While there are many prisons around the world famous for their ghostly residents, Port Arthur tops them all. The Australian prison, where thousands of British prisoners were shipped to and left to die starting in 1776, features every element of a good haunting including child ghosts, a haunted hospital, random ringing bells and more.
According to legend, the multitude of ghosts and spirits who call Port Arthur home are victims of the brutal conditions of the prison itself. The Commandant instituted a "Silent System", where prisoners were forced to stay silent, wear hoods over their heads, and remain in isolation for the majority of their lives, conditions which drove many prisoners insane. People have reported that certain prison cells have held their former occupant's depressed spirits in them, have heard the moans of the child prisoners at one of the facilities, and experienced mysterious disturbances at the officer's households. Port Arthur seems to be the Mecca of paranormal, chilling stories.
In 1776, Great Britain was faced with a problem. For more than a century, they had used the American colonies as a human dumping ground, a place top ship anyone they didn't want. Once the colonies declared independence, Great Britain was left looking for somewhere else to ship their convicts and other undesirables. They chose Australia, and soon boatloads of unwanted people were shipped Down Under.
Port Arthur was established on Tasmania, an island state of Australia, to serve as a welcoming site for the unwanted newcomers. Prisons were built, and a town grew up around it. Because these new arrivals did not choose to go to Port Arthur, most arrived miserable, frightened, and depressed. Those who were housed in the prison at Port Arthur were tortured, starved, and otherwise abused. Even free citizens were miserable and when these people died, they left the world dissatisfied, heartbroken, and angry -the perfect recipe for a revengeful ghost. Many of their spirits remain there to this day, at Port Arthur, the most haunted location in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Parsonage is one of the primary locations for paranormal activity at Port Arthur. The house was originally a prison, and some of the spirits said to still dwell there may be those of the tormented convicts brought to Port Arthur. Those who work in-and-around the Parsonage believe it's the most haunted building on the island.
According to witnesses, unexplainable lights flicker, doors shut mysteriously, and ghostly footsteps echo the halls. The most famous spirit known to inhabit the parsonage is that of the Rev. George Eastman, who served as parson at the island church during the 19th century. Soon after his death, rumors of his ghost began to surface. Visitors often smell a rotten odor in the house, hear moaning and other strange noises, and witness lights flashing in the building.
One of the most chilling stories that most people tell about Port Arthur involves the ghosts of children seen and heard nearly everywhere. These ghostly children have been photographed in various windows, their laughter and their cries have been heard on the streets, and they’ve been heard running up and down various stairwells among the houses.
But worst of all are the sounds of painful cries coming from Point Puer - the prison built specifically for boys. At one point it held 3,000 young prisoners, some as young as nine-years old. Explorers who visit at night find the halls filled with the sounds of dread. It’s said that the cries of one boy are clearly heard - he laments remorsefully as he’s led to his own execution.
The Church at Port Arthur has a haunted history as well. The building caught fire in 1884, and ever since then, visitors and residents have noticed strange activity, especially in the bell tower: The bell rings randomly, even though a ringer is notably absent.
Earlier in the 19th century, when the church was being constructed, it is said that two convict workers brawled over an argument and one of the men struck the other with a pickaxe. Caretakers of the church and tower say that at one point, after the man's death, ivy began growing on the church wall, everywhere except the exact spot where the man's blood soaked the ground.