Haunted Bookshop & Ghost Tour

The whole country's haunted: Australia's creepiest landmarks

Take Five Issue 31, 1 August, 2001, pp 6-9
Edited by Jan Goldie with photography by David McArthur

Drew SintonScaredy cats beware! Spirits are lurking all over Australia. Put these sites on your ghost-hunting lists.

Melbourne, Vic
BUILT: 1878.

HISTORY: The Queen Victoria Market is Melbourne's second-biggest tourist attraction, but few are aware that it's built on Melbourne's first general cemetery.

Yes, folks, next time you're buying your fruit and veg there, spare a thought for the estimated 9,000 bodies below!

THE GHOSTS: Drew Sinton runs The Haunted Melbourne Ghost Tour, which takes visitors through the shopping site and other haunted venues around the city.

He explains that when the cemetery was first opened, a fence was built around it to ward off cattle and thieves.

"Those not worthy of a burial in a proper cemetery were actually buried outside the fence," he says. "These 'undesirables' included criminals, non-Christians, paupers and Aborigines.

"Three convicted bushrangers were hanged and buried outside the fence.

"One night, a security guard spotted three people on the grounds. As he drew near, they vanished!

"Many believe they're the ghosts of the three bushrangers."

Some people have also heard a corroboree echoing in the night. "Two Tasmanian Aborigines, Bob and lack, were buried at the site last century after their execution for the murder of a whaler at Port Fairy ," relates Drew.

"Traditionally, Aborigines are buried where they were born. That's why the souls of Bob and Jack remain restless - their bones rest a long way from their home."

The cemetery wall can still be seen in the market's I shed. "The shed's pylons were mounted in concrete blocks above the ground to avoid disturbing the dead below," explains Drew.

"But it's clear that not all the souls rest in peace!"

Though he encounters many sceptics during his tour, Drew remains a believer.

As far as scientific investigation goes, evidence may be against the existence of ghosts but my experience suggests otherwise," he says.

"I often see a young boy, aged between 10 and 12, roaming through the markets. He seems to appear but not everyone can see him.

"To a believer, no proof is necessary and to sceptics, no proof is possible."

Richmond, Tas
BUILT: 1825.

HISTORY: Richmond Gaol is a relic of Tasmania's brutal past. Convict labourers completed the prison in 1825 and, by 1835, there was also a gaoler's house, a cookhouse, solitary cells and the women's room.

Although Richmond Gaol was designed to hold up to 60 convicts, often there were more than 100 prisoners at one time.

Later, it was used as a local lock-up until 1928.

In the 1940s, the prison was reopened as a tourist attraction. Veronica and Kerry Dean have leased the building from the government since 1973 and run tours and a museum on the site.

The Ghost Tourists aren't the only visitors to Richmond Gaol - a figure of a woman in a long, pink dress is said to wander the old prison complex's halls.

Veronica says it's not known if the woman was an inmate or a prison guard's wife. "Women convicts were sent here after the gaol was opened, but the fact that she wears a pink dress seems to indicate that she was a free woman.

"Prisoners were dressed in drab, grey clothing."

The first report of the ghost is from 1850, when a prison guard saw the figure upstairs in the gaoler's house.

Many locals have said they've heard ghostly footsteps at night in the prison's courtyard.

In convict times, women were punished for even trivial offences, enduring solitary confinement in cells measuring 2.3m x 1 m.

Many went insane.

"Perhaps the ghost is visiting to make sure no harsh punishments are being carried out today," speculates Veronica.

Peterborough, SA
BUILT: 1913.

HISTORY: Bishop Johannes Henry Norton laid the foundation stone of the Bishop's Palace for the diocese of Port Augusta in July 1912.

The 20-room mansion was completed the next year. Bishop Norton lived at the Palace until 1923, when he died peacefully in his sleep, aged 68.

Its current owner, Annette Barrette Frankel, bought the building in 1981 and renamed it Saint Cecilia.

Today, it's a beautiful private hotel from which she runs Murder Mystery Banquets.

THE GHOST: The spirit of Bishop Johannes Norton is said to haunt his bedroom. Annette says rumour has it that when Bishop Killian took over after Bishop Norton's death, he refused to sleep in the room Bishop Norton had occupied.

He built a second Bishop's Palace instead and lived there, refusing to say what prompted him to move.

Today, Annette uses one of Bishop Norton's favourite rooms for guests, but doesn't tell her guests which one it is, especially if it's a murder mystery weekend.

However, they'll ask about the bishop's spirit next morning!

"Often on Sunday mornings, guests who have stayed in Bishop Norton's favourite room complain that they've had blankets pulled off them in the night, or the door locked on its own," says Annette.

"People have had to either yell out for us to open the door or climb through the window!"

Once, Annette was at St Gabriel's Church in Cradock, which she also owns, having saved it from demolition.

She was discussing her plans to renovate the church entrance when her friend said, "I don't think the bishop would like that."

At that moment, Annette felt something brush past her, and she shivered. "No I don't think he would!" Annette agreed.

Hobart, Tas

BUILT: 1831.

HISTORY: Hobart's Penitentiary Chapel and Criminal Courts originally catered for the prisoners in the adjacent barracks.

Construction began in 1831. In 1860, two wings were converted to courts, leaving one as the chapel.

The site also includes solitary cells and an execution yard, in which 32 executions have occurred.

Today, the historic site is a tourist attraction and a National Trust office.

THE GHOSTS: Brendan Banks who runs ghost tours at the site, says an eerie coldness haunts the whole area.

"We get the most activity in the refractory cells behind the chapel, where the crazy, uncontrolled prisoners were separated from the other prisoners.

"Many people refuse to go in there, because it's so eerie, and others have heard footsteps. Often people complain of headaches."

Brendan says that George, an old clerk of the Supreme Court, plays tricks. "Often he'll shake the chair they're sitting in, or lift the lid of the desk in front."

Rachel Lee, the Treasurer and House Manager of the site, always says good morning when she opens the solitary cells, and good night as she locks up.

"I don't know why. But I just say it - automatically!"

Fremantle, WA
BUILT: 1867.

HISTORY: The Fremantle Arts Centre and History Museum is said to be the most haunted place in the Southern Hemisphere.

Originally Western Australia's first lunatic asylum, it was completed in 1867 using convict labour.

In 1900, after two deaths and a Government inquiry, the asylum was condemned - though its patients weren't relocated until 1909!

It was used as a nursing home, US army headquarters and a technical college before a museum opened on the site in 1970, and the Arts Centre in 1972.

THE GHOSTS: Alex Marshall, who runs Fremantle Ghost Tours, says the old gothic-style building is haunted by at least 10 restless spirits.

One is an elderly lady believed to have been a mental patient in the asylum.

Myth has it that, after her daughter was abducted, she jumped from the first-floor window of what is now the Investigator Gallery.

Many believe she still roams the building searching for her daughter.

"In the room where she jumped from the window," says Alex, "people often say they've seen or felt her around them.

"One tour, I took three couples there. One woman said to me, 'Can you hear that child singing?' I said no, and another woman said, 'Yes, it's very faint.'

Before long, the third woman could hear it. Then as we left, one of the men whispered 'You know, I could hear the singing too!'"

Alex once saw a man, in black from top to toe, walk across the courtyard while he was addressing a tour group. "I thought, 'Oh my gosh, it's true! I've seen one.'

Especially when he suddenly vanished!"

But the scariest encounter Alex has had in six years of taking tour groups through the building happened just a month ago.

"I took a group to the Painting Studio, where a lot of activity occurs." he explains.

"All of a sudden, one of the men started shaking. I thought, 'He's putting it on,' but when I turned on the lights I realised he wasn't joking.

"His arms were straight in front of him, and he was shaking.

"Sweat was pouring off his body and he was staring into space. Everyone in the group got a fright and moved away.

When he stopped shaking, he just said, 'She's gone now.' That was pretty scary!"

During another tour four years ago, Alex was called away by a man who said a woman upstairs wouldn't move.

Alex followed him inside, thinking, "Oh yeah, here we go."

But at the top of the staircase, he saw the woman standing at the top, her body completely rigid. She had a fixed stare, but looked petrified.

"Are you all right?" Alex asked, his heart pounding. The woman looked at him, nodded - and fainted. After she came to, she fled the building!

Emma Phillips, the public relations manager at the Arts Centre, says that footsteps are often heard when no visitors are around and inexplicable "cold spots" occur in some rooms.

She explains that it's known as the most haunted place in the Southern Hemisphere "mainly because of the amount of sightings people have had here".

"It's definitely haunted," Alex agrees.

Adelaide, SA
BUILT: 1885.

HISTORY: The Adelaide Arcade and the adjoining Gay's Arcade were showpieces of Australia's 1880s economic boom.

Completed in 1885, the Arcade was the first retail establishment in Australia to have an electric light.

In 1980, a fire originating in Gay's Arcade gutted the building and spread to Adelaide Arcade, which was extensively damaged.

Today, the Arcade has more than 100 specialty shops, plus a resident ghost!

THE GHOST: George Davison, Operations Manager of the Adelaide Arcade, tells the story of Francis Cluney, the caretaker said to haunt the Arcade.

Late on the evening of June 21, 1887, Francis was alone when he noted that the one electric light in the Arcade, the area's pride and joy, was flickering.

He went to check on the generator, but apparently slipped and fell into the machine.

His mangled body was discovered a short time later, and the incident was recorded in the Adelaide Advertiser.

George has worked in the Arcade for 10 years, and says he's encountered Francis's spirit more than 20 times.

"Although the generator was downstairs, he sticks to the roof-space of the Arcade, so not many people come across him.

But I've had so many air-conditioning contractors and workmen go up there and come back refusing to take the job, it's amazing," he says.

"One contractor swears he saw the floorboards move while he was up there and I've often heard footsteps.

"It gets very cold up there - the sort of stuff that makes the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

"We had a cleaner who worked here for 25 years, and the Arcade Ghost would often rattle the glass doors in front of her," says George.

"That was until she told him to stop it!"

At least Francis is courteous!

Melbourne, Vic
BUILT: 1854.

HISTORY: Many patrons have marvelled at a play, opera or ballet unfolding on the Princess Theatre's stage, quite unaware of the presence that has haunted this much-loved venue for more than 100 years!

THE GHOST: Opera singer Frederick Baker, or Federici, died during the finale of Charles Gounod's Faust in 1888, aged 38.

Playing the part of Mephistopheles, the English baritone descended into "hell" amid smoke and flames via a trapdoor.

As he vanished, he had a heart attack, and died soon after in the theatre boardroom.

The legend of Federici's ghost began that night.

Some of the cast claimed he was with them to take his curtain call on that and succeeding nights.

Ernest St Clair, who had taken on Federici's role, swore that each time he stepped forward to bow, invisible hands pushed him backwards.

The sightings have continued ever since.

Yet when The Phantom of the Opera starring Anthony Warlow and Marina Prior, began its record-breaking run at the Princess Theatre in 1990, few members of the audience knew that the theatre had a real-life phantom of its own!

Brisbane, Qld
BUILT: 1883.

HISTORY: The Boggo Road Gaol, once home to some of Queensland's most notorious criminals, is now administered by the Queensland National Trust.

THE GHOSTS: The ghosts of many executed prisoners still haunt the prison, says Jack Sim of Brisbane Ghost Tours.

"Ernest Austin was hanged here for murder in 1913," he says.

"Inmates over the years claimed they had seen his ghostly figure in their cells, tormenting them and driving them to madness.

"They believed he'd made a pact with the devil and was in search of souls!"

Jack says Dutton Park Cemetery, where many of the executed were buried, is also haunted.

"A woman in a black Victorian dress often walks down the road through the cemetery towards the prison," he says.

"Many old-timers claim she's the tormented spirit of the only woman who was ever executed in Queensland!"

Tennant Creek, NT
BUILT: 1970s.

HISTORY: Tennant Creek was little more than a base for a telegraph station until 1932, when an Aboriginal boy known only as Frank found gold in hills to the south.

A gold rush followed and, by 1935, about 200 mines had been established.

Today, many of the older leases have been sold to mining giant Peko-Wallsend or abandoned.

One of these mines is known as Mad Mick's Mine.

THE GHOST: Tennant Creek Visitor Information Centre worker Nigel Skelton recalls the giant police search for Mad Mick in 1984, about a year after Nigel moved to the area.

"The story has it that Mad Mick used to mine for Peko-Wallsend at the Warrego Mine (about 50km west of Tennant Creek), until one day he found a decent lump of gold," Nigel says.

After finding the gold, he took out a miner's lease, and started working his small deposit on his own.

The man kept to himself, and locals knew little about him other than that he was probably of Eastern European origins.

He was nicknamed Mad Mick because his English was hard to understand and, when he became agitated, he'd talk fast and loud in his native language.

He worked alone for nearly 10 years, not seeing anyone for weeks at a time.

He disliked having visitors and more than once fired warning shots at passing cars he felt were too near his mine.

In the 1980s, a man mysteriously disappeared near Mad Mick's Mine while attending a barbecue, and his body was found nearby a few years later.

"I know this story is true," Nigel says. "My neighbour, Ted Wilson, was at that very barbecue."

Soon after, one of Mad Mick's old workmates at the Warrego Mine mentioned that no-one had been fired at for a couple of weeks, and Mad Mick hadn't been to Warrego for supplies.

The authorities were notified and a search was organised.

"Police searched six days for Mad Mick and they found nothing except his four-wheel drive," Nigel says.

From then on, the area was known as Mad Mick's Mine and, intrigued, Nigel would often tell tourists the tale.

"We get a lot of amateur prospectors come in and they camp on the old sites," he explains.

He would ask the tourists to "find Mad Mick and send him home". But he didn't expect the tales they brought back.

"Some complained of eerie wailing noises and a raucous clanking of the iron on Mad Mick's old roof in the night."

One night, Nigel stayed there and he also heard strange wailing sounds.

"But it was just two cows having an argument. There are lots of strange noises that come from abandoned mines and shafts.

"They sound spooky, but can be easily explained," he says.

Despite his scepticism, Nigel remains intrigued by the mystery of Mad Mick's disappearance.

Could the goldminer be living up to his name?

Charters Towers, Qld
BUILT: 1892.

HISTORY: The building, originally a bank, was bought by Dalrymple Shire Council in 1992 and is now a theatre complex housing an auditorium, cinemas and a gallery.

THE GHOST: The ghost of a man murdered in 1901 is often seen and felt in the complex.

Businessman Graham Haygarth was shot in the head there by business associate David Brown after a dispute over Brown's pay.

He pulled out a pistol and shot Haygarth behind the left ear. Blood spurted on the table, and the stain is still visible today.

Brown was hanged in Brisbane's Boggo Road Gaol, but Haygarth's ghost appears regularly and is called the "Phantom of the Theatre".

Tourist guide Sue McLennan says she often feels the ghost's presence as she walks to the room where the murder occurred.

"I can feel a cold draught even when the windows are shut," she says. "When I close the doors, the ghost of Mr Haygarth will open them."

Sue says a female visitor saw Haygarth walk past her.

"She described the ghost as a short, balding man with a moustache," says Sue.

"After seeing the painting of Mr Haygarth, she said, 'That's him!'"

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