Australia may be best known for its beaches, glittering ocean and world-class eateries.
But things take a decidedly darker turn when the lights go down, thanks to the many haunted places that occupy the vast country.
These spooky spaces are guaranteed to send shivers down your spine and leave you looking over your shoulder until you make it home safely.
Watch the video above: The Haunting: Australia team takes on an investigation of colossal proportions in Sydney’s stunning harbour. Never before investigated, Cockatoo Island presents a taxing investigation that pushes the team to its limits.
Australia’s most haunted locations
- Devil’s Pool, Babinda, QLD
- Beechworth Lunatic Asylum, VIC
- Waterfall Sanatorium, NSW
- Moyra’s House, QLD
- Old Melbourne Gaol, VIC
- Old Adelaide Gaol, SA
- Glenside’s ‘Z Ward’ for the Criminally Insane, SA
- Port Arthur, TAS
- Monte Cristo, NSW
- Gladesville Mental Hospital, NSW
- North Head Quarantine Station, NSW
- Maitland Gaol, NSW
- Old Helensburgh Railway Tunnels, NSW
- Hobart Convict Penitentiary, TAS
- St John’s Orphanage, Goulburn NSW
From mental hospitals to former prisons, and terrifying tunnels to tragic suicide spots, read on for a full run-down of the most haunted places in Australia.
Devil’s Pool, Babinda, QLD
This unsuspecting waterhole in northern Queensland holds a sinister centuries-old tale.
The Aboriginal dreaming legend speaks of a married woman, Oolana of Yidnji, who fell in love with a man named Dyga from a passing tribe.
Before fleeing with this new found love they were confronted by her husband at the pool.
She is said to have thrown herself into the gentle water below and called for Dyga to follow.
But as she turned, he had vanished with his tribe.
It is now believed her spirit remains in the pool’s depths, luring young men to their death.
Sixteen young men have lost their lives under strange circumstances in the pool, most of those male backpackers passing through, just like Dyga.
The crystal clear waters are unpredictable, swallowing victims with rapidly rising water levels and strong currents.
The victims appear as though they’re pulled and held underwater by an invisible force, submerged until they reach the stream’s end.
Beechworth Lunatic Asylum, VIC
The abandoned grounds of Beechworth Lunatic Asylum – also known as Mayday Hills – is a hot spot for ghost hunters, with regular and consistent accounts of unexplained figures walking the halls.
Visitors recount an 80-year-old man tugging at their clothes, children laughing in the distance and the murmurs of a young girl who desperately tries to speak but can’t be understood.
The asylum closed in 1995 after 128 years of operation.
However, hundreds of patients were buried on-site in unmarked graves and it’s believed their spirits remain.
Legend has it that doctors would restrain patients with shackles, conduct electro-shock treatments en masse, and pull teeth when patients self-harmed.
The Beechworth Lunatic Asylum was one of the largest psychiatric hospitals in the state, home to 1200 patients at its peak.
Very few are said to have left alive.
Waterfall Sanatorium, NSW
Just one hour south of Sydney, Waterfall Sanatorium was built to treat patients with advanced and chronic stages of tuberculosis between 1909 and 1958.
Thousands were sent, often against their will, and not released until they were cured – if they were so fortunate.
More than 2,000 patients – from newborns to the elderly – were buried at the on-site Garrawarra Cemetery.
While ghost sightings are rare, the nature of a place where thousands were sent to die is haunting in itself.
The old hospital buildings are boarded up but the scattered cemetery draws the interest of urban explorers.
The site is no longer accessible by foot, and permission is required from the NSW Ministry for Health to visit.
Moyra’s House, QLD
Known among urban explorers as ‘Moyra’s House’, very little is known about the abandoned cottage in the south of Brisbane and its past owner.
The house is filled with forgotten items, left behind as if one day its owner just stood up and left.
The house now collects dust, with dated items suggesting the property has stood empty for decades.
Old Melbourne Gaol, VIC
Built in the mid-1800s, Old Melbourne Gaol once housed Australia’s most notorious criminals.
Notably, infamous Australian bushranger Ned Kelly was imprisoned and executed at the jail in 1880.
The gallows, where more than 130 inmates spent their final moments, are the scene of weekly ghost and hangman tours held in search for their spirits.
From the remaining cold concrete cells to the display of inmate death masks, what remains of the city’s oldest jail is a stark reminder of 19th-century prison conditions.
Old Adelaide Gaol, SA
Purported to be one of the most haunted places in South Australia, the Old Adelaide Gaol is said to be regularly visited by the spectres of the violent criminals and guards that once walked its halls.
The most prolific figure is the jail’s hangman, Ben Ellis, who was responsible for hangings for a decade from the mid 1860s to 1870s.
Ellis was a precise executioner – his kills instantaneous.
However, one prisoner slipped through his stringent tests and hung, alive, for 22 minutes before his death.
Some say Ellis’ restless spirit wanders the halls, perhaps in a plea for atonement.
Glenside’s ‘Z Ward’ for the Criminally Insane, SA
Glenside’s ‘Z Ward’ was responsible for locking away South Australia’s criminally insane for nearly 100 years, from 1888 to 1973, and housed more than 1500 patients – predominantly male.
Called ‘L Ward’ until 1932, the asylum’s name was changed to ‘Z Ward’ when the phonetic link to “Hell Ward” was discovered.
There were more than 80 known deaths – patients and staff alike – during the asylum’s operation.
Patting, touching, strange sensations and sightings of spectres can be expected should you visit the haunted site.
But men beware – it’s believed male visitors are targeted most by the ghosts who wander the halls of the defunct asylum.
Port Arthur, TAS
Thought to be one of the most haunted places in Australia, Port Arthur, otherwise known as “hell on earth” by its convict prisoners, was considered one of the worst prisons in the British Empire.
The World Heritage listed Tasmanian town became a prison settlement in 1883 for male convicts.
More than 1,000 people are believed to have died within its boundaries.
In 1996, it was the scene of the Port Arthur massacre, when Martin Bryant gunned down 35 visitors in the sleepy town.
More than 2,000 apparitions are supposed to have been sighted over the past 20 years, including ghostly children appearing in windows and a ‘disembodied face’ appearing in the dissection room under the surgeon’s house inside the prison.
Monte Cristo, NSW
The Monte Cristo Homestead is a historic property overlooking the township of Junee, New South Wales, with an extensive, tragic, history.
The home was once owned by a reclusive woman who, according to folklore, still wanders its halls.
It’s believed a chain of horrific events took place inside the Victorian building.
The bloodied body of a woman who plummeted to death off the balcony is said to be seen at the place she fell, while a young stable boy who burnt alive allegedly can be heard crying in the coach house.
A man with mental disabilities, named Harold, was chained to a bed for 40 years.
His clanking chains warn of his presence.
And the cries of a baby, who a maid claims was pulled from her arms by an invisible force and thrown to her death down the stairs, are meant to be heard.
Gladesville Mental Hospital, NSW
Perched on top of Bedlam Point, Sydney’s first psychiatric hospital – also known as the Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum – has a sinister history.
Opened in 1838, the hospital was infamous for forcibly holding patients in prison-like conditions, with stories of overcrowding, physical and sexual abuse and violent shock treatments that left patients with severe burns on their heads.
The asylum only closed in 1997 after more than 150 years.
It’s claimed more than 1,200 bodies belonging to anonymous patients are buried in mass graves underneath the now-derelict asylum.
Reports of apparitions and presences have earned the site a legacy as one of Sydney’s most haunted places.
North Head Quarantine Station, NSW
Migrants landed on the shoreline near the Quarantine Station from the 1830s, where they would disembark for “safe” release into Australia.
New arrivals were isolated to avoid the spread of contagious diseases such as Spanish influenza, smallpox and the plague.
More than 500 of the 13,000 that passed through the station, up until its closure in 1984, died in agony.
It is believed they never left the spot, their ghosts rumoured to haunt the long corridors of shower cubicles and the attached morgue.
The former quarantine station is now a Sydney tourist attraction and accommodation venue, known as the Q Station, and holds “ghost tours” of the site.
Maitland Gaol, NSW
Some of the world’s most infamous killers have called Maitland Gaol their home over the years, including backpacker killer Ivan Milat.
The maximum security prison hosted a strict disciplinary regime, including starvation and floggings.
Maitland also hosted 16 public hangings, with reports of many more unrecorded deaths.
Now, it’s been re-purposed as a haunted tour site, with ghost enthusiasts across the country flocking to the jail to stay the night and experience the frequent ghost sightings and paranormal activity.
Old Helensburgh Railway Tunnels, NSW
Century-old tunnels scattered through the Illawarra region have been a hotspot for ghost hunters for decades.
They were built in the 1880s but abandoned less than 30 years later, allowing the surrounding rainforest to take over.
The ghost of a miner, Robert Hales, was struck by a train in 1895 and is rumoured to still haunt the tunnels.
Now, inhabited by glow worms, the abandoned tunnels were barred off from the public in 2018.
Hobart Convict Penitentiary, TAS
In the early 1830s, the Penitentiary held chapel services for the early convicts arriving in Australia.
Little did they know, lines of cells sat under the chapel floor.
More than 40,000 prisoners passed through with many of their spirits still haunting the halls.
Ghost tours now operate through the city convict site, which later became Hobart’s old Gaol and Supreme Court.
St John’s Orphanage, Goulburn NSW
The orphanage was run by the Sisters of Mercy and the Catholic Church from 1913 to 1978, taking in more than 2,500 orphans and homeless during World War II.
Its occupants consistently received beatings and tough love at the hands of the strict nuns who ran the ward.
But since, it’s been vandalised and damaged, with paranormal believers calling it part of “Australia’s Bermuda Triangle of haunted places” along with Kenmore Asylum and St Joseph’s Orphanage.