This is one of the most haunted places in Australia. The first European explorer here was the brutal Captain Logan in 1826. He was the commandant of the Moreton Bay penal colony. Despised by convicts he was fated to be killed by Aboriginals. He ordered the first felons here to work their hands to the bone mining limestone. It was once a prime candidate to be the capital of Queensland. Today I’m visiting Ipswich. I’ll be casting a wary eye towards the Metropole Hotel, one of those haunted locations.
The Metropole was built in 1906 on the site of the Harp of Erin, which dated back to around 1850. Publican Alex Fairley died there in 1894 just weeks after all his savings were stolen from his private quarters on St Patrick’s night. His wife and daughters then ran the pub, and later the new Metropole, but Alex never fully departed. It may be him who still walks the upstairs rooms today, in a vain attempt to protect his cashbox and the virtue of his daughters.
Alex is no commonplace ghost. His father was the oldest banker in Glasgow. His uncle a slave owner in Trinidad. A nephew an MI6 spy. A grandnephew a Soviet war hero. His wife was descended from European royalty and at least four saints.
As I glance over my shoulder today at the Metropole, I’ll sense a small connection to Alex. A year or so ago his great-grandson visited the site for the first time. Warren is the only living descendant bearing the Fairley moniker. Here he’s pictured holding the Fairley story that I wrote. He’s my uncle.
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