manly quarantine station luggage autoclaves

Stay at Australia’s Most Haunted Hotel

Posted on Posted in Australia, Blog, Sydney

I’m a total scaredy cat when it comes to anything even slightly haunted. I won’t watch scary movies, I have to sleep with the light on if I feel spooked by anything and I’m basically a big baby when it comes to any kind of ghostly goings on…so you can imagine how I felt when I discovered that Elaina had arranged for us to stay at Australia’s most haunted hotel. Yep, not too thrilled with the idea to say the least!


With that being said, I did my best to approach the experience with an open mind. I’d never even heard of the Q Station so had no idea what to expect. Turns out this place is steeped in history and the location is probably one of the best in Sydney when it comes to views of the harbour so that alone was worth the trip over to North Head in Manly.


A brief history…

North Head Quarantine Station was used from the 1830’s right up to 1984 to isolate people suspected to be carrying contagious diseases. Think Spanish Influenza, Smallpox and Bubonic Plague. Not pleasant at all. Around 600 people passed away from these deadly diseases during the time the Quarantine Station was in operation.


If you were a passenger arriving here from overseas, you were put through some pretty gruesome measures to prevent any disease spreading to the general population in Sydney. On arrival your luggage would be cooked in giant autoclaves that were considered to be cutting-edge technology back then!


You’d also be put through the pretty horrific experience of being showered in a toxic antimicrobial carbolic acid solution that burned off a few layers of skin in the process of getting you ‘clean’.


Not to mention the class system. Passengers were divided up according to class and race to maintain social and racial ‘purity’. The ‘Asiatic’ accommodation reflected the low regard for the comfort and welfare of this group of passengers and crew.


All in all, the Quarantine Station was a pretty miserable place to be back then!


Manly Quarantine Station Cemetery
Gravestones of the not so lucky folks who passed through Q Station back in the day


Keeping history alive

Fast forward to 2016 and the once derelict area is now completely renovated as the Q Station and has been given a facelift while keeping much of the history intact. The location of the Q Station is spectacular with sweeping views over Sydney harbour.


The accommodation options are extensive, ranging from rooms and suites to historic cottages. We stayed in a suite in the Isolation Area. I’ll admit, the name didn’t fill me with excitement but I was pleasantly surprised by the modern facilities…until it got dark but more about that later!


Culinary delights

We love to eat and the food didn’t disappoint!


Getting to experience the views of the harbour while we enjoyed cocktails and canapes as the sun went down was definitely a highlight of our time at Q Station. We were also treated to two amazing meals at the Boilerhouse Restaurant & Bar where Matt Kemp is the Executive Chef.


Both lunch and dinner menus catered for us with delicious vegetarian options plus matching wine. Yep, we did have a couple of cheeky drinks during our stay. Thank goodness for the wine as I needed some Dutch courage for the ghost tour after dinner.


Manly Q Station Culinary Delights
Canapes courtesy of Matt Kemp and his team at The Boilerhouse Restaurant & Bar


Q Station Boilerhouse Restaurant and Bar
Masters at works during our A La Carte dinner with matching wines


Q Station Boilerhouse Restaurant and Bar
Vegetarian delights at the Boilerhouse Restaurant and Bar

Paranormal Activity at the Q Station

Like I said, I’m not brave when it comes to scary stuff but with a couple of wines in me I felt pretty brave.


This bravery was short lived. Not only was it pitch black outside but it was cold, windy and there was definitely a chill in the air that was totally non weather related! Our Ghost Tour was about to commence.


Our guide Bob definitely set the scene for the tour. With his gas lantern and long trench coat he definitely looked the part and during our introduction the wine buzz wore off. I felt icy cold down one side of my body as we stood in the briefing area in part of the boilerhouse. This was just the beginning and I already felt freaked out!


First stop on the tour was the shower block which was creepy enough in the day time let alone in the dead of night with the wind howling around the place! Regardless, our group of brave souls stepped into the shower block leaving our lanterns outside. The stench of the carbolic acid was way worse than we’d experienced in the daylight…coincidence? Perhaps.


Bob tells our group about a few of the residents that frequent the shower block. One is supposedly friendly, the others not so much. The energy in this area is palpable. Needless to say our walk down these eerie corridors couldn’t end soon enough as far as I was concerned!

“Like something out of a horror movie…”

Once outside the shower block we continued on to the morgue. This was like something out of a horror movie with the concrete slab complete with sheet draped corpse laid out for us. I won’t spoil the surprise for those of you who want to experience this for yourselves but a change of undies wouldn’t go a miss if you’re planning on stepping foot inside the morgue!


Last stop, the hospital wards where many of the infected passengers spent their last days. I didn’t feel like there was anything menacing in here…until Bob busted out a couple of his stories about the matron who hangs out in the ward. I felt overly warm in this room despite being able to feel the cold in the air.


Then it started to rain as the tour came to an end…we didn’t make it to the gravediggers cottage which is apparently the most haunted building on site (not that I’m complaining!). We headed back to our suite for one of the most sleepless nights I’ve ever had in my life!

Manly Q Station Shower Block
The Shower Block at Q Station…where the stench of carbolic acid lingers in your nostrils


Manly Quarantine Station Hospital Ward
One of the hospital wards where patients suffered with Spanish Influenza and the Bubonic Plague!


A staycation with a difference!

There was so much to experience at the Q Station. From the delicious food to the scariest ghost tour ever, we were definitely kept entertained during our stay. If you’re looking for a unique experience that’s not for the faint hearted, then this place is for you.


Our recommendation? Make a weekend of it and do some wildlife spotting in the daylight on an awesome bush walk before hitting up the Boilerhouse where Matt Kemp will be cooking up a storm. Not forgetting to finish up the evening with the Extreme Ghost Tour of course! You could even do a ghostly sleep over in the Doctors and Nurses quarters…although I guarantee you’ll get way less sleep than I did in Isolation!


To book your Ghost Tour or an overnight experience at the Q Station head over to or check the rates at Hotels Combined. Special thanks to the Q Station for hosting our stay!


Sunset Q Station
Enjoying sunset over Sydney Harbour…one of the best views in town!


Sunset Drinks Manly Quarantine Station
Cocktails and canapés with this view…bliss!
Born in the USA. Raised in England. Relocated to Australia 6 years ago. You could say that she’s a bit of a world citizen.
With a degree in Brand Promotion & Journalism, Victoria loves the written word and as such is our resident writer. One of her fave things to do anytime of day is to enjoy a good breakfast accompanied by an equally good coffee.

Vic loves a good road trip where she can rock out to good tunes (and some not so good, ahem, Taylor Swift fan alert!). She’s a demon on the squash court and loves to scuba dive. One of her dreams is to cage dive with great white sharks…way outside her comfort zone! She loves to travel and has lived in five countries. Her plan is to add a few more to the list.

3 thoughts on “Stay at Australia’s Most Haunted Hotel

  1. Haha I’m the same, I’m so scared of ghostly stuff, I don’t watch this kind of movies, but I love taking ghost tours… during the day of course, not over night 😀

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