When it comes to unexplained phenomena in Northern Tasmania, if the truth is out there, the members of Launceston Paranormal Society may well be the ones to find it.
Founded in 2011 the Launceston Paranormal Society's mission is to assist in disproving or confirming paranormal activity using scientifically based equipment.
Co-founders of the society Brendan Crates and Conor Kaukenas have been running the society for 10 years.
They provide free professional paranormal investigations to Launceston residents who believe they have experienced a supernatural sighting or feel their homes have an unexplained presence.
The group formed when the two met and were wanting to investigate activity in the city that couldn't be explained.
"I had been making documentary-type stuff and was interested in filming and I met Conor, who was working with some other ghost groups," Mr Crates said. "I was on the fence as to whether ghosts were real, so we started the society to see if we could find evidence of their existence and we have had a few different members over the years."
Mr Crates said members of the society had undertaken some investigations of their own volition, and other times they had been invited to look into strange occurrences.
"People have heard weird noises or sense something in the house, so the big thing for us was wanting to see if we could find evidence of something there, or to see if there was actually a logical reason for the weird occurrences. We tried to do that a lot, a big part of what we do is also disproving things.
"We get a lot of emails from people saying they have been watching ghost TV shows or movies, or researching into ghost stories and history, and they have then felt they have attracted something to their house.
"We give them advice and don't say it's definitely a ghost, but we let them know ways they can feel more comfortable in their own home or to seek help from someone that can cleanse their house of the bad energy."
In the Paranormal Society's most active years, members visited numerous houses around the Launceston area, as well as historical buildings such as Franklin House and Clarendon House, which Mr Crates said was the most memorable place they have investigated.
Clarendon House was by far the most memorable place we visited. We have been there three times and pretty much every time we went we found something weird.- Launceston Paranormal Society co-founder Brendan Crates
"We have been there three times and pretty much every time we went we found something weird," he said.
The group set up special cameras and equipment such as sound recorders and an EMF (electromagnetic field) detector, in the hopes of finding evidence that could confirm a paranormal sighting.
Mr Crates said they had picked up voices, and even claimed to have an unidentified voice speaking directly into the voice recorder.
"Clarendon is quite remote so we decided to set up equipment and then go for a walk to explore the grounds. We set up the recording equipment, left the house and locked the door to ensure no one went back in.
"We went back and checked after a few hours and listened back to the recording and you can hear a very clear voice.
"It wasn't one of those crackly or distorted voices, it was very clear in an almost British accent. It sounds like someone picks up the sound recorder and says, 'Oh, what's this?' then puts it back down again.
"We know that no one else was in there because we were outside walking the grounds, there was only four of us and no one went back into the house."
The unexplained voices still stand out in Mr Crates memory.
"I wish I set up a video camera as well to see if there was any movement to try to explain the voice."
Another significant experience for the society was a visit to a house in Westbury, whose residents had been complaining about hearing a voice and bad energy inside the house and in their shed.
"They called us because they had been hearing a child's voice around the house, which the daughter also claimed she had seen.
"They had a shed out the back with what they described as negative energy, so much so the male partner of the lady that lived there moved out because he didn't like being in the house."
"This was something that male visitors to the house also felt and many said they felt unconformable being there. We investigated the shed and although we didn't find anything, it definitely had a creepy vibe to it. "
The group set up recording equipment and an EMF detector, and Mr Crates said the device needed to detect a fair amount of energy for it to register.
"It would detect something like the back of a fridge engine [but] aTV doesn't get picked up by it, so it has to be quite a strong electrical field."
Mr Crates said he believed they spoke and communicated with a presence in the house.
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"We had the detector going off in strange places at the house, which some people believe is the indication of a ghost. If we asked a question while standing in a room, it would light up after we asked the question, which is something that doesn't usually happen.
"One of the videos we recorded Conor asked if there was anyone in the room that would like to play. What answered was a child's voice saying 'I would like to play', which was quite creepy listening back to."
Mr Crates said that night in Westbury caused a change in him which he had never experienced before.
"I was the only male there that night and I didn't really think much of it at the time but at some point of the night I started to become really grouchy, which is totally unlike me.
"We looked back at the videos and at around the time I started to feel grouchy, you can hear a change in my voice, which is quite strange because I have never experienced anything like that in a house or building that we have visited."
Mr Crates said they have toned down their paranormal investigations over the past few years, as life has gotten in the way.
"It's a thing that we definitely want to do more of again and get back into it with meeting new people and investigating houses we haven't been to before."
As for the question of whether ghosts are real, Mr Crates said he still wasn't sure what to think.
"I'm not even fully sure I believe in the idea of ghosts, but I am open to it.
"As a part of the society I try to be quite sceptical and think of the logical explanation to things.
"But there are quite a few things that I haven't been able to explain."
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