I've been on some eerie ghost tours in my time from a Jack The Ripper walking tour in London, to a tour of the old Parramatta Asylum. As highly as I'd rate these experiences, I wouldn't recommend them to families; their ghoul factor is as high as their 18-and-over age restrictions.
We are lucky in Sydney though, to have some awesome historical sites that run ghost tours with a family audience in mind. These regular events are as much about encouraging an interest in our history, as they are a chance to spook yourselves silly.
If you've got kids who are aged middle-primary and upwards, and you love the idea of a good haunted house, why not consider these popular tours? Sydney Mums Group has done the research for you and checked the age suitability for each activity.
Image c/o- Q Station Ghost Tours Facebook page
Q Station Ghost Trackers Tour - North Head, Manly
Legend has it that Sydney's Quarantine Station is one of Australia's most haunted sites. As darkness descends over Q Station’s historic buildings, the burial ground and empty pathways, the time comes to encounter the ghosts of the past.
Why not get the whole family together for a spooky night of ghost stories and ghost hunting. Learn about ghosts and why National Parks staff believe this site is haunted.
The Ghostbusting Factor: Q Station has offered ghost tours since the early 1990s. I took one with some girlfriends many years ago, and will always remember the spooky atmosphere of the headland walk by lantern light. I would rate this tour highly, though I did not personally bust any ghosts that night.
For ages: 8 and over, accompanied by an adult (there must be at least one 8 - 14 year-old in the party).
For more information on Ghost Trackers, click here.
Image c/o- cockatooisland.gov.au/haunted-tours
Cockatoo Island Haunted History Night Tour
Skeletons, scandals and secrets will be spilling out of the closet... Join your guide at dusk, for a special spooky night tour of Cockatoo Island’s hidden histories and mysteries.
This 90-minute nocturnal exploration visits the convict workshops and gaol, tunnel, dry docks and Biloela House (a former reform school for girls).
The Ghostbusting Factor: I've traversed Cockatoo Island during the day and imagined the ghosts of the past, even in broad daylight. I've been 'dying' to go on the ghost tour but even though there is no official age restriction, the Island warns against very young children attending. If your children are old enough to read ghost stories and don't mind the idea of visiting Biloela - the island's very own haunted house - then I would think this tour is for your family.
For ages: Safe to say ages 8 and up, due to the content and the fact that the tour involves quite a lot of walking.
Currently scheduled dates (selling out quickly): Saturdays 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th of April, 2018. Check back with the webpage below as future dates are added.
For more information on Cockatoo Island's Haunted History Night Tours, click here.
Image c/o- The Rocks Ghost Tours Facebook page
The Rocks Ghost Tours in Sydney's CBD
With its notorious place in Sydney's early colonial history, The Rocks is bound to have some restless spirit residents, or at least some very good stories about so-called ghost sightings.
In 1994, Brian & Colleen Harrison decided to reveal the bizarre stories buried in The Rocks. These stories were passed down through the generations of Brian's family who had run boarding houses in The Rocks. Together with his wife Colleen, a descendant of Sophia Lett who owned the Punchbowl Inn, they embarked on creating The Rocks Ghost Tours.
The most commercial of the ghost tours in this list, I've included it because of The Rocks' historical interest factor. The tour company also gets a tick for offering a Family Tour which can double as a Birthday Tour, on Saturday nights.
The tour guides suggest you will be amazed and intrigued as you explore the lanes and alleyways with your family, listening to the true stores of The Rocks' cobbled streets.
The Ghostbusting factor: I can't personally vouch for these tours but I'm told you may hear a poltergeist, see a ghostly apparition or capture an orb on your camera. And as with the other tours, I think the real value is what you can learn about the colourful characters of our city's past, with a spooky twist.
For ages: 8 years of age to grandma (or grandpa) - why not bring the whole family?
For more information on The Rocks Ghost Tours Family Tour, click here.
And you may be wondering why I haven't listed ghost tours of Old Government House at Parramatta. I wanted to but on a close look saw that these tours are for 16 years and over. Having been on one myself, I would highly recommend them and I honestly found it eerie rather than ghoulish, but either save this one for when the kids are older, or go on your own with hubbie or some girlfriends.