah i also went just last night, we got out, (only 3 of us) and we walked through the middle in between the trees which gave us the absolute creeps..THen we saw a huge tombstone engraved Sarah david shanon and her baby. I was told this is the tombstone in which weird stuff happens when people visit it..Not even 5 seconds after we had finished reading the engravement a car appeared from nowhere and was parked at the gates of the cemetary with its high beams on..we legged it out of the place and drove off, and later drove back, the car was gone but the gates were left open. I think there must be some sort of sensors to notify people of vandals but it still scared the shit out of me!. def going back
Anonymous said…
Im really interested in this paranormal stuff at the cemetary my wife and i went up there sunday during the day and we had a really good look around took loads of pics but only 2 of them look odd, one looks like a figure watching us from behind the third tree as you look up the hill towards the old reformatory never noticed until i checked all my pics, then another one seems to have what looks like an animal in the grass where the reformatory was didn`t see anything at all with my own eyes but my pics show it up, next stop is an all nighter at the cemetary so we will see what happens
Anonymous said…
me and a bunch of friends have been going up to the cemetery every now and then for the last 3 yrs now. and my boyfriend and i have had a number of wierd things happen there. one time i was drunk and accualy went to the loo they have there! i would never close the door though. i have also ran from the ruins of the Kapunda Reformatory all the way down the hill to the cemetery with two of my friends with out torches. i have heard a number of sories about what has happened there, like it was a girls reformatory and when little Ruby went there to stay she was raped by father john martin and when he found out she was knocked up he kicked here to kill the baby and when the baby was dead she became depresed and hung her self on the big tree in the middle of the field. i dont know if this story is true but one time when my boyfriend stood underneth the tree he had to walk away because he felt physicly sick and went really cold. we have also had people walking behind us while walking on the older side of the cemetery when no one was walking behind us. there is also the story that sometimes when girls with a piggy tail walk through there, their hair gets pulled and some people think that that is father john martin, because he dosn't like girls, that is why every time i go there i have a hood over my head.
There was another time where my boyfriend and his mate were driving away from the cemetery and it was a very foggy night as it is up that way when it gets really cold, so he had to drive pretty slow. as he was driving down the road he could see some one on the side of the road, he thought, ok what the hell is he doing. slowing down and stopping as he passed the man he could see the man was gray and white as if from a movie and he was wearing clothes as if he were a miner. my boyfreind describer him as if he looker 2D like a photo, or a realistic cartoon. and as they stopped the man ran off and dissapired. both my boyfriend and hes mate saw the same thing. to know if it was ture or not only they would know, but i dont think he would make that up. anyways thasts about all the info i have bout kupunda, i know theres defently something there, dont know wat it is, but theres something.
elli_sara said…
Hi im 20 now and when i was 15 a group of my friends and i went out to st johns cememetry in the middle of the night i was young and i cant remember anything distinctly happeneing except we were loosing friends one by one....but found them shortly....iv just taken up photography and remember the cememetry to be in the middle of no where with nothing around except paddocks and long dirt roads so we went down there and i am the person that always gets the most spooked, but nothing happened obviously it was creepy because it is a cemetery but nothing happened out of the ordinary much to my friends dissapoitment, i might go double check the pics now feel free to check them out myspace.com/elle_sara look in the "Kapunda Photography" album :)
Anonymous said…
Went up to the cemetary again friday night, me my mate and his wife all kitted out with a monitor video recorder and night vision cameras, we stayed till about 1:45 am took about 400 pics between us and when we got home we checked all of the pics, i found out of the 200 i took 50+ had got orbs on them never saw them but they appeared on the camera, definately worth another night up there.
Anonymous said…
Have been 3 times now,the first was really creepy,it was pitch black and we felt uneasy but that could have been we were nervous from it being in the middle of no where lol but the second time on friday night just gone there were 6 of us and 4 of us went for a walk down the back and found the convict grave and we felt chills and noises in the area just behind us but that was ll except for alot of orbs captured on camera,alot of coloured ones too,but went for a 3rd time last night was the best so far,we heard alot of noises,the sign at the front of the cemetery made a twang noise when i hit the fence to try and get something back,scuffle of the dirt really freaked me because not one of us was in the cemetery and it felt like i was getting dirt kicked at me to get away but 3 of us heard a female moan and i heard 2 female voices to the right about 5 metres down when u walk in but we seen lights come and go on the hill up the back,but everyone else saw but me this blue light hover and move around above the headstones and move towards the trees in the back right corner of the cemetery,AND the last thing i can remember was that myself and my friend nae nae could see a dark shadow running between the headstones,we thought it was great and we cant wait to go back and see if we can see more
Anonymous said…
what is the address 4 this place... what road is it on???
Anonymous said…
lol it is the hardest place to find..if u keep following mackillop road you should get to it..you have to do alot of off-roading
Anonymous said…
I have a great interest in this stuff, as Im sure you all do, however I have never been 'scared' of 'them'. I have had a lot of experiences and always attempt to commumicate rather than be scared off.
My husband and I went to the St Johns cemetery on the 18th April 2009 and saw nothing. My husband knew nothing prior to the visit, as I didnt want to bother him with my 'heeby geeby' details, but he was mesmerised by Ruby's grave - especially considering someone has taken great pains to paint it and its fence and placed a pink ribbon on the headstone. He knew nothing of the details but was mesmerised by it. When we left he was whistling greensleeves of all songs and had no idea why!
However, the weirdest thing is that I was attacked by a swarm of gnats as soon as I walked in. It was a very still night and I didnt really think anything of it at the time, however, I now have hundreds of bites all over my face and on my scalp and neck. The doctors cannot explain it and have never seen anything like it. Im hoping they wont scar, but a week from the event and Im still suffering and my face is still covered in enormous welts and bites.
Why my husband and I had such different experiences is a mystery and why I was attacked so severely... well I dont know. Maybe 'they' thought that was the only way they could scare me! Who knows. But please be warned - if you see those tiny little flies that usually attack rotting flesh or fruit, please please run for you life!
Anonymous said…
When the locals pulled the reformatry down, all that was left was bricks and slabs...as well as a wall....
We used to go down there a throw bottles(glass) at the wall and they wouldn''t break... we would be throwing them as hard as possible- thirty or fourty times...they'd only brek once they hit the floor! it was creepy!! but they took down that wall because the build up of rubbish by the wall!!
Chris said…
Yeah, its a pretty creepy place. Ive been there a few times, thought i saw someone once but apart from that nothing major has ever happend except the occasional moans and groans around Rev Martins grave. Does anyone know where i can get a copy of the documentary that was filmed there? I think it was called 'Most haunted Town in Australia' with Warrick Moss. I've been looking everywhere for it and i cant seemed to find it or anyone that might have a copy. I even rung up Channel 9 but still no luck. If anyone could help that would be great. Cheers.
Anonymous said…
Hi Chris go into utube and look for the story with Warrick Moss thats where I found it. We went to Kapunda last night and didnt get spooked then we went to Adelaide goal today you must try and get on one of their nightly tours.....
Anonymous said…
We went out to Kapunda today for an adventure, never knowing what truly to expect. We eventually found the reformatory and the St John's Cemetary. We found it a little eerie, it was cold, wet and stormy and a full moon. We went in daylight and eventually found the cemetery at dusk. I thought I had seen things with my eyes, they went a little blurry and I just rationalised it that my eyes were adjusting to the changing light. As we were leaving the cemetery the wind howling near that gate was ferocious and quite scary. It was blowing, but it was particulary blowing near the gate. It was not until we were driving away that I checked the photos and could not believe the amount of orbs on the photos on dusk. What was more amazing and frightening was the fact there was what appeared to be a man dressed all in black watching us from behind the trees on the reformatory entrance to the cemetery. Upon looking at some other footage on you tube, we saw the same person crouched in the trees, is this a coincidence, ghost, or caretaker. I think after looking at the photos I was more scared. I am interested on hearing from other people about if they have seen someone in the trees watching them. Thanks Ginny
Belinda said…
My friend from England and myself went out to the cemetary in the afternoon. She set up a camera and wanted to film some graves, hoping to catch some orbs or EVP's. She does paranormal investigating back home in England. Because the video was filming, we kept very quiet and just walked around slowly looking at the graves. All of a sudden, we both heard the sound a horse and cart coming down the road. But as this cemetary was in the middle of nowhere, and you could see for about a kilometre up each direction, there's no way this noise could have existed without the horse being nearby. If you get what Im saying LOL!! When we checked the video that night, there was a couple of orbs, but not once did the noise of the horse and cart play in the background. And we were really looking out for it. We also felt sick and uneasy by the priests grave, and had the impression we were being watched too. Want to go back but shit myself thinking of doing it.
The Dark Side said…

If anyone has facebook join this page. Very interesting.
Anonymous said…
Ive been to the Reformatry many of times, i remember when i was younge and i visted it with a few other people. As we entered the building i only felt scared in a few areas of the building the tiny rooms as small as a toilet cubicle and a door way. The small rooms were said to be were father john martin would lock the younge girls in after they did something wrong and were made to memerise parts of the bible if the girls did not do this it would result in them being bashed and or raped. The door way on the other hand was were a girl had hung herself, people in the town of kapunda have said to have seen father john martin walking down the path to the cemetery it is said that girl is burried under a bush like tree which is pictured above ( 6th one down)

me and my boyfriend have recently returned now being bulldozed still has the same awful feeling, to make matters worse my boyfriends car brok down by the gates to the reformatry.

something is there and does not like people bothering it. i will most prob never return there!!!!!
Anonymous said…
I wen Kapunda recently to do some EVPs and very sadly we were confronted by the curator who was extremely irate as to all the damage some people have done to some of the graves up there. From now on everyones registration numbers will be photographed and given to the police in case of any further damage. Some larks go up there to drink and do damage and spoil it for the rest of us who are seriously trying to investigate the paranormal. I certainly wont be going there again.
Anonymous said…
Hi - just wanted to clear a few things up. Vera was never in the reformatory, she was born after it closed. Vera is in fact the current caretakers Aunty.
If you want a time line of events or more history, The south Australian based paranormal investigators "Eidolon Paranormal" have a pretty good history thin on their website and run some sites about St. Johns on Facebook... try www.eidolonparanormal.net or http://www.facebook.com/#/group.php?gid=238949719729&ref=ts (ST. Johns on facebook)
Irrate said…
In reply to 'Anonymous Jan. 26, 2009 - Ruby Olive Bland was My Great Aunt and your comments were full of inaccuracies just like so many other people's who think they know her story. "Murray' is not part of her name for starters,nor did the Priest get her pregnant. She was never buried in an unmarked grave - we have a family photo of it taken in 1910 after my Great grandparents had it erected. The headstone is made of metal and had broken off and become half buried in the dirt until the photo was shown to one of Kapunda's local historians who went looking for it and having found it spent a considerable amount of his own free time to restore it. Ruby's story is our own personal family business but as usual there are many people out there who never let the facts get in the way of a good story. Just Beware! When my time comes to leave this earth, I may decide to come back to visit you all and believe me, it will be a scarier experience than anything you are likely to find at the Reformatory. Irrate G.Niece
Anonymous said…
Dear Irrate
Apologies if your are offended.
I have a copy of her Birth Certificate and your Family Tree. Copies of all found documents - including the Entry of her admission to Kapunda Hospital,her Death Certificate and the Baptism Certificate etc - oddly, she was rebaptised whilst she was in there -were given to your family members who lived in Kapunda during the period of my research. The photograph of her, supplied by your family, was also returned.

Ruby and Olive, as you will know, were fairly common family names in your clan. Murray was often added to the names if people were born around the Murray River. Ruby, being born at Lake Victoria, fits the era of that occurrence.

Unlike many others, I do actually know a fair bit about Ruby, her parents and the circumstances of her life. The tragedy of all this, is that she has still not found rest.
Warren said…
Hi All.
My wife and I have made the trip to St Johns nine times in total, ranging from day trips, through to early morning visits. Our main interest being EVP work, however there is nothing to report, NADA!

We actually found the place peaceful, and think the history is more of an attraction than anything else. "The locals are shitty", I'm not surprised, after the damage we witnessed, who wouldn't be? Finally we decided to give the place a miss, because A; we never found one scrap of material that would suggest any paranormal activity FOR US, and B; we didn't want to be associated with the vandalism and hoon behaviour that has been reported. Others have more to tell of course!
Anonymous said…
reading this gave me goosebumps, because me and a few friends went up to the cemetary a few weeks ago and could hear footsteps behind us in the bushes. it was pitch black when when we put the torch onto where it was coming from, there was nothing there. When we got back to the gates ready to get into our car i heard something that sounded like someone running through the bushes at the main entrance. Rather freaky knowing that other people have heard the same thing.
Anonymous said…
really scary reading these as my friends and i had the exact experiences. i personally saw a boy that looked black and white, somewhat like a scarecrow as he was standing so still. My friend also saw a girl in the bushes and it caused her to burst into tears. The place had a strange feeling and maybe it was due to stories we had heard and our heads were messing with us, but i believe what i saw. The noises that other people have talked about, hearing noises in the bushes like cracking and such we heard too. This made us think a real person was there, as it seemed weird for a ghost to do that. We left almost immediately and are now egar to find out about Ruby and the others.
Anonymous said…
I went there acouple months ago with 3 of my friends. me and the other girl stayed in the car while the boys went exploring. we were parked at the gate, and my friend saw a figure run past her car, while i saw 2 i think grave stones 2 the left of the gate a fair way down...glowing i cant explain it but it looked like they were, and while we had the headlights on i saw something black like a solid black shadow crawling between the graves no higher than 2 feet off the ground. yet the two boys didnt see anything. they herd footsteps and some rusting near trees but didnt see anything or get scared.
Anonymous said…
Hi there, was just wondering where is it? a map pointing would be best.
Anonymous said…
I went to this place in about 1986
I found a picture scratched into the sandstone wall of one of the little rooms that were still standing then , it was a picture of an old pram with big wheels and a parasol umbrella. It had initials but I cant remember them, place was really weird, grass was moving but no wind ?? gave me the creeps
Anonymous said…
hate to change the vibe but I have relatives at that cemetery "Travers".
Owen Traver born 1784 died 1872
any photos of the Travers final resting place would be much appreciated. go on you know they want you to...ooooohhh
Nikki said…
Me and my two friends went there last night at around 9:00pm. drove past the cemetary three times before we finally stopped. we were that scared. there was also a group of about five teenagers who were there to look for the goast.

so as my friend was driving up to the front of the cemetary to park, she didnt look where she was going and her car fell into the ditch. we started to freak out because my friend (the driver) couldnt get out. after climbing out of the passenger door, the teenagers helped us push the car out. still cant believe that happened haha.
tyson harrison said…
I went there at night time last night
Got rocks thrown at us everytime we asked if they wanted us here
We wore recording and we herd of voice sounded like he was speaking Latin
There wore hand prints on the car and there wore baby crys all night there wore foot steps everywhere and people running
Seen black figures and people moving around but no one was there
Weird and freaky place at night :O
Lachy Triz said…
Hi guys, i was there with 2 other people tonight at around 11-12am for around an hour. During that time we heard a couple of little noises, i did try and speak to Vera & Ruby, when i asked if Ruby was there i felt a hand on my shoulder and someone breathing on my neck. Also with the torch app on my phone that i had on, everytime i tried talking to any type of spirit it would flicker until i stopped talking. I would really like to go back and hear someone say something or see something, Although my older brother went there around 3 years ago and was there for 2 mins and they were silent for a second and heard a little girls voice, so overall it was a good experience and expect other people to be there when you go haha,
thanks, Lachy
Garry Bourne said…

I was there in 1988 , there was still a lot of buldings left, we found scratched pictures of old prams with big wheels and parasols on the sandstone walls, the local girl I was with told me stories about dead babies etc buried on the site , There was an old well, I felt weird when i tried to look down it , I went back years later but it was all flattened , maybe the church didnt want it revealed ??

Dick Fitzwell said…
my grandad lived at st johns reformatory with his family from 1918 to 1923. please stop focusing on this period between 1890 and 1909 with the girls reformatory. the house was well and truly haunted all ready, as noted in mother mary mackillops letters. My grandad always told me about the house and we have 40+ photos of him and his family living there in the late 1910's early 1920's. many of the photos appear to have spirits in them, and a girl DID hang herself on the palm tree, however this i believe was before the house became a reformatory. also the riverboat captain ghost (boy who drowned at nearby lake), i believe may be buried there. many bad things happened here, well before the reformatory era. My grandad new everything about this house, as he grew up he became fascinated with the fact that he actually grew up there from the age of 1 to 6years old.

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