Ghastly ghostly sites of Sydney
By ALEC SMART
Supernatural fears have accompanied humans since the dawn of time, when we first descended from the trees and took up residence in dark and spooky caves. Spirituality and religion have attempted to explain or exploit these quirks of our overactive imaginations, with bizarre or often bloody consequences.
But despite clambering higher up the food chain from prey to alpha predator, our species seems unable to shake off our fears of the unknown.. and the undead.
Whether scary stories give you the chills or make amusing cautionary tales, like unwanted hitchhikers clinging on the back of a moving truck, ghost legends remain attached to our folklore.
Our city is no exception. Sydney’s ghoulish ghostly spirits spook dogs and cause chills, with footsteps often heard from unseen feet.
Here we’ve identified a number of spooky spots, several of which are in close proximity to your neighbourhood. If you decide to visit these haunted sites after dark, remember to tell others where you’re going..
Camperdown Cemetery, Church St, Newtown
Ghosts don’t often haunt graveyards, because their lives ended elsewhere, although a few loiter among the tombstones here: a man dressed in brown who sits atop a grave, and a military figure who peers towards the sky from a telescope. Bathsheba, a senior matron at Sydney Hospital from 1852-66, is claimed to roam the premises, but that’s probably because her surname was, strangely, ‘Ghost’.
However, an horrific murder occurred in Camperdown Cemetery on 11 June 1946, and some say the victim’s soul still haunts the premises. Joan Ginn, 11, was abducted when she went out to purchase bread from a milk bar on King St, and led to the graveyard where she was raped and bludgeoned to death.
Although witnesses recalled Joan was last seen accompanied by a ‘dishevelled’ man in an overcoat with his hat pulled down over his eyes, the crime was never solved.
Flour Drum Cafe, 531 King Street, Newtown
In Feb 2015, when new proprietors moved into Flour Drum Café, they reported strange paranormal activity. A previous manager revealed that two customers on separate occasions had seen a “little girl in a petticoat”. The ghostly girl was apparently placated when the new proprietors found a dolls’ house in the street, and brought it back to the café.
However, there was a murder on the premises when it was once a fruit shop. On 22 June 1942, proprietor Sebastiano D'Andrea, 45, was shot in the stomach by an intruder and died in hospital. In July 1944, 18-year-old labourer, John Woods, was arrested and later convicted for D'Andrea’s murder, escaping the death sentence because he was under 18 when he committed the crime.
Perhaps poor Mr D'Andrea’s spirit is still haunting the shop.
The Abbey, 272 Johnston St, Annandale
The Abbey is a heritage-listed 50-bedroom Federation Gothic style mansion built in 1881 of Pyrmont sandstone and decorated in Masonic symbols. Gargoyles on the tower are rumoured to have been taken from St Mary’s Cathedral. It is reportedly haunted by a “lady in white” who roams the house and grounds, and doors and windows are said to open by themselves.
Railway embankment, Glebe (behind the Jubilee Park viaduct)
Two 12-year-old boys were murdered here, six months apart, by the same sex-killer in June 1976 and Jan 1977. Mark Gregory, 17, was arrested a year later and charged with both murders, and in March 1978 convicted and given two life sentences.
Glitch: The murders are often described as happening on the ‘Street with no name’, the driveway between Jubilee Park and the viaduct, although they took place in the forest on the other side, now encircled by fencing.
Light rail tracks beside Jubilee Park, Glebe
In January 1966, a railway worker named Jock attempted to rescue an injured possum on what was then part of the Rozelle to Darling Harbour Metropolitan Goods Line (now the route of the Inner West Light Rail).
In the fog near what is now Jubilee Park tram stop he was tragically struck and killed by a goods train that roared out of the mist.
Glitch: The legend claims the killing happened the day before the line was permanently closed – yet the line was closed in January 1996.
Federal Park car park, Annandale
In 1976, a girl’s body was alleged to have been found “dumped in the carpark”, which suggests it was Federal Park.
Glitch: The legend describes the young victim as “thought to have been the victim of Sydney's first Satanic murder.” Paranormal websites all repeat the same information, often word-for-word, however, there are no police files nor newspaper reports of a girl’s body found near Jubilee Park in 1976, nor why it might have ‘Satanic’ elements.
Callan Park Hospital for the Insane, Balmain Rd, Lilyfield
Callan Park Hospital for the Insane was opened in 1878 on the shores of Iron Cove. It is said many bodies of patients were buried anonymously in unmarked graves.
Ghostly figures wander the grounds, and icy chills experienced in Kirkbride, the central block of former treatment rooms and patient dormitories.
A supernatural horror feature film, Ravenswood, was filmed over 2 weeks in 2016, mainly at night, and the crew reportedly experienced constant “eeriness”, with one member refusing to return to the film set after he was spooked by something.
Mortuary Station, Regent St, Chippendale
Mortuary Railway Station, also known as Necropolis Receiving Station, was a platform on Sydney's Rookwood Cemetery railway line from 1869 - 1938. Funeral parties boarded special trains that transported them directly to the cemetery, with coffins loaded into a dedicated carriage.
The spirits of the departed who never departed the station are said to roam the platform.
Central Railway Station, Haymarket
Devonshire Street Cemetery was Sydney’s principal graveyard from 1820 - 1866. In 1901, to allow construction of Central Railway Station, 8,500 remains were claimed and relocated to metropolitan cemeteries. The remaining 30,000+ unclaimed bodies were dug up and transported by tram to Bunnerong Cemetery.
During the 1960s-70s, four tunnels were dug and four platforms built. Platforms 24 & 25 for the Eastern Suburbs and Illawarra line were opened in 1979, however, above them, platforms 26 & 27, intended for an airport line, were never utilised.
The voices of children playing have been heard on the two unused platforms - reprised again recently by rail workers constructing new power and communications rooms on them for Sydney Metro Rail.
Royal Botanic Gardens, central Sydney.
A large collection of approximately 1000 Aboriginal artefacts and artworks was exhibited in the purpose-built Garden Palace for the Sydney International Exhibition in 1879. Tragically, on 22 Sept 1882, a fire engulfed the building, destroying “every publicly-owned artefact of the Aboriginal tribe, Eora, who inhabited the area before European settlement.”
Although there is little trace of the Garden Palace where a Cupid statue now stands, it is among several sites in the Botanic Gardens reputedly haunted by various spectres. Rathborne Lodge, the 1856-built former residence of the Governor’s gardener, is allegedly haunted by a female ghost.
Capitol Theatre, 13 Campbell St, Haymarket, City
A male ‘phantom’ was reportedly seen roaming around the theatre premises during a refurbishment.
Hyde Park Barracks, central Sydney
The former barracks, hospital, convict accommodation, mint and courthouse located at Macquarie Street in the city centre was once a prison housing over 800 convicts. Numerous noisy ghosts reportedly wander the premises, some with heavy footsteps, including a very vocal former superintendent who has been heard using ‘extremely foul language’. A woman dressed in white has also been observed loitering beneath a fig tree in the forecourt or ‘floating across the theatrette’, and a man in prisoner’s uniform ‘hovers’ in a hallway.
Haunted inns with spirits beyond the alcoholic kind:
Carlisle Castle Hotel, 17-19 Albermarle St, Newtown
Hero of Waterloo Hotel, 81 Lower Fort St, Millers Point
Lord Nelson Hotel, 19 Kent St, The Rocks
Russell Hotel, 143A George St, The Rocks
Empire Hotel, 32 Darlinghurst Rd, Kings Cross
Australian Heritage Hotel, 100 Cumberland St, The Rocks
Mill Hill Hotel, 59 Oxford St, Bondi Junction
Observatory Hill, Upper Fort Street, Millers Point
Darlinghurst Gaol, Forbes St, Darlinghurst
Tusculum House, 1-3 Manning Street, Potts Point
Victoria Barracks, Oxford St, Paddington
Cockatoo Island, western Sydney Harbour
Gladesville Mental Hospital, Bedlam Point, Gladesville
Abbotsford Animal Quarantine Station, 50 Spring St, Abbotsford
Gore Hill Memorial Cemetery, Gore Hill, St Leonards
The Quarantine Station, North Head, Manly
Wakehurst Parkway, Garigal National Park
Prince Henry Hospital, Little Bay
Henry Head Battery, La Perouse
Old Government House, Parramatta
Parramatta Gaol, Parramatta, Sydney
Studley Park, Carramar
St Bartholomew’s Church, Blacktown
James Busby High School, Green Valley
K Block, TAFE College, Liverpool
Town Hall Theatre, Campbelltown
Fisher’s Ghost Creek, Campbelltown
Macquarie Fields train station, Macquarie Fields
Old Helensburgh Railway Tunnels, Helensburgh
Waterfall Sanitorium, Waterfall
St Thomas’ Anglican Church, Mulgoa