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Lismore's Glowing Cross
What made this seemingly normal cemetery monument glow?

by Murray

Lismore's Glowing Cross

In 1907 a young railway worker died on the job going above and beyond the call of duty trying to stop a runaway train with his bare hands he was flung to ground critically injured. His family erected a stone cross monument made of Balmoral Granite in the local Lismore cemetery. Prophetically according to its inscription eleven years later the Cross began to glow...

The gravestone of William Steenson reportedly began to glow around 1918. It shone so brightly on some nights that it bathed the surrounding ground and graves in an arc of white light. Overtime the cemetery fell into disrepair and the legend of the glowing cross became part of the local folklore it became known as the "Ghost on the Hill". The local children would dare one another to run into the graveyard go up to the monument and read the name on the inscription. Many were scared stiff by their ordeal.

Yet on the other hand many believed that the glowing cross was a positive phenomena created either by god himself or some kind of manifestation of the heroic spirit of William Steenson.

In 1978 a local woman visited the grave site and described her experience to a local reporter for the Northern Star Newspaper, he published in his human interest column a story on theories as to why the cross glowed. This in turn gathered the attention of Sydney newspapers which resulted in a media frenzy over the story. Reporters, Photographers, TV crews, Religious devotees came pouring into town. Not long after that experts arrived, geologists, stonemasons, physicists, light refraction experts etc. All tried to explain what caused the cross to glow, theories ranged from, phosphorescence, radioactivity, extreme light refraction from the highly polished granite, and even petrified glow worms.

Of all the theories none of them had a concrete conclusion, if it was simply light refraction why did the base which was made of the same material not glow, and also the cross glowed on night where the moon and other light sources were missing. Albeit not as brightly. The photographer from the Northern Star never believed the supposed "paranormal" explanations of why the cross glowed he maintained that the glow was caused by the fact that the Balmoral Granite was extremely well polished and was simply light reflecting off nearby sources.

After the cross had become an international phenomenon publicity died down and the cross fell back into obscurity until 1986 when a renewed media frenzy began. Unfortunately with many cases like these the cross was a victim of vandalism on more than one occasion and at one point the cross was pushed off its base fortunately it was not damaged and was put back in place.

Later the same year the cross disappeared, some blamed vandals, others religious fanatics, some the church, others believed it was dumped up river. Whatever the case Lismore' Famous Glowing Cross has disappeared seemingly for good. The Steenson family we donated $2000 dollars by someone in Sydney to pay for a new cross to sit above the grave of their ancestor. Even though this cross was made from the same Balmoral Granite and was exactly the same dimensions as the original cross it has never glowed. The replica cross still sits today upon the original base of William Steensons grave in the Lismore pioneer cemetery.

It's inscription written by Bishop Heber published in 1811 on the base reads...

Sacred to the memory of my

Dear Husband William Thomas Thurling Steenson,

who died

At Lismore 30th September 1907;
from injuries accidentally received in execution
of his duty at Mullumbimby; aged 29 years

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.