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Manly’s Q Station Ghost Tours–A Review
Q station ghost tours.
Manly’s Q Station, originally known as Quarantine Station, was just as the name implies- a place for passengers arriving in Sydney who were sick, potentially exposed to disease, or were known to have a communicable disease, so that they could be separated from the general population until they were healthy again (or, sadly, until they passed away).
Q Station has now transitioned from a place of disease and outbreak to a serene and historic part of Manly , offering accommodation, a great restaurant, and, of course- the ghost tours. Manly’s Q Station ghost tours are a unique and unusual thing to check out- here’s everything you need to know, including my own spooky experiences.
I’ll cut to the chase- I have done a lot of ghost tours throughout the world, as I love the history, stories, and tales of the supernatural.
Nowhere I’ve ever been has scared me as much as Q Station, and there is a disturbing energy all throughout the grounds, which are now part of Sydney Harbour National Park . While there are plenty of unique places in NSW, Q Station has to be one of the most unusual and eerie.
Quarantine Station Sydney history
In theory, quarantine for ship passengers coming to Sydney who were unwell was, and is, a great way to stop the spread of communicable diseases. In reality, medical knowledge in the 19th century was not what it is today, racism and classism played a large role in what type of treatment you received, staff and nurses often fell unwell due to lack of hygienic practices, and hundreds and thousands died within Q Station Manly, including many children. As I am sure you can imagine, a lot of terrible things happened here over the years, perhaps the reason for the ghost tours today.
The beautiful North Head, just a few minutes’ drive from Manly, has long been a site of Aboriginal importance and cultural significance. It then operated from the 1830s until 1984 as a quarantine and treatment site for a range of terrible diseases, including smallpox, Spanish Influenza, or the bubonic plague. After the operations stopped, it became a park, and now offers a range of tours, accommodation, catering, events, and weddings.
Personally, one of the most haunted places in Sydney wouldn’t be my top destination for a wedding, but to each his own.
Q Station Ghostly Encounters
There are historical and educational tours available at Q Station , but it is perhaps best known for their ghost tours. There’s a range of tours available:
Best to consult Q Station for up to date prices and times and tours generally run 2-3 hours. Prices range from $38-$125.
The Ghostly Encounters seemed like the best choice- it offered a start time of 5:30pm or 8pm, perfect since the 5:30pm start meant I wouldn’t get home too late, and it seemed a good mix of not too terrifying and not too mundane.
I don’t want to give away all the details of the tour, as it is really worth exploring for yourself. However, I will say our tour guide was completely fantastic- meeting us on the pier with a few oil burning lanterns to set the ambiance, we set off to explore the grounds of Q Station.
He was fairly new to the role, and had a real no-nonsense approach- however he was extremely knowledgeable, a great storyteller, and it was clear from some of his actions and stories that he had come across things on the tours he clearly had not expected when he took the job. This was made all the more believable by his manner and stoic outlook.
The Ghostly Encounters tour was scheduled for 2 ½ hours but went for nearly three. Time flew by though, although by the end I think we were all pretty emotionally drained- keep reading to see why.
Starting off along the tram tracks used to move luggage from the ships to the decontamination room and then up the hill to the various cottages and rooms, the full moon on the night certainly added to the intrigue.
The tour goes throughout the property, not just pointing out places of interest, but actually taking the group inside darkened buildings on the property, including the former hospital, luggage decontamination rooms, a former workers’ cottage frozen in time, and the infamous acid showers (more on this to come).
Looking for more Sydney ghost tour reviews? Definitely check out Cockatoo Island . If you’re heading west, don’t miss Fremantle Prison .
Did I see any ghosts? The spooky truth of Q Station ghost tours
There were two particular experiences that have haunted me, at least only figuratively, ever since my tour. Appreciate that many are pretty skeptical about this sort of thing. I’ve always been pretty sensitive to things out of the ordinary, but I try to also remain rational and level-headed with all things paranormal. Two parts of the tour really got me though.
Here’s what happened.
After I got home from the tour, I poured myself a strong drink to steel my nerves and went to bed with the lights on. Point being, I forgot to write it down the actual name of the room where this encounter took place. However, it was a series of two holding rooms for those being kept at quarantine station, located next to the luggage decontamination room.
Our guide brought us into one of the pitch-black holding rooms, asking us to just be still and wait, open to experience whatever we may feel, see, or smell. I really can’t explain what happened next, but after a few minutes of standing in the dark, I had the experience of some sort of thing being right in front of me, just a few inches from my face.
Instinctively, I swatted it away with my hand and jumped (really awkwardly), and then the space was empty again. It all happened in less than a second or two, and I don’t think anyone else on the tour noticed my weird knee-jerk reaction.
I have no idea if it was in my mind or not, or what really happened, but I am completely sure what it felt like- someone trying to unnerve you by turning up very close to you unexpectedly. Or, perhaps he was just lonely. Or, it was my overactive imagination. I really cannot figure this one out.
However, the next encounter was impossible to miss.
This small cottage was home to workers on the property, and was left in the state when it was last occupied, around the ’80s. It makes the cozy, two-bedroom cottage a bit of a time warp, complete with period furniture and appliances. Under normal circumstances, this would have been the most interesting thing going on here- if a poltergeist hadn’t been present.
Poltergeists are one type of spirit I’ve never put much stock in. A ghost that has the energy to move things on their own? I (was) unsure.
Going into the cottage, our guide warned us that unusual things happened in the cottage very regularly, and was known to be haunted by the spirits of two former workers, who perhaps weren’t the type of men you’d bring home to a family dinner.
In the first bedroom, our guide (who smartly waited by the front door), asked us to check out whether the wardrobe door was open or shut. Weird question, but ok. One side was open, the other shut. It was about then that the closed side flew open, and then slammed shut again before reopening. I don’t believe there was a form of trickery involved on behalf of Q Station, and it was genuinely one of the most frightening things I’ve experienced.
Yes, I did pretty much jump into the arms of some other girls on the tour (thanks, bachelorette party gals.). There was no wind and nothing that could have caused the movement with such malevolent force.
After coming out of the cottage, our guide explained that he and other guides have been in the house in the daytime, and found the same wardrobe doors impossible to open. He said it gave him the chills every time he entered, hence his wise choice to remain close the exit while we were inside- I think we all wanted to make a quick exit after that.
In addition to the above, we explored areas with terrible smells, despite regular cleaning and maintenance, and with such an eerie feeling throughout most of the buildings. In the most anticipated building, the acid showers, I didn’t experience anything weird, although others in the group did.
Looking for more adrenaline rushes in Sydney? I can’t promise any ghosts, but the Sydney BridgeClimb will get your heart racing! Check our our review here .
The showers were designed for disinfection, with carbolic acid used to cause the quarantined individual’s top layer of skin to peel off, over several days, in an attempt to prevent the spread of disease.
The design of the room itself, with rows and rows of identical shower blocks, is disorienting, a la the garden maze of the Shining, and I couldn’t spend more than a minute or two in there before I felt compelled to get out. Even the photos taken from that room are just from the entrance, as I couldn’t deal with going in any further after my initial loop of the building.
Is Q Station haunted? From me, it’s a definitive yes. But I don’t expect you to believe me- I’m not sure I would believe the above if someone else told me. Rather, I encourage you to go and experience it for yourself, and then let me know what you think! Would love to hear your stories of Q Station ghosts or Q Station Manly reviews.
Q Station accommodation
Q Station has a range of beautiful rooms and cottages to stay in, and the hotel is managed by Accor Hotels. Manly is an awesome place to spend some time, and spending the night after a ghost tour could be really fun/terrifying. I didn’t spend the night but it would make a really unique getaway.
If you dare- click here to learn more and to book your Q Station accommodation
What else to do at Q Station?
Q Station is a really gorgeous area- spend some time strolling the grounds, taking photos, checking out the mini-museum at the Visitor Centre, or have a bite to eat.
There are also a few Quarantine Station history tours that look really great, and I’d consider going back (in daylight!) to check them out.
There’s a small cafe next to the museum, or the Boilerhouse Restaurant for a more formal meal. I haven’t been there myself, but I have friends who have and rate it pretty highly, and the menu looks fantastic. Reservations are recommended.
Q Station address
It can be slightly confusing to find Q Station- the official address is 1 North Head Scenic Drive, Manly NSW, which your GPS should be able to pick up. If in doubt, there are signs pointing to Q Station, so try to follow them. The parklands do have a few windy roads leading in different directions though, and it’s not lit well at night.
On arrival, all parking is located outside the visitor check-in for the Q Station ghost tours, hotel check-in, or for dinner or lunch reservations. From there, it’s about a 10-minute walk downhill to the restaurant and tour meeting points. However, courtesy vans operate all around the property. I walked down myself to get a better look around, although I’d definitely recommend taking one back up to your car or accommodation after the tour, as the hills are really steep. Also, it’s dark and creepy and you’ll probably be terrified (well, at least if you’re me…).
If you’re in any doubt of where you need to be, I found the staff to be really helpful. The tours depart from down by the pier, next to the Q Station Cafe and Boilerhouse Restaurant.
If driving at night, be extra cautious for bandicoots, which are protected native marsupials, and also very small. They are very common in North Head, and also very sweet looking if you’re lucky enough to come across one.
- Sunset at Q Station can be insanely gorgeous- depending what time your tour is, I’d really recommend arriving early so that you can see the sunset, and maybe dinner or a drink at Boilerhouse. There’s also a small museum to explore.
- If you don’t like other people (of the living variety, that is), private tours can be arranged- contact Q Station for more information.
- The Ghostly Encounters tour includes a fair bit of walking, including over dark, uneven, and unlit spaces. It also includes entry into pitch black and rather macabre parts of Q Station, so make sure you’re ok with this before signing up.
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Quarantine Station Ghost Tours
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QUARANTINE STATION GHOST TOURS (Manly) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go
Quarantine Station Ghost Tours
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Quarantine Station Ghost Tours: All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go (with Photos)
Q Station Ghostly Dine Package
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Combine a Ghostly Encounters tour with a delicious pre-tour two course dinner and drink at the lovely Boilerhouse Harbourside Restaurant and Bar.
Running for over 20 years, Ghostly Encounters is the Q Station's most popular tour and not to be missed experience. Featured on paranormal reality TV show Ghost Hunters International, Sydney's Quarantine Station is reputed to be one of the most haunted sites in Australia!
North Head Quarantine Station was used for over 150 years to isolate people who had or had been exposed to deadly infectious diseases such as bubonic plague, spanish influenza, smallpox, typhus, scarlet fever and yellow fever. Over 500 people died during the Station's 150-year history and it is said that their spirits have never left.
Join your Guide on a lantern-lit tour of our most haunted buildings such as the Hospital, Morgue, and Showerblock. Hear stories of paranormal activity, ghostly encounters and strange things that have happened to former tour participants, staff and visitors to the site.
- 2.5 hour Ghostly Encounters tour
- Two course dinner (main and dessert)
- A glass of house wine, beer or soft drink
The Q Station is located at North Head, Manly.
All prices, availability and tour and product information are subject to change without notification, and while every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the prices, availability and tour and product information displayed on this website they are not guaranteed to be accurate.
Ghost Tour Bookings is not a provider of tours, experiences or products and has no responsibility for any tours, experiences or products provided or not provided by the tour operator, supplier or any other party. The tour operators and suppliers provide services and products directly to customers.
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The Q station has long been associated with hauntings. Indeed, their ghost tours are infamous for weird and whacky experiences, suffice it to say, some vow they will never return.
For someone who does believe in ghosts and have had several weird encounters myself, I was keen to uncover the truth, my eight-year-old son was also super excited to find out whether their scary stories actually hold some weight.
With that in mind, I gathered the husband and two kiddies and off we packed for a ghostly night tour and overnight stay at this quarantine station, which housed the sick and their families for over 156 years and where some 581 people died.
And before I delve into what we uncovered that night, I’ll digress to a short history lesson for background sake.
The first quarantine was in 1828 and started out as humble tents on the shore until 1837 when 444 came in with 56 dead people and 17 later died in quarantine, they realised there was a greater need for housed accommodation.
Since then, thousands of stories of hauntings have been reported over the centuries with some believing that the ghosts are stuck in a time warp of being alive and dead and have been unable to move on.
“I was touched on the back of my leg in the morgue. Sounds innocent enough… but there was no one standing close to me and I was standing with my back to the far corner of the room,” one person wrote on the site’s Facebook page.
And our night started with some weird encounters indeed. Ross our guide started the tour professing to the fact that he had never been so shocked with the things he had seen and witnessed during his tenure at the station.
Handing us K2 meters to measure ghostly energy at the site, my son Pablo eagerly clutched his with baited anticipation. “If you see the lights go from green to red then that means that there is poltergeist energy in the air,” said Ross with an eery quiver.
The first site we went to Pablo’s little K2 meter went off very quickly. Ross watched eagerly and asked the room if there were any spirits that wanted to connect with us. The light flashed red, and the room looked a little perturbed. Strangely enough, I personally didn’t feel too creeped out.
Usually, I feel a presence or a cold chill, but I felt surprisingly sceptic about the encounter. That was until we headed to the former hospital where the ghost of the matron was said to frequently haunt the property and have even made some visitors vomit from fear of her presence.
Inside it was dark, dank and suitably creepy. One of the tables appeared to be covered in deep scratches. I asked Ross why that was the case.
“Many of the patients were held down on the table when receiving painful treatments, so those could be from them,” Ross detailed.
Suddenly Pablo’s K2 meter went off and Ross went into questioning mode again.
“Hello, were you one of those patients? Is that’s what happened to you?” Ross asked the spirit.
Pablo’s K2 lights flashed again. They appeared to be keen to connect with him in particular. Suddenly I had visions of The Sixth Sense and that weird creepy boy who said “I see dead people…”
Everyone was feeling suitably uneasy and wanted to leave the premises shortly afterwards and Ross took us onto what is considered one of the most haunted of places, the Gravediggers Cottages where apparently two evil doctors tortured some of the residents.
Inside the place had a weird muggy energy. It was very hot, and I actually started to feel a little sick and dizzy.
Pablo’s K2 metre started to go off again and Ross got into questioning mode. “Is that you Sam? Do you want us to leave?”
Apparently, Sam was one of the doctors and like the matron, likes to shoo out unwanted visitors.
Strangely enough the meter stayed put suggested Sam wanted us to stay, or that it was another spirit. Whatever the case, Pablo wanted to leave and so did I, so we quickly left the premises with hairs up on the back of our necks.
Next up were the showers, again one of the other most haunted spots where people have heard voices and have even felt a cold breath on the back of their necks.
Also dark, dank and undecidedly creepy, this is where I felt the cold shivery energy that I usually experience when I feel there’s a presence. I wasn’t sure if it was because Ross had suitably scared me with his tales of ghostly encounters and I was now believing the hype, or whether it was really a haunted site.
Whatever the case, both Pablo and I were left suitably scared. My more sceptical daughter and husband weren’t sure, but as we meandered back to our cottage, I saw their eyes quickly dart across the darkest embers of the night.
Thankfully, our comfy and well-situated cottage was not haunted. Tastefully finished in early 20 th Century décor and with stunning views across Middle Harbour to Balmoral Beach, a magical place to watch the sun set and enjoy some spirits of a different kind, preferably mixed with tonic water…
The Ghostly Getaway accommodation package $299 per couple and includes: One night accommodation in a Deluxe Room for two adults Ghostly Encounters tour for two adults Complimentary bottle of wine on arrival Complimentary breakfast for two people Complimentary WiFi Late checkout of 12pm
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Quarantine Station Ghost Tours
Quarantine (Q) Station is rich with history and has an intriguing story to tell full of both tragedy and triumph.
Sydney's Quarantine Station on North Head is one of Australia's most haunted sites! As darkness descends over Q Station’s historic buildings, the burial ground and empty pathways… the time comes to encounter the ghosts of our site.
Sydney’s former Quarantine Station on North Head is reputed to be one of Australia’s most haunted sites, with stories of ghosts and paranormal occurrences entwined throughout its history. Ghost tours have operated here since the early 1990s. Sceptic, believer, family, friends or corporate groups - there is a tour for you! The tours are available to book online or in person at the Visitor Centre. All of the History and Ghost Tours can be booked online. If you experience technical difficulties, please send your name and daytime contact number via email and a member of the Quarantine Station Tour team will be in contact as soon as possible within working hours.
Ghostly Encounters Tour
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Quarantine Station Ghost Tours
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