A haunted tour of South Australia, 8 macabre experiences
The North Kapunda Hotel, Kapunda.
Some say that Kapunda, near the famous Barossa wine region, is the most haunted town in Australia.
When the hotel opened in 1849 Kapunda was a bustling and violent copper mining town. Several people were murdered in the hotel, including ladies of the night.
Over the years many people have reported sightings of a ghostly woman, and a little girl walking around upstairs in the hotel.
“We think it’s the ghost of a prostitute murdered in the hotel, and her young daughter, Sarah, who later died of disease,” says Darren Bacchus, co-owner of Ghost Crime Tours.
Other people have reported a disembodied voice, or being shoved or shouted at in a hotel corridor by a spectral presence.
Look out for the man with one leg riding a bicycle on Chapel Street, the ghost of a miner who died soon after an amputation.
Meanwhile, in Chapel Street Theatre, a former church, visitors have reported seeing a phantom minister standing in the wings and whispering to people on stage.
Old Tailem Town, near Tailem Bend.
Australia’s largest pioneer village is made up of 114 buildings dating from 1860 to 1960. Many of them were transported in one piece from their original locations, while others were taken apart and rebuilt on site.
In all there are six streets of buildings, ancient trucks, fire brigade vehicles, rusty tractors, and period cars. There are other buildings too, including an old picture theatre with working projectors.
The houses are full of artefacts and antiques – and some people say - ghosts.
Obviously, many people once lived – and died – in these buildings, and it’s said that some of their spirits still roam around, looking a little lost.
People have seen shadowy figures, felt themselves being touched by something that’s not there, and experienced weird sensations. Walking around the site at night feels remarkably spooky. It’s certainly not for the fainthearted.
Adelaide Gaol, Adelaide.
The Adelaide Gaol, which was built in 1841, is said to be another of the most haunted sites in South Australia. It’s one of the two oldest buildings in the state, along with Government House which was built at the same time.
Forty-five prisoners were executed in the Gaol, including Elizabeth Woolcock who was the only woman hanged in South Australia. Elizabeth was convicted of murdering her husband in 1873.
Footsteps are frequently heard walking up and down the stairs and through the corridors, and the static breeze that follows might cause the hairs on your body to prickle.
If you have a sensitive disposition don’t book a ghost tour of the Gaol, because you’ll hear all about the hangings, burials and the ghostly encounters.
Even if you don’t see or hear a ghost, then the small stark cells, the barbed wire, and the hanging tower will send a shiver down your spine.
Adelaide Arcade, Adelaide.
With three possible ghosts haunting the place, beautiful Adelaide Arcade is one of the city’s spookiest places to linger.
Three people are said to haunt the oldest shopping centre in Australia, including caretaker Francis Cluney, who ended up crushed in an electrical generator in 1887. Maybe he fell. Maybe he was pushed. No one is sure.
Many traders have reported feeling his presence in the Arcade, and seeing him walking the hall after hours. Some say he’s a mischievous, but friendly spirit.
Another ghost has been heard walking around the shop next door. Could this be the spirit of Florence Horton, shot three times in the back in 1904 by her husband in a laneway next to the arcade?
Then there’s the ghost of a young boy who was suffocated by a coal gas in the apartment above the arcade in 1902. Did the child’s mother murder the poor soul? Several people have claimed to have seen the child’s ghost in the Arcade.
The Migration Museum, Adelaide.
These days Adelaide’s Migration Museum is a popular social history museum, but from 1852 to 1918 it was the Destitute Asylum.
Most of the inhabitants in the early days were women and children. There were plenty of orphans too.
Many women died in childbirth. Many others died of disease. Others killed their babies, or terminated their pregnancies in one way or another.
The museum today is a place of serious research, but staff members might be persuaded to recount incidents of shadow people, haunting voices, and paranormal activities.
There are stories of ghosts on the staircase, including one sitting on the stairs in a blue uniform – just like the asylum residents used to wear.
Another tale involves an ex-police officer who became a member of staff. She didn’t believe in ghosts at all. Then one day she went into a storeroom and saw the shadow of a little girl. She took it as a sign of her own impending death, which happened a short time later.
Z Ward for the Criminally Insane , Adelaide.
Glenside Hospital, formally known as the Parkside Lunatic Asylum, is well known as a ghostly haunt. The asylum opened in 1870 and was nicknamed The Bin.
Z Ward housed people who were classified as criminally and mentally insane. It finally closed in 1973.
“In times gone past you could be classed as insane and imprisoned if you attempted suicide or had epilepsy,” says ghost hunter Alison Oborn.
The National Trust asked Alison and her team from Paranormal Field Investigators to research the site, before allowing her to run spooky night-time tours there.
“We had no idea if it was haunted at first but I was convinced when we turned our torches off and suddenly I saw a black silhouette close to me. I reached out to touch the person’s shoulder but my hand kept going.
“A woman standing near the window saw my hand go out and saw the silhouette disappear. She screamed her head off.”
Could it be the ghost of Richard Blight who died in Z Ward under mysterious circumstances in 1933 with a needle wound to his heart and no murder weapon ever found?
Abandoned town of Farina
The ghost town of Farina in the far north of South Australia was once an important outback agricultural settlement and vital rail hub. These days it’s a mix of rubble, rusting iron and remnants under restoration.
The brothel has collapsed but you can still wander through the ruins of the town’s two former pubs and the post office.
Volunteers have restored the old underground bakery and the old ovens are fired up for a short time each winter. In mid 2005 the volunteers also found a section of the old Ghan rail route on the flood plains.
A few kilometres away is the Farina cemetery, which has an Afghan corner with several headstones commemorating people connected to the Afghan camel trains. The trains once provided transport across the desert before the train line arrived.
Farina was established in 1878 and is 55km south of Marree, which is the start of both the famous Birdsville Track and Oodnadatta Track. It’s one of a number of ghost towns in Outback South Australia.
National Railway Museum, Port Adelaide
Built on the site of the 1856 Port Dock Railway Station, the National Railway Museum has more than its fair share of accidental deaths, murders and hauntings.
Historians believe at least 21 people were killed at the station and in the goods yard, including a 16-year-old boy whose head was crushed between the buffers of two trains.
In 1881 alone, three people were accidently killed at the railway station, including George McInroy, who was run over by a steam engine. Maybe it’s his shadowy figure people see wandering among the trains here.
Plenty of people have heard footsteps when no one else was around, heard phones ringing when they weren’t plugged in, felt sudden drops in temperature, and seen objects move for no apparent reason.
“It’s the most visual of all the places we run tours to. We see something strange on eight out of 10 tours,” says Alison Oborn, the owner of Adelaide’s Haunted Horizons Ghost Tours.