It’s not an occupation for the faint-hearted, but Lily Avalon has never been scared—not once—since she started as a ghost tour host at Toowong and South Brisbane Cemeteries in 2011.
“I’ve never been truly scared—I get the creeps and freak myself out occasionally—but curiosity has always been my strong point,” Lily, 25, says. “It’s the psychology of the darker side of humanity that attracted me to the role, and sharing the stories.”
Hardly surprising given Lily is a psychology student.
“I’m fascinated with psychology and philosophy. I’m more interested in the history – like the Ossuary Crypts (left) in Europe [Czech Republic], than just ghost stories.
“What I really love and enjoy is to dig up stories that have gone missing or to correlate stories. I love the Finney Isles stories – they broke into a crypt in Toowong Cemetery and got a terrible scare … you have to do the tour to find out what they discovered!”
It may be that Lily has a deep understanding of the tales of the cemetery as the Tour Developer working alongside Ghost Tours owner Jack Sim, or that she seems to be an old soul in a young body, that makes you want to listen to her recounting tales. But does she believe in ghosts?
“I haven’t personally seen a ghost, but with the prolific number of ghost sightings in the world, there’s got to be something in it,” Lily says.
“We’ve had real scary things happen on tours,” she says. “People have fallen ill and experienced strange phenomena, and groups have seen the same figure.
“We did have a funny thing happen recently: I was telling the Ernest Austin story in South Brisbane Cemetery and we were all lined up in the dark, everyone was quite and listening. Just as I raised my voice to emphasise a point, a possum fell out of the tree and everyone screamed,” she says, laughing.
Aside from researching and writing about local history for the tours, Lily has a background in art, graphic design, make-up and special effects. Her favourite tour is the Toowong Cemetery Tour. “It has a Victorian era elegance about it.”
And is Lily planning to be part of the tour at the end of her life when she lays restfully in the cemetery?
“No, I want to be plasticized—they turn you into plastic so you are perfectly preserved,” she says. “I’m not sure where I want to be displayed; I’ll see where the future takes me.
“I’m not scared of dying,” Lily says. “I’ve seen death, touched death and almost died myself, and that makes you really appreciate life itself.
“I’m more scared of the living than the dead.”
If you would like to do a tour with Lily, visit Ghost Tours Australia to find tour times, prices and contact details. Email or call to find out which tour Lily will be taking next. Group tours are also available if you want to get some friends together for a different night out.
After studying English Literature and Communications at universities in Queensland, Helen Goltz has worked as a journalist, producer and marketer in print, TV, radio and public relations. She was born in Toowoomba and has made her home in Brisbane. Helen is the author of eight books and is published by Clan Destine Press and Atlas Productions. She is the original founder of She Brisbane.