Brisbane’s spookiest places: where to get a scare
Stop in fright. Flee in terror. Stare with mild confusion while saying “that's pretty neat”. All of these things are potential reactions for those who seek Brisbane’s scariest, spookiest, all-together kookiest stories of ghosts, ghouls and things that go bump in the night. Or it could just be the wind, which is plausible.
Prepare yourself, and read on if you dare.
Toowong Cemetery’s ‘Spook Hill’
More than 120,000 souls call the Toowong Cemetery their final resting place and over the years some infamous stories have emerged from beyond the grave. You may have heard about Spook Hill, the part of the cemetery where cars left in neutral will seemingly roll uphill (pulled by the ghosts of two dead sisters, no less). Or the darkly veiled, pointy toothed lady who wanders the graves near Avenue 12. You can hear all about these creepy happenings and more on a Toowong Cemetery Ghost Tour.
The damned souls of Boggo Road Gaol
If you see a white mist hovering above the exercise yard at Boggo Road Gaol, don’t panic – it’s just the ghost of Ernest Austin, a farm labourer convicted of murder and hanged there in 1922. You can hear all about Ernest and the other disembodied baddies who didn’t accept their release dates on a Boggo Road Gaol Ghost Tour. The cold halls, lonely cells and sordid history make for vivid historical viewing, so join in and learn about what goes bump in the night at the prison.
City Hall’s ghoulish resident
The corridors of power used to get pretty chilly at City Hall. The story goes that in the 1950s, workers reported hearing footsteps where no foot had trod and an eerie, sinister presence in a group of rooms that were known collectively as Room 302 (eat your heart out The Shining). Apparently, a caretaker took his own life near the rooms in the 1940s, and the spookiness began from there. You can tour City Hall thanks to the Museum of Brisbane, so while you’re ghost hunting you can also delve into Brisbane’s history.
It’s the oldest remaining building from the good old days of Brisbane and while many wander by and marvel at the history it holds, nearby residents have a darker take on the Tower Mill. People have reported a faint glow coming from a small window with a figure swinging from side to side. Turns out the tower was used as a gallows in 1841 to hang two people convicted of murder. Chilling stuff. But the Tower Mill is also one of the most photographed places in the city and well worth passing by if you have your camera handy.
The spectres of Brisbane Arcade
It’s a beautiful shopping destination with its Victorian-era architecture, iron balustrades and quaint retail outlets, but not many people know that one of the former tenants has reportedly stuck around. The story goes that the ghost of a milliner who used to own a shop in the arcade has been spotted walking along its balcony at night – splendidly dressed in Victorian garb and all.
And if that doesn’t rattle your bones, the butcher of Brisbane Arcade just might. At the start of the 1900s behind the arcade on Adelaide St was a butchery where some say the owner and his apprentice got into a fatal fight involving – gulp – a meat cleaver. Owners of the space since have reported the sounds of men arguing coming from the back of the shop, followed by horrific screams. Eek.
Did you hear the one about the guy who claimed giant claws held his car in place all night at Goodna Cemetery, not releasing him until morning and leaving huge scratch marks on the doors? If that sounds too far-fetched, others say that if you cover your car with flour and drive past the cemetery at night, when you return home your car will be covered in hundreds of finger prints. Is a trip to the car wash worth it to find out? Probably not.
Breakfast Creek Hotel’s boozy ghoul
In 1895, former Lord Mayor of Brisbane William McNaughton Galloway met his end when he accidentally fell from an upstairs window at the Breakfast Creek Hotel. Galloway, who reportedly loved a bevvie or five, had been locked in a room to keep him away from a group of important guests. The window was his only opportunity to make it to a beer tap and, alas, it was his undoing. Staff have reported feeling a strange presence in certain rooms and cold chills run through their bodies, though that could just be the ice-cold XXXX from the wooden keg, one of the only pubs in Australia that still serves beer that way.
The governor of Old Government House
It’s now the home of the Queensland National Trust but the governor’s still in charge at Old Government House. Built in 1860, it’s on the grounds of the Queensland University of Technology’s Gardens Point campus and people over the years have reported seeing the ghost of the governor in full vice-regal garb walking slowly up the stairs – mutton-chop whiskers and all.
Haunting of Whepstead House
Back when it was a restaurant, if you followed the trail of lavender perfume as you walked through the grand manor of Whepstead House, you were more than likely not too far away from the ghost of Matilda Burnett, its original owner. Four ghosts have taken up residence at the stately bayside beauty in Wellington Point: Matilda; her daughter Edith Mary, who disappeared without a trace in 1877; one of her sons; and an elderly servant of the Burnett family.
But the really spooky reports include staff seeing candles lit by no one, stains appearing and disappearing on the carpet and a stopper from a decanter being tossed across a room (much to the Brekky Creek Hotel ghost’s disgust, no doubt). It’s a private residence these days but well worth a drive past just to catch a snapshot of a bygone era and to observe its stunning architecture.
Check mate: Newstead House
It’s Brisbane’s oldest remaining residence and a gateway to the past for those that venture inside (it is open to the public and definitely worth the visit) but the downright odd stories from Newstead House range from floating chess pieces and shoes inexplicably moving to a lady in pink floating through its grand hallways. But don’t despair – most reports say she’s a friendly spirit