By Sasha Oelsner
Published: Friday, October 13, 2023
There’s a chill in the air. The hairs are standing up on the back of your neck. You feel something brush up against your arm. The floorboards creak…is there someone there?
Thrill seekers have their pick of haunted places and spaces across Australia. Next time you’re travelling across the country, get your ghost busting fix at these scary spots.
South Australia: The City of Adelaide clipper ship
During the day, visit the world’s oldest surviving composite clipper ship and be immersed in the history of immigration to Australia. At night, you’ll learn about the ship’s much grislier past.
Find the City of Adelaide clipper ship in a dry dock at Port Adelaide, where it was recently moved and is currently undergoing renovations.
If you’re looking for a spine-tingling experience, join a night-time paranormal lock-in. You’ll be geared up with professional paranormal activity locating equipment or, if you’re a regular ghost seeker, you can bring your own. Explore the multi-level ship, divining rods in hand while learning about the macabre history of the ship – and which passengers didn’t survive its journeys.
For more local frights at home, check out SA’s spookiest supernatural experiences.
Victoria: Melbourne’s Princess Theatre
Experience the real Phantom of the Opera when you visit Melbourne’s haunted Princess Theatre.
Let’s set the scene. The year is 1887, and British opera singer Signor Federici is on stage in Australia, delivering his final line as Satan in the opera, Faust. He utters, “It might be,” and descends below the stage via the trapdoor. Midway down, he suffers a fatal heart attack.
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To this day, stagehands and performers report strange happenings at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre, including feelings of being brushed past in empty corridors and lights flashing on and off.
The Princess Theatre takes this seriously, ensuring every opening night of a performance, a seat in the dress circle is left empty for Federici. Next time you’re in Melbourne, see if you can spot his ghostly appearance during the final curtain call.
ACT: National Film and Sound Archive
The National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) in Canberra houses more than four million items in its national audio-visual collection, including video and audio recordings, costumes, scripts, props, photographs and promotional materials.
With so many objects holding so many memories, it’s no wonder there’s paranormal activity in the archive. While originally built as the entrance to a zoo, the building was repurposed in 1931 and became the Institute of Anatomy, housing a macabre collection of human skeletons, mummified bodies and even housed Canberra’s first morgue.
Staff and visitors alike have regaled stories of objects moving, unnerving sounds and feelings of being brushed past. Take an evening tour to learn about the spooky history of the NFSA headquarters – you may end up with your own story to tell.
New South Wales: Monte Cristo Homestead
Do you have nerves of steel? During your road trip, spend a night in the most haunted place in Australia. The Monte Cristo Homestead, situated five hours from Sydney, is said to be haunted by at least 10 individual ghosts.
The beautiful homestead has a checkered past which may explain some of the supernatural activity. After several grisly deaths, the homestead fell into disrepair, before being restored to its former glory by the brave Ryan family in the 1960s.
If staying the night or going on an evening ghost tour gives you the heebie-jeebies, take a history tour and explore the beautiful grounds during the day. But don’t get lulled into a false sense of security just because the sun is shining…
Queensland: Slaughter Falls hiking trail
Be careful if you go into the woods tonight. A mere 15-minute drive from central Brisbane you’ll find a stunning, yet eerie, hiking trail that has had its fair share of tragedy over the years.
Incredibly, Slaughter Falls was given its name after local town clerk, JC Slaughter, and not the dark goings-on that have happened along the trail. Despite a past filled with multiple suicides, murders, satanic rituals and overwhelming feelings of gloom, the trail is beautiful – just stick to the track, and don’t go at night.
Northern Territory: East Point Reserve
The East Point Reserve in Darwin is a popular recreation area for locals and visitors, with a beautiful lake, playgrounds and barbecues. It’s one of the largest reserves in Darwin and is a biodiversity wonderland.
But if you’re lucky – or unlucky – you may see the Poinciana Woman – an urban legend dating back to the 1950s. Legend has it that The Poinciana Woman was attacked by a group of men and hanged under a Poinciana tree, and she still haunts the area today.
Western Australia: The ghost town of York
Less than two hours from Perth you’ll find the historic town of York the oldest inland town in Western Australia.
The town was established in 1831, and visitors can enjoy historic museums, heritage buildings, lovely hikes, and ghosts! Sit at the bar in the Castle Hotel and be on the lookout for former manager, Basil Craig, who likes to do a bit of redecorating with the furniture.
Nearby, the Settlers Hotel’s resident is friendly ghost Mrs Inkpen who is mischievous and presses doorbells when nobody is nearby.
Old York Hospital is reportedly one of the most haunted buildings in town, however this is now a private residence to some brave souls and is not available to visit. Don’t forget to put York on your road trip list and spend a few days getting spooked.
Tasmania: Port Arthur Gaol
Known for the recent events that shocked Australia, Tasmania’s Port Arthur Gaol also has a dark distant past.
Life for the convicts at Port Arthur proved a death sentence for many. With so many losing their lives on this site, it’s no wonder visitors often hear disembodied voices and see poltergeist activity. Before it was a prison, the asylum was a school, and many have seen an elderly woman and young girl wandering around the building.
In 1996, one of Australia’s darkest moments unfolded, as 35 people lost their lives and many more were injured during a mass shooting at the popular tourist attraction.
A humbling and sobering experience, the Port Arthur Gaol is a must-visit when you’re in Hobart.