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Sunshine Coast ghost busters

autumn 15

AS THE MERCURY DROPS MERCIFULLY in the wake of summer across the Sunshine Coast and the pre-winter fog sinks deep into the hinterland, residents and tourists alike move towards the comfort and warmth of their homes like moths to a flame.

Log cabins fill with mulled wine-swilling visitors sharing stories about their adventures, while the country dwellers wrap themselves in layers and tell stories around outdoor campfires, the flames burning a distinct acrid, woody scent into the dewy night as they talk, sing and wonder.


Then the dark of the night sets in.

The stars shine brighter across the region and the night animals make their presence known.
Before long, the chitter-chatter of excited voices takes a darker turn. Existential thoughts begin to seep into their relaxed minds.
Who are we? What are we doing here? Is there something else out there? And just like that, someone shares a ghost story.

Ghost stories seem to be synonymous with the cold, gloomy weather.

People are scared of what lies outside their brightly-lit homes, of the dark, of the unknown.
The people of the Sunshine Coast are fascinated with the paranormal. 

Enter Nambour couple Jeremy and Charmaine Bannerman. Jeremy is a sheet metal worker and Charmaine is studying at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

Both in their 40s, they are down-to-earth, polite and intelligent.
And if you walked past them at a shopping centre chances are you wouldn’t even bat an eyelid.

But while the rest of us are fast asleep, Jeremy and Charmaine are moonlighting as ghost-busters.

With the Down Under Spirit Team (DUST), they are a force of 10 psychics and boffins, helping people face the ghosts and demons that have been terrorising their homes and families.

DUST is headed by renowned Brisbane ghost tour operator Rick Burden, 39, and their investigations take them across Australia.

They do not charge for their work and they have two clear objectives: to investigate the paranormal and help people who are troubled by paranormal happenings. 

While the work is voluntary, priority is given to those in need – people who are really desperate.


“If children are involved we are there like that,” Charmaine says. 


The DUST team consists of a spiritual side, including psychics and mediums, and a technical side, in charge of monitoring the state-of-the-art equipment.

A CCTV system, full spectrum video and infra-red cameras, vibration detectors, trigger object monitors, temperature guns, laser grids and EMF meters are just a few of the technical pieces used during an investigation. 

With at least nine cameras, and hours of footage, each team member spends days trawling through the evidence before delivering a final report to Rick, who then correlates any findings and similarities.

They will look to try and debunk any claims or evidence found.

DUST psychic/medium Kim Kickbusch, 53, a published children’s author, says helping people resolve their often-terrifying situations is a shared desire for the team.

“I have always had a love of helping people out in tough situations,” she says.
“A haunting is not an easy thing to bear. There are people living in fear within their own homes. There have been people who have walked away from their homes because of the paranormal. This is not right. I love helping the living in these incidences, but also the dead. 

“Remember, most spirits were living, breathing people at one point with feelings just like you and I. Some of them are trapped here in this plane of existence and they have the right to be helped over to a more peaceful existence.”


Kim, who leads the crossing over process, starts an investigation by walking through the clients’ house to get a “sense” of what is there. It’s her job to help the spirits move on, and the majority of them do. 


“I will contact and converse with willing spirits, pass on messages from clients’ deceased family members, who often pop in when they know a medium is available, and counsel lost or trapped spirits that need help. I will most certainly be a part of kicking ass on the nasty ones that mean nothing but harm to the living.”


From flying cups, zombies and imps to demonic black figures, the team has witnessed it all.

They have captured blood-curdling screams, voices, terrifying laughter and apparitions. While Jeremy says he is neither religious nor spiritual, and was a sceptic when he joined the team, he now is a firm believer there “is something” out there. 

“At one investigation I saw a figure walk down the back stairs. Some people hear/see/feel things, entities, stuff being moved,” Jeremy says.

“In one investigation you can hear a slap and one of our team members says ‘someone just slapped me’.

"Not every investigation goes to plan.

“Some people may have a bad case of memory loss,” Charmaine says, “such as things being moved around and they have forgotten they have moved them. One house there was just nothing, no feeling at all.”

But mostly the team just wants to help everyday people out of a bad situation. Jeremy says one client had serious anger issues, and was seeing and hearing things in his house. 


“He was living with parents but his relationship had broken down. There was a feeling of claustrophobia,” he says.

“I’m not a psychic but I felt pressure on me the whole time. After the clearing, there was a difference in the room. This guy had been drinking a lot and when we went back, he had stopped drinking and got his life back on track.”

The DUST team has a presence on Sunshine Coast social media, giving advice to residents on how to protect themselves in investigations. Laine Alexandra, of Kuluin, started the HAUNTED: Sunshine Coast Facebook page, which has 1200+ members and climbing.

“I'm a self-confessed addict and fan of the show Ghost Adventures,” Laine says. 

In a bid to start her own ghost-busting, Laine recently bought night vision equipment, spirit boxes, EVP recorders, ultra-violet, infrared gear and EMF pumps.

But Rick warns ghost-busting amateurs to be cautious during investigations and never to provoke spirits. 

“Never do anything you don’t know how to do properly, such as use Ouija boards, and remember the three respects: respect the location, respect those you are with, and respect the unseen residents of the location. If you aren’t sure, contact a team like DUST for help.”


Jeremy says to just talk to the spirits: “Be assertive, but not rude.”


DUST holds regular workshops to teach people to protect themselves. For more information on the workshops or the team’s investigative work visit


Sunshine Coast’s most haunted:

  • Former Sunny Brae Hospital , Eumundi Showgrounds: Sounds of babies can be heard crying through the night.
  • Nambour Hospital : Toilets flushing and strange noises come from the bathroom next to the morgue.
  • Imperial Hotel , Eumundi: Resident ghost called Maggie has been witnessed by patrons and workers.
  • Eumundi Museum : Many volunteers feel the presence of a ghost who they think is a woman who died having a heart attack during a church service there.
  • Majestic Theatre , Pomona: Patrons have spoken of a cheeky ghost poking them in the back while watching the silent movies.
  • The Old Nunnery , Pomona: A nun was seen by several people walking through the historic home which sadly recently burned to the ground.
  • Former Railway Hotel , Pomona: Staff at the shops which now occupy the old building talk of unexplained footsteps and screams.
  • Noosa River , Tewantin: A ghost with “two dark holes for eyes and one hand held up to the side of its head” was reported to police by two fishermen in 1976.
words penny shipway heritage images courtesy  Heritage Library Sunshine Coast Council