There are some people that might not be thrilled to delve into the darker parts of history, choosing to experience Melbourne and Victoria as they see it. The truth is, there is no shortage of haunted houses in Melbourne or haunted places in Melbourne. Beyond the city, there are destinations in Victoria that have a deep history and deeper paranormal connection, many of which can be visited by brave explorers. If you want to add some adrenaline and intrigue to your next venture, here is a list of some of the most haunted places in Melbourne and beyond.
The Old Melbourne Gaol
It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to learn that Old Melbourne Gaol has several reports of hauntings. Built in 1845, the Old Melbourne Gaol is made up of a large building and courtyard that housed criminals of all definitions before it eventually closed in 1929. During this time, 133 hangings occurred behind those bluestone walls and the most notable of those was bushranger, Ned Kelly who was executed at age 25. Since its closure, Old Melbourne Gaol has remained a landmark that welcomes thousands of visitors each year. As far as haunted houses in Melbourne go, this is probably the most central place to witness the the paranormal.
Cell 17, Old Melbourne Gaol
In 2019 I did a tour of the Old Melbourne Gaol and absolutely loved the drama and theatrics of this tour. When you start the evening tour you are ‘charged’ with a crime and have to stand before the police officers (who are dressed up staff members) before you enter the Gaol, and then you take the tour of the facility as a ‘criminal’. Cell 17 is known to be one of the most haunted cells in the Gaol, with visitors reporting disturbing occurrences inside the cell that include both mental and physical feelings. Even more scary is the fact that women report being held in the cell and unable to leave, whereas men report being pushed out. Other reports include being scratched, petted, felt hands around the throat, clothes being pulled and the floor beneath the cell starting to move.
If you haven’t already visited Old Melbourne Gaol or Cell 17 at Old Melbourne Gaol – then add this to the list! You might feel that cold feeling that so many have when they walk through the cold corridors.
The Princess Theatre
If you are anything like me, then your Princess Theatre memories are probably seeing stand-up comedy, a play or live music. Well, there are also some reports of paranormal activity that have occurred at this much-loved venue that was established in 1854. The Princess Theatre is actually the oldest entertainment site in all of Australia, which makes these hauntings feel even more legitimate and somewhat part of our heritage. The ghost that allegedly haunts the theatre is the ghost of Frederick Federici who sadly died at the venue in 1888. Where things get interesting is that the death actually occurred during a performance. People have claimed to feel and see the ghost of Frederick in several spots around Princess Theatre.
The Queen Victoria Market
I was surprised to see Queen Victoria Market on the list of Melbourne haunted places, as there is so much daily traffic and activity happening at this site every day. As the most popular market in Melbourne and certainly the oldest, many significant events have taken place there. In the 19th century, a man was actually killed at the market and is seen to be walking among the market crowds. There have also been multiple reports of three bushrangers seen at the market, but there is no information available as to who these bushrangers are.
More interesting still, the site that the market sits on was once the Old Melbourne Cemetary, so there were upwards of seven thousand bodies buried under the market. At a later date, one thousand of those bodies were relocated to another cemetery, but perhaps the ghosts and apparitions have decided to remain at this bustling market. This is going to add a thrill to my next grocery shop at the market.
The Como House
Forget what you know about the size of typical South Yarra dwellings because The Como House is a huge estate that sprawls over 2.6 hectares of land. The house is a perfect example of how Australian and Italian architecture can complement one another and the house was built for the Armytage family who lived in the South Yarra estate for a century. One of the Armytage family members, Caroline Armytage died tragically in the house and is said to be seen in the house by visitors. Caroline passed away in the 19th century and was very much a part of Melbourne’s elite, so there is lots of information on her and her family in Victorian archives and the universities and foundations the family supported. Her daughters now own the family Como House so keep your eye out for Caroline if you ever visit.
The Hotel Windsor
The Hotel Windsor is one of the oldest buildings in Victoria, but it might surprise you to learn that it has been around longer than New York City’s The Plaza and Waldorf Astoria, Singapore’s Raffles Hotel and The Ritz in Partis. This hotel absolutely deserves to be in the same conversation as these grand hotels, and any visitor will agree that the stunning decor and exterior facade are a great asset to our city.
The Hotel Windsor has some well-documented haunted sightings of a woman wearing a blue dress, often sighted on or near the grand staircase. There is also a male who can be seen sitting in one of the chairs in the hotel, and if you are looking for him to move… he apparently will not move. We are adding a visit to The Hotel Windsor to see if we have any luck in spotting these characters.
Haunted places in Victoria and beyond
Outside of Melbourne, there are a number of haunted places in Victoria. The volume of these reports varies significantly, so here is a round-up of the most haunted places in Victoria based on the widespread rumours and sightings.
Aradale Mental Hospital, Ararat
The age-old trope of mental hospitals being the epicentre of sinister, paranormal behaviour is well known in all media. Although there may be some truth to some of these origin stories, especially when we consider just how old these facilities are and the poor amenities that were common in that period. Aradale Mental Hospital in Ararat was a mental health psychiatric hospital that has been decommissioned since 1993, but more than one thousand patients once called this hospital home. Many claims that this ‘asylum’ is one of the most haunted sites in Australia and you can find many stories and investigative pieces on it, and the town of Ararat has even been described as a ghost town before.
You can book a tour of Aradale Mental Hospital and make your way through the many buildings, including a visit to the morgue, surgery theatres, cell blocks and much more. People who tour the decommissioned facility have said they smell strange smells, hear banging noises, spot shadows, get tickled and many other ‘feelings’. This one is not for the faint-hearted!
Beechworth Asylum, Beechworth
You may have heard of the Beechworth Asylum before, as it has been featured on Australian and international television shows that document haunted houses and places. The Beechworth Asylum has been known by other names, like the Mayday Hills Hospital which was what it was called when it closed in 1995 after 128 years of being a hospital. The Beechworth Asylum is said to be haunted by former facility patients. You can do late-night tours of this spooky building, and there are different tour types that explore different wings and historical focus. The asylum, which was formerly owned by La Trobe University, is surrounded by extensive farmland which made the building and its community self-sustaining, so there have even been reports of ghost activity outside as well as inside.
Residents of the Beechworth Asylum, like Matron Sharpe, have been seen by multiple tour attendees, wearing her period outfit and often with her grey hood up. Scary! There are also often reports of doors opening and closing continuously during tours, screams heard throughout the facility and a man in a green jacket can often be seen standing in a window. There are also sightings of a woman standing at a window who can be traced back to a patient who was thrown from the building by a fellow inmate.
Geelong Gaol, Geelong
We are big fans of Geelong travel, but we had never heard of this spot! Geelong Gaol is a non-operation gaol, closing its doors in 1991 after 142 years. The goal is ominously known to some as the ‘The Prison of the Ill’. The bluestone three-story building has a very towering presence in Geelong and the small, cold cells and the unacceptable conditions inside will have you wondering how it wasn’t closed before the 90s. Many believe that the Geelong Gaol is the most haunted place in Victoria or at least the most haunted gaol. Countless deaths have occurred in this gaol, and visitors to the gaol will often claim to have seen ghost apparitions and heard unexplained sounds inside the gaol and its grounds. If you are a thrill-seeker, then you must add the Geelong Gaol ghost tours to your bucket list.
Port Arthur Historic Site, Tasmania
There was a time when Port Arthur in Tasmania was known for other historical events, but the massacre that occurred there in 1996 has made the Port Arthur site infamous. Port Arthur was once a convict settlement, with the incredible size and beauty of this site adding to the eeriness of the location. Over the forty-seven years that it was a settlement, more than one thousand people died. People were talking about ghosts and paranormal activity at the site long before the massacre, with army men seen at various places along the 136 hectares. The Port Arthur Historic Site is part of the UNESCO Australian Convict Sites World Heritage since 2010, and there is a lot of research out there on the convicts that settled there.
Does dark tourism appeal to you, or would you prefer to know exactly where to avoid it? No matter what your interest is in the most haunted places in Melbourne, you can find all the information here! Be sure to check out our other Melbourne articles!