Our spookiest places
Aradale Asylum, Ararat
Nurse Kerry watches over the women’s wing; there’s a banging sound coming from an isolation cell. It’s what you’d expect from a facility for the mentally ill – except that it closed in the 1990s. Many people died at this sprawling, 100ha place, built as a self-sustaining village in the 1860s and originally called Ararat Lunatic Asylum.
For details of spine-tingling ghost tours, visit eerietours.com.au. RACV members receive 10% off all Eerie Tours as part of the Show Your Card & Save program.
Old Melbourne Gaol
Despite being the site of Ned Kelly’s hanging, the bushranger’s ghost does not haunt this bluestone building, used as a gaol from 1842 to 1929. But it’s said that some of the other 132 people who were executed here, including Elizabeth Scott (the first woman hanged in Victoria), can still be heard crying out in the night. Listen for Scott’s disembodied voice during a night tour; for details, visit oldmelbournegaol.com.au/night-tours.
RACV members save on general admission tickets to Old Melbourne Gaol. See Attraction Tickets for more information.
Originally called Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum, it was scarily easy to be admitted to this foreboding institution – only two signatures were required – but much harder to get out. Many patients died there during its 128 years of operation, including a woman who was thrown to her death from a third-storey window. Visitors say her ghost – along with others, such as the kindly Matron Sharpe – haunts the asylum, which closed in 1995.
For details of tours and only-for-the-brave overnight stays, visit asylumghosttours.com
The old Geelong Gaol housed murderers and other hardened prisoners from 1853 to 1991 – and, with reports of unexplainable cries, sudden temperature fluctuations and swirling mists, some say they’re still there.
Even if you don’t see the ghosts of inmates, you’ll be haunted by their stories during a tour.
For details, visit twistedhistory.net.au
Craig’s Royal Hotel, Ballarat
The former owner of this 1850s building, Walter Craig, told friends he’d dreamt his horse Nimblefoot won the 1870 Melbourne Cup but that the jockey was wearing a black armband. Craig died before the race but, as he’d predicted, Nimblefoot won, with the jockey wearing a black armband in Craig’s honour.
If that’s not spooky enough, visit the hotel and watch out for a man in Victorian dress – it’s the ghost of Walter Craig.
Princess Theatre, Melbourne
In 1888, opera singer Frederick Federici died off-stage just after performing his last lines in Faust – yet his co-stars, unaware of his death, swore he was on stage taking his final bows with them.
To this day, theatre staff report seeing him; perhaps he’s hoping for a role in The Phantom of the Opera. The bar at the theatre is named for him.