From UFO sightings to the headless horseman

From UFO sightings to the headless horseman

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Gosnells historian Stephen O'Brien says there is often a grain of truth in legends and myths. Photograph - Aaron Van Rongen.

The City of Gosnells held a talk at the Lylal Richardson Hall on March 21 about local urban legends in the area.

City of Gosnells history librarian Stephen O’Brien presented the talk and covered topics including the headless horseman of Kenwick Cemetery, phantom children’s graves, the story of the Maddington UFO and a mysterious perfume planation from the early 1900s.

Mr O’Brien said many areas have their own folklore but some like the Headless Horseman of Kenwick and the Maddington UFO might be borrowed themes.

“There are countless urban legends which aren’t location specific and which might have been invented anywhere in the world,” he said.

“Kenwick’s Headless Horseman may be a borrowing from abroad but the perfume factory that never was and the mystery of the pioneer children’s grave at Ellis Brook are truly our own.”

Mr O’Brien said with internet chat taking over from neighbour to neighbour gossip many of the older legends were not getting passed on and the area’s many thousands of newer arrivals would be surprised the Gosnells region had been urbanising long enough to generate some of its own folklore.

“The essence of a legend is that it’s a great story,” he said.

“Great stories get passed around and there’s often a grain of truth that starts a story which then gets elaborated on with each telling.

“The story just gets better each time.”

Mr O’Brien said myths or legends were usually founded on some sort of historical occurrence or event, which then gets embellished.

“It may be a speculative remark that gets passed around,” he said.

“It may also be creative piece of real estate marketing, a gleeful prank or just an incorrect interpretation of actual events.”