A Semi -Regular Photo Blog about Life in Northern New South Wales, Australia.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Mystery of Lismore's Glowing Cross.

Last Tuesday I showed you the Nth Lismore Pioneers Cemetery, however, it is more infamous as the site of a supposed nighttime phenomena from 1914-1986.
In 1907, 29 year old William Steenson died in a shunting incident at Mullumbimby Station, was buried at said cemetery and commemorated by a monument of polished Scottish Balmoral Granite. There are some reports of the cross beginning to 'glow' during WW1, however, the crescendo of interest occurred in 1978 when the local newspaper rag, The Northern Star, ran a short story that eventually snowballed into 100's of people turning up for the nightly spectacle and a great deal of national and international interest. Most sources note that it was a mixed audience of the plain curious and very devout.

Grave in situ:  http://www.duelindeals.com/discussions/allinthecards/?m=200803
Experts were of course consulted with most emphasis of course on the piece of stone itself. Theories included possible radioactivity of the granite, it's highly polished and possibly reflective nature and even petrified glow worms!
Shot of the 'Glowing Cross' http://www.unexplainedaustralia.com/e107_plugins/content/content.php?content.59
This is the only image I can find of the cross 'glowing'. The image looks doctored and I can't believe if hundreds of people were turning up to witness the event that there are not more shots in existence.
In 1986 the cross mysteriously disappeared during a bout of renewed interest. So the cross that now sits atop the monument is not the original. There were many theories about what happened to the glowing cross but none have ever been proved.
The inscription on Steenson's memorial is interesting and also very ironic. 
Though sorrow and darkness encompass the tomb,
Thy saviour has pass'd through its darkness before thee...
And the lamp of his Love.
Is thy guide through the gloom.

Cemeteries are an ideal location for both very rational and also very irrational behaviour by human beings.There is a lot that cannot be explained by this event but the skeptic in me suggests a logical explanation and the historian also worries about a lack of real evidence available.

These days the now non-glowing cross sits on the hill overlooking the resting place of William Steenson. Obviously the cross receives very few visitors these days as the memory of those heady, fervent nights in the mid 1970's recedes into a folklore memory.

This is a Taphopile Tuesday Post. Click here for Julie's excellent meme on all things cemetery.
This is an Our World Tuesday Post. Click here for more scenes and stories from around the globe.


  1. How interesting! I agree about the "doctoring" of the historical photo. However, it is amazing what people will see if they really want to! A number bioluminescent life forms could have perhaps colonised the cross for a season or two. Maybe bacteria?

  2. So when all those markers were moved, did they just discard the base of that particular stone as well? The part with the family name? Or is it buried in the hillside?

  3. Neil I also wondered where the base of the marker has gone. I guess when they moved all the headstones and 'lawnized' the cemetery it was lost.
    Nick, bio luminescence would be a new theory.

  4. Oh, a fascinating post indeed, Mark! Your captures are terrific! Lovely place! Have a great week!


  5. It does look suspect..Im sure there are many explanations for the glow and now that its missing...no one will ever know what it really was!!

  6. I agree Mark ... You would have thought there would have been many photos taken....1914 - 1986 isn't that far back!
    But it makes for an interesting post.

  7. Strange indeed. Is that the Masonic symbol on the cross.

  8. I'm putting my money on petrified glow worms.

  9. Yes Ann it is a mason symbol, Masonry has always been very strong around Lismore and the Richmond valley. I read one report that described Steenson as not very religious or an occultist, but I am unsure how involved he was in the Masons.

  10. Great shots! That glowing cross is amazing.

  11. Great yarn and the petrified glow worms the best explanation yet.

  12. Cool post! We should probably retain a few mysteries. The irony is outstanding.

  13. I agree with Sheryl: the irony is outstanding. As is the masonic symbol, which I was going to point out for Gene's sake, but Ann beat me to it.

    Hah! I just had to open up another window to check what you called your post last week, because I read the link today as Nth rather than North, and totally confused myself. I love your approach to this, Mark. Rather than just dismissing it out of hand, you list out the possibilities. I find myself frequently, being less generous! The disappearance is the worrying thing. If someone was 'pulling the wool' then I can understand them wanting to also pull the plug. But the glow was around for years; longer that for a single individual's sense of fun.

    My apologies for being around to read your post in such a tardy manner this week. I do appreciate them, and get much pleasure from all the wierd and wonderful things bloggers find to post about.

  14. This is my great-great grandfather on my mothers side. What i find disapionting is the hype of the glowing stone rather than what should have been acknowleged, him jumping in front of the runaway carrage to save many people's lives. And no i am not joking, i am a relative.


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