Travel & Touring | WA Things To Do

By: Tatum Stafford

Perth is home to a ton of historic buildings - and fortunately for those keen on all things spooky; ghosts, apparitions and paranormal activity often come with the territory.

From the bustling streets of Fremantle to the peaceful ambience of the Perth Hills, there are plenty of hotels, cemeteries and even shipwrecks that reveal their own haunted histories. Here are 10 of our favourites.

1. The Alkimos Wreck, north of Mindarie Keys

The Alkimos was stranded north of Mindarie Keys in 1963, and is said to be plagued with bad luck. The ship was built in Baltimore in 1943, and towards the end of the war it was used to transport US soldiers and German prisoners of war. Post-war, the ship sailed across the world, with various crew members recounting ghost sightings they’d had on board.

In 1963, the ship was on a voyage from Jakarta to Bunbury when it struck a reef off the coast of Western Australia. It was towed to Fremantle for repairs, then was sent to Hong Kong before a storm hit and it became stuck in shallow waters off Mindarie. The following year, the ship was sold for parts and left to decay – though mysteriously, a number of fires have started, burned and further blackened the wreck since it was abandoned.

Though not much of the Alkimos is visible from land today, there are many rumours about the ship’s history of paranormal activity. This includes the discovery of a swimmer’s skull in its wreckage, and stories of a ghost dressed in oil skins named ‘Harry’ who has been spotted onboard more than once since its sinking.

Today, the wreck is a popular site for experienced scuba divers.

2. Kenwick Pioneer Cemetery

Over 200 people were buried at the National Trust-listed Kenwick Pioneer Cemetery - however, few gravestones remain. The site was constructed by convicts in 1865, and initially encompassed the accommodation, courthouse, church, post office and schoolgrounds for six Kenwick School students and their teachers.

It’s advised that those frightened of ghosts avoid this historic cemetery. Around midnight each night on the flyover on the train line to Armadale, many have spotted a man riding a horse and holding his own head. The ‘headless horseman of Kenwick’ is said to be an English soldier, but according to the City of Gosnells’ history librarian, this may be just an urban legend.

If you’d like a glimpse of what the cemetery and township looked like in the 1860s, the City of Gosnells hosts a monthly Ghost Walk from February to April each year.

3. Woodman Point Quarantine Station, Coogee

The Woodman Point Quarantine Station is certifiably one of the most haunted places in the State. Established in 1886, this station and isolation hospital was built specifically to treat victims of the Bubonic plague of 1901 – and in later years, was used for patients suffering from contagious diseases such as smallpox, tuberculosis, leprosy and Spanish flu.

In its 90 years of operation, it's estimated that over 300 people lost their battles to disease at the station, with a few of their bodies buried in one of the two graveyards onsite. The final cremation at the station took place in 1943. The subject was a victim of smallpox, and legend has it that his ghost takes the form of orbs that float throughout the crematorium to this day.

The Friends of Woodman Point facilitate a number of walking tours through the station that take you through Heritage-listed buildings, the isolation hospital and into Australia’s oldest crematorium.

4. Fremantle Arts Centre

Built by convicts in 1861, the first iteration of what we now know as the Fremantle Arts Centre was the Fremantle Lunatic Asylum. Whilst housed there, all inmates were subject to punitive rules and regulations, before the asylum became a dumping ground for those exhibiting alcoholism, prostitution or other 'antisocial' behaviours.

After a few questionable deaths, the site was transformed into a home for old women, and then a base for American US forces during the Second World War. Following the war, restoration saw the building’s conversion into a museum which is open to this day. The adjoining centre for arts was opened in 1972.

Since its reopening, visitors have noted cold spots, moving lights and apparitions throughout the building. Perhaps one of the most chilling occurrences is the apparition of a woman on the museum stairs who whispers; “Cold winds, that’s what’s in this place.”

When medium Anthony Grzelka spent the night with a television crew from ABC, he sighted a “tough and hardened spirit of a man”, and then saw the temperature drop from 22 degrees to less than 16 degrees in the span of just three metres.

5. Kalamunda Hotel

The Kalamunda Hotel was built in 1928 by prominent Perth architect George Herbert Parry. At the time, it was renowned for its convenient location near the railway station – and was even used as a refuge for locals during the Second World War when there was threat of a Japanese invasion.

This Kalamunda ghost is said to be a pregnant teenage girl who committed suicide by jumping off the hotel’s back balcony. Naysayers who don’t believe she jumped instead believe she died in Room 24. In the years since, glowing lights have been seen coming from this room when it’s unoccupied, and the corridor outside is said to be icy cold, even in summer.

According to local clairvoyants, there are multiple other paranormal figures haunting the hotel today. One is an angry man in his 70s with a handlebar mustache; one a seven-year-old girl who wanders around the hotel with a life-size rag doll in her arms; one a woman in a white, high-collared Victorian-era dress. As the current hotel management puts it: you’ll never be lonely at the Kalamunda.

6. Fremantle Prison

Originally known as the Convict Establishment, the Fremantle Prison was built by convicts between 1852 and 1859 using limestone quarried on site. During its period of operation, the prison housed the majority of the State’s murderers, thieves and rogues; and during both World Wars, it was used by the Australian Army as a military prison for POWs.

As time went on, it became increasingly difficult to accommodate modern prisoner management systems into a 19th century building (which was originally designed as a barracks) – so in 1991, the WA State Cabinet decided to close the prison. Today, it’s one of the world’s largest surviving convict prisons with plenty of rumoured paranormal activity.

In its time as a jail, 44 people were executed at its gallows. Just one of them was a woman, Martha Rendell. Martha was convicted of murdering her three children, and legend has it that her face occasionally appears in the chapel window.

The prison staff run a famous Torchlight Tour twice a week. On the tour, guests can explore the ‘darker side’ of the prison, hear first-hand accounts of ghost encounters, and even experience a few jump scares along the way.

7. Montgomery Hall, Mount Claremont

Built as part of the former Claremont Hospital for the Insane, Montgomery Hall is a spacious site which served as the dining hall for inpatients from 1904 to 1984. The hospital was the largest stand-alone psychiatric facility in Western Australia until its closure – and today, all buildings besides Montgomery Hall are vacant.

Data from hospital records show that many patients were admitted with physical illnesses such as kidney disease or tertiary syphilis (rather than modern interpretations of ‘mental’ illness), which can account for the hospital’s high death rate of patients within a year of their admissions. It’s safe to say this high number of deaths has caused many to speculate about paranormal activity around the buildings that still stand today.

After the hospital closed, the hall presented theatre productions, and at one point, was the second biggest theatre venue in Perth. In 2013, plans were announced to redevelop Montgomery Hall for community use - and today, the building is available for corporate function hire. A portion of the building has also been renovated into an aged care residence. 

8. Fremantle Roundhouse

The Fremantle Roundhouse is the oldest building in Western Australia. Opened in 1831, it was used until 1886 to hold any person convicted of a crime in settlement. The tunnel beneath the Roundhouse, called the ‘Whaler’s Tunnel’, was used to drag whales from Bathers Beach ashore for processing from 1838 onwards. This tunnel plays a key part in the structure's history, as it became an air raid shelter in World War Two.

The Roundhouse was the site of WA’s first legal execution; a 15-year-old boy named John Gavin who is now believed to have been innocent. As an able-bodied young man, John came to Australia to establish colonies. He was placed on a farm near Pinjarra - but when the head farmer’s son was found murdered, John was incarcerated at the Roundhouse and sentenced to death a week later. After he was hanged, John’s body was buried in an unmarked spot amongst the sand hills next to the Roundhouse’s shipwreck gallery. Today, people have noted loud noises and objects bumping around in the gallery, as many believe John is still protesting his innocence from beyond the grave.

After its time as a jail and a police lock-up, the Roundhouse was used as a storage facility before being deeded to the City of Fremantle. Today, visitors can wander the Roundhouse at their leisure, or can book a small group tour.

9. Midland Town Hall

Officially opened in 1907, the Midland Town Hall is believed to be one of the most haunted buildings in its region. The hall was used as Council Chambers in the 1950s before the 1968 Meckering earthquake hit and restorations were required. Approximately $3 million in Government funding was spent on restoring the building, which officially reopened with a Mayoral Ball in 2000.

Midland is believed to be haunted by the ghost of 33-year-old Daria Mulawa, who was brutally murdered on the steps of the town hall in 1955. Daria was stabbed 11 times by her ex-husband after she gained a separation order from him. Her ex-husband Mychajlo was charged for willful murder and sentenced to death at Fremantle Prison. 65 years on, Daria’s spirit is believed to live on in the Midland Town Hall.

The two-hour Midland Town Hall Ghost Tour is a popular option for ghost-hunters, as it allows visitors to test out paranormal equipment to hunt for apparitions throughout this historic building.

10. Rose & Crown Hotel, Guildford

The heritage-listed Rose & Crown Hotel is the oldest hotel in the State. Opened in 1841, the building sits on 2.5 acres of land in Guildford, and features extensive cellars below its dining facilities. Originally, a tunnel ran from the main cellar to the shores of the Swan River - and to this day, there are plenty of stories about paranormal occurrences, illicit activities and transportation of contraband through this tunnel system.

It has been said that the spirits of convicts and former visitors roam the cellar of the Rose & Crown. Several deaths have been recorded at the hotel – including a man who took a bite of an apple from the buffet and choked to death, and a woman who was thrown down the stairs after she was caught cheating on her husband.

Owner Mark Weber told his local paper that he found it foolish to believe in ghosts until he saw the legless figure of a man in what could have been a pirate hat down in the cellar. On closer inspection, there was nobody there at all.

Today, the Rose & Crown is the site of a thriving pub, motel and antique museum.

Want to know more about our State’s haunted history?

Venture out of Perth and check out 8 of WA's most haunted buildings.

Last updated: July 2020