Former cemeteries, abandoned morgues, once lavish mansions and crumbling 19th-century gaols; these are just a few of the endless opportunities to get your ghostbuster on in Melbourne. Julietta Henderson and Adam Ford check in with a list of the spookiest spots across the city...
Melbourne is full of creaking old buildings and reports of ghostly goings on.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with a good scare, as long as you know it’s all in the name of good fun…or is it? You can join one of our range of fabulous ghost tours, or head out on your own to explore the city’s paranormal dimension.
Here are ten of the most haunted places in Melbourne.
At one time it was the country’s most infamous prison, but Old Melbourne Gaol has long since been reincarnated as a museum. Don’t worry — its atmospheric surroundings can still make your hair stand on end! Bushranger Ned Kelly was jailed and executed here, along with 132 others over the life of the prison. So, is it haunted? Chances are…
2. Pentridge Prison
With an inmate roll call that included the likes of Ned Kelly, Squizzy Taylor, Mark ‘Chopper’ Read and Ronald Ryan (the last man executed in Australia), a tour of old Pentridge Prison in Coburg is guaranteed to send shivers up, down, and back up your spine. The prison operated from 1850 to 1997 and is currently being transformed into a luxury housing development.
Labassa is one of the most beautiful heritage buildings in Melbourne, but it’s also reputedly one of the most haunted! Located in the suburb of Caulfield, the beauty of the mansion’s enigmatic French Renaissance-style architecture is often overshadowed by claims of spectral encounters within. Labassa is open to the public on the third Sunday of each month and is popular for wedding photos. Just don’t be surprised if you’re the victim of a phantasmic photo bomber!
4. Princess Theatre
They say the show must go on, but what happens when your leading actor has a heart attack and dies after falling down the stage floor trapdoor? That was the fate of British opera singer Frederick Baker (aka ‘Federici’) in 1887 at Melbourne’s Princess Theatre. And to make matters even spookier, Federici was playing the devil in Faust at the time!
Over the decades since, actors and stagehands have reported strange encounters with a ghostly figure in full evening attire, and to this very day a seat is kept free for Federici’s ghost at each opening night. He must have been quite the performer; the audience were none the wiser about his tragic final exit until the news appeared in the morning papers.
5. Melbourne General Cemetery
Are you game for a night tour of Melbourne eeriest cemetery? We dare you! The Melbourne General Cemetery is actually the final resting place of some fairly notable citizens — everyone from poets to Prime Ministers (even Federici ended up here). A night tour will afford you the only after-dark access permitted, and you’ll get a fascinating insight into the historical significance of the cemetery.
While residents and visitors alike delight in strolling along the Williamstown waterfront, in days gone by it was not a spot for the faint hearted. Home to Melbourne’s main docks, by the mid 1800s Williamstown had close to thirty pubs — making it one of the seediest and most volatile precincts in the developing city. The alleys and cobbled laneways were the site of bawdy behaviour and many a heinous crime. Book a guided tour of the most notorious spots, which includes a visit to Victoria’s oldest (and long abandoned) morgue.
7. Finders Street railway station
With its famous clocks and ornate Art Nouveau façade, Flinders Street station is one of the most recognisable buildings in the country, but there’s so much more to this grand dame of the Victorian capital — including a resident spook! While you won’t get to see the fabled ballroom (it’s off limits for safety reasons), a station tour will enable you to delve deeper into Flinders Street’s fascinating heritage. And if a man holding a fishing rod disappears into thin air before your very eyes on platform 10, don’t be alarmed. It’s just the station ghost named George.
8. Young and Jackson Hotel
Sitting directly opposite Flinders Street station, the iconic Young and Jackson Hotel (originally known as the Princes Bridge Hotel) has long played a central role in the lives of thirsty Melburnians. Many have raised a glass to Chloe — a 2.6-metre-high nude that has hung in the hotel’s first floor bar since 1909. Painted by Jules Joseph Lefebvre in Paris in 1875, the young model is said to have committed suicide over her unrequited love for Lefebvre.
9. Queen Victoria Market
We’ve heard of walking over someone’s grave, but shopping over it? That’s a new one. Beneath the car park of the venerable Queen Victoria Market lie the remains of no less than 9,000 bodies. They were originally interred at the Old Melbourne Cemetery, which occupied the site until the late 1800s. Marked graves were relocated to make way for the construction of the market, but those with unmarked gravesites weren’t so lucky. Some graves are reportedly less than 1.5 metres below the surface!
10. Hosier Lane
You’ll often see mysterious figures darting about in Melbourne’s Hosier Lane. They’re generally toting spray paint cans and contributing to the ever evolving urban canvas that is this Insta-immortalised part of Melbourne. The lane certainly has an ethereal feel, particularly late at night, and is said to be haunted by the ghost of Frederick Bailey Deeming.
British-born Deeming swung from the gallows at Melbourne Gaol for murder in 1892, and stories persist that he could actually have been London’s Jack the Ripper. The theory has never been proved, but it makes for one ripper of a ghost story!
Do you have any suggestions to add to our list of the most haunted places in Melbourne? We would love to hear from you. Please leave a comment below.
Additional images: Bigstock
About the writer
Julietta Henderson is a Melbourne-based travel and feature writer. Originally planning to visit London for six months, she ended up staying for ten years and now divides her time between her home in Australia and several months of the year in the UK, Italy and France. Julietta has travelled extensively through Europe, North America, Indonesia, New Zealand, Australia and Russia, and believes the keys to a great travel experience are an open heart, an open mind and an open-ended ticket.
About the writer
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has travelled extensively through Europe, Asia, North America, Africa and the Middle East. Adam worked as a travel consultant for a number of years with Flight Centre before taking up the opportunity to travel the world himself as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten. He loves to experience everything a new destination has to offer and is equally at home in a five-star Palazzo in Pisa or a home-stay in Hanoi.