The Ghost of Mount Victoria Pass

In 1891 Henry Lawson published a poem called “The Ghost at the Second Bridge”, which told of encountering a terrifying spectre on lonely Mount Victoria Pass in the Blue Mountains. While a fright of fancy, Lawson’s poem was based on a tragic true story. Gather round for the haunting tale of a handful of murders, a couple of hangings, chaotic court cases, drunken witnesses, shock acquittals, and, of course, sightings of the restless spirit known as “The Woman in Black”.


  1. An interesting tale. The cemetery behind Colllit’s Inn is very interesting. Lawson’s father is buried there. There is also a grave of an indigenous servant buried away from the main area. Perhaps not permitted on consecrated ground. Grog and the Irish seem to be a theme in these early times. The number of pubs/inns in the Hartley area at the time is quite extraordinary.
    There is some great history in this little valley.

  2. Thanks, Brian. Yes a stack of history packed into a small, beautiful and somewhat haunting place.

  3. My ancestor Nicholas Delaney was a very early pioneer at Hartley Vale. He was an Irish rebel and arrived in Port Jackson in 1801. Upon his release on a pardon he became the Superintendent of roads in the colony and was responsible for the construction of the Western highway. Some of my ancestors are buried in the same cemetery as Henry Lawson’s father and I am quite sure that Nicholas would have known some of those mentioned in the podcast.

  4. Such an interesting story. THANK YOU. My husband’s forebear was Pierce Collits and although I knew the story of Carolyn’s murder this Podcast was fantastic as it gives so much background and “behind the scenes” of Carolyn’s family. Many thanks.

  5. Thank you Michael. As a descendant of Pierce and Mary I found it very interesting. I have read about this previously, and loved hearing it told in the podcast format.
    What difficult lives these people led. I feel especially sad for these poor James girls. They did not stand a chance.
    We hold our ancestors in high esteem, but I can’t help wondering at the treatment of these children, taken in by the Collits’s as servants, then seemingly left unprotected from the lecherous and unscrupulous young men around them.
    Thanks again. Very well done.

    1. Thank you, Susan – for listening and for commenting. It was indeed very said for those girls — and the values and treatment of people back then often left much to be desired. I’m very glad you found it worthwhile. All best for Xmas and the NY.

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