Located between Geelong and Ballarat, Steiglitz is an almost-literal ghost town, home to only a handful of residents. Once a busy goldmining hub, it contained shops, hotels and hurches, and even had its own newspaper. Now mostly abandoned, it's a popular place for bushwalking and picnics. Visit on a Sunday or public holiday to explore the local Court House, where photographs and relics pay homage to the town's heyday.
At the foothills of Grampians (Gariwerd) National Park is a picturesque town containing one of the most haunted buildings in the country. Aradale Lunatic Asylum is Australia's biggest abandoned mental institution. Paranormal activity is regularly recorded here, with visitors able to tour the cell blocks by night (accompanied by a knowledgeable guide), or dive deep on an extended investigation. The particularly brave can explore the building's J Ward, which housed thieves, murderers and later, the criminally insane – including the notorious Chopper Read.
Nestled in the mountains of Gippsland is the small town of Walhalla. A bustling hub during Victoria's gold rush era, it's now frozen in time, and home to a handful of residents. Known for its heritage buildings, autumn foliage and spring blossoms, the town has been the setting for some unexplained phenomena. Jump on a ghost tour to hear eerie tales of local hauntings, or explore the sprawling cemetery, where 1100 souls rest eternally on the side of a hill, looking out over the town.
For an idea of what life was like during the gold rush era, travel to Maldon, one of Australia's best preserved goldmining towns. A place where history is so carefully conserved is bound to have a ghost or two haunting about. Kangaroo Hotel is said to be home to spirited spooks and is able to be investigated during a ghost tour.
Dunolly and the surrounding district turned up more gold nuggets than any other region in Australia during the 1850s and '60s. Today, you can drop in to admire the architecture or take a hike in nearby state parks. The Court House and Town Hall open on request, with guided tours provided by local volunteers.
Ghost hunters, don't miss the Railway Hotel (built as the Criterion Hotel in 1861), which is said to be haunted by the spirit of an elderly woman.