Hotel Kurrajong in Canberra, Australia, is reportedly haunted by the ghost of Ben Chifley.
Background[edit | edit source]
The Hotel was built in 1925 by the Commonwealth's chief architect, John Murdoch. Murdoch also designed the nearby Australian Parliament House, which is nearby the Hotel. Hotel Kurrajong was first built to house the administrative and political staff who had been transferred from Melbourne to Canberra when Canberra was declared the new Australian Capital. In 1927 the hotel housed guests who had been invited to witness the official opening ceremony of parliament. The Hotel originally only housed politicians until the great depression in which it was forced to transform itself into a public hotel in order to avoid closure. It became associated with the labour party, who would use the hotel as accommodation for labour party members who where visiting from other constituency's. John Curtin, who would become the prime minister during the second world war, once stayed in the hotel.
In 18964 the hotel became the property of Commonwealth Hostels Limited, who installed central heating into the hotel. The hotel no longer received as much patronage from the Labour party and was struggling to stay in business. The hotel was forced to close in 1976 and two years later the building was converted into offices for parliamentary staff. The Hotel was nearly abandoned until 1993 when the Australian capital territory government financed for the hotel to be reopened, the hotel was refurbished and became very successful. The hotel is still open today.
Ben Chifley[edit | edit source]
In the 1930's and 1940's, Ben Chifley was a labour party politician who would later become prime minister. Chifley started his political life in 1928 when he won the seat of Macquarie in New South Wales. The labour party was in office at this time and Ben Chifley was appointed as minister of defence. In the 1931 election however, the labour party was defeated and Chifley lost his seat. Chifley considered Hotel Kurrajong his 'Home away from home' and spent a lot of time in the hotel whilst he was working for the royal commission on banking. His research into the banks led to the nationalisation of private banks in Australia, this meant that when the Labour party was elected back into office in 1940, Chifley was given the job as treasurer.
Chifley was treasurer during the second world war as part of John Curtin's parliament. When Curtin died in 1945 he was naturally succeeded by Frank Forde, but the party held a leadership ballot between Chifley and Forde. Chifley won this ballot and became prime minister only six days after Forde had been. When Chifley became prime minister he was eager to show the people of Australia that he was a working class person who could relate to his electorate. For this reason, Ben Chifley decided not to move into 'The Lodge' (the official place of residence for the Australian Prime Minister). He decided instead to move permanently into Hotel Kurrajong. Chifley lived in the hotel but would go to the lodge every day to 'Work'. When the labour party was defeated in 1949 and Chifley became the opposition leader, he decided to continue living in the Hotel.
In 1951, Chifley was attending an event alongside other politicians at the Albert hall to celebrate fifty years of Australian autonomy. It was reported that he said he felt ill and decided to go back to his home at Hotel Kurrajong. Ben Chifley suffered from a heart attack in his room later that night and died. News of Chifley's death quickly spread and the event taking place at Albert hall was put to a stop because of this.
Hauntings[edit | edit source]
The Ghost of Ben Chifley is said to still haunt Hotel Kurrajong, people have seen a man in a grey suit walking about the hotel. He is often seen or balcony's or near windows, pointing towards the parliament house.