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Haunted Sydney History: The Rocks

The Rocks is ground zero in Sydney for haunted places. It's an historic neighbourhood pulsating with tales of Australia's past. If you look beyond the vibrant markets and cobblestone lanes, you’ll see a darker side with whispered tales of paranormal activity that have lingered for generations.


Originally inhabited by the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation for thousands of years, The Rocks became an early site of European settlement when Captain Arthur Phillip and the First Fleet arrived in 1788. It quickly transformed into a bustling waterfront community, serving as a vital hub for maritime activities and trade.


The area's sandstone cliffs were quarried to construct many of Sydney's earliest buildings, including the iconic Cadman's Cottage (110 George St, The Rocks). Join us as we embark on a spine-chilling journey through The Rocks, exploring key landmarks believed to be haunted and their stories that have withstood the test of time.


Haunted Sydney Places in the Rocks

Here is a list of the most famous haunted hotels, buildings and public places in the Rocks, Sydney. Read other Neighbourhood Media articles on ghosts in Sydney and ghosts in Glebe. 


The Hero of Waterloo Hotel

Haunted Sydney hotel

Nestled at the heart of The Rocks, The Hero of Waterloo Hotel is first on our list of hautned Sydney sites. It is a popular pub that dates back to the 1840s. Legend has it that the spirit of Anne Kirkman wanders the corridors, forever trapped in the shadowy realms of the pub. Reportedly, Anne’s life was cut tragically short after her husband, former publican of The Hero of Waterloo, Thomas Kirkman, pushed her down the pub’s staircase.


Guests and staff have reported encountering a ghostly presence, whispers in empty rooms, and unexplained cold spots. You can even go on your own Red Coats Ghost Tour at the pub, available with all function bookings.


The Glenmore Hotel

Haunted Sydney Hotel with famous ghost

The Glenmore Hotel exudes an old-world charm. However, beneath its facade lies a dreadful secret. It is said that a former sailor, who met a tragic end, haunts the hotel's upper levels. Visitors and staff have reported doors opening and closing by themselves, mysterious footsteps echoing down the corridors, and an unexplained feeling of being watched. A side of spook with your picturesque views over Sydney Harbour?


The Argyle Cut

Huanted Sydney passage

As one delves into the heart of The Rocks, the eerie atmosphere deepens within the Argyle Cut, a classic Sydney haunt. This narrow sandstone passage began construction in 1843 and was completed in 1867. It created a vital passage between Sydney Cove to Darling Harbour and was once a bustling street.


Workers who carved the tunnel encountered unexplained phenomena during its construction, leading to legends of haunting spirits. Stories of spectral figures glimpsed in the shadows, strange noises reverberating through the stone walls, and an overwhelming sense of foreboding. The Argyle Cut remains a spine-chilling reminder of The Rocks' haunted past.


Cadman's Cottage


As one of Sydney's oldest buildings, and so not surprisingly, is a famous haunted Sydney location. Cadman's Cottage has witnessed centuries of history and harbours its own share of ghostly tales. It is believed to be haunted by the spirits of former convicts who endured harsh lives within its walls.


Visitors have reported inexplicable cold spots, strange noises, and apparitions roaming the cottage's rooms. Cadman's Cottage is a stark reminder of Sydney's early convict history, as well as a haunting reminder of the souls who may still linger within.


Susannah Place Museum

Susannah Place Museum haunted by ghosts

Preserved as a living history museum, Susannah Place offers a glimpse into the lives of working-class families in the 19th and 20th centuries. Susannah Place showcases four terrace houses that have remained relatively unchanged since their construction in the 1840s.


However, the spirits of former residents are said to haunt the rooms, with reports of phantom footsteps, flickering lights, and ghostly apparitions. The rich historical significance of Susannah Place intertwines with its haunted reputation, leaving visitors with an eerie and unforgettable experience.


The Russell Hotel

Haunted Rusell Hotel in Sydney, the Rocks
Photo by Jan Smith.

Throughout history, The Russell Hotel has been a hospital, a hostel for sailors & a secret brothel. These days it’s known as one of Sydney’s most haunted locations. The Hotel’s most well-known ghost is an unnamed sailor who was murdered in room number 8 by a sex worker. Bearing this history in mind, the sailor seemingly only presents himself to women who sleep alone in his room.

Harbour Rocks Hotel

Haunted Harbour Rocks Hotel in Sydney

Along Harrington Street, by the Harbour Rocks Hotel, visitors are said to catch glimpses of a ghostly figure in search of his long-lost lover. The man is believed to be a merchant seafarer named Eric.


In the 1880s, he often frequented the many brothels that formerly lined the street. During one of his many visits, Eric met Scarlett, a brothel madame, & quickly fell in love. Each time he returned to Sydney after a voyage, he would visit Scarlett, gifting her with souvenirs from his travels and a marriage proposal, which she repeatedly declined.


Eventually, Scarlett succumbed, and the couple were engaged just as Eric was set to leave on a months-long journey to South America. Just days after Eric’s departure, Scarlett contracted tuberculosis and died. It was only after Eric set foot back in Sydney that he discovered his fiancée had passed. He died just weeks later, the cause rumoured to have been a broken heart. Eric’s ghost supposedly haunts Harrington Street, wandering pointlessly as he searches for Scarlett.

If you dare to experience some of these ghostly encounters for yourself, check out The Rocks Ghost Tours here - spirit@ghosttours.com.au - 0456 SPIRIT (0456 77 47 48)

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