Spooky Places To Visit In Australia
For some travellers, their road trip bucket list contains art galleries, botanic gardens and shopping centres. Others seek out thrilling experiences like rollercoasters, abseiling and well… ghosts!
In the spirit of Halloween, we’ve compiled a list of haunted places you can experience while travelling around Australia in your motorhome. These nine places have a poignant history that will educate and shock you, whether you believe in ghosts or not.
Whatever the outcome be after a visit to these spooky spots, you sure will be glad you have the comfort of a strictly non-haunted home on wheels!!
WILLOW COURT, TASMANIA
Whether you believe in paranormal activity or are interested in historical sights – Willow Court in New Norfolk is sure to be an eye-opener! This creepy part of town was home to Australia’s longest-running mental asylum; unbelievably, it was only closed in late 2000. For 170 years, people considered mentally ill were locked up here, deemed “criminally insane”.
Parts of the hospital site have been subject to a wide range of arson attacks and vandalism over recent years, but you can experience the so-called haunted buildings in many ways.
The prestigious local restaurant Agrarian Kitchen Eatery is an opportunity to dine in the former psychiatric hospital! This “paddock to plate” style restaurant is such a popular spot that bookings are essential all year round.
Be sure to walk through the eerie buildings via the range of antique stores. There are unexplained breezes and dishevelled walls throughout every corner!
Of course, for the most haunting experience, take a tour. There are paranormal investigation tours, ghost tours and history tours. You’ll gain exclusive access to some of the most notorious wards, including the Ladies Cottage, The Morgue or the Criminally Insane Male Ward.
HOBART CONVICT PENITENTIARY, TASMANIA
A heritage building in the heart of the city, the Hobart Convict Penitentiary is one of Australia’s most significant convict sites. More than 50,000 men passed through here between 1821 and 1960. It was then demolished to make way for a prison facility and courtroom.
The Penitentiary Chapel was far from holy; visiting worshippers could hear eerie sounds coming from the torture rooms hidden beneath the floor!
You’re able to walk through the eerie chapel, former holding cells and underground tunnels via a tour. The scariest part about this building is the fully functional gallows that remain there. Many will say they’ve encountered the ghost of Soloman Blay; the man said to be responsible for over 200 hangings.
PORT ARTHUR, TASMANIA
Port Arthur is said to be one of the Southern Hemisphere’s most haunted places.
The Port Arthur site began in 1830 as a timber station - it soon became a prison for hardened criminals and petty convicts. It also housed families and children related to the convicts.
The severe living conditions and the manual labour these people undertook meant they often died young and under horrific circumstances. It was called “hell on earth” by prisoners and had a reputation of being one of the worst prisons in the British empire. Many believe convicts now haunt the historic Tasmanian site.
Tourists have eerily similar accounts of hearing children laughing and playing – some even claim their photos show ghostly images of adults and children.
The haunts of Port Arthur can be witnessed in a variety of ways – from nightly ghost tours told under the light of a lantern to an interactive walking tour where you will meet an assortment of characters along the way. Others prefer a self-guided walk, where you can spend hours reading and walking around the convict site.
While some visit Port Arthur purely for it’s thrilling architecture, many leave as if they’ve seen a ghost!
MAYDAY HILLS, VICTORIA
Mayday Hills is home to the decommissioned ‘lunatic asylum’- one of the largest asylums in Victoria. You needed just two signatures to be admitted, but you needed eight to be released. A lot of people who checked in to the Beechworth facility never checked out
Built on a hill in Beechworth, the location was chosen because of the belief the town’s altitude would cleanse the patients of their illnesses. In peak times, the hospital detained 1200 patients and had 500 staff. Typical treatments would include straight jackets, isolation cages and electro-shock. It’s no wonder this place is allegedly full of vengeful ghosts!
A historically interesting place to stop while exploring Mayday Hills is the remains of the Ha-Ha walls; a disturbing piece of architecture built to imprison the patients. However, from the outside looking in, it appeared the patients were free to leave as they wish due to a sloping trench.
A unique way to experience Beechworth Asylum is the Horror Film Marathon – where you can watch a film of your choice in the hosptial’s main hall – just how the patients used to!
OLD MELBOURNE GAOL, VICTORIA
Find out what life was like for some of Australia’s most notorious citizens, including bushranger Ned Kelly who lived and died here. While dangerous criminals were held inside this goal, so were children, homeless, and mentally ill people.
Most of the cells have now turned into fascinating exhibition rooms. Some of the eeriest features include peepholes and prisoners wall carvings. Many visitors have reported hearing voices and peculiar happenings, which has sparked a great range of paranormal investigations.
Guided tours The Hangman’s Night Tour or the Watch House Experience will give you a frightful understanding of what life in the Melbourne Goal was like.
PRINCESS THEATRE, VICTORIA
This story is best told around your campfire, knowing you have the comfort of your motorhome close by!
There are plenty of origin tales of haunted theatres, but this one is undoubtedly the most notorious. In 1888 Frederick Baker (stage name Frederick Federici) was performing the lead in the play Faust. It was opening night and a dramatic scene was taking place, where Baker was being lowered through a stage trapdoor. Upon lowering, he had a heart attack and was pronounced dead in the theatres green room within minutes. His fellow cast and the audience we are confused when informed what had happened, as they were adamant he was on stage on the final scene, taking the traditional theatre bow!
Since then, theatre staff and patrons have claimed countless sightings of the ghost of Frederick Federici.
It’s alleged that Federici appears at night, usually sitting around the centre of the second or third row of the dress circle. Melbourne’s Princess Theatre is home to some of the country's most famous productions, including Harry Potter & The Cursed Child – so why not see a show and try and encounter him for yourself!
THE DEVIL’S POOL, QUEENSLAND
While this Cairns rainforest looks scenic, it has a dangerous and haunting history. In 2008, it was officially declared a no-go zone. According to Aboriginal folklore, a young runaway bride who fell to her death at Devil’s Pool is the reason why so many young men’s lives - especially male tourists - have been taken at the site.
Want to know more? Aboriginal legend says a girl named Oolana, from the Yidinji people, married a respected elder from her tribe called Waroonoo. Shortly after their union, another tribe moved into the area – this is when a young man named Dyga came into Oolana’s life. The pair soon became lovers! To avoid adulterous punishment, they attempted to escape their tribes.
Their elders soon captured the pair but Oolana escaped and threw herself into the still waters. Her agonized cries for her lost lover are said to have scattered boulders and turned the still waters into the rushing torrent it is now. Oolana disappeared that day. Aboriginal legend says her spirit now guards the land, and her anguished calls can still be heard.
Experience Devil’s pool safely from the viewing platform. There is an easy walking track that is a 1.3 km return along Babina Creek.
MONTE CRISTO HOMESTEAD, NEW SOUTH WALES
This Monte Cristo Homestead in Junee, NSW has a horrible history. From infected collars to house fires - many strange and horrific tragedies have occurred here. Many say that has led to the victims haunting its halls. It is now a museum, antique centre, and a popular road-trip destination.
There have been numerous reports of ghost sightings, strange lights, unexplainable stenches, and mystery sounds. After a production crew travelled here to film an episode of Ghost Hunters, they confirmed this was the most haunted place they had ever been!
Some travellers opt for the full-spooky experience by staying at the haunted house overnight –many cannot hack it and take off in the middle of the night! A (slightly) more calming way to experience the creepy house, is by booking an evening ghost tour!
Q STATION, NEW SOUTH WALES
While Q Station is a hotel, restaurant complex and conference centre, it was formally a quarantine base used to regulate the risk of disease and plague. In its 150-year history, some people recovered and were released, while others never made it out.
You’ll be thankful to have a motorhome to call home after experiencing this hotel! While it may look quaint at first glance, Q Station has a shocking past that many staff say now haunt the buildings.
Commonly reported sightings are a terrifying hospital matron, a Chinese man with a long ponytail, a mortician in a top hat and a girl with blonde plaits that holds the hands of unsuspecting tourists!
One of the most profound features in the surrounding reserve is a series of engravings – these can be found along the cliff adjacent to the jetty or on a rock formation known as Old Man’s Hat.