Millicent’s grand hotel haunts recounted in ghost crime novel

SPOOKY STORIES: Millicent’s Grand Hotel, dubbed one of South Australia’s most haunted hotels, celebrated its 120th birthday last month. Hotel manager Leandra Worrell said many visitors often confused the hotel as the town’s oldest, but confessed it was the youngest instead, but had its historical features effectively preserved. Picture: MOLLY TAYLOR

By Molly Taylor

The Grand Hotel’s paranormal past has been reignited on the cusp of the long-standing facility’s mammoth milestone birthday.

The Millicent-based venue, dubbed as one of South Australia’s most haunted hotels, has attracted the attention of several investigators and ghost hunters over its 120 years since establishment.

Celebrating its major anniversary on 12 September this year, a string of historical conspiracies involving several resident spirits have since been associated with the popular venue and have circulated the nation for years.

Ghost Crime Tours paranormal investigators David Hogg and Darren Bacchus are among many who have explored the hotel themselves, deeming it to be one of their favourite investigations of all time.

Visiting in 2016, the experienced examiners have been working on a novel involving a series of ghost stories which will include The Grand Hotel.

Mr Hogg said the book Ghost Crime Tales is expected to launch next month and he believed the hotel’s well-known association with past supernatural activity was worthy of a feature.

Stories and sightings by visitors and staff have been recounted in both upstairs and downstairs sections of the hotel and involve three main characters.

Mr Hogg said a young boy who plays around the pool and bar table area, a former female publican named Mary and an older well-dressed gentleman who leaves a lingering smell of tobacco are the most common stories told.

“We always had the thought of putting together some our favourite stories into a book and getting it out for everybody to read,” he said.

“We had heard about The Grand Hotel ghost stories for years… Everybody loves a good ghost story from back in the day.

“It is a gorgeous hotel with a tonne of history. There is nothing like being there in person, with the lights off, and waiting for everything to quieten down to see what happens next. “

During the late night investigation, Mr Hogg said they had tremendous success recording large EVP and EMF spikes when exploring several of the establishment’s accommodation rooms and service areas.

Hotel manager Leandra Worrell said it was each to their own as to whether they believed the hotel’s paranormal history.

“There are just so many stories and it makes you wonder as to where they all came from,” she said.

“There has been a couple of unexplained things, just feelings and thinking there is somebody there, but there is not.

“I think I have grown accustomed to the spooky feeling because the whole time I have been here people have spoken about it.”

Since taking on her managing role after the hotel changed ownership hands around four years ago, Ms Worrell said she often attended to the hotel’s upstairs level.

“I go upstairs in the accommodation section just about every day now and at first it is a bit eerie,” she said.

“The old man is believed to occupy a specific room so whenever I service the room I always say hello as I have been told he is grumpy.

“People have told me they have also had usual feelings when they go up there.”

The hotel has been investigated on two other occasions since 2016 including most recently by Adelaide Haunted Horizons following an investigation at Robe’s Caledonian Inn.

Ms Worrell said since her employment at the hotel, she had invested time into researching the history of the hotel.

“In 1899, a petition was put forward to build another hotel because people felt the other two venues did not provide quality accommodation,” she said.

“People in Millicent said they did not want any more hotels as they had enough, and the only reason this was passed was because of the proximity to the railway station and the promise would be grand.

“For a long time it was actually the grandest hotel in the South East.”