Where Are Australia's Best Ghost Towns?

Halloween is almost officially here, so thinking about ghost towns seems strangely appropriate. Abandoned townships serve as a reminder that human circumstances can change quickly, as well as often capturing the architecture of an earlier period in an unsullied form.

Picture by Amanda Slater

I'm appearing on Ten Breakfast this morning, discussing some of Australia's more prominent ghost towns, ranging from places that have transformed their "ghost" status into a profitable tourism operation to largely-abandoned locations that can be tricky to access:

As this list on Wikipedia makes clear, that's only scratching the surface. Which ghost towns do you recommend visiting, and why? Tell us in the comments.

Update: Video of my TV spot is now online.


    Surprised Port Arthur, Tasmania isn't on the list...

      That's not an appropriate joke for a public forum...

        It isn't a joke. Half or Port Arthur's appeal, after the history and beautiful scenery, is its reputation as being haunted. A reputation Port Arthur capitalises on by running ghost tours and so forth, at one stage they even invited an international ghost hunter tv crew here to do their thing on site.

          I'm guessing Lydon thought Wayne was referring to the Port Arthur massacre

    Lime burners, Avalon Beach Victoria. Completely creepy during the winter stale sterile and a touch of silent hill. Was also used in Mad Max.

    Newnes and Glen Davis in NSW both shale oil towns in adjacent valleys.
    Also Yerranderie, an old silver mining town right in the Warragamba Catchment. The shorttest road to the town is cut off by the dam.

    I like a good ghost story as much as the next bloke but can we please keep that American money gouge called 'Halloween' of the page!

      It's bad enough that my local supermarket seems to think it's an Australian tradition.

        Yeah, what's up with that? Every October for the past few years, Coles and Woolworths have gone crazy with Halloween decorations and orange pumpkins and trick-or-treat lollies (or "candy"), but I've never actually met anyone who celebrates Halloween, and I've never actually had a trick-or-treater turn up at my door. Are there any places in Australia where celebrating Halloween is actually common, or is it just a really desperate attempt by Coles/Woolworths to get it to take off?

          We get a few in our neighbourhood. Last year we put up a no trick or treat here sign. this year I'm thinking of a map of the world showing them where the USA is....

            Perhaps they can show you a map of Ireland where the tradition came from!

              I don't suspect the kids have taken on the tradition from watching hundreds of hours of traditional Irish television.....

          They are a bit hit and miss in small rural neighbourhood. We had our first one a few months after moving here and were caught unprepared. Ending up handing out the contents of our loose change jar. We prepared ourselves for the next year, and noone turned up. It's been sporadic since then. I was in the USA for it one year and it was a pretty cool thing to witness in the family friendly burbs.

          Yeah it shit me to tears when I saw Coles and Woolies start pushing clearly another marketing ploy a few years ago. We are not in America damn it.

          I still remember a whole heap of locals got up the local K-Mart because they were pushing Christmas decorations in September. Now that really it pushing the Christmas Spirit.

          I'm not a parent but I think it's kinda unsafe for kids to be doin this sorta stuff, it's kinda scary with the amount Kiddy Fiddlers out there.

      Yeah, let's stop people from having a bit of fun!

      //if you don't like it, don't buy it

      You mean the North European tradition of All Hallowed Eve, which was previously a pagan festival of the dead ?
      The Americans were simply better at commercialising it and making it more kid friendly, but it's no more an American tradition, than Guy Fawkes is an Australian tradition.

      I share your dislike of the yearly money grab, but don't confuse the supporting act for the main show..

    Love to get up to Silverton (Broken Hill).
    Mad Max 2 fan.

    Silverton is pretty cool. They have a Mad Max museum there now and several of the vehicles.

    Just a reminder, it's not solely an American tradition, nor did it start in America. It has Celtic roots and is widely celebrated in MANY countries around the world (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween_around_the_world ). While it is a price gouge for some companies, name me an event that isn't. Anzac biscuits, Easter eggs, Christmas decorations, Melbourne Cup day sales and others spring to mind.

    The tradition is, if your front porch light is on, it means you're welcoming to trick or treaters. If it's off, they should respect that and not knock on your door. If you get people knocking, don't blame the tradition, blame the people for not being educated in how it operates.

    And while we're on traditions, traditionally, Halloween is a time to watch spooky movies with friends, go to parties and have a good time. If having a good time is "Unaustralian", consider me a foreigner.

      I thought the tradition was that if you didn't participate by giving a treat, you instead got a trick -- usually in the form of eggs and toilet paper. At least, that's what the name implies. I'm pretty sure that's why people are opposed to it.

        Well if your porch light is off and someone comes up and eggs your house, they're breaking tradition (and also laws. Call the cops on 'em). Also this drums up to lack of knowledge about Halloween.

        Trick or treating is to be done by children with their parents (I'm thinking 10 and under, but I'm not sure. It's a "when it feels right to stop" kind of thing) so if you get teenagers on your doorstep looking for a handout, you can send them away and ask them "aren't you a bit too old for this?" (same traditions and laws on porch lights and vandalism apply here)

        Also, the "trick" mentioned is idle talk -- you'd have to be mighty pissed off at not getting 20c worth of lollies to egg someone's house. It could also apply reversely, if you don't give them a treat, you can trick them (for example fake spider dropping from the roof, spooky doorbell or just coming to the door in a costume). My dad has this great severed head he sits on his shoulder. He had it at our wedding (yes, we had a Halloween wedding. Partially because we love stuff like that, and also because my wife is from America. It was awesome fun!) and it got a lot of laughs too.

        TL;DR: Teens are too old to trick or treat so call the cops if they egg your place.

    A ghost town is an abandoned town, not a town with ghosts.

      Yep right on the dot! I think most people missed the point.

    I was hoping you would list Gwalia :) It's definitely out of the way but I wouldn't say it's tricky to access. Just time-consuming...

    Let's not jump the PC gun a bit prematurely here. I went on one of their night time ghost tours a few years ago and it was awesome. Great tour guide. Great ghost stories. We walked from point to point with lanterns which really enhanced the atmosphere. The cells where a doctor was supposed to see a whole corridor of ghost convicts standing silently outside their cells was particularly creepy when viewed with flickering lamps and a tour guide with a love of theatrics.

    I went to Silverton a couple of weeks ago when I was at Broken Hill for work and had an our or two spare.

    Definitely a waste of time. Not impressive at all.

    Definitely Wittenoom, in Western Australia. Freaky as...

    My favourite ghost is Hi Five Ghost, so I guess my favourite ghost town would be... the park..?

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