Eerie histories, spooky stories, things that go bump in the night. Beneath Melbourne's surface you'll find fascinating ghost sightings, gruesome goings-on, curious hauntings and general 19th-century creepiness.
Some of the city's most frequented and innocuous sites have resident ghosts, such as the fisherman who casts an ethereal line at night from Platform 10 of Flinders Street Station. Others, such as old homesteads and jails, are exactly the kind of place you'd expect to feel chills up your spine.
Not all these sites will get your blood rushing, but they’re sure to take you on a tour back in time. Visit on a misty winter's day, or at night, for full effect.
Old Melbourne Gaol
Scaring the toughest crooks since 1842. Iconic Aussie outlaw Ned Kelly met his demise on the end of the hangman's noose here at Victoria's oldest and baddest prison. Explore behind the hulking bluestone facade and tiny barred windows, walking the same cells and hallways, rattling the same iron doors as the downtrodden souls before you.
Visit the museum, and take a night tour if you're brave; listen for calls and wails through the eerie corridors.
On the surface a bustling place, with gardens, farmers' markets, artists at work in their studios, and bakeries nourishing lycra-clad cyclists. Skip back over a century, however, and the Abbotsford Convent was an asylum for 'fallen' and 'wayward' girls'. Sanctuary by the nuns involved unpaid physical labour in the commercial Magdalen laundry and severe conditions.
Plenty of today's residents will tell you the convent’s corridors are haunted by the ghosts of the girls. And the laundries? They're creepy. Explore all the hidden pockets on a tour.
Melbourne's most famous friendly ghost is that of opera singer Frederick Federici, who died in his beloved Princess Theatre in 1888 during a performance of Faust. As he was lowered through a trapdoor in the stage in the final scene, he suffered a heart attack. Talk about timing. He is said to haunt curtain calls and opening nights, often from a seat saved for him in the dress circle.
Visit a production at the stunning 1854 theatre for your own ghostly exploration.
Hosier Lane draws many a street-art-lover to its cobbled way. But note, the laneway is said to be haunted by 19th-century conman and murderer Frederick Bailey Deeming, also known as "Jack the Ripper of the South Seas", and hung for his crimes in Melbourne Gaol in 1892. At night, those passing through the alley are said by local ghost experts to have experienced clammy hands at their neck. For some reason, men especially report this phenomenon.
Queen Victoria Market
History goes deep at Melbourne's popular Queen Victoria Market, opened 1878. A fine place for coffee, organic produce and a pair of Uggs, it's also built on top of roughly 9000 graves that were never exhumed. Ghosts include those said to belong to the unconsecrated northern section, and two Aboriginal men not given a traditional burial and unable to rest. Some visitors report unsettling noises and being bumped into by invisible objects.
The Mitre Tavern
You can't escape the layers of history at 1867 Mitre Tavern, believed to be Melbourne's first pub. It's pulled pints for many a politician, deer hunter, artist and scoundrel in its time, but is also well known for its resident ghost, Connie Waugh. The mistress of Sir Rupert Clarke, who hanged himself between these walls, Connie later died of possibly suspicious causes. Her still-mourning spectre is said to haunt the balcony in an ethereal white dress.
For some highly spooky paranormal activity, get ghostbusting behind the bluestone walls of Pentridge. Housed for up to 23 hours a day, some of Melbourne's most notorious criminal figures did time here, from Chopper Read to gangland figure Carl Williams, plus some Kelly Gang thrown in further back. It may have closed its final cell door in 1997 but history lives on with reports of apparitions haunting the penitentiary walls. For expert ghostly guidance, take a tour.
Ghosts of a more refined and domestic nature have received international paranormal attention at Altona Homestead. This 1840s settler home was once the domicile of the Langhorne family. Yet Sarah Langhorne appears unable to rest. Since passing away in 1871, she still appears at the windows of her beautifully restored house. Visit her and several other resident ghosts on a monthly ghost tour.
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