Sarah Fittock


Lockdown can be a difficult time for many. Ordering out may be a quick and easy option to keep the children content. However, this zucchini slice may be what’s needed to keep the kids healthy and happy.

Toddlers Ariana and Sophia love any chance to make the kitchen dirty. Their mum decided to help them achieve this goal by having them assist her in cooking a healthy snack.

This zucchini slice has become a much-loved family meal and allows the girls to have plenty to do during lockdown.

Instead of causing trouble in other areas of the house, Ariana and Sophia are given the opportunity to be distracted in the kitchen.

“It’s a good distraction for them and me during lockdown. It gives us plenty to do and often keeps them quiet and happy,” their mother Natalie Fittock says.

Ariana loves cracking each egg into the bowl whilst her sister Sophia mixes the ingredients on the floor, the clean floor that is.









Both girls love assisting their mum in the cooking process and in return are treated to a “yummy” snack.

“Yummy,” three-year-old Ariana says. “Love zucchini slice!”

“Mmmmm,” one-year-old Sophia says.

Once the girls smell the delicious slice heating in the oven, they camp themselves in front of its warmth to watch the cooking process.

“It’s a nice bonding experience for both of the girls,” Natalie says.

The recipe, originally taken from Women’s Weekly has been modified to suit this young family’s needs, adding a carrot to the recipe and replacing normal self-raising flour with wholegrain self-raising flour.

“I use it (wholegrain flour) because it has more fibre in it and it’s less processed,” Natalie says. “It makes sense. It’s not just a nice snack for the immediate family, but great for the whole extended family.”










  • 375 grams of finely grated zucchini
  • 1 finely grated carrot
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 3 finely chopped bacon rashers
  • 1 cup grated cheese
  • 1 cup whole grain self-raising flour
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 5 eggs
  • Salt and Pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees (160 fan forced)
  2. Combine zucchini, carrot, onion, bacon, cheese, sifted flour, oil and lightly beaten eggs and season with salt and pepper
  3. Pour into a well-greased pan
  4. Bake for 30-40 minutes
  5. Cut into squares and serve to hungry children

Aliens, reptilians, royals, and clowns, what is scarier? Or, should the question be, what is more believable? We travel down the conspiracy rabbit hole to investigate the top 10 theories that have circulated throughout the world.

Conspiracy theories question the possibility of extra-terrestrials, government cover-ups and otherworldly beings more capable than we ever thought possible. Are these just fictitious speculations or are they more grounded in reality than we would believe?

ConHere are the top 10 conspiracy theories.

  1. Moon Landing

The moon landing was faked.  In 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin allegedly took the first giant mankind leaps onto the Moon. People in the United States thought this to be all a hoax, with a survey in 1970 concluding that 30 per cent of the population believed the moon landing to have been faked.

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

The theory is that Stanley Kubrick, who directed classics such as The Shining, filmed the moon landing on a sound stage in London. This was all part of an elaborate plan by the United States government to reach the moon before the Soviet Union.

One point of the theory states that the flag planted into the Moon’s surface was flapping in the wind. However, the moon doesn’t have an atmosphere, therefore there is no wind. NASA and other “untrustworthy sources” have explained just how this flapping occurred. The American’s didn’t want a limp looking flag, which is what the flag would have done if stood in the ground. They, therefore, installed an extendable metal pole on the longer edge of the flag to hold it straight. Aldrin and Armstrong, however, couldn’t fully extend the pole and it appeared to be waving.

Today the number of deniers has decreased, but it stills stands at a significant 10 per cent of the population.

  1. The CIA killed JFK
Photo by History in HD on Unsplash

It has long been believed that the man behind the assassination of John F. Kennedy was Lee Harvey Oswald as he had been the only known person to be in the building that overlooked the drive where the president was killed and was the owner of the alleged murder weapon. But before police could question him further, he was suspiciously killed by nightclub owner Jack Ruby. So, when the Warren commission, instated by Lindon B Johnson, concluded that Oswald had killed the President people were not convinced.

Theories quickly began to circulate the globe, with 61 per cent of Americans believing that others were assisting in the event.

Theories spoke of a suspicious umbrella man, the mob, a second shooter on the grassy knoll and that Ted Cruz’s father played a part in the assassination.

Donald Trump discussed the last theory during his 2016 presidential campaign. The theory that stuck throughout the years is that the CIA was involved in Kennedy’s death. It’s theorised that the CIA was frustrated with the way Kennedy was handling the war on communism. This caused anti-Communist and anti-Cuba CIA agents to turn rogue to kill him in an attempt to maintain tension with the Soviet Union and Cuba. There are reports that Kennedy was planning on pulling out of Vietnam and work on ending the Cold War. This further confirms the suspicions that agents within the CIA would have found this undesirable and thought it to be a traitorous move.

  1. Qanon

The blood of young children allows the elites to maintain their health. These elites have formed a global deep state satanic paedophile ring that goes as high as the American Government. This is what Qanon supporters believe.

It started online, where Q, an anonymous 4chan user began to spread his theories on the worlds political environment. One of the first theories to spread online is known today as Pizzagate. This theory states that Hillary Clinton was running a child sex ring out of a pizza joint in Washington. This led to an armed man travelling across the US to stop the operation. When he arrived, however, he did not discover any evidence of a child sex ring.

Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona on Unsplash

Today, the theory that has immersed itself into the heart of Qanon members is that of cannibalistic celebrities and politicians. According to QAnon, the US government is a satanic cult and people like Ellen DeGeneres, Barrack Obama, Tom Hanks and Hillary Clinton are not only paedophiles, but they drink the blood of children to maintain their healthy lifestyles.

In the past two years, they have begun to disprove the COVID pandemic, stating that it was a hoax to damage President Trump’s chance at re-election. Australia is also home to a large Qanon following, with many protesting the COVID lockdowns adhering to Qanon core beliefs.

Since 2016, when Qanon gained traction online, a large following around the world began to develop. Earlier this year, the group sieged the US capital and it was found that 56 per cent of Republicans in the US followed Qanon.

  1. This is all a Simulation

The phrase, “There’s a glitch in the Matrix,” is often thrown around when a coincidence occurs. Such as two people wearing the same outfit to work. This is related to an idea raised by philosopher Nick Bostrom that reality as we know it, is all a simulation. He has five assumptions:

The first assumption is that it is possible to generate consciousness. This means that our consciousness has been created and is now controlled by others. The second is that technology will continue to advance and that there may be a civilisation in the universe already capable of creating a simulation where we can prosper. The third assumption is that advanced civilisations do not destroy themselves.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Now, we see no other civilisations in our universe because they have not passed the Great Filters, such as climate change, nuclear destruction, and a black hole. However, what if this advanced civilisation has removed themselves from the simulation to make us believe that all societies including their own have been destroyed by these great filters? We would then believe that we are alone in the universe with no one else to create this simulation for us, thus we do not believe we are simulated.

The fourth assists this theory, as super-advanced civilisations would want to and could run a simulation. Advanced civilisations could be using us for their comical efforts, how else would you explain reality TV? Or they could even be using us scientifically. It could be possible that these god-like aliens treat us the same way we treat ants.

Assumption five advises that if there are many simulations out there, there is a possibility that we are in one of them. These god-like aliens could be running multiple simulations; which further proves the third assumption, in which they would want us to think that they have been destroyed to show that there is no simulation.

  1. Modern Art Shows are a front for money laundering

This interesting Reddit theory questions every modern art show that occurs, stating that every show is a front for money laundering schemes. It’s no lie, that modern art is… interesting. So, it makes a lot of sense when people believe that art shows allow people to make purchases to convert their illegal money into art.

This theory has been proven true. In 2007, a Brazilian banker was found to have converted his illegal makings

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

into a 12,000-piece art collection. He was caught when an $8 million artwork was discovered at a New York City airport. Authorities uncovering later that this artwork was one of the thousands being sold to hide profits and assets attained illegally.

Even though this has been proven to occur, the theory states that all modern art shows are money laundering fronts, not just the rare few.


  1. Area 51 and the number of theories

We have all heard of Area 51. The army base is home to UFO’s and aliens. In recent years, however, Area 51 has been uncovered to be a secret army base, where the US test new technology and weapons. Boring.

One Reddit theory has suggested that the American government allowed the population to believe that this was an “alien base” as a diversion from the real location or locations. That’s right. There is another location or

Photo by Bruce Warrington on Unsplash

multiple locations out there where aliens run free. Even though quite a few people believe that the hype around alien existence was a distraction from what really occurred at the base. The idea that there are multiple locations out there truly studying the world of extra-terrestrial lifestyles is fascinating, to say the least. One Reddit user states that Area 51 is a decoy and Area 52 is the real thing.

Another theory states that a Nazi doctor enlarged the heads of abducted teenagers.

The doctor, ordered by Joseph Stalin to cause Cold War terror, medically enlarged teenager’s heads in an effort to have them fly UFOs over America. You can’t deny that they failed in their attempts though, as the teenagers would later crash the UFO in what is now known as the Roswell incident.

  1. Jack the Ripper was a royal

The most infamous serial killer to have ever roamed a city’s streets, Jack the Ripper was indeed a royal. There are many theories on the identity of Jack the Ripper. To many, he is still shrouded in anonymity, however, some believe he was Prince Albert Edward Victor.

Photo by Roberto Catarinicchia on Unsplash

A physician in the 1970’s concluded that Prince Albert was suffering from insanity caused by syphilis. The theory states that the prince contracted the disease through multiple visits to local brothels. After contracting syphilis, he became enraged with revenge and brutally murdered prostitutes in the streets of London.

Another theory is that the prince began a love affair with a commoner, eventually having a daughter. However, the royals were unhappy with the idea of a commoner becoming heir to the throne. So, they ordered agents to kill whoever may have known about the suspected affair and it wasn’t long after the bodies of prostitutes began to appear across London. It may not be as exciting as a Royal himself committing the murders, but it is still controversial.

So, was the grandchild of Queen Victoria and second in line to the throne a grizzly murderer? Just imagine, if he hadn’t died at the young age of 27 from Tuberculosis, Jack the Ripper could have been King. 

  1. Killer Clown pandemic in 2016 was one huge advertisement for the movie IT

Remember 2016? No Covid, no lockdowns, just clowns.

Before the current pandemic, there was a pandemic of another kind. Hundreds of “Killer Clowns” were sited across the globe. In 2016 people thought it was a good idea to dress up as creepy clowns and stalk others with knives and other weapons. In September, it allegedly started in the UK, when reports of a creepy clown scaring

Photo by Tom Roberts on Unsplash

children were released. Not long after this, reports around the globe began to appear. Police in the US were inundated with 911 calls regarding clowns chasing unsuspecting victims. Arrests were made, and citizens started to ask if they could shoot the clowns.

This was all around the time when an advertisement for the upcoming 2017 Stephen King reboot of IT was being released. Online, people started to link the creepy sightings to the remake. The theory is that the clowns were a part of the IT marketing campaign which gained so much traction that the producer of the film had to come out and deny any connection to the clowns.

  1. The Earth is Flat

According to Flat-Earther’s, the earth is a flat disc. It means that we were created by someone greater and there is no existence of other lifeforms in the galaxy, oh and there is no galaxy. Mark Sargent, who is a leader of the Flat Earth movement, states that the north pole is at the centre of the Earth. Surrounding the North Pole are the continents and surrounding the continents is Antarctica that creates an ice wall around the entirety of the earth. The sun and moon are small, and the stars are simply lights. Flat-Earthers also state that NASA was founded to falsely advocate for a spherical Earth. Any video that you have seen of astronauts in space, and yes, even the moon landing, is all fake.

Image by ParallelVision from Pixabay

This is a growing movement. It has gained enough traction to convince two per cent of Americans which may not sound like a lot, but two per cent is roughly 6.5 million people. And to put that into perspective, Sydney’s population is 5.3 million.

  1. The Reptilian Elite

The Queen is a lizard person. So is Obama, Beyonce, Hillary Clinton, the list goes on. These reptilian hybrids are responsible for some of the world’s most horrific events. They have caused traumatic moments in history such as the Holocaust and 9/11. People who adhere to this theory believe that these reptilian Aliens are here to enslave us and control our every movement. This is similar to the simulation theory, however, instead of being an Alien race that controls us from afar, they are very much close by. And guess what, some Qanon supporters believe this conspiracy, with one supporter murdering his brother with a sword because he thought he was a lizard.

Photo by Laura Parenti from Pexels

This is not a new conspiracy theory. A British sports reporter fuelled this through his reptilian ramblings stating that there is enough evidence to prove it. This has started a large movement, and as we saw with Flatearther’s, it quickly gained a large following of Americans. In a 2013 survey, 12 million Americans admitted to believing this conspiracy – that’s Sydney and Melbourne’s populations combined.

Fire is often feared, however, the indigenous perspective allows us to view fire as a tool, to utilise it, to make the country healthy and help in its biodiversity.

Cultural burning is the traditional fire management practice of the indigenous people. Unlike back burning fire is used to enhance the health and wellbeing of country as-well-as assist the growth of the ecosystem across the land.

In traditional fire management, fire is not feared but used as a tool. It is done through slow, cool and low-intensity burns. To avoid any danger, fire practitioners like Batemans Bay Aboriginal Land Council work crew supervisor Andrew White, reads the land to determine the best time of year to burn.

“Back burning is really hot, intense fire, so it degrades the land,” he says. “We read country types to determine when it should be burnt and what time of year it should be burnt”

Healthy burns as described by Mr White, is white smoke with black ash. This differs to black smoke with white ash which is described as an unhealthy burn and can often be associated with back burning.

“That’s the whole difference between being an RFS firefighter to a fire practitioner,” Mr White says, “We utilise fire for our benefit and we walk with fire on country to utilise it.”

Andrew White and other fire practitioners use knowledge passed down through generations to take care of the land.

In an effort to educate others, Andrew White and his team assist local landowners to enhance the growth and health of their properties through guidances and the transition of knowledge.

“She’s really happy with the outcome,” Andrew says whilst recounting a visit to a local’s residence. “The first two days after the burn she was seeing kangaroos coming back.”

There was a significant change in the land and the resident experienced a higher rate in diverse native animals on her property. From here word began to spread, and more landholders jumped on board.

This allowed the Aboriginal Lands Council to access significant headlands, which are important to Indigenous people across the country.

Not only is traditional fire management useful to different country types but it is more efficient in saving water and money for equipment.

“We don’t need water tanks, and equipment doesn’t sit with us. When we burn, we don’t use water to put it out, we utilise different country types,” Mr White says.

It can help suppress wildfires and it really helps with the diversity of our landscapes. It eradicates weeds and is less labour intensive.”

Previous cultural burning of country assisted in the preservation of land during the devastating 2019-2020 summer bushfires.

“It suppressed the fire that much that it didn’t catch back to the canopy and for maybe a kilometre or two past our burn site there’s still canopy intact so that’s harbouring all these animals now that would have had no chance anywhere else,” Mr White says

Unfortunately, however, due to restrictions the land council are only authorised to conduct burnings on small pockets of land instead of a broad-scale approach.

“If we had done a bit more broad scale burning on the country, you’d see these outcomes more frequently and there wouldn’t be so much devastation,” he says.

We’re trying to teach people that it’s manageable, we don’t want to do all the work, we just want to help them, share our knowledge so they can manage their own land correctly,” he says. “We aren’t withholding our knowledge; we want to share it.”

If you would like to learn more about traditional fire management please visit,

The nausea, the pain and the mental strain placed over the 19-year-old became too much. She sat in the hospital bathroom, holding herself close, alone yet crowded by excessive thoughts. She lifted her phone and started to record.

“This is so dreadful… this is terrible, this is something I have to do, and I know I’ll get through, it’s just, this is my life for the next four to six months,” she shares. “Day four, it sucks.”

I met up with Emili months after COVID-19’s claustrophobic isolation. The tight wrap of her arms reminded me greatly of the fragility of life. After many months of lockdown, I noticed how her hair had changed. No longer was it a thick shade of dark brown but now it waved lightly over her pale cheeks. Its reflective light brown was highlighted by her wide smile, matching her cosmically brown eyes. Her face lit up the room with a rare positivity, yet her voice was croaky – alluding to the reality of her treatments.

In 2020, 19-year-old Emili Milosevska was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin Lymphoma. Over many months of chemotherapy, Emili has won the battle against the tumour that called her lung home. Emili’s outlook on life remained positive throughout, relying on a number of tools to help restrict chemos intense blow. As the chemo progressed and the negative thoughts shrouded, Emili embraced humour to ward off their ugly heads.

Her Experience

In late 2016, a 15-year-old Emili experienced a nasty, recurring cough. It got worse, and doctors diagnosed her with asthma, but the puffers never helped rid of the asthma attacks.

“The thing is they did the scans… but they diagnosed it wrong,” Emili said.

Then last year the physical pain started. Doctors scoured for an answer, and after the years of suffering, she finally received the news that a large tumour had been discovered. After learning the news, the joy-filled Emili decided to give the tumour a name in an effort to de-emphasise the defeatist grip it would hold over her life. Rob began to press against her nerves, causing such immense affliction. The pain was overwhelming and exhausting. Rob was an unwanted foe, thus began the demanding and debilitating process of chemotherapy.

Her Resilience

The first 14 days of her first chemotherapy cycle brought many challenges. Doctors attempted to find medications that could be taken home so Emili could continue her treatments in the comfort of her abode. This process, however, was difficult. The medication caused a number of problems that Emili was not equipped to handle.

“I remember that I was hallucinating. I was sitting in bed; I couldn’t move I was so high.” Emili said.

With a hallucinating spell cast over her, she noticed a nurse who attempted to kidnap her. She cried out in horror and began to hyperventilate. The nurse, in fact, had no plan to kidnap Emili, only wishing to continue the work in which they started. In actual fact, Emili had taken medication, anxiety medication, meant to generate a calming effect. However, the opposite occurred.

As the second round of chemotherapy approached, fear tied Emili down. Memories of the first cycle and the torment 11 days spent in hospital had, ate away at her nerves. But her strength and resilience allowed her to face the wall of anxiety as she danced her way into TikTok.

@emilimilosevskaI’m so bored haha. ##foryourpage ##feauture ##fyp ##shakira ##dance ##hipsdonttlie

♬ Hips Dont Lie by Shakira – goalsounds

“You know how positive I am, how crazy, so this process was a lot easier for that, because of my mentality.”

Emili still had a long way to go, not only having to experience the dread of chemo, but she also had to endure gut-wrenching fertility treatments. The thought of children had previously occurred to Emili in passing conversations with friends. She never wanted to go through the horror that is childbirth, so she often thought of adoption. In spite of this, she still had the option to conceive a child of her own.

One night, however, whilst at a friend’s party, she found herself crying in a kitchen, isolated the crowds and absorbed in a phone call that changed everything. The treatments didn’t work, the option was no more.

What do I tell my future husband about kids, how do I bring that up?”

When speaking of this night, I saw a comfort in her eyes. The knowledge that adoption is still an option allowed positivity to take over her young mind. She sat and spoke of her future Gary and the ways in which adoption could be spoken about. Funnily enough her humour began to reveal itself during the disheartening conversation, as the name Gary did not only belong to her future imagined husband but belonged to her hospital IV pole.

Emili’s individualistic experience with chemotherapy was one of positivity and resilience. For Emili she was able to scare cancer off in only two months. She told herself that even though the road was long and coarse, cancer was not going to be the end. 

Her Family

On day four of the first cycle Emili found herself trapped, surrounded by claustrophobic dark thoughts. Split-second conceptualisations of demise began to plague her once pragmatic mind. It was bad. She asked herself, is life worth this treatment? She continued to reflect on family and close friends who became main channel of positivity and assistance throughout.

Whilst we sat eating Emili could not stop talking about the love that continues to grow for her family in which her strength stemmed.

“I feel like it’s harder for the family and friends then it is for the person… I had to go through there’s nothing you can do, but other people have to see me go through that experience.”

With the prescribed medications altering Emili’s hormones, she began to have breakdowns. The strength of her parents shone through during the most difficult of times. A Mum who helped her daughter in showers where the water became a feared enemy of long, transparent glass. When she found herself in compromised positions unable to muster up the strength, her father became her muscles.

During hospital chemotherapy sessions, her father embraced Emili’s style of dry, sarcastic humour, as he began to laugh and joke with doctors.

“Would you give her another bag (of chemo),” he asked the doctor, only to be met with a confused expression.

“Why?” the doctor replied.

“Because she won’t shut up,” he laughed.

Even when retelling the story over coffee, laughter caused Emili’s eyes filled to the brim with tears.

It goes a long way to show just how parents will act when their child is sick, craving to create a smile no matter what. Trying to provide comfort when the idea of such is hard to imagine.

Her Faith

The first cruel cycle led her to want to give up. On the fourth day of an unbearable 11 days in hospital, she sat in the bathroom crying. This became a significant factor in shaping Emili’s idea of hospital, now never wanting to go back. A breakdown was had alone. Emili’s physical and mental state ready to give up. She let it out, standing there unable to convince herself that she could do this alone. Even with the comfort provided by doctors and family, Emili turned to her faith.


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My Hair Journey ❤ . One of the hardest parts about this camcer journey is losing a piece of yourself. I went from being a sick person to looking like one but it made me so humbly confident in my other features that I think this was meant to happen. Not only for the hair but this whole journey, to show my strength and turn me into this confident strong person I never knew I could be. . I lived with this disease for so long and I had no idea. Get checked and not only checked, if you don’t feel right push. Because I did and they still mistreated me, till I was finally diagnosed and on the way to healthy. . My tumour has shrunk significantly so to that I say #fuckcancer and I’m going to play with my new hair while I get healthy 🤣❤. Hodgkins Lymphoma stage 4 whoo?? . #lymphoma #hodgkinlymphoma #cancer #cancersucks #hair #wigs #wig

A post shared by Emili Milosevska (@emili_milosevska) on

“I’m giving you my life God, you want to take it away, you want to use it, you want to abuse it, do whatever, but this is in your control now. I’ll be here for the ride and you do whatever you want to do.”

It wasn’t until the journey home days later where Emili sensed a change. The hardest and most draining part of the first cycle was coming to an end and a shift was felt. The pain and exhaustion began to drift slowly away as her father began to drive further from the hospital. Her life was no longer in her control.

Knowing God held her life, she sat back to await the next chapter of her story. It caused her to shift from dark thoughts and the rollercoaster of emotions began to calm. The sense of a higher power taking control over her life allowed the weight on her shoulders to decrease.

From this Emili started to sing again, play music again. She sat in the bathroom singing, not crying. From here things began to look up and as she sat in that car, reminiscing of the days in hospital, the pain that began to fade and her mood began to change.

“You did listen, you son of a gun,”

My life with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder has placed a strain on the very relationships that once gave way to warmth. It holds me close and tight and doesn’t let go until I am left feeling the brunt of its cruelty.

I suffer from disturbing, intrusive thoughts, over which I have no control. These intrusive thoughts can be cruel, and invade my brain throughout the day. With no warning. They threaten the very foundations in which make my life bearable – friendships and relationships.

These destructive thoughts hold me back from enjoying existence. They make me question who I am.

I feel there is something wrong with me.

I have OCD.​

I know the shame that intrusive thoughts bring about. So, I understand that only one-third of the 500,000 OCD sufferers in Australia seek treatment. For a long time, I refused to discuss it with anyone, but it becomes overwhelming and too difficult to keep locked away in my brain.

OCD calls on the demons hiding in the most remote corners of my brain to come downstairs and ruin my optimistic outlook on life. They convince me that I’m a despicable human and a danger to myself and others.

I won’t discuss in detail the context of my thoughts, what I will say though is that they cause such immense grief, I often feel my stomach may very well expel from my body.

The thoughts come in tsunami-like episodes, getting worse as time moves on, leading to one of the most heartbreaking episodes of all.

It had been a long night. I had been locked away from the outside world for just over a week. One could call it a self-isolation of a brain, my brain. It had been occurring for months, years even, somewhat episodically, but this time, it was all too much. I couldn’t handle the strain my brain placed over me. I had called a few helplines who suggested going to see someone but little did they know I was already in the process of finding someone. But as it was approaching Christmas, the wait for an appointment was well over 3-4 months.

My friend and I had planned to meet up for dinner and dessert, however, my eyes, stained red from distress, gave way to crucial evidence. She had been there for me two years earlier when the thought of still being around in 2019 felt like a mere fantasy.

It wasn’t an ideal situation. I sat in my car for 15 minutes trying to calm myself down. Once I felt the air float back into my lungs, I escaped the confinements of my car and made my way to her work. The sun, in its slow process of setting, shone a light shade of pink throughout the plaza.

“Just keep looking at the sunset,” I thought to myself. “It’s going to be a new day soon and this will all be a distant and faint memory.”

When you’re about to panic or on the verge of crying, the best thing someone can do is ask “R U OK?”, but I’ve found that this causes the flood gates to burst open, leading to a tsunami of emotion. The tsunami releases all the negativity trapped inside, explosions and cascades of gasps and tears tearing through the silence of their response. This occurred that night as I waited in the empty plaza outside the department store. Waiting. Breathing. Silence.

“Hey!” she said.

“Shit,” I thought.

Her smile often brings joy and the warm fuzzies, but on this day I couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming army of joyless demons crush against my chest. The infection spread from my chest to my stomach as my hands started to tremble. I let out a nasty cry and fell into her arms.

She was the first person I told my thoughts to.

Everything spilt out in a rapid eruption of words and tears. I told her of the thoughts that caved away into the deepest parts of my brain, and how I had no control over them. These thoughts, intruding around my body as if on vacation refused to withdraw.

After 30 minutes of ugly crying, my friend thought it best that we call a mental health crisis helpline. Another 30 minutes went by. My ugly crying grew stronger and my friend performed her duty as a translator, relaying information onto the mental health officers.

I was too busy attempting to breathe. By 9:30 pm we were in the hospital’s mental health ward. Unfortunately, not my first time sitting in an emergency department due to mental health complications. What felt like a 30-minute wait turned into a 6-hour wait.

A lengthy couple of months ensued. I saw several mental health officers including a psychiatrist who put my mind at ease, informing me that these thoughts weren’t me. Asking me a very important question:

“If these thoughts, in any way, represented the type of person you were, then why would they cause you so much distress?” He said. “So much distress that it caused you to question your place on this earth.”

I finally had the answers, I was diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

It was a relief when I finally had an answer for the thoughts. These maleficent thoughts were so overwhelming that I questioned my place on this earth. And for the week leading up to that night, my brain spun into what felt like a never-ending cycle. Continuing to ask the same three questions:

Why are these thoughts in my head?

Why are they coming back with more ferocity than the last time?

Should I still be alive if I have these thoughts?

The truth is, at that time I wasn’t sure why I was having them; I didn’t realise that OCD could bring about such nasty thoughts. Thoughts that made me feel physically sick. It was as if a hand had made its way down my throat, stuck these ideas in my gut then withdrew in a hurry. Scurrying far away, leaving no evidence it was once there. It left doubt in the pit of my stomach. I asked myself – Am I this sick? Am I capable of these ideas? Is this me?

If these thoughts did in any way portray the kind of person I was, then in no way did I want them to be true. This is why that night I was in such distress. Once I was suffering from this “episode” it felt as though the thoughts would never end. With my previous episodes, I had managed to force the ideas to disappear after 2 or 3 days, but I couldn’t this time.

When I realized I had no control over them a wall of shame crashed into me. This was the moment I decided to lock myself away. Fortunately for me, I had already planned that dinner date with my friend. My stomach wanted to stay locked away, but my brain saved the day. My body activated the “Save Sarah Mode”, hoisting me up, out and into the car. On my way, I went.

Luckily for me, there are be people in my life I could and still to this day can trust. You can spill your guts to them, metaphorically that is.

Even if you feel like you are alone, stuck on a boat in the middle of the ocean, someone will eventually turn up, even if they are also stuck in the middle of the ocean, maybe in a dingy. Together you will form an unbreakable bond, forced together by the wildest of fears and thoughts and anxieties that crash against you like the wild, unpredictable waves they are.


My friend, that night, was my lifeboat.

There is this misconception that OCD only encompasses cleaning, organising, washing hands or turning light switches on and off. Now, even though these are common compulsions, it doesn’t represent everyone who has the misfortune of living with OCD. And for me, it made it difficult to speak up about my diagnoses.

Since experiencing this terrible uncontrollable episode, I have found peace. I am now able to open up to people regarding my OCD. I am able to accept that these thoughts aren’t me. And I am not able to control some thoughts that come my way.


If you or anyone you know require assistance in relation to distressing thoughts and/or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

Mysterious deaths, recluse spirits and terrifying poltergeists. Australia is home to not only beautiful beaches but unsettling hauntings.


Monte Cristo Homestead, Junee

A mattress set alight, with a boy left inside. The boss did not believe that the stable boy was too sick to work. So, he set his straw mattress alight to make the “lying” boy jump out of bed and get to work. The boy, in fact, was unwell and did not get out in time. His spirit is said to remain.

Monte Cristo Homestead/Facebook Page

And then there is Harold, who for 40 years was kept in chains in the caretaker’s cottage. The disabled man was found curled up at the foot of his dead mother. He died soon after, at a home for the insane. The sounds of his chains can still be heard through the dark cold Junee nights.

Today, a maid in period clothing roams the balcony of the homestead, even after falling to her death more than 100 years ago. The stairs below are rumoured to be seen, stained in red by some who visit. What makes this story even more heart-breaking, is the fact she was pregnant at the time.

Monte Cristo Homestead/Facebook Page

A black lace dress and ice-cold air. She’s waiting. Wandering along the hallways of the Victorianesque Monte Cristo, one must be careful not to disturb her. Known for her harsh mistreatment towards her employers, recluse Mrs Elizabeth Crawley, is known to still haunt the residence.

And then there’s Mr William Christopher Crawley who built the house in 1876 and continues to haunt the land.

Along with that, a caretaker was shot and killed within the walls of the home in 1961. A man who had seen Hitchcock’s “Psycho” three times, walked up to the homestead and fatally shot Jack Simpson. The words “Die Jack Die. Ha. Ha. Ha,” were written on the wall at the murder scene.

Homestead manager, Lawrence Ryan, says that even though Monte Cristo homestead might not have as many ghosts or spirits as other locations around Australia, however, they have more activity. That is what makes it stand out from the rest.

The site is built on top of a layer of quartz crystal, allowing spirits to regularly contact the physical world. It’s like the bat signal for ghosts.

Every Saturday night, Monte Cristo runs ghost tours. These are not for the weakest of hearts. Tours can be booked by calling 0409 945 204 or by emailing


Devils Pool, Babinda

North Queensland is home to a watering hole shrouded in mystery and connected to ominous deaths of young men. Seventeen men were held, submerged under the rushing waters of Devil’s Pool by an unknown force.

According to the Dreamtime Storey, a married woman, Oolana of Yidnji, fell in love with Dyga, a man from a passing tribe. Before Dyga and Oolana were able to flee, they were confronted by her husband at Devil’s Pool. She threw herself into the water calling for Dyga to follow. However, as she turned to him, Dyga vanished with his tribe.

The legend says that by plunging herself into the waters, Oolana shook the stream into action, causing the land around her to vibrate, with boulders flying into the creek, causing the water to plunge at distressing rates.

Oolana’s spirit remains in the waterhole, luring young men to their deaths. The heartbroken soul is still heard today, crying out to her lover.

The youngest to be swept under by the rapids was John Dominic English. In 1940, the eight-year-old went to the pool with his older brothers and sisters. As he could not swim, he sat on the rocks watching his siblings. However, after a few minutes, left unnoticed, Dominic’s brother was left in shock as Dominic was no longer on the rock but in the waters below.


Beechworth Asylum, Beechworth

Footsteps echo, chains rattle and figures of those who never made it out walk the dilapidated halls. Within these walls, patients were once restrained by chains, trapped in straitjackets, with some even forced to receive electro-shock treatment as medication was not yet available.

Those facing electro-shock treatments had company in that of Matron Sharpe, who, as described by nurses, would sit and bring comfort to them. However, nurses indicated that, while Matron Sharpe was not there in the flesh, the room would turn icy-cold. She can still be seen prowling the halls.

Asylum Ghost Tours-Beechworth/Facebook page

As very few patients walked out of the asylum alive, it’s believed they’re buried in unmarked graves dispersed throughout the land. Their spirits left wandering the grounds.

Tommy is said to tug on the clothes of visitors in the Bijou Theatre, previously said to be the kitchen area. He wasn’t only a patient but a kitchen hand, assisting in the transportation of deceased patients out of the hospital on the “meat wagon”, as it was colloquially known. He passed away in the area, contributing to the hauntings over the years.

Not only a kitchen, the Bijou Theatre was also the Reaction Hall, where patients would sit and play music, perform in plays or attend church services on Sundays. Women who visit the former hall have reported seeing the apparition of a young girl. The girl will often approach them in an attempt of desperate communication, but her words cannot be understood.

These sightings are not alone, unexplained figures are not an uncommon sight for visitors. With shadows consistently wondering the halls. And if these occurrences aren’t creepy enough, children’s laughter can be heard echoing throughout the distant halls and wings of the hospital at night.

Beechworth Asylum runs several ghost and historical tours for those brave enough to face the unknown. 


Old Adelaide Gaol, Adelaide

Adelaide Gaol/Facebook page

The faceless, happy and polite spirit of Federick ‘Fred’ Carr appears often in the gaol. However, in 2000, the faceless spirit appeared, but this time, something came upon the face. A smile. Fred was hung in 1927, for the murder of his wife, Maude. Up until his death, Carr exclaimed his innocence.

Two more notorious spirits are said to appear in the goal; Governor William Baker Ashton’s footsteps can still be heard through the walls and The Hangman Ben Ellis is said to appear throughout the halls.

Forty-five executions took place within the walls of this gaol, including the only woman to ever be executed in South Australia.

For those wishing to be left terrified, the gaol offers four guided tours.

More information can be found here:


The Humpty Doo House, Humpty Doo

Australian Poltergeist/NT News

In the town of Humpty Doo stands a house. The house, for over 20 years, is home to a spirit. This spirit would come to be known as one of Australia’s poltergeists. Those who lived at the property were subject to fits of rage. From shards of glass to spanners, several objects were hurled their way.

Just like a scene from a classic horror movie, three priests, two Catholics the other Greek Orthodox, wandered up to the ominous house to exercise the malevolent spirit. The spirit was not impressed with the display, throwing knives in their direction. Out of

Australian Poltergeist/NT News

nowhere, a pistol cartridge fell from mid-air. and if this wasn’t enough, one of the priests reported a crucifix was propelled across the room.

The full terrifying story can be read in the book: Australian Poltergeist: The Stone-throwing Spook of Humpty Doo and Many Other Cases was written by Tony Healy and Paul Cropper


Kalamunda Hotel, Kalamunda

A haunted building, a paranoid owner and an eerie hotel room. No, this isn’t The Shining.

Throughout its many years providing for thirsty visitors and workers after a long day, the Kalamunda Hotel has experienced its fair share of spookiness. Not only home to tourists, the hotel is also believed to be home to dwellers of the supernatural kind. This led staff to contact a local clairvoyant, who confirmed their suspicions.

Kalamunda Hotel/Facebook page

In another tragic tale involving a balcony, a young, pregnant teenage girl jumped from the hotel’s second floor, dying on impact. The hotels original owner, Paddy Connolly, who allegedly loved the ladies, was believed to be the unborn child’s father.

Along with this young spirit, a number of other ghosts appear to haunt the building.

An irritated handlebar moustached-man in his 60s, a beautiful woman in her 30s donned in a white collared, Victorian-era dress and a mischievous seven to eight-year-old girl who loves to happily wander the halls with her rag doll. And the vision of a man. Hanging in the dark distance.

To top it off, Room 24. Lights glow, visions appear, and guests left bewildered. According to one source, a suicide occurred in Room 24. Leaving the area occupied by some maleficent soul. The hall outside of the room is said to remain cold, even during the warmest of days.


Hobart Convict Penitentiary, Hobart

Gallows, an execution yard and underground tunnels. To this day, the hangman awaits visitors. Longing for the 40,000 convicts that called this prison their home for 173 years.

The 1830s saw convicts frequent the prisons service chapel; however, this was anything but a sanctuary. Beneath the chapel’s floor, inhumane solitary confinement cells are located. These cells connected by tunnels that wound throughout to the underground gallows that saw Tasmania’s last hanging in 1946. Executions at the penitentiary saw 31 men and one woman meet their grim demise.

Hobart Convict Penitentiary/Facebook page

Even though the penitentiary was mostly demolished in the 1960s, the past and spirits of those long gone remain in salvaged parts of the building.

One of the spirits is believed to be that of Solomon Blay, the notorious hangman known to have executed more than 200 people. Beware of Blay, he does not take kindly to those who touch his noose or other equipment in the area. If one dares enter the area, they will be met with not only the hangman’s spirit but the smell of urine and blood that has stained the air.

Red eyes are seen in the darkness of one particular holding cell. Just a short walk from the gallows the cell where many awaited their deaths resides an evil entity. This entity does not take lightly to visitors, once throwing a man against the cells wall.

If one continues down the dark tunnel to the solitary confinement cell, they will hear the sounds of those long past; voices, unexplainable sounds. Women who visit the prison are often subject to harassing behaviour; with some experienced being kissed and groped by unknown forces.

If one dares to face the glowing red eyes and haunted tunnels of one of Tasmania’s most haunted penitentiary’s, tours are available.


Blundells Cottage, Parkes

Those who visit this 1860 cottage, experience the smell of burning flesh. The smell is believed to be from 17-year-old Florence Blundell, who burnt to death in 1892.

National Capital Authority/Website

It was a Thursday night, home alone with her two-younger brothers. Her parents out, visiting neighbours. Her brothers slept, but as the clocked chimed 9.00 pm, an incident occurred which would haunt the house for years to come. Screams. Cries for help. They were confronted by Florence in the kitchen, with clothes alight. After many attempts to put the flames out, they ran to their neighbours for help. However, the injuries sustained by Florence were too much. Later passing.

Even though long gone, she appears to pass visitors regularly. Unlike most spirits discussed here, it is believed that Florence welcomes visitors. She is seen playing in the gardens near the cottage.

Those who visit also report that items will mysteriously move around inside. And for those visiting, wearing necklaces could summon Florence further, as at the time of the incident, she wore a necklace.

In 2010, a visitor who was inside the cottage saw an all back shadow who went from a seated position to walking across the room and stare out the window. The visitor sure didn’t stay for long after, bolting out of the cottage.