MARY’S GHOST ALE // The Story Behind The Bundanoon Hotel’s Special Brew
How Bundanoon Hotel’s Resident Ghost Inspired a Super-Tasty Collab With Young Henrys!
It’s common knowledge among the residents of Bundanoon that the local pub is home to more than just great service, an awesome beer garden and kickarse food.
Many staff and visitors – whether they’re staying overnight or not – have felt the presence of something a little spooky, heard things going bump in the night, and some have even seen what can only be explained as ..... well, unexplainable (and we’re not talking about Friday night after 9pm in the front bar, either!).
While a number of ghosts have been sighted in the corridors of the Bundanoon Hotel, it seems the most famous one is Mary.
So, when the guys at the hotel created a special brew in collaboration with Young Henrys for Brigadoon 2020, they wanted to pay homage to Mary, naming the delicious red ale after their ghostly resident.
“One of the owners of Young Henry’s is a mate of mine and when I floated the idea of creating a limited release beer for Brigadoon by him, they were keen to come on board,” Peter Dean, co-owner of the Bundanoon Hotel, explains.
“We wanted to create something along the lines of a darker-style beer, a Scottish ale so it fit in with the whole theme of Brigadoon. We went to the Young Henrys brewery up in Newtown, watched it being made, taste tested it and then they asked us what we wanted to call it.”
“I told them the story of Mary, so we called the beer Mary’s Ghost Ale.”
Of course, Brigadoon 2020 was cancelled and the pub was closed down during lockdown, so it hasn’t been until now that Pete has been able to get his hands on the 40 kegs of the special brew to put on tap in the Brigadoon Bar in the Bundanoon Hotel.
So, we headed in to taste test it ourselves – our verdict? A surprisingly light and easy-to-drink amber ale. We love that it’s made with hops grown in the Southern Highlands, too!
And we also wanted to find out more about Mary.
Now, Pete’s done a bit of research and of course locals and staff have plenty of stories to tell but from chatting to these guys and doing some of our own online research (freakin’ ourselves out watching paranormal videos!!), it’s actually quite the sad story.
No one seems to be really sure exactly when, but about 80 years ago, Mary’s son committed suicide. Mary, a grieving mother, was so distraught by losing her son that she booked a room – Room 36 – took some pills and set fire to the hotel. Sadly, when the fire was put out, Mary’s body was found....she’d passed away.
“Most people tell me that it was Room 36 where Mary passed, but I’ve also been told it was Room 38,” Pete says.
“One of our housekeepers has told me she feels a chill in Room 38. This is one of the warmest hotels in the Highlands. There are heaters everywhere, but a few people have mentioned how cold Room 38 can get.”
“Room 38 is directly above the Brigadoon Bar and when we renovated two years ago, we pulled the ceiling out of the bar, and saw burn marks, so perhaps it was Room 38 that she was in.”
“I actually don’t go up here at night!” Pete says, as we stand in the corridor of the wing where most of the ghostly activity has been observed and documented.
Back in 2012, an investigative paranormal group, APPI – Australian Paranormal Phenomenon Investigators – did some ghost busting of their own.
“They set up all their equipment on the beds in Room 36 – they had cameras and all sorts of things – and then managed to capture a few spooky things,” says Pete.
These guys had an EMF set up to measure changes in the electromagnetic field, which paranormal investigators say indicate the presence of a ghost. They also set up audio equipment in the hope of capturing EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomena – communications from spirits). If you’re game enough, have a look at the videos of what these investigators captured – let’s just say there were noises and sounds that were a tad unexplainable.......because there was NO ONE in the hotel when they did their investigation.
This was taken in the Hotel’s Reception and check-in area. Do you see anything??
“We also had a couple stay at the hotel last year who practise mediumship (that means speaking to spirits for those of you playing along at home from under your bed covers!) and they were adamant there is a presence here,” says Pete.
But it seems it’s not just Mary roaming around the Bundanoon Hotel. We spoke to a staff member who has had her own ghostly encounter.
“I saw a lady standing in one of the family rooms downstairs. She was doing some needlework, embroidering something and had a grey skirt and sensible shoes on,” she says.
“And my 8-year-old son has seen some things too. An older gentleman dressed in a dinner suit sat in the lounge area with him one day. He actually waves to him when we drive past the hotel. And he also saw a lady in one of the rooms with pink slippers on and of course, when I went to check there was no one in the room.”
According to anecdotal reports, they all seem to be pretty harmless. And if you were going to spend eternity in the afterlife, wouldn’t YOU like it to be one of the most hospitable country pubs in New South Wales?
So, next time you’re in Bundanoon, swing by the pub and order a schooner of Mary’s Ghost Ale. Raise a toast to this heartbroken mum and her son and wish them both peace. You never know, Mary (and her friends) might be sitting right next to you....
Young Henrys collaborated with the Bundanoon Hotel to create Mary’s Ghost Ale, using locally grown hops. There are only 40 kegs of it, and it’s just been put on tap at the Burrawang Village Hotel and the Royal Hotel in Bowral, so get onto it people before it too heads for the afterlife......!