Australia’s oldest bridge, in Richmond, is said to be haunted by the ghost of George Grover, a flagellator supposedly thrown off the bridge by the convicts he tortured during its construction. Grover was transported to Van Diemen’s Land in 1825 for stealing and by 1829 records show him as the Flagellator at Richmond. His death in early March 1832 resulted in an inquest concluding that he had laid down whilst drunk and “fallen or was pushed” from the parapet of the bridge, 27 feet in height.” Grover’s ghost is said to appear on the bridge at certain times”.
The ghost of a large black and white dog, sometimes called ‘Grover’s Dog’, is also seen on the bridge. One lady reports it appearing at her side on several occasions as she walked the bridge at night. It would walk alongside her from one end to the other, and then disappear as quickly as it had come.
Hobart’s Theatre Royal – Australia’s oldest – is said to have been haunted for many years be a deceased actor/stagehand named Fred. Fred is frequently seen in theatre, both backstage and in the audience. When a fire started after hours in the empty theatre, the fire curtain was mysteriously lowered, saving the theatre from being destroyed. Many believe it was Fred who lowered the curtain, to save his beloved theatre, so the show could go on.
Some say the ghost is said to be that of a whaler, stabbed to death by a whore. Others think that an argument once took place in the tavern by two actors, resulting in a duel at dawn, and one of the actor’s death. One night, a wardrobe mistress was working back late one night on stage, stitching a backcloth for a play. Although she was alone, she was scared, knowing that the theatre was securely locked and nobody could get in. She suddenly felt a chill, and looking up, she saw a young man walk through the doors at the back of the room. He was singing gaily, and went up the isle to sit in a chair. He sat down and disappeared. The wardrobe mistress fled with terror, realising that she had just seen the theatre’s ghost, Fred.
Location: 29 Campbell Street, Hobart.
A female named Beryl is said to haunt the top two stories of the building, but sometimes she is said to come down to knock down displays. There have been many reported sightings of Beryl. Kodak House is a narrow five storey building with two narrow ‘towers’ on each end with a crenelated parapet running between them. In the centre is a shield bearing a ‘K’. The upper storeys have bay windows, a common feature of Gothic Revival architecture, although they are more commonly found in domestic buildings.
Hobart: St Michael’s Collegiate school
This school was built about 1825 by Alfred Stephen who was Solicitor-General of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania). In 1880 it became a day and boarding school for girls, run be Anglican nuns.Legend has it that one of the nuns, while making her nightly check on the students staying there, slipped on the stairs and fell to her death. A strange glow, along with a chill draught and pattering footsteps is said to be seen on separate occasions moving up and down the stairs where she died and passing through the dormitories.
Location: Macquarie Street, Hobart.
Port Arthur Historic Site
It is not surprising that Port Arthur is Australia’s most haunted site, given the difficult conditions of life there and the many deaths that occurred as a result of the treatment metered out to the convict stationed there. Most of the buildings have a history of ghosts or unexplainable events, with ghost stories date back to the 1870. It is said that since the prison’s abandonment in 1877 there have been over 2000 accounts of ghost sightings and hauntings throughout the vicinity.
In and around the Port Arthur Penitentiary is said to be where the spirits of the dead interact with the living the most. The most well known and regular ghost encounters are in the Parsonage – which was the Reverend’s house when the place was a prison. Those who work at port Arthur claim it is the most haunted building. Unexplainable lights, footsteps, doors closing and a number of different ghosts have been seen in here, but probably the most famous is the ghost of Reverend George Eastman. Rev. George worked at Port Arthur for many years in the mid 1800s. He lived and died in the Parsonage. Almost immediately after his death this long history of ghosts began, and he has been identified and seen by numerous people – we have old photos of him. Many believe he never left this building. Witnesses have reported smelling a foul rotten odour, hearing moaning noises and seeing strange lights in the building ever since. A woman in a blue period dress is also seen wandering the building. More >>
New Norfolk: Willow Court
This former hospital has the sinister reputation of being one of the most haunted and paranormally active places in Tasmania. With its earliest section, the Barracks, predating Port Arthur, Willow Court was Australia’s oldest mental hospital complex. It’s closure in November 2000 was heralded as the end of institutionalised mental health care in Tasmania, but the imposing buildings remain. High fences and
heavy locks are in place to deter trespassers who try to steal scrap metal and vandalise the historic site.
There are stories of staff at the former psychiatric hospital being attacked by invisible hands. Even today there are regular reports of doors slamming closed on their own and electronic equipment refusing to work. With its thick, steel-framed wooden cell doors and pale green linoleum, Ward C has a lingering atmosphere of sadness, desolation and malice. More >>
Schouten House, Swansea
Thomas and Mary Ann Large and their seven children were returning to the town of Swansea on the Cutter “Resolution” after a long holiday in Hobart Town. Mary Ann was returning to her duties of running a large household, and Thomas to his running of the brewery at the Swansea Inn (Schouten House). The family did not notice the roughening seas and the gathering wind at first, their enthusiasm at returning home was too great. By the time they reached Waterloo Point, the sea was monstrous. The captain, realizing the danger of putting the passengers ashore, ordered the anchor to be dropped. He and the crew returned to shore, leaving the passengers with one guard to take care of them.
The wind picked up, throwing the water over the ship’s deck and through the rigging. Then the ship began to drag anchor. A horrified group of people on the shore made frantic attempts to launch a boat, but the surf was way too high. One of the spectators, a convict and strong swimmer, offered to attempt a rescue, in return for his freedom. On his second attempt, he reached the boat and returned with one of the children. But he was too tired to try a third attempt, so he could only stand and watch the ship get eaten by the destroying surf.
Of the Large children, all but the body of 8 year old William were recovered and buried in the town’s cemetery. Stricken with grief, the parents returned to Hobart Town without taking up residency at Swansea Inn, and Mr Wellard continued on to develop the brewery. They now lie buried in the little graveyard on the edge of the beach which claimed their lives. Back when there is no one living there, people often reported seeing a pale light burning in a window of Schouten House, which is not far from the cemetery.
Location: 1 Waterloo Road, Swansea.
The lonely house named Garth, near Avoca in the Fingal Valley, has a reputation to be haunted. Here, myth and legend has been mixed with the truth, making Garth a place to be feared even by the brave. Cattle are said to avoid grazing near it, and horses become jumpy and uncontrollable. Strange, strangled cries have been heard coming from Garth. Here is only one story of Garth’s haunted past.
The photo (right) taken at the Garth homestead ruins, shows the shadow of person inside the house, yet no one was in there. The angle of the person’s shadow is different to that of other shadows. See full story >>
The land on which Garth is situated was originally owned by a young Englishman. He spent three years building the house for his bride, who was waiting hopefully back in England.As soon as the house was completed, the young man set sail for his bride in England, only to find that she had married another in her loneliness. Grief-stricken, he returned to Van Diemen’s Land. But the heart-broken lover was unable to bear the thought of his empty future. Legend has it that one evening, he either cut his throat or, hanged himself, in the courtyard of the house he built. It is said the young man’s restless spirit still haunt the ruins of the two storey house.
Around that time a Scotsman, by the name of Charles Peters, was granted 320 acres of land adjacent to “Garth” and it appears in the mid 1830s he took over the property and moved into the homestead. This was soon to have sad consequences for the Peters family, too. The story goes that on the 20th September 1840, Ann, a spirited two year old daughter of Charles Peters, ran away from her convict nanny and fell down a deep well which had been dug only yards from the house. In desperation, the nanny tried to save the girl, but she too fell to her death at the bottom of the well.
There is no conclusive evidence as to whether this story is true or not. It has, however, along with a number of variations, stood the test of time, even though the inquest into Ann Peter’s death states she died from burns caused by her clothes catching fire. The small grave and headstone, situated in the bush some four hundred metres from the old ruins, bares evidence of her death, but gives us no clue to the real cause. According to locals, the mournful moans of the jilted young Englishman and the terrifying screams of Ann Peters and her convict nanny can still be heard by so many who are brave enough to visit when darkness closes in on this breathtaking part of our valley.
Avoca: Bona Vista
Bona Vista, a once elegant homestead, lies in the Fingal Valley, near Avoca. Under the ballroom in the East Wing are a number of dungeons where convict servants were confined at night. The house was built for a Mister Simeon Lord, and his bride, Sarah Birch. Lord was a harsh master and considered his many servants as slaves, obliged to work for him only for their food, clothing and shelter. Any mistake made by the servants, ended in solitary confinement, or the lash.
In 1853, two of Lord’s convict servants, Andrew Dalton and James Kelly, escaped and later returned to steal money and silverware, and seek revenge. After tying up the other servants, they proceeded to rampage the house. When four policemen arrived at the scene from Avoca, a shootout occurred. When the thieves began to get the upper hand, Constable Thomas Buckmaster attempted to escape and was shot dead on the front step through a glass panel of the main door. According to a woman who worked at Bona Vista more than seventy years ago that the bloodstain on the front step where the constable was shot was irremovable. No matter how hard she scrubbed with her piece of sandstone, the stain would always come back.
Many years later some ghost hunters planned to sleep in one of the cells. During the early part of the evening, two of them retired to bed. After drifting off to sleep, they were suddenly aroused by murmuring voices. Thinking it was their friends, they went back to sleep, only to be waken again by more voices. All of a sudden, their gizmos started up and drove them out of their cells. No one braved the cells again that night.
Goose Island Lighthouse
Goose Island is situated in Bass Strait to the north of the Tasmanian Coast and is to the west of Flinders Island. Built in 1846 by convicts, the Goose Island Lighthouse is said to be haunted. In her book, Kathleen Stanley states, that… “Sometime in the 1920’s, the light keeper taking the middle watch at Goose Island laid down his book, The Complete Works of William Shakespeare and looked absently at the little black dog sleeping near the door of the light room. It stirred uneasily and the hair on its back rose as it got to its feet and ran to the edge of the top of the landing, barking hysterically.
“He would go to the top of the stairs, quiten the dog, and shut down to whoever it was. But as he stepped on to the landing, the dog’s barks subsided to a growl and the sound of footsteps subsided. In a moment, the doors opened and shut again, then all was silent. Puzzled, the lighthouse keeper returned to his upright chair and his book. His relief denied all knowledge of the visit as did the Head Keeper the next morning. Somewhat humorously, he suggested that the man on the middle watch had nearly met a ghost. And there the matter ended. Until the next occasion”. This happened to several different keepers, all on the middle watch, and thus the legend of the “ghost in the tower” grew.