The oldest state in Australia, New South Wales, was the site of the first landing by the British in 1788. Eleven ships of the First Fleet set sail from Britain on 13 May 1787, with the leading ship, HMS Supply, reaching Botany Bay and setting up camp on the Kurnell Peninsula on 18 January 1788. For the next 225 years, people lived, and died, in a landscape varied and, at times, harsh and unforgiving.
This allows for a vast and plentiful list of places hounded by reports of supernatural activity, be they hospitals or asylums, private residence or stretches of road. This column will focus on the more-renowned places of paranormal interest within the state.
Picton, a quaint town south-west of Sydney, is reputedly Australia’s most haunted town. Its ghost tours ran from the late 90s through until 2011, when severe council restrictions forced the business to close.
The highlight of the tour was the infamous Redbank Range Tunnel. The tunnel runs 592 feet in length, carved into the hills of the Picton region. Used between 1867-1919, the tunnel served as the corridor for train services to and from Melbourne, until a new line was built around the hills. There are many rumours of spirits wandering the tunnel, allegedly related to the high number of suicides and deaths which took place on the train line before it diverted at a later stage. Witnesses have seen lights, gusts of winds, and shadows. There are also rumours of the ghost of a girl who had been assaulted and murdered, but she is seen rarely, and the ghost of a girl who hung herself at the entrance of the tunnel.
Above is a video documentary based on the anomalies around Picton.
Although picturesque and peaceful-looking, Sydney’s Quarantine Station (QS) harbours a dark past, entrenched in isolation, suffering, disease and death.
Built on ground used by Indigenous tribes for healing and burial rituals, the QS has been used for isolation of suspected disease carriers for over 150 years. From the 1830s to 1984, migrant ships arriving in Sydney with suspected contagious disease stopped inside North Head and off-loaded passengers and crew into quarantine to protect local residents from becoming sick. The QS ran for 150 years, growing during periods of infectious disease and shrinking during periods of health and reduced government coffers.
Many paranormal tours are run through the management of the QS, ranging from family-friendly tours to extreme tours, with an option of staying overnight. Guests can also take part in paranormal investigations run by the tour guides.
According to the site’s resident medium, there are at least fifty spirits wandering the hospital, the dining halls, the shower block, and the morgue, where an ominous mannequin lies under a sheet and the stench of death ignites the imagination. People who visit the now empty Quarantine Station are often pushed by people who are not there.
Monte Cristo Homestead, just outside the rural town of Junee, holds a reputation as Australia’s most haunted private residence, allegedly experiencing hauntings from at least ten ghostly entities. The original section was completed in 1885, with additional sections being added on over the years.
Monte Cristo Homestead has been explored by many ghost hunters – it has also been featured on the world famous Castle of Spirits website. The Australian Ghost Hunters Society regularly holds ghost hunts at Monte Cristo and have had some very interesting experiences there. Current owners Reg and Olive Ryan moved into the then-derelict house in 1963, and now run tours of the property outlining its dark and paranormal past.
Ghosts of Monte Cristo:
- The ghost of original resident old Mrs Crawley has been seen many times in her former room
- Many visitors report feelings of being unwelcome, and of being held in place while trying to ascend the stairs
- Ghostly voices have been reported by visitors
- Visiting psychics have reported Mrs Crawley’s presence in the dining room, one having left the room several times during a meal after allegedly being ordered to leave by the old lady
- Then there are the mysterious lights and full-body apparitions reportedly witnessed throughout the years by visitors and guests
The Jenolan caves are the oldest caves in the world still open to the public for walk-throughs. It receives more than a quarter million visitors every year, and extends for miles beneath the surface. Every year, more and more stories emerge, of security gates rattling for no reason, display lights turning themselves on and off, and phantom figures appearing mysteriously. Many of the tales are connected to James Wiburd, Jenolan’s third caretaker, from 1903, and a passionate adventurer. It’s said that Wiburd so loved the place that he chose never to leave, lingering to keep an eye on things.
The building of Maitland began in 1844, with the official opening and arrival of the first prisoners in 1848. Built of sandstone, it is considered to be the most intact country gaol in New South Wales and is the longest continuously-operating correctional institution in Australia. Maitland Gaol closed in 1998. During its period of operation, sixteen men were hanged there, both at the main gates and in the back corner. Many spirits are said to haunt the old buildings.
Wakehurst Parkway in Sydney
A notorious stretch of highway that is known for many fatal crashes. Many are said to have been caused by a young girl by the name of ‘Kelly’, who appears in people’s motor vehicles as they drive along the dark road after midnight. If she is not informed that her presence is unwanted, she will make the car veer off the road and crash.
King George Avenue
King George Avenue in Tamworth has many reports of a phantom set of headlights appearing to people driving toward the city. Random electrical problems, such as fuses blowing, have also occurred frequently. This road used to be a popular drag strip for local youths, with a few reported deaths driving the rumours of a ‘ghost car’.
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