It’s hard to imagine NSW without its picturesque beaches and lush landscapes, but the state is home to many abandoned ghost towns that have been long forgotten and left behind with the passage of time. Despite the name, these towns are not actually home to spirits or ghosts but those with a fascination for the supernatural won’t be disappointed while visiting these spooky spots thanks to their deserted streets and alleyways and eerie vibes. If you’ve had enough of exploring haunted places in Sydney, hop in a car and hit the road, there’s a lot more to discover. Here are some ghost towns near Sydney that are worth the long drive out of town.
Newnes is an abandoned oil shale ghost town located 45 km northeast of Lithgow in the Wolgan Valley. Operational in the early 20th century, the site is totally surrounded by the beautiful Wollemi National Park, perfect for scenic walks, wildlife, camping and lookouts. The town was a thriving spot when oil shale was first discovered in the Wolgan Valley, however, due to the low quality and quantity of shale it was soon abandoned. Today, only the remnants of the oil shale remain including bricks, walls and old coke ovens.
Another shale mining ghost town, the village of Joadja is located 31 km north-west of Mittagong in NSW. Although it doesn’t have much to speak of today, the site does offer an award-winning distillery and fully guided tours for those interested in hearing more about its history, the guide might even share a ghost story or two. It lasted until 1911 and has continued to decay for over a century since. Check available dates for site tours here.
Hartley is a 2-hour drive from Sydney between Mt Victoria and Lithgow. A thriving township in the 1830s, today not a lot remains at the historic site except a few churches and some buildings that are largely deserted. It is maintained by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service and visitors eager to get a glimpse of the ghost town can explore the 17 buildings in the town which include churches, hotels and public buildings, or grab a bit from the visitors’s centre. See more here.
4. Hill End
In its heyday, Hill End was a gold rush boom town but went steadily in decline when the gold gave out. The heritage-listed historic site is still a great place to wander through thanks to its well-preserved gold mines and Victorian buildings. You can also book a ghost tour ahead of your trip. This well-preserved ghost town has reported a number of ghost sightings over the years so it’s a win-win if you’re trying to get your Halloween fix about four hours from Sydney. Read more about it here.
Yerranderie remains one of NSW’s most carefully preserved ghost towns and a popular spot for history lovers. The site was once a prosperous silver mining town but declined with the industry’s collapse in 1927. Today, you can explore the historic spot and its remaining relics like the post office, tailor shop, general store and some cottages. You can also take a tour of the nearby silver mining fields including Silver Peak Mine and Wollondilly Mine or spot local wildlife like kangaroos, wombats and wallabies in the vicinity. Read all about it here.
Kiandra is an abandoned gold-mining town that was once home to over ten thousand people. Although known for its short-lived gold rush which depleted in less than a year, the town became popular as the birthplace of Australian skiing. Today, not much is left except an old house, a cemetery, some cottages and some signage that you can follow on a self-guided walk. Learn more about it here.