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Salem witch village.
Salem witch village.
David in the not-so-spooky end of Salem.
House of Green Gables.
Witches, ghosts and goblins.


Thursday, February 14, 2002
David decides to unravel the bizarre mysterious happenings of Salem ... it's more than witchcraft — you won't want to miss this.

The bizarre and inexplicable behaviour of two girls in 1692 changed Salem forever. Witchcraft was blamed, and by the time the hysteria was over, 24 people had died. Nineteen were hanged on Gallows Hill in Salem Town, and some died in prison.

The hysteria has been traced back to Rev Samual Parris, who returned from Barbados with two voodoo-practicing slaves. Rev Pariss' daughter and niece were fascinated by the black magic, and things such as fortune-telling and predicting future husbands spread around the village. For unknown reasons, Rev Pariss' daughter and niece began having fits, contorting and making strange noises. Rev Pariss brought in Dr William Griggs, who could diagnose no medical condition, so it was put down to witchcraft. The girls were forced to name names, and the slave from Barbados was the first of many to be accused.

Three of the accused women were examined by Magistrates Corwin and Hawthorne in Corwin's home. Known as the Witch House, it is the only building still standing with direct links to the trials. Visitors can see where the first trials were held, and hear many of the tales. The house is an excellent example of 17th century architecture and furnishings, with emphasis on the Corwin family's involvement. Judge Corwin was a member of the court that condemned 20 innocent people to death, and his mother-in-law was repeatedly accused of practicing witchcraft.

The Salem Witch Museum opened in 1972 and from the moment you step inside, you are transported back to the witch hysteria of 1692. It is dimly lit and has 13 stages with life-size figures, audio-visual displays, lighting and narration. The museum explains much of the mystery and misunderstanding about witchcraft and paganism. Something a little more light-hearted is the Mass Hysteria Haunted Hearse Tour. It took six months of legal battle to have the controversial, occult-themed tour approved. They use a 10-seater renovated hearse with crushed velvet seating, door locks which are glowing skulls and a stereo giving sound effects of screams, music and narration. The tour takes around two hours, with a stop at the burial ground for a wander around the gravestones.

The House of the Seven Gables historic site is a collection of six houses, including the Turner-Ingersoll Mansion, New England's oldest. You can explore various rooms and walk up the hidden staircase, which is believed to be where some of the accused women hid. The Crucible was filmed there, and some props from the film remain in the basement.

Apart from the notoriety the witch trials gave Salem, it does have an impressive maritime history. At its peak, Salem Harbour had 50 wharves — where up to 200 ships berthed — and a lighthouse, which is still functioning. Fortunes were made trading such things as precious and rare pepper and vanilla, and many families still live off money their forbears made 300 years ago.

Many of the wealthy built their homes on Chestnut Street, which is architecturally one of the most beautiful and distinguished streets in North America. It is lined with mansions built by Salem's sea captains in the early 19th century.

The Salem Inn is three historic homes — The West House, The Peabody House and The Curwen House. They offer a taste of Salem's days of glory, with individually decorated rooms and suites, fireplaces, antiques and beautiful furnishings. It has some wonderful trompe l'oeil murals to give the finishing touch.

Salem is a very popular destination for Halloween celebrations each October 31. Accommodation is almost impossible to find as people flock there for haunted happenings, parades, costume competitions and other eerie events. Apart from all of that, it is autumn in New England, and the colours of the changing maple leaves defy description — something everyone should witness at least once.


Salem is a 30-minute drive north of Boston, the capital of Massachusetts.


Mass Hysteria Haunted Hearse Tours start at around $65 per adult and $45 per child.
Qantas flies five times a week to New York with connections to Boston. Return economy fares start at $2141 from the east coast, $2341 from Adelaide and $2526 from Perth.
Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

More information

Mass Hysteria Haunted Hearse Tours
Ph: 0011 1 877 443 2773
Salem Inn
7 Summer Street, Salem, Ma USA
Ph: 0011 1 978 741 0680
Qantas: Ph: 13 13 13
For a safe and healthy journey, talk to the travel doctor: 1300 658 844 or visit
Vaccinations: Tetanus and Measles if under 30 years and no previous booster. Travel Doctor Tour Kits contain remedies for minor problems such as coughs, colds, cuts and scratches. Health Guide for International Travellers contains advice on jetlag prevention.

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