Australia’s Most Terrifying and Haunted Places: South Australia – Grapevines and Ghosties


South Australia is renowned for its wines and churches, but a long history is reflected in all the hauntings that are reported around the capital, Adelaide, alone.

Founded in 1836, Adelaide has the oldest record of an official city council in Australia (1840). It was originally planned to be the first settlement in the entire country that was not convict-based, full of free people who chose to immigrate to Australia, promising civil liberties and freedom from religious persecution.

I recently spoke to Allen Tiller, founder of South Australia’s Eidolon Paranormal and cast member of television show Haunting: Australia, and asked him to fill me in on the most haunted places around Adelaide and its environs. Here is his list:

North Kapunda Hotel

Licensed as the North Kapunda Arms in 1849, this pub arose from the growth of the copper mines in Kapunda. It is the only place in Australia to have had the Riot Act read from its balcony.

The North Kapunda was also known for having tunnels that led to the local miners, and for being a “house of ill-repute”, where miners can have a girl, a meal, and a drink, then go back to work.

The most haunted pub in the most haunted town in Australia, The North Kapunda is home to a plethora of phantoms thought to be ex-residents, publicans, ladies of the night, and miners. The activity in the hotel was recently documented on Haunting: Australia, including an alleged possession of one cast member.

Adelaide Gaol

The Adelaide Gaol was built in 1841 and housed approximately 300,000 prisoners during its 147 years of operation. The Gaol was closed in 1988, and is known as the longest continuously operating prison in Australia.

A total of 45 people, including one woman, were hanged in the Gaol.

Paranormal activity has been documented in many places of the Gaol, including full body apparitions, disembodied voices, cold spots and EVPs. Witnesses have reported being touched, scratched, seeing the apparitions of guards and hearing an 8-ball game and numerous other paranormal events with the gaols walls.

Adelaide Arcade

Built in 1885, Adelaide Arcade was Australia’s first retail centre to have electric lighting. Caretaker, Francis Cluney lost his life when he was crushed by the fly wheel of the power generator, and he is now said to haunt the arcade, as well as the ghost of Madame Kennedy and her son Sydney Byron Kennedy. It is thought the mother killed the son as an act of revenge on her cheating husband. She later died from a drug and alcohol overdose. The Arcade is also said to be haunted by Florence Horton, who was shot dead by her husband at the Rundle Mall end of the Arcade – he was later hung in Adelaide Gaol.

Overland Corner Hotel

Overland Corner Hotel, situated on the bend of the Murray River between Renmark and Barmera, is an isolated pub that has seen two of Australia’s most iconic Bushrangers drink at its bar. The Ned Kelly Gang came to the Overland Corner and drank, and Captain Moonlight and his gang often frequented the pub.

Many active spirits have been reported haunting the pub for the past 160 years. Some are thought to be the Brand Brothers, the original owners and builders of the hotel, who lived, laughed, played, and died within its iconic walls..

Other spirits reputedly include that of a local aboriginal girl, and even Queen Adelaide herself.

Steamtown Heritage Rail Centre – Peterborough

Steamtown is a historical train museum in Peterborough, located in South Australia’s mid-north. Staff have long reported paranormal activity in the museum, but the most unusual and most reported sightings happen at the end of the movie that is played to guests. Amongst the steam of the engines, a man in overalls is often reportedly seen by patrons disappearing in the noise, lights and steam. No-one is certain who the mystery man is, but he is not amongst the staff, nor the living.

Other reports include disembodied voices, disembodied footsteps, and mysterious paranormal phenomena on Platform 13.

Seppeltsfield Winery

Built in the 1851 by Oscar Benno Seppelt, Seppeltsfield Winery has an outstanding reputation for wine… and ghosts.

Known locally as one of the most haunted places in the Barossa Valley, Seppeltsfield Winery and the family mausoleum are often subject to ghost hunters setting up their equipment and waiting for the alleged paranormal activity to occur.

All placed squarely upon rumours of the ghosts of the Seppelt family, visitors regularly hear disembodied footsteps on floors that are no longer there; phantom gunshots; screams from the surrounding vineyards; a distillery tower that has the sounds of production and light within it when there is s no electricity connected; moaning and whispering in the dining hall and mysterious blood seeping from the mausoleum walls on the anniversaries of family deaths are just some of the many, many paranormal phenomena reported over the years from staff and visitors to the winery.

Migration Museum 

Adelaide Migration Museum on Kintore St started its days as Adelaide’s Destitute Asylum and housed hundreds of people in its time who could not meet society’s standards for their era. (More information here.) In 1855 about 3000 men and women lived within its walls and grounds, so overcrowding, crimes like looting, rape, and murder were very much prevalent within its walls.

In modern times the site is used as the official Migration Museum, which houses displays of immigrants from across the globe that have come to reside in Adelaide, but a quick walk through one section details a grisly past, with medical devices and surgical tools from a long ago era. It is said that, in this room, spirit activity can often be heard, seen, and sometimes felt.

Also, the upstairs office of one building is reported by staff to have unusual goings on including disembodied voices, shadow people and even spirits that will try and push people down the stairs.

Port Dock Hotel

The Port Dock Hotel in Adelaide has been a very significant pub for many reasons since its opening in 1855. It has long been rumoured that tunnels under the hotel out to the harbour where drunks would be “shanghaied” into becoming crew members. The drunks would be taken onto a ship and the sails would be set. When the boat was just within view of the land they would wake the drunks, and offer them a choice: work aboard the ship or swim to the land. In an era where most could not swim, most often the men would become sailors.

It is said the ghost of a “blue lady” is often seen in the basement of the hotel, and she has indeed been photographed. Thought to be the spirit of one of the ladies of the night that worked the hotels back in the late 1800s, she is often seen descending the stairs of the brewery into the dark and dank basement where it is believed she plied her trade after the sailors had plied their beers in the bar above!

Waterfall Gully Restaurant

Waterfall Gully 1930s

Amongst the paranormal phenomena reported at the restaurant from former staff of mysteriously moving items and of whistling coming from an unknown source. Constable Tregoweth, who was killed in a bushfire in the early 1900s near the restaurant, has been seen inside the restaurant since 1930, but also seen at the base of the waterfall, on the hill tops and in other areas of the park. Reports by witnesses describe a young man in a blue glowing uniform who offers help and comfort.

Carclew House


Carclew House is a Gothic-styled mansion that sits atop Montefiore Hill in North Adelaide.

Of the stories of ghosts and hauntings associated with Carclew House, one tale is of Sir Bonython, a very wealthy South Australian socialite, businessman and philanthropist, mercilessly killing his wife.

The story goes that Mrs Bonython found out Mr Bonython had a mistress and grew incredibly angry, a fight ensued, it is told that he incapacitated Mrs Bonython, carried her to the spire tower and threw her out the window in a fit of rage.

When he got down to the grounds below to his wife, he found she was still alive, so he carried her back up the spire and threw her down again.

This, of course, is an urban legend that has grown through Adelaide over the years, but is there some truth in a lady of the tower of Carlew? A woman in a purple gown has been seen on the staircase and upper levels of the house, and often her perfume is smelt through the arts complex: this, and the occurrence of disembodied voices, footsteps, and objects moving of their own accord have helped with the growth of the Bonython urban legend. Someone is haunting Carlcew House, but who is the mysterious woman? No one knows for sure.

* * *

Allen Tiller is the Founder of Eidolon Paranormal, S.A. Paranormal & The Haunts Of Adelaide, and also a cast member of television show Haunting: Australia. Allen has more than ten years’ experience in the field of paranormal investigation.

Allen’s blog and website have been included in The National Library of Australia’s “Pandora” archive which records documents of historical importance to Australia.

Find more about Allen.


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