Sun, sea, sand and spectacular wildlife. The Land Down Under doesn’t seem overly scary on the surface but, dig a little, and you’ll discover it’s actually home to some deeply disturbing (and thoroughly fascinating) landmarks. Here we round up some of the most haunted places in Australia to get you in the mood for Halloween. After all, who doesn’t love a good ghost story…
Port Arthur, Tasmania
EMF readers at the ready, because exploring Tasmania’s 19th-century penal colony is one of Australia’s must-do experiences for wannabe ghost hunters. This UNESCO-listed prison is packed with ghostly tales about its inmates. Indeed, there have been over 2,000 reported incidents of unexplained activity in recent years, including regular sightings of on-site pastor Reverend George. Walking tours by lantern light are common here, as well as paranormal investigations and ghost tours.
Monte Cristo Historic Homestead (image: Flickr/Denisbin)
Monte Cristo Homestead, New South Wales
Built by its original owners in 1885, it’s thought that the Victorian Monte Cristo Homestead is Australia’s most haunted house. Tales of eerie hallways, grisly deaths and suicides, and strange shapes and visions are the reason it’s been used on several ghost-hunting reality shows Down Under. And, if you fancy a real scare, you can even arrange an overnight stay here… if you dare. Dinner, ghost tours, B&B from just AU$195pp.
Beechworth Asylum, Victoria
Formerly known as the Mayday Hills Asylum, the now derelict Beechworth Hospital was open between 1867 and 1995. In that time 3,000 patients died here, with many subjected to straight-jackets, shackles and electroshock therapy. Some visitors even claim to have seen one of the nurses who oversaw these gruesome treatments, describing a cool chill cascading through the room… Thrillseekers can book onto ghost tours of the dilapidated asylum or even chance an overnight stay. For a more genteel experience, you can also visit for a historic tour during the day.
Fremantle Prison, Western Australia
As the first building to make it onto the World Heritage Site for Western Australia, Fremantle is a compelling place to visit – day or night. This maximum-security prison first opened in 1855, built by the convicts themselves, and from here tragic tales of whipping and death by gallows ensued. Indeed, 44 people were executed here, making it a truly unnerving place to walk around. Perhaps most fascinating though, is that there’s also a labyrinth of caves and tunnels beneath the cells which you can explore on a tour.
Devil's Pool, Queensland
This Babinda swimming hole may look calm and inviting after brisk walk through the Queensland forest but, as the sign says, ‘the creek has claimed many lives’. To be precise, 17 have died in the dangerous waters of Devil's Pool, making it a truly treacherous and sombre spot. It features heavily in an Aboriginal legend, where a runaway bride fell to her death while waiting for her lover.
National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (image: Flickr/njcull)
National Film & Sound Archive, Canberra
There’s more to the National Film & Sound Archive than spooky flicks. In fact, what most don’t realise is that it actually served as the Institute of Anatomy for more than 50 years prior! Once upon a time you could see all sorts of macabre body parts and bones – including what was reputed to be Ned Kelly’s skull. Both poltergeist and ghostly activity have been reported over the years, and it’s got a basement… Which is enough to scare this writer (and anyone who’s seen any horror movie, ever).
Old Melbourne Gaol
Old Melbourne Gaol, Victoria
Talking of Ned Kelly, Victoria’s Old Melbourne Gaol actually housed the infamous outlaw, along with many other dangerous criminals. Erected in the mid-1800s, it was also home to Frederick Bailey Deeming – one of the men suspected to be Britain’s most notorious serial killer: Jack the Ripper. If you fancy learning more about the horrific history of deaths and executions here, or even getting a glimpse of death masks and gang weapons, the former penitentiary runs night tours. Unexplained occurrences, eerie noises and spooky figures are regularly reported…