We love a good spook on the Northern Beaches – from the infamous ghost ‘Kelly’, often sighted on the Wakehurst Parkway, the monster that’s occasionally seen in Narrabeen Lagoon to tales from Manly’s Quarantine Station, renowned as one of Australia’s most haunted sites.
We also love a good Halloween-themed home.
Beaches Hot Spots for displays include Sanananda Avenue, Inglebar Avenue and Moresby Place in Allambie Heights. There’s Bungaloe Avenue in Balgowlah Heights, many streets in North Balgowlah and Kempbridge Avenue in Seaforth. In Frenchs Forest, check out Cadow Street, Mimosa Street and Carnarvon Drive… as well as Matthew Street in nearby Davidson and Scarborough Place in Beacon Hill.
Then there’s Pine Street and Smith Street in Manly and Thomas Street in North Manly. Further north, Anzac Avenue in Collaroy, Samuel Street, Katrina Avenue and Suzanne Road in Mona Vale, and Garden Street in Warriewood. The Hawkins residence at Bennett Street in Dee Why (pictured below) is well worth a look; also in Dee Why try Tango Avenue, Headland Road, Quirk Road and Lewis Street.
But whatever you do, don’t miss out on the blood-curdling creativity you’ll find in Allawah Avenue, Elanora Heights, where you will find the home of local artist and mother of two, Kara Sargent!
Kara has spent the best part of two and a half months preparing for Halloween celebrations. Planning commenced in July and actual work on the props started on August 14. She’s only lived at her current address for two years, which has given her the space to indulge her passion. Last year her decorations attracted over a thousand children to her home! (That’s a lot of treats to have on hand.)
“I’ve always been ‘crafty’ and currently run my own business, creating and selling fluid art”, says Kara. (FYI, ‘fluid art’ involves the use of media such as runny acrylics, powdered pigments or inks.) “But really, this is a passion project I do mainly for my two kids, aged 5 and 9. They absolutely love it!” When asked ‘Why Halloween?’, Kara replies: “Just because I can have fun being creative with this, rather than replicate the cookie cutter decorations of say, Christmas. Halloween has simply become my big annual show.”
This year, Kara has based her display on the Netflix series ‘Wednesday’ – a supernatural comedy horror series based on the character Wednesday Addams, of Addams Family fame. Revered fantasy and horror film maker, Tim Burton is the Executive Producer and sometimes Director of Wednesday.
Highlights include the gravestone of Wednesday’s pet scorpion, Nero; a hand-painted spider-webbed stained glass window from Wednesday’s dormitory, Ophelia Hall; and an effigy of Wednesday herself. But the undoubted highlight of this frightening display is a life-sized, 1.8 metre (6’ 2”) tall mythical monster, ‘the Hyde’, which in the series, murders students of the Nevermore Academy, as well as local townsfolk.
Kara has never created visual effects or props for the movie industry, but this creature is as good as anything that an Academy Award winning concept artist could come up with. The frame is made from PVC piping and chicken wire, while 37 rolls of toilet paper (to make papier-mâché) and 20 canisters of expanding foam were used to bring ‘the Elanora Hyde’ to life. “But my absolute favourite part of this creation is the resin I’ve used to replicate dripping blood. It just hangs perfectly in place”, says Kara.
“The Hyde took me roughly 26 hours to make over the past month”, she says “… and that’s in between running a household with two young kids and making other props.” And speaking of other props, Kara points out that she does not use the synthetic cobwebs that are currently in the news for being dangerous to wildlife, especially birds. “My spider webs are made from stretchy material I bought from Spotlight and then cut holes in… not at all sticky and re-usable every year!”
Invasion of the treat snatchers
The terrifying tableau in Allawah Avenue has been in place for some three weeks, and is already attracting huge attention… but the big night is next Tuesday, October 31, and Kara is readying herself for a veritable invasion.
“Our front door is actually up a fairly steep flight of steps”, says Kara “and rather than have a thousand costumed kids hiking up there, risking injury while seeking treats, I’ve installed a ‘Lolly Shute’, (PVC piping, naturally painted black). So when I hear neighbourhood kids yelling ‘Trick or Treat’, I can fire lollies down the shute for them to collect… just more fun for them really.”
“I’ve installed a ‘Lolly Shute’, (PVC piping, naturally painted black). So when I hear neighbourhood kids yelling ‘Trick or Treat’, I can fire lollies down the shute for them to collect.”
And it doesn’t end there. The whole fearsome façade lights up at night. The house glows red, there are spotlights on all the props and a fog machine adds to the eerie atmosphere. What a production!
“I imagine there’ll be another massive turnout on the night so I have over a thousand lollies on hand. And my kind neighbours drop over more lolly bags on the day, as they know we’ll get smashed. But if you are keen to bring the kids down to check out the display, just know that we are at the top of a hill with double white lines out front. So it’s best to park either side of the hill and walk up for a closer look.”
Good to know
The origins of Halloween date back to an ancient Celtic festival held in what is now Ireland more than 2,000 years ago. It was a harvest festival that people would celebrate by lighting bonfires and dressing up in costumes, either to ward off ghosts and evil spirits or to disguise themselves so the ghosts would mistake them for other spirits and leave them alone.
Later in the 8th Century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as All Saints Day, which incorporated some of these early traditions. It was a day to remember the dead – specifically saints and martyrs. The evening before All Saints Day became known as All Hallows Eve, which over time, morphed into ‘Halloween’. The night before the big day was thought to have been the time when demons, witches and evil spirits rose up to roam the earth, playing all sorts of tricks to terrify humans.
Irish and Scottish immigrants to America brought the Halloween tradition with them and Americans quickly adopted the custom as their own. But in 2023, it’s also alive and well on the Northern Beaches.