Haunted Sydney – The Rocks and Quarantine Station

Posted on January 9, 2010

Australians have a long history with ghosts. Our second national anthem, “Waltzing Matilda” includes a ghost who returns afterwards to the water hole where he had been shot by English soldiers. While defeated in a referendum, this was almost the Australian National Anthem! I think we may be the only country who nearly stood, tall and proud to sing about a ghost! Now that’s the ‘ol never say die attitude!

In Sydney, “The Rocks” area is very popular with Ghost Hunts as many of the original buildings from 1800 still stand and some lanes still even have original cobble stones from 200 years ago! 200 years ago it was a poor area and mostly contained a ghetto of the poorer folk, though now it is a gentrified part of the Sydney CBD and one of the most expensive parts of Sydney! I think that would have some of the poorer folk turning in their graves!

The Rocks Sydney Australia

The Rocks is very popular with Ghost Hunts as many of the original buildings from 1800 still stand and some lanes still have original cobble stones from 200 years ago.

On one Rocks tour in the 90′s, we went to the ruins of what would have been one of the ghetto homes that stood behind some trendy shops. The stone and brick walls were still evident and indicated the layout, as was the fireplace. These rooms were tiny and we were amazed to be told as many as ten people would have lived in the tiny house! (eight being children!)

One lady on the tour claimed to glimpse a child in a grubby white pinafore hanging towards the back of the tour group and at first thought it was a bit irresponsible of someone to bring along such a scruffy looking young child so late at night. Later, she saw the same blonde child standing off to our right, in what had been one of the rooms and again gave thought to the irresponsible parent who was allowing their child to climb and scramble all over what is a historical and preserved site! We heard the woman give an audible “oh” and we all turned, where upon she pointed and told us the story.

As she had glanced at the child, feeling annoyed, the blonde, dirty faced little girl turned around and considered her quizzically and vanished before the woman’s eyes. The woman had exclaimed “oh” pointing to where the child had been moments before in shock. There was nothing there.

There are also many old sandstone buildings in The Rocks that are currently in use as office space, shops or pubs. As we walked down the original cobbled street of one the older laneways, we were surrounded on both sides by taller sandstone buildings with small, turn of the century wooden sash windows. As it was late at night, the offices and businesses that used these buildings were closed, so the rooms were in darkness.

The Rocks Sydney Australia

There are many old sandstone buildings in The Rocks that are currently in use as office space, shops or pubs.

My son Aaron turned to me and pulled me apart from the group. “Look up there,” he pointed to a second floor window, “there’s a lady with a hat on there.” I asked him to describe her but he said, “She looked like a photo,” and was not in colour and just seemed to be white. I didn’t see anything. “She’s gone now,” he said shrugging his shoulders casually and ran off to join the rest of the group. He said she just turned from the window and walked away.

If you do come to Sydney, one of the most interesting places is the old Quarantine Station. I have to admit I never had the opportunity to do the ghost tour there, but one of the women I worked with did. The Quarantine Station is on Sydney Harbour and was used 200 years ago to isolate newly arrived ship’s crews and passengers until it could be certain they were not carrying any contagious diseases into the new colony of Sydney and later for any outbreaks of disease within the colony the patients were isolated here.

Unfortunately, sometimes people were indeed carrying some contagion and it usually meant they died at the Quarantine Station and it would appear… still some haven’t left. My friend dutifully went through the tour, the hospital blocks, showers and buildings. She was very impressed by the period dressed actors, languishing in some of the hospital beds. She thought their make up was done so very well, they really looked deathly sick! When she mentioned the well placed actors to her companion, she was shocked to be told the beds were all empty! When she looked back into the room behind her, indeed there was no-one in the beds!

Later, she would say to me the worst thing was their eyes, they could see her, they focused on her and followed her and even inclined their heads to watch her after she had passed. She was so impressed by how ill they looked, she couldn’t help but stare back until the last moment, finding out moments later, no-one was there.

Written by Jennifer Mills-Young, Copyright 2010

Jennifer also wrote Growing up
See all of Jennifer’s stories




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Tags: Australia, Jennifer Mills-Young, Quarantine Station, Sydney, The Rocks


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Comments

9 Responses to “Haunted Sydney – The Rocks and Quarantine Station”
  1. this place must of been bad in it’s day. i can’t imagine living in a ghetto of sorts, that’s what america would have called it. are there any records left of the people who lived then? this sounds a bit like our ellis island in new york. i just love history and i never knew about this. thanks jennifer!!

  2. Jennifer Mills - Young says:

    yeah actually, I think that the Quarantine Station in Sydney was very similar to Ellis Island.
    Instead of it being an island however it is on the opposite side of the harbour to the city and in isolated bushland – then with no road back. It would have only been accessible in convict days by boat, so there was no getting out, unless you wanted to wander for days through inacessible bush! and with Sydney being the only real city there wasn’t like you could walk to anywhere else! ( some convicts thought if they escaped and walked west they could walk to China! LOL ) But as mostly everyone were city folk with no bushcraft of outdoor survival skills, people who ‘ took off ‘ invariably died or came back defeated.
    Today you can get there by a narrow road…………..and it is still in isolated bushland! There is still nothing there still except the Quarantine Station ( which is now a listed heritage site anyway )

  3. Christina says:

    That is so amazing for your friend to see those who had been there in previous years. Just reading about it and they way they stared at her, make me feel a little sad for them. Who knows? They could have been the ones who never left the Quarantine Station; being already sick and not allowed, until they passed.

    Your stories are wonderful; makes me want to hop on a plane to Sydney.

  4. trolldoll1681 says:

    heads up people!! Ghost Hunters International has gone to Quarantine Station!! it will be on next wednesday, january 20th, on the SyFy station. jennifer now we will get to see what it looks like!!

  5. eyepriestess says:

    I really enjoyed reading that Jennifer! It makes me want to jump on a plane to Sydney too!

  6. Jennifer Mills - Young says:

    OMG Yes! What a brilliant idea – GHI have to do the rocks and the quarantine station! That would be grouse! fair dinkum! ( aussie slang for great! – honest! )
    I am planning a trip to Fannie Bay Gaol in Darwin soon – they did a lot of hangings there last century and has reputed activity! Keep you posted!

  7. Jennifer Mills - Young says:

    I saw GHI did the haunted mansion Monte Christo at Junee! I’ve been there in my teens – I never saw anything but just ” felt ” creeped out the whole time …………….a beautiful mansion from the 1900′s.

  8. anna says:

    very interesting about sydney.thats one place i would love to go.good story thanks.

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