Bars, bones and bodies - five of The Rocks’ creepiest stories
Today The Rocks is a hotspot for great coffee, unique shopping and some of Sydney’s best bars and restaurants, but once upon a time it was a much more grisly place, full of death and disease. We’ve put together a few of its more spooky, scary or gruesome tales, and where they took place. Visit these spooky spots with caution – and maybe take a friend, just in case.
SHIPMATE IN ROOM 8 | THE RUSSELL HOTEL
Across its history it has been a hospital, a hostel for sailors and an unofficial brothel, and The Russell’s most well-known ghost is an unnamed sailor who was murdered by a sex worker. It happened in room number 8, and his spirit has lingered there ever since – but appears only to women sleeping on their own. (We guess it makes sense that a ghost might also be a bit of a creep.)
HIS MASTER’S REMAINS | CADMAN’S COTTAGE
A SHARK ARM | ‘THE DEAD HOUSE’
In 1935, a fisherman off Coogee Beach hooked a small shark, which was then immediately swallowed by a massive tiger shark. It was taken alive to Coogee Aquarium to become an attraction. Days later it started to seem unwell, just before it vomited up the arm of police informer Jim Smith. An investigation found that this wasn’t an aquatic accident, and foul play was afoot. This grisly story has many chapters in The Rocks – the only witness was later found dead in his car at Dawes Point, and the guns used in his murder are said to have been stashed inside a chimney in Kendall Lane.
A SHARK LEGG | THE BIG DIG
Almost 190 years later, the site of the home they shared would be uncovered by archaeologists at The Big Dig, which lies beneath the Sydney Harbour YHA. They found something pretty bizarre in there: the skeleton of a shark. Did Armsden hunt down the shark that took her Legg? Could that shark’s ghost still haunt The Rocks to this day? (Probably not – but best to keep an eye out, just to be safe.)
COFFINS GALORE | GANNON HOUSE
Want to explore more of The Rocks’ spooky side? The Rocks Ghost Tours runs every night, and features exclusive access to some of the most macabre and haunted places in Sydney.