The first thing you notice about Peat Island is the complete lack of graffiti. The occasional scratching by a past resident. Not graffiti, more an expression of their lives here.

Every building is nailed shut. Like a coffin. Exactly like a coffin. All dead for over 6 years when the last resident of this island/asylum left for the mainland.

The next thing you notice is the place is absolutely infested with enormous spiders. Their webs hung like nets to catch those not meant to be there. Honestly, I don’t think anyone is meant to be here.

I’m not exaggerating this. I’ve never in my whole life, seen a place where spiders have taken up residence like they have here. Almost like they waited for the last car to cross the bridge, then migrated en’masse. They are enormous too. Untroubled by the security guards responsible for the island.

I had spent months, a swag of emails, and phone calls to gain access to the island. Plead my case to the appropriate government department and finally arrived at the front gate.

Pressing the buzzer, I see the video camera watching me. “Yes?”. I said who I was. There was no reply.

The rain clouds rolled in and it began to sprinkle. Appropriate I thought…The place didn’t seem to me to have a ”happy” feel to it. …

The gate is unlocked by the onsite security, and you drive in. This is when you realize the true enormity of the place.

The Peat Island complex consists of the island itself, linked from the mainland by a long cold concrete bridge. There is also the mainland complex and another “housing” annexure, linked by a tunnel to another part of the estate.

Despite the stunning location the place definitely has a feel about it. It has a history, a past.

Years of unexplained deaths and tragedy… The feel of the place is not just what you can read about in Google… but something not quite right about being there.

Demons. Demons and spiders.

I’m not someone spooked by locations, but this is definitely somewhere you wouldn’t want to be at night.

Despite the appearance that the place was being regularly mowed, mother nature is too tough an opponent to stall her slow creep for long. You could see her beginning to take over, gradually strangling the place.

Even the paintings on the walls, fun animal murals seem somehow sinister here.

The raining kept sprinkling down….the spider’s and the ghosts of the place didn’t seem to mind…

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For more historical information on Peat Island see;

http://www.kgex.com.au/new-life-dark-history/

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I had come across the “Odditorium” by accident. Researching some rental space in Newcastle, I had come across the Renew Newcastle initiative which gave life to the dying CBD of Newcastle. The project places small, fresh businesses into the vacant spaces with low rental agreements….revitalising the inner city until genuine, long term lease holders come along.

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I had previously come to the Odditorium only to find it closed. Looking through the windows I could see the array of relics and monsters captured in this small basement shop. Hiding amongst the records and bric-a-brac, I couldn’t wait to get inside. Not to photograph, but just to look.

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The shop sits in a basement studio in Thorn Street, Newcastle. Adjacent to the old Masonic Hall which stands empty and foreboding in this quiet laneway running down to the Hunter Street Mall.

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The shop is perfectly placed. This quiet thoroughfare, overlooked by the ancient Cathedral and its convict graveyard and the Masonic Hall suits the eclectic little business. It would be out of place in a busy shopping centre or major thoroughfare.

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I told my kids to make sure they didn’t touch anything….the owner Naomi heard me and said…”They can touch anything..” . It is a place where you want to touch everything…

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When you get inside you see there is stuff everywhere, vinyl records, retro goods and clothes, stuffed animals, skulls and religious oddities. An aptly named shop.

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I didn’t intend to go there and take photos, but as I always have a camera with me, I took a few quick snaps. Not too many, didn’t want to upset the monsters….

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I really suggest a visit.

https://www.facebook.com/odditoriumvintage/