When the world called it haunted, Olive Ryan called it home.
The 88-year-old first came to the Monte Cristo Homestead in Junee when she was 33-years-old and five months pregnant for her fourth child.
When she and husband Reg Ryan drove through the gates for the first time on June 3, 1963 the house was in complete disrepair, having been looted and vandalised by squatters before the couple purchased it for a thousand pounds.
By the end of their first week in the house, it was clear the property was all but usual.
The homestead’s haunting history is well known, with varying levels of belief.
For Mrs Olive and youngest son Lawrence Ryan, who now operate the dwelling as a living museum, the house is filled with as many fond memories as there are peculiarities.
“I’ve had hands on my shoulder when no-one’s around, I’ve heard voices in my ear from time to time, but you get used to it,” said Mrs Ryan.
I reckon it’s the living you have to be worried about, the dead can’t hurt you.- Olive Ryan
Mr Ryan warmly recalls the family coming together for Christmas dinners in the main dining room.
He also remembers the dreams that plagued him as he slept upstairs in the aptly-named ‘boys room’, known to be now the room in which former owner William Crawley had died.
“I was the type of kid who used to dream a lot,” said Mr Ryan.
“I had a recurring nightmare about taking a body away from the house to bury outside, I’ve been told that it might have something to do with the hearsay around caretakers who would take the bodies out after a miscarriage.”
This Saturday the family will host its annual period costume ball to mark 55 years since the home was resurrected.
Despite her trepidation upon seeing the shell of a home left in 1963, Mrs Ryan has grown affection for her home’s unexplained happenings.
“I’ll be very happy to live here all my life,” she said.
At last count, a total of 10 separate apparitions have been sighted on the site. But the family would wager the spirit of Reg Ryan continues to roam now four years since his passing.
“A few months after my father passed, a guest photographed the carriages in the stable [...] the photo took my breath away,” said Mr Ryan.
“It was obvious to anyone who knew him that he was standing there.”
His latest sighting was only days ago, on Saturday September 9, which would have been Mr and Mrs Ryan’s 61st wedding anniversary.
“I felt my husband trying to get into bed with me.”