Whether you believe in them or not, there's something undeniably captivating about a ghost story. Haunted sites and ghostly sightings hold a strange fascination, and you can't help but dare yourself or dare your friends to visit and see what happens.
According to Visit Melbourne, these are our Melbourne's most haunted sites and the stories of the ghosts who allegedly haunt them. Head on a ghost tour, where experienced guides can tell you spooky tales and point out the location of common sightings. Being in a group of like-minded ghost hunters adds to the eerie atmosphere and can make people particularly receptive to seeing or feeling odd things. Just make sure nothing follows you home...
Melbourne General Cemetery
Melbourne General Cemetery first opened in 1852, making it one of the oldest in the city. Being more than 150 years old means the cemetery is also home to many notable names from history – and perhaps some who are not resting so comfortably. Melbourne General Cemetery runs night tours to bring out the spooks on key dates throughout the year. The team here like to make history fun and cemeteries less intimidating, so they bring their dearly departed residents back to “life” with the help of actors. But you could always try your luck with a Ouija board after dark (NB Do not do this after the cemetery's opening hours).
Melbourne's first port settlement, Williamstown is rich in colonial history and seaside legends. Much of the foreshore is given over to parks, and there are still ships coming in and out of the port regularly. All that maritime history meant Williamstown collected its share of unsavoury types – sailors and those who catered to them, including unscrupulous publicans and ladies of the night. With ships came money, and with money came brigands and thieves – and disease that sometimes killed hundreds of people at a time. People have been known to feel nauseated and even throw up on the ghost tour here, plus there have been countless spectral sightings.
A majestic 19th-century theatre, the Princess is the gilded home to first-run major musicals and has recently undergone its own transfiguration to play host to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. But Nearly Headless Nick isn't the only ghost said to be in residence at the theatre. Italian-born British opera singer Frederick Federici died of a heart attack after belting out the last notes of his aria on the opening night of a production of Faust. Afterwards, the cast swore he'd appeared on stage for final bows, and his ghost is said to haunt the theatre. It's tradition to leave a dress circle seat open for him on opening night, and many who have visited and worked in the theatre have reported seeing the well-dressed and by all accounts good-natured ghost.
Old Melbourne Gaol
This historical building stands as a monument to the cruelty of capital punishment. Some 133 people were hanged at the Old Melbourne Gaol – including, of course, the one and only Ned Kelly – so it’s probably fair to assume that at least some of them have stayed around to scare the bejeezus out of the unwitting and foolhardy who choose to look for them. The good folk at the Old Melbourne Gaol regularly host one-hour tours and investigations of this most haunted of Melbourne buildings, taking people through the dark and winding tunnels and cells of a place whose bloody history stands alone in Melbourne’s annals. Keep a close eye on cell 17 – it's said to be one of the most haunted cells in Australia.
Young & Jackson
No matter how many times we pass the grand old pub opposite Flinders Street Station, the old girl never fails to surprise us. Simultaneously a beauty and a beast, there’s a profusion of punters sporting dreadlocks, mullets and face tattoos, and a pervasive aroma of spilt beer, Jameson shots and sweat on a Saturday night. And sometimes, they say, the spirit of a murdered woman, who appears most often to men who are a few too many for the worse. Although the young lady appears beautiful from afar, as she draws near drinkers discover her throat has been slit. The rumour is that she is a murdered prostitute who worked in the Flinders Street area in the 19th century – but of course, that could be the beer talking.
Designed to be a kinder, gentler asylum than the others that were operating in Melbourne at the time, Kew Asylum was built in the 1860s and designed to maximise light and air for its inhabitants. Its patients were diagnosed with everything from "idiocy" to "inebriation" to "melancholia" to epilepsy. Despite the intention to care for people in a more humane way here, there was plenty of cruelty and misery in the asylum, including a typhoid epidemic and acts of physical violence. Until 1888, male patients deemed 'criminally insane' were housed at Kew, though after a royal commission they were moved to a wing or Ararat Prison. The building is now a housing development, but the façade remains. People who live and stay there report doors opening on their own, tapping on the walls, distant screams, running footsteps and banging, and some have reported waking up to find a figure at the foot of their bed. No, thank you.
Black Rock House
This house was built for Victoria's first auditor-general, Charles Ebden, in 1845. There are rumoured to be underground tunnels throughout the property, and the cellar is particularly haunted. There have been at least 13 identified ghosts, including Annie, a young woman who is often felt by male guests. The property runs ghost tours to point out all the supernatural spooks who haunt the house.
Opposite Federation Square and joining Flinders Lane with Flinders Street, the cobblestoned Hosier Lane is arguably the central point of the city's street art scene. It's also, reportedly, home to a rather nasty character in the undead personage of Frederick Baily Deeming. Deeming's first family was discovered, their throats slit, under the floorboards of his home in England, and his second wife's body was discovered in similar circumstances here in Melbourne, where he had moved. Deeming is one of many people who were suspected of being Jack the Ripper, and his ghost is sometimes said to be felt by those walking along Hosier Lane late at night.
Point Cook Homestead
Point Cook Homestead was the original home of the Chirnside family, who later built the Werribee Mansion. Thomas and Andrew Chirnside made their fortune in Australia, and Thomas then sent Andrew back to England to bring back his betrothed, Mary. Andrew did bring Mary back – but he had married her himself. Thomas never married and lived out most of the rest of his days at Point Cook, while Andrew and Mary moved to the much more opulent Werribee Mansion. Thomas's spirit is said to remain at Point Cook, even though he died at Werribee, which might explain why women feel unwelcome in his bedroom.
The ghosts here are mostly harmless, with a child ghost most often experienced. The child ghost is most often playful, squeezing hands and toying with clothing or cameras.