If anyone ever asks if you would like to attend a two-day paranormal conference in an old haunted gaol, obviously your answer should be an unequivocal ‘yes’.
Seriously. I spent the weekend at Paracon and it was amazing. Touted as Australia’s ‘only paranormal conference’, Paracon is an event for paranormal enthusiasts – a place where they can come from all over the country to hear experts speak on topics like ghost hunting, alien abduction, time travel, the search for Australia’s Bigfoot (called the ‘Yowie’ btw – I totally know things now), UFO sightings, mediumship, past lives, drumming (I asked – apparently it is actually just drumming), crop circles…. The list goes on. Basically, if you are Australian and you love paranormal stuff, Paracon was the place to be on the weekend.
And I was there, you guys. I hung out with the paranormal cool kids to get a taste of what it’s like to live a life obsessed by the supernatural. And it was… Well, it was some next-level stuff.
I’m probably what you’d call an open-minded sceptic. Except for the time I watched The Exorcist by myself and then spent an hour crying on the phone to mum convinced the devil was trying to take over my body (I may or may not have taken a taxi to her house at 3am), I’ve not really experienced anything I can’t explain. I want to believe all that stuff, I really do. I just haven’t seen anything so far that has convinced me. Let’s just say I’m not a sceptic by choice, so I’m totally open to being convinced.
That was the attitude I took with me to the conference. I also took my friend Tony, who is the biggest believer of paranormal stuff that I know. I figured he would get me excited and stack the odds in Bigfoot’s favour.
Paracon at a glance:
When we noticed the vanity number plate with the word ‘UFO’, we knew we were at the right place.
We walked through the gates of the old Maitland Gaol in NSW and didn’t immediately slip into some kind of 7th spirit dimension, so I considered that a good start. I’d say there were about 150 people there, and they all seemed to know, or at least recognise, each other – from the web, other events, ghost-hunts, YouTube… That’s one of the main things I took away from this whole experience – the paranormal community in this country is pretty tight-knit.
But there are separate (and sometimes competing) sub-cultures that sit under the larger paranormal umbrella and they all seem to stick together. There are the ghost-hunters, the alien and UFO people, the psychic/medium peeps, the Yowie people – they all kind of stick together in their little groups.
It was actually a lot like high school. As far as I could tell, the ghost-hunters were the cool kids. They all walked around in matching jackets (just like the Pink Ladies!) and kept randomly taking photos in the dark, looking for ‘orbs’. Those guys all hung together and smoked in between lectures. So cool.
The event organisers were kind of like the yearbook committee and the psychics were the popular girls constantly surrounded by adoring fans who wanted to hear them speak.
Far and away though, the coolest guys on campus were the experts who had been flown in from the US. One of them was on/is on some kind of show where he runs around in the dark waiting for things to tip over by themselves so he can film it with a night vision camera. He was like a rock star. He was even selling autographed pictures. It was legit.