The spooky and kooky come out to play in Warwick’s haunted buildings on Queensland’s Darling Downs. Visit or stay for a thrill chill!
Where to find Warwick’s haunted buildings
I’ve never seen a ghost, but sometimes, just sometimes, I get those chills up my spine and wonder. These three destinations in the welcoming town of Warwick are the perfect place to test your ghost radar. Is it all just too many Stephen King novels, or will you experience something supernatural? Do share what happens!
Warwick is a thriving rural town on Queensland’s Southern Downs, renowned for its historic buildings. From humble shepherd’s slab huts where Australia’s greatest shearer, Jackie Howe, was born to grand public buildings and homesteads of sandstone, her streetscape is still dominated by grand heritage architecture.
But, there’s something else, and it’s not until you enter these grand old dames that the stories of the past emerge, where sometimes their paranormal presence can really be felt.
WARNING! Don’t watch this video late at night – only joking!
Uninhabited for more than half its lifetime, Glengallan Homestead on the outskirts of Warwick remains frozen in time and quite possibly one of Warwick’s haunted buildings.
A visit here is like stepping into a time-warp back to 1867, when the solitary sandstone building oversaw the fertile Glengallan Valley to Cunningham’s Gap in the Great Divide, and some of those early residents may still be enjoying the view. I’ve visited here several times and I’m fascinated by the house. It’s not a restored building, but rather preserved to show the passage of time. Is it spooky? Well I would not want to be here after dark!
“People come back to the Heritage Centre after going through the house and tell us stories of how they felt a chill or saw someone at a window,” explains Donna Fraser, Chair of Glengallan Homestead Trust.
“Restored from ruin in 2001, the iconic Glengallan Homestead emerges from the ruins of the 1867 mansion as a unique heritage experience,” explains Donna. “The building is a traditional Victorian style built of sandstone to last the testament of time, with the addition of the Queensland wrap-around verandas.”
Glengallan Homestead General Manager Jonno Colfs recalls his first-time being in the homestead alone, “I definitely felt something, a little bit spooked, a little bit eerie. I scooted out in quite a hurry. I try not to look at the windows as I walk across the lawn to the house, as the last thing I want to see is movement in a window. But, of course, it’s probably 100 per cent my imagination and reading too many Stephen King novels.”
The partially restored drawing room at Glengallan Homestead
Visiting Glengallan Homestead
Glengallan Homestead is open 10 am to 4 pm, Wednesday to Sunday. It’s a great destination for day trippers, tour groups, school visits, reunions, weddings, workshops, seminars, markets and photography. Entry is free to the Heritage Centre Cafe, which serves traditional fare with modern flair. You’ll also find souvenirs, arts and crafts and local produce from the gift shop. Seasonal markets are held in the heritage gardens first Sunday of March, June, September, and December. Take an informative self-guided tour of the Homestead and wander the five-acre grounds. For those interested in the paranormal, Katie Harvey Paranormal organises Ghosts of Glengallan Homestead tours for small groups.
Find it at 18515 New England Highway, Warwick.
The children’s room at Glengallan
High tea at Glengallan Homestead
Glengallan Homestead High Tea
This is a high tea you don’t want to miss! It’s is absolutely packed full of treats. You can taste the country goodness in ever generous bite. The Glengallan Homestead high tea is available Wednesday to Sunday at 11 am or 2 pm. Bookings are essential, and it’s just $35 per person. What a bargain! Call the centre to book.
Glengallan Homestead and Heritage Centre
Check out the High Tea menu at Glengallan Homestead
Discover plenty of heritage charm at Abbey Boutique Hotel
Abbey Boutique Hotel
Is this gorgeous boutique hotel one of Warwick’s haunted buildings? The jury is out on this one so you’ll have to come and stay here for yourself! From the moment I stepped through the door I knew this was a special place. I love the dark wood detailing throughout. There’s even a bell to ring that called the sisters to prayer.
“Originally it was built as a convent in 1891,” explains owner and self-confessed building custodian Mark Cairns. “In its heyday, it had some 60 girls boarding here and taught by the nuns.”
“We instantly fell in love with the property and originally purchased it as a residence but decided to renovate it to a boutique hotel,” said Mark. “When we first bought it, it was spooky and eerie. You do hear things at night. Things do move around a bit. For example, we had a person staying here the other night; he said he didn’t lock his door, but suddenly, the lock was closed, and the key had been turned in the lock.”
“We do Murder Mysteries, where you and up to 25 to 30 friends can book out the entire property. Then, we’ll host the Murder Mystery for you, including dining and spending the night.
“So, are we haunted?” asks Mark. “Well, you definitely can hear everything in Warwick, it’s nice and quiet here, and lots of things do happen here, but my wife thinks not. It’s really up to people to experience for themselves. We’re here to look after this magnificent historic building for the next generation and hopefully preserve her forever.”
The entrance at Abbey Boutique Hotel
Abbey Boutique Hotel
Stay at Abbey Boutique Hotel
This Victorian/Gothic building features include well-tended gardens, opulent furnishings, beautiful original stained glass from the Royal Bavarian Institute in Munich (who also made glass for the Vatican) and a statue designed by sculptor Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi who designed the Statue of Liberty.
Visit the Abbey to do a self-guided tour of the downstairs most weekdays, provided you phone first to book or treat yourself to a night or two. This stately sandstone Heritage-listed Bed and Breakfast guest house was originally built in 1891 as a convent for the Sisters of Mercy. You can also hold your wedding or private function here or book in for high tea. Groups are catered for by prior arrangement with lunch, morning tea or tours. Find it at 8 Locke Street, Warwick.
Abbey Boutique Hotel
The impressive street facade of the Criterion Hotel, one of Warwick’s haunted buildings
Walking through Warwick’s CBD, you’ll spot another grand dame, the Criterion Hotel. Built-in 1917, the hotel was added to the Queensland Heritage Register in 1992. There’s no doubt in Valerie Prentice’s mind that this is one of Warwick’s haunted buildings.
It’s a traditional Aussie pub, and it’s easy to imagine pulling up a stool and enjoying a beer here. Do ask the bartender about the Three Bullet Bar, but that’s another story!
Valerie, one of the hotel’s owners, explains the hotel’s spooky side. “I call myself the Spiritual Guardian of the Criterion Hotel, a hotel custodian,” she said. “In 1917, Warwick was going to be the financial capital of the Outback. So Mrs Allman, a widow with three sons, invested a substantial amount of money rebuilding the hotel to be one of the most imposing and finest hotels in Queensland.”
“You need to remember this happened at a time when women couldn’t even vote. Being a publican was one of the only ways a woman could have power; it was a way to have status,” says Valerie.
Mrs Allman is said to still have quite a presence in the hotel. “The hotel is a beautiful expression of that time, she embraces you, and she’s a rather demanding lady that needs attention and respect. You know when Mrs Allman is happy and not happy with you. Her presence can mainly be experienced in the kitchen and the Allman Room. People would walk past and see a strong stout woman in a Victorian dress walking to the (original historic) mirror,” said Valerie. “I imagine she is quite a formidable woman.”
Heritage-style bedroom in the Criterion Hotel, one of Warwick’s haunted buildings
Visiting the Criterion Hotel
You’ll find The Criterion Hotel at 84 Palmerin Street in Warwick in the heart of town. This heritage-listed pub was rebuilt in 1917 and offers 25 rooms as accommodation. Two rooms have a private lounge and ensuite. The others are very affordable typical pub-style rooms, with shared facilities. The Criterion Hotel has two functions rooms, Allman Room and the Ballroom and gaming, plus two bars, the famous Three Bullet Bar and the Lounge Bar. There is a fireplace lounge where you can relax and enjoy the old charm of the hotel. At the back is a beer garden and three pool tables throughout the hotel, will keep you busy.
Explore the Southern Downs
These marvellous Warwick haunted buildings are just a taste of what you’ll discover in Queensland’s Southern Downs. Here are some more great spots and things to do in the region.
Wondering where to stay? Here’s a list of great places on the Granite Belt.