Haunted places in Perth and Western Australia
Recently I was asked to join other travel bloggers writing about haunted places for a collaboration about Spooky Places from around the World to visit for Halloween and it was quite interesting to see all the creepy places people wrote about. We wrote about Taman Festival in Bali, a deserted theme park, a place where the locals say has been taken over by evil spirits.
This got us thinking about some haunted places closer to home and began searching for haunted places around Perth. I quickly learnt that Western Australia has its fair share of ghost stories and places said to be haunted. Claims of haunted places like hotels, hospitals, prisons and houses are common.
Whilst many ghost stories are folklore, urban myth or even a hoax, there are many who will vouch for the supernatural events. Whether it be people claiming to have been tapped on the shoulder, overcome by cold sensations, or other circumstances, I dare you to visit some of these places for Halloween.
I double dare you to visit a place that is known as one of the most haunted places in the Southern Hemisphere. Now you’d expect this place to be a creepy looking old building, not a beautiful old gothic styled building with tall gable finials on the front facade. Before this 150 year old building became a bustling hub and Fremantle’s home of live music and weekend festivals, it was a local insane asylum. The Fremantle Lunatic Asylum, built using convict labour in 1861 was later known as the Asylum for the Criminally Insane. Fremantle Arts Centre by day looks quite grand and inviting, but by night the halls and rooms of the centre are said to have a creepier feel. A ghost is said to be a soul in torment and it’s claimed taunting voices can be heard along with all the spooky hallmarks of a haunted house. These include cold spots, voices, banging noises, ghostly touches, moving objects, sounds of footsteps and generally strange feelings. Unfortunately back in the day society had little general compassion for mental health and cruelty at the hands of the asylum’s authorities was quite common. The haunted spirits are believed to be past occupants of the asylum.
History has shown that three sisters, daughters of a prominent community figure, died in the asylum. One of them had mental health issues and all three were exploited sexually. Another of the spirits is said to that of a little girl who was locked in one of the cells in the building and terrified would constantly bang on the door pleading to be let out. People today have heard a child calling and every window in the building vibrate violently as doors start opening and closing by themselves.
Another is said to be a ghost of an elderly woman, known as the lady in black, who is seen wandering in the corridors. Redheads beware. It is said she was originally a patient committed by her husband after her mental condition worsened by grief when her red-headed daughter was taken away from her. She ended her life by jumping out of the window on the first floor and today it is alleged the woman still searches for her daughter. In the room where the woman jumped to her death, a child’s voice has been heard singing. Now when red-headed people visit the arts centre, many have had a feeling their hair is being pulled as if the lady in black is continuing her search for her daughter.
Many of the stories today have resulted from the ghost tours that use to be run at the Art Centre. One was about hearing the awful crying of a lady. Quiet and terrified the group continued downstairs and a lady at the back of the group, still at the top of the stairs felt a gentle hand on her shoulder and suddenly a second set of hands on her back gave her an almighty push. Was this the hands of a nasty nurse who use to do this type of thing to those poor souls who were patients many years ago?
Some people claim to see faces at the windows, but those windows are covered on the inside.
Many had mentioned a strong smell of burning, like the overpowering, unpleasant smell of burning flesh and are surprised to learn that at the turn of the century they administered electric shock treatments to patients at the asylum.
What was once a lunatic asylum, full of suffering, sadness and murders is today the Fremantle Arts Centre. The iconic heritage building was originally the first purpose built lunatic asylum in WA and has since been a Women’s home, Naval base in WW1 and WW2 and a Technical College before opening in 1972 as The Fremantle Arts Centre. The centre today runs culturally rich programs of art courses, exhibitions and outdoor music concerts in the shady, grassed courtyard. A unique range of WA-made wares are available at the giftshop, Found and enjoy a coffee or snack from Canvas Café.
The dark and haunted past and strange phenomena will perhaps send a chill up your spine and give you shivers this halloween… if you dare to visit.
The Old Fremantle Prison was home to many disgruntled prisoners, many of whom faced the gallows. Fremantle Prison is the largest prison built by convicts in Australia. Built in 1850’s and used as a maximum security gaol until 1991 it is a striking landmark and physical reminder of the incarcerations that occurred over 136 years. A monument to the uncomfortably recent punishment, the foreboding 5 metre high walls surrounds the solitary cells and gallows. Today visitors can step inside and hear stories of loneliness, pain and suffering. The prison was a place where the guilty were punished by hangings and floggings a place where convicts escaped, where innocent people were unjustly imprisoned and where executions have gone wrong.
There are ghost stories of the Aboriginals of the area before the prison was built and inmates that were executed and prisoners who were classed as insane. When convict transportation began in 1850 the number of people with mental illness in the colony increased and Western Australia’s first mentally ill patients were cared for in the Round House until the asylum was built. Some of the first convicts to arrive in the country were the most notorious and violent and the Old Fremantle Prison and structures including the Roundhouse were used as holding pens.
For 150 years Fremantle Prison was a place of torture, incarceration, unhappiness and finally hanging, it’s no wonder it’s a place of talk about ghosts and unhappy souls. There is talk of the timely appearance of owls on the anniversaries of several hangings along with beams of light, peculiar smells, flying objects and other strange occurrences. The tunnels underneath the gaol are where a lot of the stories come from. If you descend 20 metres beneath the prison there is a one kilometre labyrinth of tunnels to be explored by boat. Tours highlight prison life with talk laced with prison humour about daring escapes and of the colourful characters as well as the darker side of the prison’s history.
Stories are told of a 15 year old boy who in 1844 was publicly hanged in front of the Round house. This was prior to the presence of an execution chamber making him the first European to be legally executed. They tell stories about the gallows, built in 1888, was the colony and then state’s only legal place of execution. And stories of Eric Edgar Cooke, the last tried and convicted murderer hanged at Fremantle Prison in 1964. Cooke was a serial killer who despite the reign of terror in the suburbs was the last man in Western Australia to face capital punishment. It took until 1984 to finally be officially abolished by State Parliament. These are just some of the stories echoed with these prison walls.
The Fremantle Round House was the site of the state’s first legal execution and the oldest public building in Western Australia. Opened in January 1831, it was purpose built to hold persons convicted of crimes and used until 1886. One of the youngest inmates was a 15 year old who is said today to be the cause of things people hear go bump in the night. He was sentenced to death, for murder, despite pleading his innocence and hung at the front of the Round House. Being a lightweight, chains were tied to his legs to give him enough weight so his neck would break. After his death he was taken down and buried in a hole in the sandhills and the site was unmarked. It was later found that the person he was accused of murdering was in fact murdered by their own mother, a result of severe post natal depression.
Image by ~ OnThreeLegs
Moving to another port city, Old Gaol, Albany is said to be home to a few ghosts too. Not as many details are known of the souls who torment the old goal but locals have talked about hearing the clanking of chains and whistling throughout the restored cell block. Restless spirits have been rumoured to roam for many years and tales of sounds from the women’s cells of a baby crying have been told over the years. It is said to be a young woman who died during childbirth. Other than the baby, there is a few other ghosts that are rumoured to haunt the Albany gaol. In the women’s section is Emily and haunting the black hole is Joseph. It is even said a ghostly dog haunts the building. A night tour of the Old Albany Gaol is a spine tingling way to experience some of Albany’s history.
Many ghost stories evolve from lost love in some way and is basis of the story of Catherine’s ghost. Catherine died of a broken heart after a long search for her missing husband, Cathal. He was convicted to a 10 year sentence and unable to write, couldn’t get word back to Catherine of his whereabouts. After a long search she eventually tracked him down in Albany and made the journery to there and finally was set to meet him. Cathal had arranged to catch a boat to meet her and as soon as he caught sight of her in Oyster Harbour stood from his small boat to wave to her. He overbalanced and fell into the water and drowned. Catherine is said to haunt the harbour after dying of a broken heart.
The stories of ghosts would not be complete without a creepy tale of a headless horseman and this one is quite close to where we have lived. A headless horseman in Kenwick? Kenwick Pioneer Cemetery is a reminder of the struggles and achievements undertaken by the pioneers of the district. For a chance to spot him, a man riding a horse and holding his own head is said to appear around midnight on the flyover on the rail line to Armadale, directly behind the old Kenwick cemetery. It is said the man is an English soldier who died long ago when England first colonised Australia. This one is pretty scary, right? Or is this just a spooky story to scare kids away from the cemetery at night?
Kalamunda Hotel is rumoured to be haunted by a female ghost on the second floor. A young lady who was seduced and became pregnant was too ashamed to face the world, so killed herself in room 24 by jumping from the balcony to her death. Chills, glowing lights and strange noises and sightings of the ghost of a blonde woman keep guests from staying too long in that room. A second ghost, this time male are the source of local folklore. Built in 1902, the hotel was, and is still used as, a bar, restaurant and bottle shop. Paddy Connolly, the original owner in his paranoia, erected barbed wire on the underside of the roof to prevent would be thieves from breaking in and it is said, would lock himself into his own roof space. Paddy is the male ghost seen who likes to hang about in the shadows. Paddy, it is said, apparently got a teenage girl pregnant and also ended his life by jumping from the balcony. The young girl who wanders around the hotel holding with a life-sized rag doll which scares the hill folk in the area. Other ghosts reported are an angry 60 year old man with a handle bar moustache and a beautiful woman in a Victorian dress. Whether or not you believe in ghosts, would you visit one of these haunted places for Halloween? So do you believe? I dare you to visit Kalamunda Hotel for Halloween.
So there you have it, these places are some of Perth’s and Western Australia’s most haunted landmarks. But I’m sure there are many more. Whether you believe in ghosts or not, there are plenty of ghost stories about. And if you don’t believe in ghosts, you just might be at least a little curious now. If reading this has made your spine tingle you may want to research more. Leave me a comment.
Scardy cats, are you shaking much or got goose bumps reading this? Do you believe? Would you visit some of these places for Halloween?
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