The world’s capacity for ignorance and moneymaking appears endless.
The barren paddocks of southwest NSW have recently thrown up Louise Edwards, who confesses she’s been dreaming for some time of expanding her Goulburn Ghost Tours into nearby Belangalo State Forest for an Ivan Milat ‘killing fields’ excursion.
And she’s finally done it. Her newly minted “Extreme Terror Tour” promises an evening (and we mean an ENTIRE evening – 6pm to 3am roughly) of tramping through bushland over the places where Milat buried his backpacker victims after he’d raped, tortured and killed them.
Milat’s house, where he kept ‘mementoes’ of his victims’ belongings.
It’s also where teenager David Auchterlonie was murdered in 2010 by Milat’s great nephew, Matthew Milat. Auchterlonie’s mother, Sandra Auchterlonie, is understandably pretty distressed by the revelation groups of tourists who’ve forked out $150 a pop will be trudging through the forest where her son spent the last minutes of his life.
“It is a money-making tour at our expense,” she told the SMH. “I can’t stop people from running these ghost tours, but I think it’s disgusting. They are taking advantage of our grief.”
Victims of Crime Assistance League NSW vice-president Howard Brown has also weighed in, pointing out the area is pretty sacred for the families of victims, particularly those who are thought to have been killed there but are still classed as missing. “For people to make profit out of others people’s misery is completely inappropriate and in my point of view, ghoulish.”
Okay, you say, but what about Auschwitz? Hiroshima? The Killing Fields in Cambodia? ‘Dark tourism’ spots have always captured humanity’s curiosity with the macabre, and many succeed in allowing visitors to meaningfully engage with the context and impact of historical atrocities.
Memorial lanterns mark an anniversary at the Hiroshima Peace Park.
Indeed, Edwards was keen to stress that the tours would be done with sensitivity and that they “wanted to remind people that the victims are real people … We don’t want people to forget about them.”
And then you get to the website.
“Come with trained and experienced Paranormal Investigators to Belanglo State Forrest where horrific crimes have been committed and bodies have been found,” it reads in that ‘spooky’ typeface you used when you were 9 years old.
“Belangalo State Forrest is the old stomping ground of Ivan Milat, convicted serial murderer.
Learn about his crimes and use paranormal techniques to help solve the baffling murder of Angel, believed to be murdered AFTER Ivan Milat was jailed!”
Ms Edwards clearly does not have paper cranes in mind. It gets worse:
“Who else is out here?
Are we being followed…watched?
Is there another victim waiting to be found?”
We’ll leave you to ponder that last sentence in particular.
Some fathomless individuals have already booked out the first tour on the 27th July, and only 6 are left for each of the following two ‘investigations’.
Title image: “Belanglo State Forest sign” by Ajayvius (talk) – self-made. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikipedia