Festival of Fisher's Ghost History

The Campbelltown City Festival of Fisher´s Ghost is one of the longest running community events in Australia, having being staged since 1956.

The Festival of Fisher's Ghost is born

This unique Festival, inspired by the famous legend of the ghost of Frederick Fisher, is steeped in community history and includes an extensive program of events to appeal to the wider community.

Originally conceived in 1956 as an annual celebration to raise funds for new facilities and services, the festival went through several names. That year it was named the Campbelltown Commemorative Festival.

During that same period, the legend of Fisher's Ghost experienced an unexpected rise in popularity, fuelled by Sydney radio stations and crowds gathered at Fisher's Ghost Creek hoping to spot the famous Ghost. Around 1500 Sydneysiders showed up to wait for the ghost’s appearance. This ‘ghost watch’ continued throughout the late 50s.

Campbelltown Councillor, Greg Percival suggested combining the festival and the legend and in 1960, the Festival of Fisher's Ghost was born. Funds raised from early festivals went towards the building of an ambulance station in Campbelltown.

Every year locals and visitors alike come to Campbelltown to enjoy this great event which aims to:

  • enrich the social and cultural fabric of our community and present an opportunity for all to unite and share creative energy, spirit and pride
  • deliver a range of enjoyable, free, family focussed, safe and accessible events, through community participation that highlights the significance of the Festival relevant to today´s community.

Festival program themes and history

Over the years the Festival Program has celebrated with many themes including: The Ghost with the Most, The Spirit of Campbelltown, the International Year of the Volunteers, the Centenary of Federation, The Legend Lives On, and most recently We Could be Heroes.

The program has evolved over the years in response to the interests of the local community.

The Miss Festival Quest, which ran for eleven years up until the early 90s, was adapted to form The Miss Festival Princess Quest.

Community participation in the Street Parade had always been extensive, simply ask a long term resident of Campbelltown about the parade and they are sure to have been in it, or know someone who has!

As a local can only know, the atmosphere and flash of colour that travels south down Queen Street is electric. Parade entrants, who are shuffled into order by Campbelltown’s State Emergency Services, wait with anticipation at the Campbelltown Showground, until the official’s radio ahead to signal that the speeches at the official opening are concluding. Entrants are a buzz with excitement and on the lookout for friends and family in the crowd.

Elaborate floats, marching bands and community groups have included representatives from the: Scouts, Air League, Girl Guides, Local Police, Fire Brigade and Rural Fire Service, High Schools, Primary Schools, Sporting Groups, Local Newspapers and Radio Stations, the Local Theatre Group, State Emergency Services, Council, Cultural Groups, Steam and Machinery Museum, Penny Farthing Clubs, Aviation Clubs as well as local businesses and community groups.

While the street parade was previously a much-loved and popular part of the festival, in recent year's attendance and participation had dropped significantly which is why we made the difficult decision not to go ahead with the parade this year and instead focus on delivering a larger festival program.

There'll be plenty of associated community events held around the festival including old favourites like the carnival and prestigious Fisher's Ghost Art Award and the annual Fisher’s Ghost Fun Run.

We're looking forward to seeing you there!

Your guide to Campbelltown's most infamous resident

Frederick Fisher and the legend of Fisher's Ghost Booklet(PDF, 4MB)

You'll discover:

Booklet Cover - Frederick Fisher and the legend of Fisher's Ghost

  • Who was Frederick George James Fisher?
  • What happened that fateful evening of 17 June 1826 when Fred Fisher disappeared?
  • The origins of the Campbelltown City Festival of Fisher's Ghost
  • Maps you can use to explore some of the historic landmarks of Campbelltown and walk in the footsteps of Fred.