Scary and spine-chilling - The Travel Hop reveals Australia’s most haunted hotspots
Murder, convicts, and things that go bump in the night - whether you're a believer or not, there’s something frighteningly fun about the prospect of a real-life paranormal encounter. And with Halloween in sight, there’s no better time to channel your inner-ghost hunter.
From the restless spirits of plague victims, to the ghosts of executed prisoners; these 5 Australian haunted hotspots have serious fear factor and are guaranteed to leave you with the chills.
WHERE: Q STATION, SYDNEY, NSW
Sydney’s Q Station is where more than 600 unfortunates met their end
WHY: Sydney’s Q Station has a dark past. Used to isolate immigrants who had been exposed to potentially deadly infectious diseases, including scarlet fever, typhoid, cholera, Spanish influenza and the plague, during its 150-year history, close to 600 people met their end here and - according to reports - many of them have never left.
One of Q Station's most common spectres is a ghostly hospital matron
Now a hotel, restaurant and function space, the original buildings that still stand are said to house an array of spirits, with hundreds of spooky encounters documented over more than a century. Objects moved without any explanation, guests snapping apparitions on camera, and visitors suddenly becoming unwell for not apparent reason.
Staff and park rangers report seeing ghostly figures on the grounds and in the deserted former hospital wards. The most common spectres include a formidable hospital matron, several nurses, a Chinese man with a long ponytail and a girl with blonde plaits who holds the hands of unsuspecting tourists. But the creepiest resident spirit is a mortician in a top hat, nicknamed by staff as ‘Mr Slimey,’ who patrols the grounds at night. It’s believed that he’s also responsible for disturbances within the on-site morgue (a port of call on the ghost tours that run weekly) where the morgue doors opened by themselves so regularly that staff had to install locks. Another focal point is the shower block where the lightbulbs unexpectedly pop regularly.
The shower block at Q Station is one of its most haunted locations
Q Station has understandably been bestowed with the tag of ‘most haunted’ hotel in the country, so if you’re up for sharing sleeping space with a spectre then you know where to go.
FEAR FACTOR: 9/10
WHERE: OLD MELBOURNE GAOL, MELBOURNE, VIC
WHY: Once housing some of Australia’s most dangerous criminals, this nightmarish Old Melbourne Gaol setting is where more than 130 convicts - including Ned Kelly - met their maker courtesy of the hangman’s noose.
Opened in 1845 and continuing to operate until 1924, nowadays, the Gaol is a museum housing prison memorabilia, but the restless spirits of those incarcerated and executed don’t rest easy. Visitors and staff have reported hearing disembodied voices and tales abound of unexplainable presences, including ghostly figures hovering in the doorways of the old cells.
For thrill-seekers hopeful of a spooky encounter, the Gaol runs night three regular night tours during which its ghoulish history is recounted.
FEAR FACTOR: 8/10
WHERE: NATIONAL FILM AND SOUND ARCHIVE, CANBERRA, ACT
WHY: In its previous incarnation, the National Film and Sound Archive was the gory Australian Institute of Anatomy where it served as a morgue, hosted countless forensic examinations and housed hundreds of human skeletons and body parts and animal specimens (most notably Phar Lap's heart) with memorable former exhibits including Ned Kelly's skull and a mummy from Papua New Guinea.
The hotspot is the downstairs corridor, which was once lined with human skulls, and is now said to be a hive of poltergeist activity. Other paranormal phenomena reported includes a spectre that throws old metal film containers, the spirit of a child that appears in the old cinema room, and a former worker was left terrified after being pinned against the wall by an unseen entity.
FEAR FACTOR: 6/10
WHERE: FREMANTLE ARTS CENTRE, FREMANTLE, WA
WA's ghostly Fremantle Arts Centre used to be an asylum for the criminally insane
WHY: Doors that open and close by themselves, sounds of crying, laughter and yelling and misty figures appearing in photographs are all regular occurrences shared by visitors to WA's Fremantle Arts Centre. Little wonder given its gruesome history.
Built back in the early 1860s by convicts as an asylum for the criminally insane, it was later turned into a woman’s refuge in the 1900s following a series of suspicious deaths and a subsequent government inquiry. The string of fatalities included multiple suicides (one patient who hanged himself in a stairwell using his belt). Later used as a nursing home, US Army headquarters, technical college and museum before being opened in its current incarnation - an arts centre - in 1972.
Visitors have told of being inexplicably locked in the old cells and of being kissed by ‘phantom lips.’ Several security guards have been pushed down stairs by unseen hands and one paranormal investigator claimed he was overpowered by the stench of flesh burning in the area that was used to administer electric shock treatment to patients.
FEAR FACTOR: 7/10
WHERE: PORT ARTHUR, TAS
Tasmania's spooky Port Arthur saw more than 1,000 convict prisoners die
WHY: Called ‘hell on earth’ by its convict prisoners, Port Arthur had a reputation as one of the worst prisons in the entire British empire. During its 47 years as a convict settlement, more than 1,000 people died within its boundaries and it’s said that many of these unfortunate souls still linger. Indeed, there’s so much activity here than more than 2,000 incidents have been recorded in the past two decades alone.
Believed to be one of the southern hemisphere's most active haunted places, visitors and staff have described all the spooky hallmarks of a haunted property: cold spots, ghostly touches, apparitions and moving lights. Incidents reported span the paranormal gamut - ghostly children appearing in windows, workmen fleeing buildings after being terrorised by poltergeists, tourists running into a weeping ’lady in blue’ (apparently the spirit of a woman who died in childbirth) and several encounters with a ‘disembodied face’ in the dissection room under the surgeon's house, while in the solitary ‘separate prison’ the cries of a young boy awaiting execution are heard at nighttime. The museum even has an ‘unusual occurrence form’ on hand for anyone wanting to report an otherworldly incident!
FEAR FACTOR: 10/10