Have you ever wanted to see a real ghost town? … me too. Sometimes we can see a bit too much of today’s modern civilization that our minds get curious as to what life was like back in the day. Granted, we can switch on the TV and watch a film that was made 50 years ago, but let’s face it, it’s much better to see it in person!
A part of me is making this post so that I can remember to visit some of these ghost towns. A while ago, back in the UK, I used to do a little bit of urban exploring. We all know Australia is home to some creepy crawlies; as much as I wanted to go visit the abandoned power station on Robb Road, I had to face the reality that I might bump into a snake or two.
However, I know when I set off on my travels I’ll have some good footwear. So, if a snake comes and says hello, I can send him on his way, even if he does want a nibble. That was a joke, by the way.
Warning: Please be aware that some of the towns listed below may be occupied by Tribes who may not take lightly to visitors. Further research is advised before considering visiting.
1. Gwaila, WA
Starting with the most popular ghost town, this one is already on my map for Aus! This former gold-mining town was once home to 1,114 people before it was declared abandoned in 1963. Today, it is welcoming to visitors and even hosts a museum.
2. Kathleen, WA
Probably named after someone called Kathleen back in the day, it doesn’t come as a surprise that this ghost town was also once a thriving mining community. However, little is known about this town, but I believe parts nearby are still quite active today.
3. Shay Gap, WA
The Iron Ore mining town of Shay Gap was named after a blackbirder and ship captain, Robert Shea. It once had a community of over 850 people. The town was established in the 70s and lasted just 20 years before it came to an end in 1994.
4. Old Halls Creek – WA
This one is a contribution from yours truly. I recently produced a blog post on my other site discussing the final resting place of the gentleman who Wolfe Creek Crater is named after. When researching this, I saw that Halls Creek moved 15km North in 1961. The site where the town once stood is now a ghost town with remnants of old buildings including an old mine shaft and an old cemetery. There is also a hotel residing here… stop over if you dare…
5. Kookynie & Niagra, WA
All that remains of Kookynie today is a hotel, and what looks to be a farm. You can also see what seems to be the remains of a mine on a satellite view of Google Maps. Further west of the main road, you will find the old, even more, ghosted town of Niagara. Unfortunately, there seems to be nothing left of that since it was abandoned in 1909.
Kookynie on the other hand was registered abandoned in 1905. It originally had at one point a staggering population of around 1,500. I’m not sure if the satellite is outdated, however, as the 2021 census recorded 99 residents living in the area.
6. Broad Arrow, WA
Upon visiting this area, the Broad Arrow Tavern is the only living building you’re likely to see, but back in the day it was so much more than that. It is said that once upon a time there were over 2,400 people living here. This town was originally known as Kurawah by the local aboriginal Wangkathaa people who still live locally.
7. Wittenoom, WA
Out of all the places to visit on this list, put this on the bottom, and make sure you put plenty of hazmat suits on, douse yourself in bleach, or simply do not go. This was once a thriving town that was sadly condemned in 2013 due to contamination by blue asbestos. In 2022 the Australian Government set out to demolish the place as it was simply too unsafe, so it may be gone!
8. Cook, SA
Missed an ‘o’ on that one when I first typed it… oops.
A short distance from Nullabor is the little town of Cook. This was once a thriving community but now all, all that remains is vacant condemned houses. There is a train stop here, however, but I can’t imagine they pass through often.
9. Farina, SA
This ghost town was first founded in 1878, originally settled by farmers hoping that enough rainfall would grow crops like barley and wheat. It is Australia, however, in the desert, so you can guess how that went. The town then transformed into a mining town before it closed its doors in 1967 when the last inhabitants left. In more recent years volunteers have pulled together to restore the area back to its original state. You can now find the old reformed bakery and an information desk.
10. Hartley, SA
Not to be confused with Hartley in South Australia (another ghost town), the NSW one is located in the Blue Mountains and has a whole heap of historic buildings.
11. Waukaringa, SA
This town was first established in 1888 and continued to be in existence until 1982. Although, the last inhabitants left in the ’50s. If you find yourself here today you may be able to see the old layout of the town, but unfortunately, the buildings no longer exist.
12. Terowie, SA
This is probably the newest ghost town to be added to the list. There are conflicting records online that suggest there are around 70 people still living here. However, a traveller by the name of Dave from Weekend Notes noted in 2015 on this blog that he found a collection of abandoned buildings here. This could suggest that whilst the buildings are still intact, they could very well be occasionally inhabited, making it a potentially dangerous place to go.
13. Coward Springs, SA
This once ghost town has now been transformed into a unique collection of campsites using materials that were left at the Ghan railway stop. I’ll be adding this to my list!
14. Walhalla, VIC
No matter what, every time I’ve gone to research this place I keep getting that Valhalla song from TikTok in my head. The real thing, however, looks as if you uplifted a town from the outback and plonked it in the Alps or something. That’s only because I’ve not yet explored anywhere other than WA yet! This one going on my list though.
15. Cassilis, VIC
This is another mining town that once housed up to 900 people. Today all that remains are the outlining of old buildings. You can also find old vehicles here too.
16. Silverton, NSW
It’s worth noting that this place is commonly known as a ghost town to some, but it still has a small population. The pros of this are that if you do decide to go and you meet a local, they might be able to give you an insight into the history! It is here that you can find the Mad Max 2 museum.
17. Hill End, NSW
The historical site of Hill End is rich in history that is still very much alive thanks to local support. You can visit this town and the buildings are still there, but they may still be occupied. This town is classed as a ghost town as it once had a population of 8,000 but now has very few.
18. Milparinka, NSW
This little ghost town comprises of 3 working businesses; the Albert Hotel, a campsite, and a small gift shop/visitor centre. Apart from that, it’s all abandoned. It was the early 1880s when people started to build here. Back in those days, beer was brought by camel to stock the Albert!
19. Joadja, NSW
This beautiful old town was once home to over 1,200 skilled migrants, the majority of whom were from Scotland. The town was first established in 1870 and continued to be in motion until 1911 when it was later declared abandoned. The town is now in good condition and well looked after. However, you can only access this it seems via an organized tour.
20. Gunbar, NSW
Gunbar is quite a spacious ghost town. After viewing one building, I thought to myself ‘is that it?… maybe I shouldn’t include this one’. However, I then zoomed out and saw that there were many more buildings scattered in the area. You’ll be doing a lot of walking if you visit this place!
21. Kuridala, QLD
This old copper and gold mining town was first discovered in the late 19th Century. By 1915 it had a population of 1,900. As well as this, buildings included 6 hotels and a number of churches. Today, sadly, you can barely see evidence of any building at all. Research and an old map is advised to be brought on a trip here.
22. Arltunga, NT
This ghost town won’t be on my hit list. I don’t think even steel toe caps can keep the Crocs away. I’ll be taking a swerve from this one and just stick to looking at pictures online, but feel free to be a daredevil.