Aradale Lunatic Asylum and J Ward, Ararat
Two of the most notoriously haunted locations in central Victoria are in the small town of Ararat, west of Ballarat and just an hour’s drive from the RACV Goldfields Resort.
Aradale Lunatic Asylum is an abandoned psychiatric hospital that housed patients for more than 126 years. At its height, the asylum had 900 residents, and some were subjected to all manner of barbaric treatments who may still haunt the asylum to this day.
Day tours run for two hours, but beware - some visitors have been known to ‘make contact’ with those who died in the ‘ghost town’.
Four kilometres from Aradale lies J Ward, a truly terrifying place to visit after dark.
An old goldfields jail, it opened in 1859, but was converted to a ward of Aradale Asylum when the gold ran out. But don’t be fooled - this was no ordinary ward.
Housing the most depraved and dangerous men in Victoria, with tours of the hangman’s gallows and prison burial grounds, the souls are said to be trapped within its walls.
It’s spooky enough to visit during the day, but you can also do night tours or take part in an overnight paranormal investigation – if you dare.
Mayday Hills, Beechworth
A decommissioned asylum, Mayday Hills was one of the largest psychiatric hospitals in Victoria, at one stage home to more than 1200 patients and 500 staff.
Many patients died at the hospital 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 – still haunts the asylum to this day.
While you can visit the grounds during the daytime, the spookiness really comes out at night. A local group runs ghost tours, and you need to join one to enter.
Railway Hotel, Dunolly
North of Victoria’s Goldfields lies the Railway Hotel, a pub built in the town of Dunolly in 1861.
Paranormal investigators take in dinner and a tour with investigate equipment to explore the mysterious appearance of a lady who is said to haunt the cellars and secret tunnels. Is it the former owner, Mrs Galsworthy? Or someone else looking for revenge?
Kangaroo Hotel, Maldon
Originally opening as a tent in the 1860s, The Kangaroo Hotel has had many trades and people through its doors, operating as a butcher, doctor, theatre, changing station, and even the town morgue.
After dinner, gather your paranormal equipment to investigate the mysterious happenings, such as spiritual visit from the ghost of previous owner John Lanyon, to the ghost of 10 horses who tragically perished in a tragic stable fire.
Princess Theatre, Melbourne
One of Melbourne’s most impressive theatres, the Princess is well known as one of the city’s most haunted locations.
In 1887, British opera singer Frederick Baker (Signor Frederick Federici) was starring in Gounod’s famous opera Faust when, in the final scene, he had a heart attack and fell right through a stage trapdoor.
His ghost is reportedly seen in the theatre at night, usually sitting in Seat B28. This seat is left unsold on opening night, with his spirited appearance said to mean good luck.
To this day, theatre staff swear they have seen him in the stalls; perhaps hoping for a role in The Phantom of the Opera.