Are you afraid of things that go bump in the night? Then you’d better stop reading now, because these ghostly places around Australia will put some serious goosebumps on your neck. From lunatic asylums to convict prisons, check out the 10 most haunted sites Down Under.
Introducing the place that claims to be the most haunted house in Australia. The two-storey Victorian manor was built by pioneer Christopher William Crawley in the New South Wales town of Junee in 1885 before his homestead became riddled with death — a stable boy burned to death, a baby girl thrown down the stairs, a maid lobbed off a balcony, and a caretaker shot dead among others. Pictures of the creepy Crawleys still hang on the walls today, and the current owners are happy to take visitors on candlelit tours of the spine-chilling property.
It’s estimated that an astonishing 13,000 people passed away within the walls of the so-called Ararat Lunatic Asylum over its 140 years of operation, which makes for plenty of potential ghost stories. Victoria’s earliest psychiatric institution opened its doors in Ararat way back in the 1860s, and these days the abandoned mental hospital hosts ghost tours of the haunting grounds two hours west of Melbourne.
Too many people have met a gruesome death at this World Heritage listed Tasmanian town — first when it housed hardened criminals as a timber station in convict days, then when gunman Martin Bryant massacred 35 visitors in 1996. More than 2,000 apparitions have been reported over the last two decades, particularly inside the Reverend George Eastman’s house in the penitentiary, and some local hotels even encourage their guests to fill out an ‘usual occurrence’ form.
Resident ghosts Martha Rendell in the Catholic chapel and Jack the library ghost brushing up on his favourite books are just two of the poltergeists that roam the cells of this World Heritage listed convict site, which contained Western Australia’s meanest criminals between 1855 and 1991. The Fremantle Arts Centre just down the road — formerly the Fremantle Lunatic Asylum — is also haunted by the spirits of WA’s criminally insane.
Australia’s audiovisual archive doesn’t sound too spooky, but the building it occupies had a blood-stained history before the film reels and radio tapes moved in 34 years ago. This Canberra icon housed the Australian Institute of Anatomy before 1984, meaning the building collected and stored thousands of body parts, including a stash of human skulls in a downstairs area that today reports high levels of paranormal activity.
The legend goes that a runaway bride named Oolana leapt to her death in this sacred Indigenous site when she was barred from marrying her one true love. Her curse on the spookily-named Devil’s Pool, also known as Babinda Boulders in tropical North Queensland, has lingered ever since — Oolana is said to have lured 17 men to a watery grave in the past half-century, remembered with the eerie epitaph: ‘He came for a visit … and stayed forever’.
The brutal punishments of the boys and girls at this Catholic orphanage were renowned for seven decades before St John’s finally closed in 1978, sitting abandoned outside the nearby town of Goulburn for the past four decades. These days, the building’s smashed windows and windy hallways provide the perfect setting for hair-raising ghost tours of the heritage-listed site.
One of Australia’s favourite amusement parks is also one of the country’s most haunted places. Production staff on the Big Brother reality TV show reported witnessing the voice and visage of a young girl when filming the program at Dreamworld, and employees of the Gold Coast theme park have also sighted the ghost dubbed Jack Darke, a 19th century gold prospector slain by a buzzsaw nearby.
Perched on the aptly named Bedlam Point and rather unkindly known as the Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum in its early days, Sydney’s very first psychiatric hospital only shut down as recently as 1997, closing the book on 159 years of sadistic mistreatment. The Gladesville Mental Hospital is abandoned these days and caked in a layer of graffiti, but still contains the souls of the thousand anonymous patients who died there.
More than 100 hangings took place within the walls of Old Melbourne Gaol between 1863 and 1924. The most famous? Legendary Australian bushranger Ned Kelly, whose skull was even displayed in a museum until it was stolen 40 years ago. The attraction now hosts a number of spooky tours, including the Hangman’s Night Tour and ‘Ghosts? What Ghosts’, giving visitors all the gory details of the prison’s grim past.
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