Hidden Canberra



Posted by hiddencanberra on May 26, 2009 at 10:31 PM
By Maree Agland, researcher

Sophia Susanna Campbell  the daughter of George Campbell and Marrianne Collinson Close was born on Friday 26th June 1857 in Sydney, NSW  (Birth registration #1489/1857) and died a tragic and controversial death on Saturday the 30th May, 1885 at Duntroon Queanbeyan, NSW (Death registration #14113/1885) at the tender age of 27 years and 11 months.

    Sophia's grandfather Robert Campbell, mariner, had received a grant of land and livestock to the value of  2,000 pounds in 1825 as compensation for the loss of his ship "Sydney" in 1806 off the coast of New Guinea when in charter to the Government. James Ainslie his overseer, took possession of 700 sheep from Bathurst government flocks and took them overland to Yass, onwards to Canberra and 'Duntroon' was formed by the Campbell's. A few years later, Campbell claimed that the land value was excessive and the price was dropped to 4 shillings per acre and given a further 1,000 acres to complete the awarded compensation. In less than 18 months of Duntroon's operation Campbell was permitted to purchase a further 5,000 acres on the South Bank of Molonglo River opposite Duntroon and so became the largest land holder in the Territory.

    In 1838 the most severe droughts on record started a four year tragedy in sheep prices and water holes were few and     far between. Creeks had all dried up, The Murrumbidgee dried up for two years, all crops failed and wool prices fell from 36d in 1833 to 18d in 1841 and a financial depression hit.  Many settlers were ruined.  Robert Campbell died at Duntroon in 1846 and son Charles managed Duntroon with the excessive staff of servants of over 60 shepherds and their families, gardeners and so forth. When Charles Campbell died in 1855  his brother George Campbell took over Duntroon  until 1876 when he went to England. He later died there in 1881.  His wife Marrianne (nee Collison Close) resided with the children in the 20 room house of Duntroon until her death in 1903.  She was buried in Canberra Cemetery near St John's Church, Reid.

    Marrianne was an amateur botanical artist and her paintings are widely featured in Joan Kerr's book "From Sydney to Duntroon" which was published in Australia in 1982.  One such painting included "Waratah, Telopia speciossima 1877,     watercolour" .Many of Marrianne's paintings are still in Scotland with Campbell family descendants.

    Robert Campbell's wife Sophia (nee Palmer) was also an accomplished painter with over 28 images of her paintings displayed at the National Gallery of Australia.

George Campbell and Marrianne married in 1854 and had the following children :-

*  John Edward Robert Campbell      1855 - 1836

*  Sophia Susanna Campbell       1857 - 1885

*  Frederick Arthur Campbell         1861 - 1931

*  Edward Charles Close Campbell      1863 - 1905

*  Sarah Marrianne Emily Campbell      1866 -

*  Robert George Campbell          1871 - 1871



Sophia Susanna Campbell died of Apoplexy - bleeding from the brain.  Her death certificate states that she took one day to die. Her brother Frederick was the informant to her death with Drs Richardson and Fitzpatrick the medical doctors in attendance. Sophia Susanna Campbell was buried on Tuesday the 2nd June 1885 at Duntroon (St     John's Cemetery, Reid) by the Reverend Pierce Galliard Smith (C/E) , the Undertaker M.M. Lazarus and witnesses Frederick Campbell ( her brother) and  E.K Crace (family friend, neighbour and business associate to the Campbell family).  The death was registered 3 months later at Queanbeyan on the 26th September 1885. Her

grave is marked by a small marble cross as a footstone and a larger white marble cross in the Campbell enclosure.

Duntroon House 2004  Photo curtesy of Mr allan Levinson

*It is rumoured in this day that Sophia was pregnant to the gardener and had been rejected by him, hence committing suicide by throwing herself out of the upper windows of the family home and that she was the daughter of Robert Campbell and Sophia (nee Palmer). Extensive research into her life however, has revealed that she was the daughter of Robert and Sophia's son George and his wife Marrianne (nee Collinson Close). That she was not pregnant, that there was no proof of any liaison with the gardener or other members of staff. The rumour stems from the small baby's grave right next to Sophia's grave at St John's. The grave in fact belongs to her baby brother Robert George Campbell who was born and died in 1871 possibly a stillborn.  Sophia also came from a very religious family and did not believe in suicide as it was deemed evil in her time as an act of the devil. Her mother was the Sunday School teacher and Sophia often accompanied her mother to help out when needed. However, we do know that Sophia was a very strong,     independent young woman who would clearly reject the advances of any man suggesting immoral behaviour and or improper advances towards her.


    *Various allegations have also been made that Sophia was murdered by her family, most likely her father as she was seeing a man whom she was in love with and her father objected to the liaison. Unfortunately, as mysterious as this sounds...it is false.  Her father was deceased four years prior to her death and Sophia was loved by all her family.



*Her great nephew Mr Barrington Beresford has also stated that he believes Sophia had an epileptic fit which had caused her to fall out the window or she had an epileptic fit causing a stroke which in turn caused a brain bleed.


    *Another story also exists that Sophia was emulating an acrobat with her friends after seeing a circus the night before     and broke her back or neck after falling badly. However, if this was true Sophia was almost 28 years old and would make the event very unlikely. If she had broken her neck or back she would most likely not have died but become paraplegic or quadriplegic.


    *A member of the Duntroon Military College has also stated that he has heard Sophia died from a horse accident.


    *A recorded interview between Miss Sylvia Curley conducted by Mr A. Harkness, Archivist, RMC Duntroon at Duntroon House on the 21st May, 1990 gives us another insight to Sophia's death. Miss Curley, whose parents worked for the Campbell's was asked about her personal recollection of Duntroon. She stated that they were very happy days     and things she remembered most clearly were their stories. One story was about Sophia.

    "One instance was when Miss Sophia Campbell had a stroke - she was critically ill and only 25 years of age - and Mr     Campbell asked my father to take one of the thoroughbred horses and ride to Yass and get the doctor - there was no other way to contact him. So my father galloped to Murramateman, and there Mr McAulife allowed him to change horses and ride on to Yass, then he returned to Duntroon. After Dr English came - buggy and horses of course - and examined Miss Campbell he sent the young fellows down to the river to get leeches to apply to Miss Campbell to relieve the blood pressure. Unfortunately she died, she was a very lovely lady a wonderful horsewoman, splendid and much respected by all the employees. All the district was very sad at her passing"


    Miss Curley was very popular in the Canberra community as she was the Matron of the Royal Canberra Hospital for some time (between 1938 till 1966) and her stories credible in every aspect. However, the story was told to Sylvia by her parents and some facts must be challenged. Sophia Susanna Campbell was 27 years and 11 months when she died and not 25. Mr Campbell could have been any of the Campbell relatives at Duntroon at the time such as her brother Frederick who was stated as witness to her death as her father died 4 years prior to her own. And it states that Drs Richardson and Fitzpatrick were the doctors in attendance on her death certificate and not Dr English.


    *Another discrepancy was that of the newspapers. At the National Library in Canberra, the only newspaper missing in the Queanbeyan newspaper was for 1885 the year Sophia died. In the Goulburn newspapers it stated she died on a Wednesday night however when her date of death on her death certificate was compared to a Perpetual Calendar, Sophia actually died on a Saturday, not a Wednesday.


    Sophia's death will never be solved due to lack of evidence, witnesses long deceased and even distortion of the truth. But no matter how Sophia died, she will always remain a mysterious young woman who was and always will be loved by everyone who come into contact with her story. The ghost of Sophia Susanna Campbell allegedly haunts Duntroon (Now Duntroon Military College) on a daily basis and her room has been left how it was found after she died.


    When I first started to research the story of Sophia Campbell, many inexplicable things started to happen to me. I underwent bizarre events from day one. Whilst surfing the internet on Sophia to get a background on the family and alleged haunting, I was hit with strange flashes of falling out of a window, hitting the ground, smelling freshly cut grass and roses then everything went black. After a few seconds I would come to and find I had a profusely bleeding nose. The flashes continued whilst researching however the nose bleed stopped after the first two occasions. A psychic friend stated that an evil entity from Duntroon had attached itself to me and Tim The Yowie Man and we had to get rid of it.  Over a period of three weeks, I came down with amalgam mercury poisoning which became severe in a very short space of time. The doctor had suggested that I take charcoal tablets to counteract the poison until a dentist could check out the problem thoroughly. It came from the filling in my tooth but the levels were so high it was unexplainable to doctor and dentist.  A very severe, overwhelming depression overtook me to the point of being suicidal for two days and had nightmares that someone was trying to murder me via suicide to prevent me from telling the story. I gave the research up to rest and the depression left within an hour.


    Another strange occurrence happened at the same time as I was researching.....I awoke one day to find that I had torn ligaments and cartilage in both ankles and lower legs, with a fracture of the lower right leg. Later research was to reveal that Sophia would have suffered the same symptoms when she fell from the balcony.

    First Sophia  would have tried to land on her feet to cushion the fall. Her ankles would have torn cartilage, tendons torn, possible fractures in the ankles and lower legs. Next her knees would hit the ground, her stomach, torso then her head would bounce on the ground. She would black out in seconds. She landed on the grass after she fell from the balcony, hence it took a day to die (as stated on her death certificate).


    X-rays were done on my both legs and no breaks showed up. However, the doctor stated that x-rays do not show everything and explained she had torn cartilage and tendons. After three weeks, I decided to finish up the research and continue at a later date. Within a few days the pain, feet and leg problems were gone as was the amalgam metal poisoning. When the research was being written up at a later date, I could smell a strong scent of roses in the room and hear a woman humming. It would only happen for around 40 seconds then go. Was it the gentle voice of Sophia or another explainable reason? As for the evil entity, I undertook a cleanser to get rid of the entity and was told by a psychic friend that now the "true" story of how Sophia really died was out and several knew about it, the entity - her alleged murderer, was on the run in case the community (of 1885) found out the truth about him.


    I would like you the reader to make up your own mind as to how Sophia died. I cannot confirm she was murdered as there was no murderer charged at the time, her death was listed as an accident, and there is no legal documentation to support our story although paranormal events surrounding this case says otherwise. The health problems experienced maybe co-incidental but no matter how bizarre it all may appear; the fact itself that a lovely young woman who died in her late 20's could conjure up so many stories about her death and how she died; is a mystery in itself. Was it the ghost of Sophia Campbell haunting us with her presence or was it the ghost of another young woman who fell to her death at Duntroon?


    It is rumoured that Sophia's ghost walks the gardens smelling the flowers looking very sad and lonely as if she misses her family and loved ones. Other anonymous witnesses say that they have seen a beautiful young woman dressed in clothing of the 1800's fall from the balcony and disappears as she hits the ground. Others say her ghost walks the top floor of the officer's quarters where she once resided, in a long light blue dress looking sad and forlorn.  Perhaps one day Sophia will walk into her gardens with a smile on her face and greet her family with love and happiness once more as she touches the face of God. May Sophia Susanna Campbell now rest in eternal peace.


    However, it appears that there are some members of the Campbell's still lingering around the old house which is now called the Officers Mess at the Royal Military College. Some staff and guests to the mess have seen a lady in a long black dress who is possibly Mrs George Campbell.  Tour guides at the College have also stated unofficially that no matter how much they straighten the bed covers in the Crowley room, there is always a dent as if someone has sat on the newly made bed. Another room on the ground floor, the sitting room; has strange affects on both staff and visitors. There is an eerie feeling which makes the hair stand up on the back of their necks......just like the stories of Sophia's death.


    Sophia's ghostly appearance has been reported in newspapers over many decades and often seen in some of the married quarters, and always in College houses that have young children. She has also appeared to a staff member in     the master bedroom and had a discussion with them. Windows have mysteriously been opened in rooms that are always locked. Sophia has not physically appeared to anyone since 1994, however her presence has been felt on many occasions and evidence of this was at a wedding held in Duntroon House in February 1997.    



    On April 5th, 2004 a handful of information such as first name (Sophia) and date was given to a Feyeree Psychic in North Carolina, USA. The psychic, only known by the name of Anna, comes from a 500 year lineage of powerful psychics from Ireland, Sweden and the Scottish Highlands. She sat down to concentrate on bringing Sophia into the light and was astounded when Sophia Campbell appeared before her speaking so fast that she wouldn't shut up. Sophia was glad that I had finally found the truth, that she had guided her in the research by giving her the scent of roses when she was on the right track and a feeling of over whelming sadness when she wasn't.


    Sophia alleged that she was murdered, that the man who did this to her was an older man and was a friend of her father's. He was well off and had a thing for girls and had taken his time waiting for her. When Sophia's father George died, he began to pursue her and the family was comfortable with this fact except her mother Marrianne who was wise enough to see, be silent and watch. She was also very disappointed as Sophia and this man had been very close and Sophia had seen him as a friend, confidant and a sort of uncle or fatherly figure to her.


The Day in question Sophia had just gone to the garden and had roses in her hand. She was smelling them when he came up from behind her and grabbed Sophia by the waist. She thought it odd and turned to see who it was and she freaked out.

They did the typical squabble of "I love you" etc and he refused to let her go. He held her hard in his arms and she was disgusted. His breath was foul and he wore a moustache. He had green eyes which was piercing. They struggled, she fell and died. Sophia says her little brother Edward saw it happen. The man who killed Sophia was in the military of some kind with a fancy uniform with a jacket that's red, black and gold cords. This describes a British military uniform at the time.


Anna also stated that there is a little boy dressed of the same era looking out of a window that comes out onto the balcony where Sophia died. His name is Henry Martin or Martinelli. She saw arsenic as well as a child who absolutely loves the stairs in the house. A diary is hidden in a wall by a window in a room that the walls are angled like it's an upstairs corner.

The little boy walks hand in hand with a slim young woman who is wearing alight weight cotton dress with puffed sleeves around her shoulders then fitting down to the arms. They are inseparable. However, Anna felt a lot of jealousy and negativity that the spirits of the house felt for these two and felt like the house was trying to consume them.

After researching the affects of arsenic and one of the side affects being foul breath; it is possible that someone was slowly killing Sophia's killer with arsenic or he had been using it on a long term basis to try and kill someone else slowly. Perhaps Henry?


As a Postscript to this story, the day that I received the email from Anna with full details; I had a massive asthma like  attack and a migraine for three days. Anna later stated that by now knowing the truth, this man had awoken in the spirit plane to account to his maker for what he did and this affect was a side affect of it. By the afternoon, my left hand and arm were semi paralysed and 21 days later after seeing her doctor, it was stated that I had Dysphrenic Migraine which is an extremely rare condition. Something had triggered off a migraine which appeared like an asthma attack and the exact same affects of a Lecunar Stroke. Basically, the migraine affected the Lecunar nerves in the left arm to cause semi paralysis in the hand and arm similar to a stroke. The Dysphrenic Migraine differs in side affects depending on the severity of the migraine.


The affects range from mild amnesia for a dull headache to minor amnesia and problem with speech for an average headache to severe semi permanent to permanent paralysis down the left side of the body, severe epileptic seizure, complete to permanent speech loss and severe to permanent amnesia. The amnesia affects range from forgetting your name and words to forgetting how to cross the road and forgetting what is and is not dangerous; the fact that a loved one has died; to total complete amnesia.


Until this secret diary is found, the saga of Sophia Campbell will never end. Ironically, Anna and Sophia have the same birth date in relation to day and month. Anna has stated that when Sophia visited her, Sophia's hair was parted down the middle, wore a light blue long dress which was lightweight and sleeveless and no hoops underneath. Sophia went on through the light and all that was left was ash residue.


After 119 years Sophia Susanna Campbell has finally rest in eternal peace.





Tim The Yowie Man

Allan Levinson - Destiny Tours Sydney & Canberra

Registry of Births Deaths and Marriages (NSW)

Death certificate registration # 1885 / 14113

Cross referencing of genealogical websites.

Anonymous resident psychics of Canberra, Canada, Sydney.

Contacts who wish to remain anonymous.

Mary Dein


Sharon Hodges

Mr Barrington Beresford (NSW)

Mr Ross Howarth - Archivist, RMC, Duntroon ( History of RMC)

Anna (Feyeree Psychic, America)


Researcher : Maree Agland







Categories: None

Post a Comment


Oops, you forgot something.


The words you entered did not match the given text. Please try again.

You must be a member to comment on this page. Sign In or Register


Reply Sarah Campbell
11:49 PM on May 16, 2010 

My nanna use to be a bar maid at Duntroon military college. Before she passed
away she used to tell me stories of the ghosts of Sophia and Sarah, she was
always under the assumption that it was actually Sarah who fell out of the window
not Sophia. I only have 2 ghost stories that I remember her telling me about
when she worked at Duntroon. If you would like me to re-tell them, then please
email me. [email protected]
Reply hiddencanberra
9:01 PM on May 21, 2010 
Posted with kind permission by Sarah Campbell:

I remember my nanna telling me a story from when she worked there.

One night she was mopping the floors while singing a song about sex (maybe sexual healing or something like that) and all of a sudden, while mopping she was flipped up in the air. A man that was working with her asked if she was alright, and my nanna asked what had happened. He said that a nanny of some sort used to watch the children in the room that she was mopping and that she didn't like the song that my nanna was singing in front of the children.

On another occasion there was a party going on at Duntroon when my nanna was working there as well, a couple had brought their baby along. The music was blasting and the scene was very loud. The baby was put in a room to sleep.

All of a sudden the music switched off, and everyone could hear the baby crying. As soon as the parents went and checked on the baby, the music started up again.