Dead Man's Pass

Dead Man's Pass
Dead Man's Pass

Location: South Para River in Gawler, South Australia

This is a rather ominous sounding name of the reserve that runs along side the South Para River in Gawler, South Australia. With reports of shadow people, whispy apparitions and people being touched as they walk the scenic trails.

In the earlier years it was known as Para Pass, and possibly at one point Murray Pass. The pass itself is a fantastic location if you want to take a day or night stroll. It has over 2 miles of walking trails that wind through the bush and along the South Para River.

The Kuarna Aboriginal people lived in the area for thousands of years prior to european settlement. It was an important location for their Dreaming.

Colonel William Light, the first surveyor general of South Australia visited the area in 1837 when he was exploring the Barossa area. The pass made for a great camp site plus was a perfect spot for crossing the South Para River being that a pass is essentially a ford, a shallow point in the river where horse, oxen, pedestrians and cart could cross with relative ease.

The name Dead Man's Pass is intriguing and how it got it's name is still under debate. However people either side of the argument tend to agree on one thing; the body of a white man was interred in the reserve be it in the ground or within the hollow of a tree. A very brief recount is as follows:

In the later part of the 1830's a exploring party was returning back from the Barossa Ranges when a a wanderer from the scrub fell at their feet with exhaustion, hunger and thirst. After tending to the mans needs they placed him on one of their drays and took him to a ford in the South Para River. When they arrived the man was dead and with no implements to bury him they placed him in the hollow of a tree and covered him with bark and sticks.

This account was written approx 20 years after the events took place:

A few years later Colonel Light had returned back through The Para on a surveying expedition and upon hearing of the dead man, his party went to have a look for themselves. They found the body, in their words, buried in an upright position and plastered with clay. No part of his body was visible except the toes. The wild dogs had evidently discovered the corpse and had somewhat mangled the feet. The clothes of the dead man were said to be stained with blood and the pockets turned inside out.

In 1869 The Bunyip, the regions newspaper, wrote that the remains of a man were found after earth had been disturbed by workers. It was found to be that of a white man and the remains exhumed and taken for inspection. There is no mention of the previous reports by Colonel Light or the earlier exploration party.

There are many people who have experienced strange sensations down in the pass. Walkers have experienced shadowy or whispy forms following them and some people have felt unseen hands grasp at their legs.

There is also the story of a young boy who witnessed the spirits of a man and woman just after he closely avoided death. He had been riding his bike along the gully path as he had done many times before when he had a voice in his head tell him to go right. He did so even though it caused him to crash his bike. However he had also just missed a car travelling in the opposite direction. The urgency in the voice telling him to turn had saved his life.

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