If the countless pumpkin and skeleton decorations being sold at the supermarket haven't clued you in already, Halloween is just around the corner. For those feeling particularly festive, a specially themed spooky road trip might be in order.
Express your inner ghost hunter and take a spooky tour of the east coast's paranormal hotspots. While you might already be familiar with Australia's most haunted mansion, Monte Cristo, you also don't want to miss any of these eerie locations.
1) Old Melbourne Gaol, Melbourne
Built in the 1800s, this gaol (pronounced 'jail') housed and executed some of Australia's most dangerous criminals, including Elizabeth Scott, the first woman to be hanged in Victoria, and the infamous gangster Ned Kelly.
The prison is said to be haunted by the spirits of the 133 prisoners who met their deaths within its walls. Elizabeth's ghost has reputedly been sighted several times, although a spectral Ned Kelly has yet to make an appearance. Both staff members and visitors have reported bizarre cold spots, shadowy figures and disembodied voices. Very creepy!
Open 9:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. every day except for Christmas, Old Melbourne Gaol is worth paying a visit. You'll find the prison on 377 Russell St. It's $25 for a day pass, but you can also book one of the many tours.
While some of these tours deal with the jail's history (in one tour you'll get to see Ned Kelly's death mask), the Ghosts…What Ghosts? tour is specially for those who want to track down the supernatural. Taking place at night, this is where you'll most likely experience a haunting yourself.
2) Princess Theatre, Melbourne
If you've spent the day at Old Melbourne Gaol, you might be in the mood for some relaxed spookiness during the evening. Hop into your East Coast Car Rentals vehicle and drive to 163 Spring St for a live show.
On the opening night of every show, a seat is reserved for Frederici and it's considered a good omen if he shows up.
The Princess Theatre has a friendlier ghost than most haunted places. In 1888, renowned performer Frederick Baker, known as Frederici, was playing Mephistopheles in the opera Faust. He was being lowered through a trap door through the stage when he suffered a heart attack. Nobody thought anything was amiss though, as he was seen taking a bow with the rest of the cast at the end of the show.
This was especially unsettling because Frederici had died instantly after his heart attack – it was almost as though he was so dedicated to his art that he couldn't bare to leave a performance unfinished! To make things even things even more creepy, according to Boise State University, Frederici predicted his death, saying before the show "I will give a fine performance tonight, but it will kill me".
To this day, Frederici continues to make appearances, with theatre staff claiming to have seen him. On the opening night of every show, a seat is reserved for him and it's considered a good omen if he shows up.
If you'd like the opportunity to see this real-life phantom of the opera, book a ticket to a show at the Princess Theatre. Upcoming shows include Fiddler on the roof, Matilda: The Musical and even the Broadway adaptation of South Park's The Book of Mormon.
3) Beechworth Asylum
A three-hour drive from Melbourne, the small town of Beechworth is where you'll find this extremely haunted asylum. Originally named Mayday Hill, this asylum is like something from the second season of American Horror Story.
As a mental institution, the Beechworth Asylum is terrifying by virtue of its existence. Built in 1860s, the sinister-looking building once housed up to 1200 inmates, according to Gaye Peterson. Writing on ABC.net, Peterson was given a tour by Beechworth historian Adam Win-Jenkins and experienced the unnerving atmosphere of the building for herself.
Many otherworldly figures have been sighted here, including doctors, patients and children. The most commonly spotted ghost is that of Matron Sharpe, a nurse who worked at the asylum. Matron Sharpe was particularly renowned for her compassion, treating patients with kindness and care, which was uncommon for the time. The figure of a Jewish woman has also been seen in the window of the room she was thrown out of.
Coincidentally, Mayday Asylum is where Jim Kelly, Ned Kelly's uncle lived for a time. After he burned down his sister-in-law Greta's house (a young Ned was inside), he was sentenced to 12 years of hard labour. He emerged from this sentence a shell of a man and spent the remainder of his years at the asylum. You'll find his signature scratched into the glass of one of the hospital's day rooms, as Peterson discovered on her tour.
Beechworth Asylum has regular ghost tours so organising one is easy. At $35 for an adult, these tours only take place at night so time your visit accordingly. While there's no guarantee you'll see a ghost, you'll definitely be spooked by the institution's uncanniness, not to mention the terrifying stories you'll hear about life in a 1860s asylum.