Officer-in-charge of Gracemere Police Station Sergeant Ben Holdcroft at the locked gates of the abandoned St Joseph’s Orphanage at Neerkol.
Officer-in-charge of Gracemere Police Station Sergeant Ben Holdcroft at the locked gates of the abandoned St Joseph’s Orphanage at Neerkol. Chris Ison

Police warn haunted house hunters

THOSE who dare to venture to the former St Joseph's Orphanage at Neerkol probably won't find ghosts, but they will find very real police officers waiting with handcuffs.

Stanwell Power Station, which owns the orphanage west of Rockhampton, has tightened security with the help of Gracemere police after three teenagers were recently caught and charged with trespass.

While some people are drawn to the abandoned orphanage because family members once stayed at the home, others are drawn by tales the site is haunted.

There is even a Facebook page dedicated to the orphanage called Neerkol Orphanage Stories and photos.

Officer-in-charge of Gracemere Police Station Sergeant Ben Holdcroft said no matter the reason, people caught on the land or in the buildings would be charged with trespass.

He said many of the people who were caught were not hardened criminals.

"Unfortunately it's just curious people who get out of their cars, jump the fence, trip into three ditches and by that time we're there or security's there," Sgt Holdcroft said.

"Neither police nor Stanwell want to see people taken before the courts, but the action is necessary to stop them being injured at this dangerous site."

He warned those arrested could face a hefty fine or a maximum penalty of one year imprisonment.

"There's nothing there," Sgt Holdcroft said.

"It's an old building that hasn't been looked after for 30 years."

Stanwell Power Station's acting site manager James Oliver said the dilapidated building had become hazardous to people's health.

"The buildings also have an asbestos problem and Stanwell does not want people exposed to this potentially deadly hazard," Mr Oliver said.

He said Stanwell security guards regularly patrolled the area and could arrive quickly from the power station.

TRESPASS

Courts can impose hefty fines or a maximum penalty of one year imprisonment on convicted trespassers.



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