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'Haunted' homestead is scaring away tourists

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Elements of the Eternal Soul
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« on: May 05, 2018, 05:21:02 pm »

'Haunted' homestead is scaring away tourists
Posted on Thursday, 3 May, 2018

A haunted reputation can sometimes deter, rather than attract tourists. Image Credit: sxc.hu
The Oakabella Homestead in Australia is trying to shake its haunted status in an effort to attract more visitors.
Built back in 1851 around a decade before its closest neighboring town, the historic homestead has over the years become synonymous with tales of lost souls and angry spirits.

Now though, new owners Belinda Turner and Brian Snelson are trying to shake the building's association with the paranormal because they fear it is scaring away tourists.

Their goal is to re-establish the homestead as a place of historical interest while also offering activities such as camping and stargazing in place of paranormal investigation.

"There are some articles we have read online and it is quite interesting to read the feedback," said Turner. "Not everyone is into ghosts and that was definitely portrayed in the Facebook comments."

"People will not come here if they think it is haunted."

The biggest problem with the homestead's haunted reputation is that Chinese tourists, who have been flocking to Australia in record numbers, are uncomfortable visiting places associated with ghosts.

"I am Chinese and I have lived in Australia but if you tell me that this place is the most haunted estate then I would be scared," said City of Greater Geraldton economic development officer Hanjie Davis.

"A lot of people think they have so much to offer but without knowing and understanding Chinese culture it is very difficult to find what appeals to the Chinese people."

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Elements of the Eternal Soul
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« Reply #1 on: May 05, 2018, 05:23:25 pm »

The tourist attraction dropping its ghostly status, because it is scaring people off
ABC Mid West and Wheatbelt
By Laura Meachim




Posted 29 Apr 2018, 3:24pm
A piece of farm machinery outside the Oakabella Homestead and an outdoor toilet to the side.
Photo: The history of Oakabella Homestead involves several deaths, including that of a worker who accidently shot himself and the death of a three-year-old child. (ABC Midwest and Wheatbelt: Laura Meachim)
External Link: Video - Oakabella: A land of ghosts and beautiful scenery
Related Story: Stories from the Mid West and Wheatbelt in 2015

Tales of lost souls and enraged spirits once intrigued guests at Oakabella Homestead, which previously boasted the title of Western Australia's most haunted building, but now it is trying to shake the label because it is scaring visitors away.

Built in 1851, the homestead was established over 10 years before its closest neighbouring town, Northampton 460km from Perth, in the picturesque Chapman Valley.

Its new business owners, Belinda Turner and Brian Snelson are turning a new leaf — because the "haunted" buildings are failing to attract visitors, particularly Chinese tourists.

Ms Turner said they were focusing on teaching people about the homestead's rich history and working with other community groups to offer things like stargazing, campfires and bush tucker.

"There are some articles we have read online and it is quite interesting to read the feedback," she said.

"Not everyone is into ghosts and that was definitely portrayed in the Facebook comments."

"People will not come here if they think it is haunted so that is why we are bringing it back to the history."
Belinda Turner and Brian Snelson outside the Oakabella Homestead, with a yellow door.
Photo: Belinda Turner and Brian Snelson took on the Oakabella Homestead business six months ago and are turning it around to appeal to a wider audience. (ABC Midwest and Wheatbelt: Laura Meachim)

Chinese superstitions

The Midwest region is a popular place for Chinese tourists, with locations like the Port Gregory Pink Lakes and the Abrolhos Islands proving to be a major natural drawcard.

City of Greater Geraldton economic development officer Hanjie Davis grew up in Beijing and said haunted building and ghost stories were a major turn-off for Chinese people.

"I am Chinese and I have lived in Australia but if you tell me that this place is the most haunted estate then I would be scared," she said.

    "If you have ghosts, my first impression is that I don't want to go there."

She said marketing the region to Chinese tourists meant getting to know the culture.

"A lot of people think they have so much to offer but without knowing and understanding Chinese culture it is very difficult to find what appeals to the Chinese people," she said.

While international tourist numbers have declined in WA over the past year, the Midwest has seen an increase in Chinese tourist numbers.

Ms Davis said local businesses and attractions needed to offer packages that provide a unique experience.

"They come here because in China, in the big cities they do not see the horizon, they cannot see the starry nights so for that, the Chinese will come."
Oakabella homestead, a picket fence and some trees.
Photo: Built in 1851, the Homestead features original artefacts from the 1800s. (ABC Midwest and Wheatbelt: Laura Meachim)

Heritage and high tea

Ms Turner said they understood Chinese visitors wanted to experience an authentic, outback farm experience.

"The Chinese, we believe are more interested in learning about our country," she said.
Reflecting on the past in rural Australia
Photo: The homestead remains relatively untouched, reflecting on how people lived in the 1800s. (ABC Midwest and Wheatbelt: Laura Meachim)

"They want to know how the original people ate, how they cooked their food and we want to go down the line of showing them good old Aussie tradition."

The pair will still offer the occasional night tour of the old homestead for those brave enough to enter the buildings after dark.

But Mr Snelson said most of the time the homestead would host heritage tours, star gazing nights and daily traditional high teas.

"We ourselves are more passionate about the history side of things," he said.

"The spiritual ghost side of things is something we are a bit less believing in. We obviously do not have the sixth sense to pick up on those sort of things."

Topics: tourism, travel-and-tourism, lifestyle-and-leisure, advertising-and-marketing, history, northampton-6535, geraldton-6530
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Elements of the Eternal Soul
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« Reply #2 on: May 05, 2018, 05:25:59 pm »

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« Reply #3 on: May 05, 2018, 05:26:19 pm »

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« Reply #4 on: May 05, 2018, 05:27:42 pm »

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-30/oakabella-homestead-drops-ghost-tours-attract-chinese-tourists/9705444
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