Sunday, January 16, 2011

Australia's Ghost Baby

The ghost baby upon the grave is another one of those photos that is repeatedly posted around the net as being one of the top examples of ghost photography out there...and its meager description is posted nearly word for word on each one of these sites.

However, a little digging has paid off, and a few details have been added for your reading pleasure!

On April 26, 1945, 17 year old Joyce Elizabeth Andrews passed away.  Joyce, born on August 4, 1928, was interred in Queensland, Australia's Ma Ma Creek Anglican Cemetery.  She was interred along with her brother, Sgt. Cecil H. Andrews of the RAAF, who had died in 1942.  Joyce's parents were John William Andrews and Mary Elizabeth Colquhoun.

Sometime between 1946 and 1947, Joyce's mother visited the cemetery and snapped a photo of her children's shared tombstone and plot.  Mrs. Mary Andrews, upon having the film developed, notice an intriguing anomaly on the photograph---there was an infant girl sitting happily on the grave, staring right towards the camera!

Several theories have cropped up as to what may have caused the ghostly little girl.  One theory involves the idea that the apparition is a manifestation of Joyce herself as a baby.  Mrs. Andrews denied this theory, believing that it is NOT an image of her daughter.  She also denied the most plausible explanation of the image being caused by double exposure.  Mrs. Andrews claimed that she did not recognize this child at all, and therefore, would have been no one she would have taken a photo of.  Further, there were no children or babies present at the cemetery that could have mistakenly gotten into THIS shot or any others on the roll of film.  At least...there were no LIVING children present.

Intrigued by the decades old mystery, it is said that Australian paranormal expert, Tony Healy, most known for his work in cryptozoology, visited the site in the 1990s.  Healy claimed to have found the graves of two infant females near the Andrews grave, and thus, it is largely believed that the apparition is the soul of one of these babies, playing happily on a nearby grave.  As I am not familiar with the layout of the cemetery, I have no idea which two graves Mr. Healy is referring to.  However, THIS WEBSITE about the cemetery has full inscriptions, and can be searched by either first-name alphabetical, or "position" in cemetery.  I found a handful of infant and toddler girls (and boys) buried in the cemetery, and there is a stone dedicated to two different babies of the Litfin Family who died in 1953 and 1954.  There is no name or gender listed on this stone, as it appears the infants were stillborn.  From the website, it does appear that this tombstone is located very close to Joyce's...but would not have been there when the photograph was taken.

Further, the tombstone in the background appears to belong to Arthur Robson, who died in 1937 and his wife, Mary Jane, who died in 1948.  I cannot tell from the original photo if the date of death is filled out for Mary Jane, but if it IS, then that could possibly indicate that the photo was taken later than originally believed--post 1948.  In my opinion, it does appear that the date of Mary Jane's death is already inscribed onto the stone.  A photo of the Robson stone can be found on the website mentioned above for your own analysis.  There are slightly similar stones in the cemetery, so take it with a grain of salt.

Personally...I'm going to go with the double exposure theory.  For I the only one seeing what appears to be an ARM coming out from under the child?  It appears that the image is a partial image of a person in white sleeves holding the child. 

Further, I think its very plausible that a photo of someone holding a child could have gotten on this roll of film.  Since there is speculation as to when the photo was taken (either 1946 or 1947 or even later) I think that a likely scenario was that the photo was taken, and the film forgotten and not developed until some time later.  During that time, anyone could have gotten ahold of the camera.

Actually, until researching this photo, I would have confidently said that I believed the story was completely fictional...something that was made up to explain a weird photo then passed along over and over with the popularity of the internet.  However, I did manage to FIND an updated photo of the tombstone in question, plus vital statistics on Joyce and her brother.  So...even though there's still a chance that the story is fictional, made up to go along with an old double exposure photo found in someone's attic, the people are real-the places are real!


  1. not bad at all, i never noticed the arm until you had mentioned it :)

  2. wow i think thats weird cuz its a ghost baby then the brother of joyce is holding it

  3. The picture of the "baby" appears more like a toddler. The baby appears to me to be sitting with arm extended on grass and a leg extended down the gravesite. What is written on the tombstone? Who are the other babies indicated above what is written on thier tombstones?Was the picture taken in the daylight or night? What kind of camera was used back then that could possibly overlap as suggested above. This picture was a (1) shot deal. I would like to see a more recent picture for comparison. Any more baby pictures from this site since this picture? Perhaps the daughter was pregnant and no one knew, go back in time. The mother of the children denied knowing the baby & did not agree with the camera story. Until further notice I agree with the Mother. How did her daughter die? Thankyou, anxious to hear from you & then I'll let you know where it sails in my soul of thinking.

    1. I've updated the blog with a recent photo of Joyce's stone, which she shares with her brother, Cecil. I'm not sure what graves for babies that Mr. Healy theorizes may be the cause of the baby's apparition, but did find MANY female infants/toddlers buried in the cemetery. I've also updated the blog to include a link to this source. I'm also pretty sure that this photo was taken during the daylight hours. As for the rest of your questions, I cannot answer them, but if anyone can, please feel free to contact me! Details for this story have been scarce and have required a lot of digging...and unfortunately I don't have the time to devote a great deal of time on this particular case.

  4. We discussed this photo in some detail several years ago on the Australian website - Whirlpool Forum. The thread was shut down not long after it started. If you google Whirlpool Forum - go into the Lifestyle thread and enter the words - Hauntings - in the thread search you can still read the discussion.

    I don't think it's a double exposure but it could be a deliberately contrived / doctored image - specifically, a montage of seperate photos which have been combined and then rephotographed. It was very common in the early years of the twentieth century to fake seance photos, for instance.

    But it is a curious mix of seemingly solid and semi transparent components. What appears to be a solid limb can be clearly seen disappearing completely under the top slab of the grave. Is it the baby's leg or a man's shirt sleeve and bare forearm ? The child's mid section seems to be transparent but the head is solid. The top of the gravestone also appears to be slightly transparent. If you look at the right corner you can see what appears to be the bottom on the building in the background (which I assume is a chapel?).

    Experts would probably have to examine the original negative to be sure about its authenticity or whether or not the photo was a mock - up.

    Another important factor could be the date on which this photo first came to public notice. Was it made public as soon as it was developed ?

  5. One minor correction to my previous post. I meant to type the LEFT corner of the gravestone - not the right corner.

    1. Thank you for your insights. It's definitely a strange photo and since everyone associated with its original is presumed deceased and the location of the negative unknown (at least, to internet lore!), we might never know with certainty what caused this unique anomaly.

  6. True. It's the seemingly transparent components of the photo that are the most interesting to me. Perhaps it can be done, but I'm not aware of any way that you could "make" a solid object suddenly become semi transparent - certainly not with the kind of very limited technology that would have been available in such a remote place as that in the 1940s.

    And the obvious question remains... why on earth would a grieving mother want to "have fun" with a photo of her daughter's grave ?

    Anway.... all part of life's rich tapestry

  7. Looks like it was, indeed, a hoax photo. The following link will take you to a very similar image that was definitely staged and photographed way back in 1889.

    If the link doesn't work, just google : Orphans at their mother's Grave

    So, it seems that the Andrews ghost baby was just one in a long line of "spirit photos"

    1. Thanks for your thoughts! The Orphans' Photo is very interesting; I recently got a stereoscope viewer and have been collecting unique and interesting cards for it, including ones of a paranormal theme. This one is beautiful, and I'm gonna have to see if I can track down a copy for my collection, lol.

      Anyway, just a few thoughts: The Orphans' photo is not exactly a HOAX; hoaxes are meant to deceive people. This was done as art under the assumption that anyone viewing it would know that it was staged. In fact, its very apparent that they aren't in a real graveyard. Whether or not the Australian ghost baby photo was hoaxed or not, there are some real contrasts between the two. The Australian ghost photo is a snapshot, not a staged art photo. It was taken in a real location. And, there is what I consider a very apparent ARM under the child, an element of double exposure that would not have made it into a carefully staged photograph.

      I still don't think its a real ghost photo, but I'm yet entirely convinced that it was deliberately staged as a hoax. Thank you for the information, though...its definitely something to think about and consider as a possibility!

  8. Hi Theresa

    I'm aware that the 'Orphans" photo was obviously done in a studio. No suggestion that it was a hoax. In fact, it was a very imaginative and well - staged image. If you check eBay, you'll find that a copy of it was for sale not so long ago. In fact, I don't think it sold so it's probably still available.

    My main point was that, contrary to what I said previously here about photographers not being able to create transparent images, I was wrong as they were, definitely. able to do that and had been doing so since, at least, the late 1880s when "Orphans" was done. Also, they could combine both transparent and solid components in the same photo such as appears to be the case in the Andrews pic and is definitely the case in the "Orphans" photo.

    I think we would know alot more about the timeline of the Andrews snapshot. It's impossible to believe that Mrs Andrews was a party to anything that would have trivialized her daughter's grave, But I suspect that someone else may have interfered with the image at a later date either intentionally or accidentally.

  9. Correction.. what I meant to type was .... " we would need to know a lot more about the timeline of the Andrews snapshot"..... specifically, how much time elapsed between the dates (plural) on which the photo was taken , developed and then made public.

  10. On another thread a relative of the family has said the brother IS NOT buried here, he was lost in an air crash at war and not found. It was taken with a box brownie camera