Is there anything more terrifying than disembodied voices? Erm, yes. Sure. Any episode of 90s classic Unsolved Mysteries. Or literally seeing a demon. Or waking up with that thing where you can’t move, and they call it “sleep paralysis” but come on, that’s definitely a ghost pinning you down and likely inserting itself into your very soul. Sorry if you deal with that, but you’re up sh*t creek without a paddle, that’s all there is to it.
Disembodied voices are pretty spooky, though – especially if said voices are of the VERY LOUD, VERY WAILY SCREECHY KIND. Absolute hard pass nope nopety nope on that one, folks.
That’s exactly the kind of noises reported by shearers and staff working and camping near Wilga Waterhole, a sort of bush oasis in central-western Queensland, way back in the late 1800s.
According to rumours that circulated from the 1890s right through to the 1940s, when several newspaper articles covered the mysterious sounds, animals that were brought through the area were spooked out of their minds and wouldn’t drink at the waters. Then, of course, there’s the noise itself – which was reported to have been heard by several people.
The best description of the noise comes from an article in the Sunday Mail in 1941, by an author who simply went by the name of ‘Beachcomber’. He told the story of a couple who lived on nearby Ruthven Station, and made a small cabin to live in near the waterhole. After the wife had two experiences with the horrible wailing, the couple moved – but not before telling the story to others in the area, leading to some shearers holding their own investigation by camping at the site. ‘Beachcomber’ recounts their experience.
“None of them heard the first distant wail, but in a few seconds as the wailing increased in pitch every man was out of his blankets and on his feet. There came to their astounded ears yelling and wailing and screaming, as if made by innumerable persons, and of such a volume and nature that it could not have been uttered by any animal or bird of the bush.”
These days the waterhole is on private property (so you can’t visit and hear the screeching for yourself) and it’s pretty dried up. That photo above? Not of the actual waterhole. But I imagine it’s kind of the vibe from ye olde 1890s.
Like all good unsolved mysteries worth their salt, there are plenty of rumours as to what causes the noise – from ghostly entities, to mythical creatures, to some really boring “normal” stuff. But if I told you all of those, you wouldn’t listen to our VERY insightful, VERY unhinged All Aussie Mystery Hour podcast episode on the Wilga Waterhole now, would you?