Haunted Bookshop & Ghost Tour

Haunted Melbourne Ghost Tour

Castle of the Spirits 18 May, 1999
Words and photography by Rowena Gilbert

Haunted MelbourneIn 1835 John Batman and a group of businessmen bought 243,000 hectares of land from the local Aborigines for some trinkets.

The Aborigines thought they were only granting him the right to pass through their land. This purchase was later declared illegal by the government. The first building in the new settlement was Fawkner's grog shop (near the present day Spencer Street railway station). The first census showed the population of the new settlement was 145 men and 35 women. In 1837 this new settlement was named Melbourne (after the British prime minister at the time) and the rectangular street grids were laid out.

Melbourne grew quickly and soon the first public building was erected in 1839. The customs house still stands at the corner of Flinders and Williams streets. In 1847 Melbourne was proclaimed a city. Like any city, Melbourne had its fair share of good times and bad. It had many brothels in the alleyways and gangsters including the famous Squizzy Taylor. Of course the city is going to be haunted ...

The Haunted Bookshop

Haunted BookshopFor those wishing to experience a tour of haunted Melbourne or have a blossoming interest in the paranormal and supernatural I suggest you make a stop at Drew Sinton's Haunted Bookshop.

Located at 15 McKillop Street, Melbourne this place is a small bookshop lined with wooden bookshelves and heavy red velvet drapes. Mr Sinton offers many courses in anything from demonology to ghosthunting. His ghostbusting buddy is a clairvoyant and can do readings along with all sorts of things.

One of the more involved things you can do is book in for a seance with Mr Sinton. These seances are held late at night in a dark room lit only by a low red light. With everyone placed in a circle around the Ouija Board you soon find out what spirits are in town and who's watching over you. ...

The Haunted Melbourne Ghost Tour

Drew SintonMr Sinton also runs ghost tours of Melbourne. I have taken two of these tours - one of Melbourne and one of the State Library. It was fascinating not only for the ghosts but for the history of the alleyways that run between buildings and through Chinatown. Being a resident of Melbourne for at least 25 years I had no idea these places existed. ...

We were shown back alleys with poltergeists and old coroner's courts with a garage that is lit and open to anyone who wishes to park there. The security guards that used to work there were frightened out of their wits when they heard strange voices and saw strange beings inside this garage. The garage holds an old upstairs house where a ghost has been both seen and heard - it contains an old alleyway behind that is both dark and spooky. I certainly wouldn't dare go there by myself. ...

Another interesting spot was Chinatown - particularly one frightening place called "Death Alley". Bodies used to be found there in the early 1930's, dumped by gangsters. This alleyway has had lots of strange things happen in there. Stories tell of how some Chinatown residents refuse to walk down certain alleyways at night for fear of encountering ghosts. Another gruesome story concerns a body that was used to make Dim Sims. ...

The Princess Theatre

We then trekked up to the Princess Theatre to visit the famous ghost, "Federici" - stage name of Italian-born Englishman Frederick Baker. Federici, 38, died of a massive heart attack on March 3, 1888 after a successful performance of the opera Faust. Many believe Federici still resides at the Princess Theatre. ...

On the night Faust resumed after Federici's death, the cast swore that his ghost was there with them. They claimed that two Mephistopheles (Federici's part) stepped forward to take their bows that night. ...

Ernest St Clair who had taken on the role after Federici's death swore that every time he stepped forward to take his bow invisible hands pushed him backwards.

Another respected man reported of a strange man sitting in the dress circle during a late night rehearsal and of taking one of his staff to task for allowing a visitor into the theatre. The employee swore that he had certainly admitted no one. A search was made of the theatre but no stranger was found. ...

Many have claimed Federici's ghost has brushed by them in the corridors and many mishaps or equipment failures have been blamed on him.

Early theatre owners spotted a way to get a bit of good publicity for the theatre and offered up 100 pounds to any member of the public prepared to spend a night alone in the theatre. There is no record of anyone ever taking up their challenge. ...

In the very early 1900's a new fire alarm system was placed in the theatre. The resident fireman was required to punch a timeclock every hour, triggering a light on a switchboard at a nearby fire station. If he failed to clock in, an alarm was raised and a brigade dispatched to the theatre.

One particular night during a heat wave no message came through on the hour and within minutes the brigade was dispatched. On reaching the theatre the firemen, finding no sign of a fire, discovered their colleague huddled in a corner terrified beyond belief.

He later claimed that he had opened the sliding section of the roof to let the heat out and some air in. As the panels opened, bright moonlight came into the auditorium revealing a figure standing, statue-like, on center stage. He described this figure as a tall, well-built man with distinguished features, dressed in evening clothes with a long cloak and a top-hat. ...

The best known sighting of the ghost occurred in 1917. The theatre's wardrobe mistress was working back late to finish costumes for an upcoming production.

At approximately 2.30am a fireman knocked gently on her workroom door and stuck his head inside and asked her if she'd like to see a ghost. The sceptical woman's curiosity got the better of her and she went with him. They went up some side stairs to a landing beside the dress circle.

The fireman pointed to Federici who was sitting in the middle of the second row of the dress circle. He was staring down at the empty stage as the fireman and the wardrobe mistress looked on. They eventually left the ghost and returned back to their work quite amazed at what they'd seen. ...

A couple of years later another fireman had an experience. He saw the ghost standing in the same spot on two separate occasions. ...

The list goes on and on of people who have seen this ghost, even up to this day. It is now considered good luck if the ghost is seen on opening night. I've heard that the Princess Theatre leaves a particular seat vacant in the Dress Circle for him on an opening night. Imagine sitting in the seat next to his!

We finished the tour of Melbourne not long after visiting the Princess Theatre, but there are many more haunted sites around Melbourne. ...

The Haunted State Library Tour

Dark shadows hide between the bookshelves; wispy white figures are seen amongst the different book sections; strange figures are seen on the staircases and lights move around on their own.

All are tales told of the hauntings of the State Library, Melbourne.

The state library tour was also run by Drew Sinton (unfortunately it is no longer running whilst they are repairing the glass dome - I guess Mr Sinton will start the tours up again when these renovations are complete. ...)

The place is dark and eerie at night when we go through on the tour. You expect to see something hiding in some of the places.

The most common things seen are reported by security staff who are alone in this dark and ominous place at night; they see, hear and smell numerous strange things, when no one else is around.

Groups taken on ghost tours through the library have also reported unusual happenings.

When taken up into the dark realms of the upper dome area you feel nothing but fear.

Not just from being surrounded by thousands and thousands of books and darkness but you get the feeling something is lurking in the back, something dark that is watching you, waiting for you. ...

The State library is well worth a visit just to admire the beauty of the place.

We were thrilled to witness the dome room being lit up by the numerous small lights around the place, truly a beautiful sight to behold!

The ghost tour took us to all areas of this large antique building - ghosts have been spotted left, right and centre.

Even ghosts on a second floor that doesn't exist have been spotted there.

A lot of the tour group on the night of my visit consisted of State Library staff, interested to visit this place at night.

All admitted to never looking at the place the same way again.

I spoke to some of the staff members later on during the week after the tour - all admitted to constantly looking over their shoulders from now on.

Other Haunted Melbourne Sites

Queen Victoria Market

And you just thought they sold fruit and vegies there? Well guess what, the Vic market has its own resident ghosts and guess why? Well the market is built on top of an old Melbourne Cemetery - just like in the movie Poltergeist. Except I expect that dead bodies won't come up out of the ground. It is estimated that 10,000 bodies were buried in Melbourne's first general cemetery. When first opened, a fence was put up around the cemetery to keep out cattle and to deter thieves from stealing the redgum headstones for firewood. Those not worthy of a proper burial in a proper cemetery were buried outside the fence. Three bushrangers who were caught were hanged and buried outside the fence. It is said that these three outlaws - and two others - haunted the unconsecrated ground of the cemetery because they were not permitted a proper burial. Reports of these three continued on even after the markets were established. They would intermittently appear among the fruit and vegetable stalls or in the flower pavilion. ...

Old Melbourne Gaol

The place where the famous bushranger Ned Kelly was hanged in 1888, this place is one of sorrow and misery. Haunted by many ghosts there are stories a plenty about apparitions and strange occurrences in this old gaol. I guess the question most asked is "does Ned Kelly haunt the Old Melbourne Gaol?" Well he could do as his body was originally buried there underneath the flagstones. Accidentally uncovered in 1929 by a steam shovel during excavations, they tore the lid off the coffin marked with Kelly's initials "EK". Unfortunately when it was announced that it was Ned Kelly's grave there was a mad rush as workers and anyone else who happened to be around made a ghoulish attempt to grab one of his bones and keep them for a memento. I'm not sure if these idiots kept his bones but what remained was relocated to Pentridge Prison where he still remains. The place is absolutely full of ghosts and ghost stories. I suggest you contact the gaol for more information.

Flinders Street Railway Station

Built in the early 1900's this large historical station stands alongside the great Yarra River. One of the most popular sites for fishermen in those early years, many could be seen spending their days attempting to catch a bite or two. Train travellers often reported seeing a little old man carrying a fishing pole and a wooden bucket filled with perch. He would stand on the busy platform but never board a train or move in any way. He seemed completely oblivious to the noise, people and trains. If anyone would approach this strange man he would vanish right before everyone's eyes. Train travellers would be so upset by this that they more often than not missed their trains. ...

National Gallery

A strange report of a distinguished pianist by the name of Stephen McIntyre was giving a concert for a full-house at the National Gallery. As he was playing, an unseen being took over his piano. Stephen battled on through the concert trying to gain control but as he pressed a single key the piano would emit several other notes at the same time, completely upsetting the sound of the tune he was trying to play. The audience could quite clearly hear the strange sounds that were made by this mischievous spirit. At interval a technician was called for to check the piano. Upon inspection he found the piano to be perfect with no defects or faults. An odd thing about the concert is that the ABC was recording the entire thing: when the tape was played back the concert sounded perfect - there were no odd notes to be heard anywhere! ...


Other Haunted Bookshop offerings you might enjoy ...

"Dark and fascinating bookshop"
- Citysearch

"Melbourne's hidden treasure"
- Herald Sun

"A gothic Black Books"
- Chelsea Kwok, Adelaide

Drew Sinton
Witches Bible
Satanic Bible
Gothic Grimoire
Real MIB
Psychic's Handbook
Rider Waite

"When you have bought your fill of paranormal books, tarot cards and occult jewellery, you can come back at 8.30 pm on a Saturday for one of Sinton's very popular ghost walk tours of Melbourne" - Narrelle Harris, author Witch Honour

ENQUIRIES 9670 2585

Haunted Bookshop map


ABN 69 079 705 776


15 McKillop Street
Melbourne Victoria 3000

(03) 9670 2585

Opening Hours
Monday to Saturday
12 noon - 5.30 pm


Haunted Bookshop logo