drive the haunted hills

Tour the ghost town that is Haunted Hills

Here is a self-guided tour or even a virtual tour of the Haunted Hills ghost town. Download the podcast and enjoy where ever you are, or if you have the nerve listen on location. It might feel like someone is there with you, maybe you will have a paranormal tour guide. It’s a small ghost town with a big story.

Make the most of this post

  • Listen to Episode 1: Haunted Hills (you can find us on your favourite podcast player or listen below).

  • See the Haunted Hills

Where are the Haunted Hills?

The Haunted Hills is off the Princes Hwy towards Yallourn between Moe and Morwell was where the ghost town Haunted Hills Road meets De Campo Road to where the Princes Highway is. Today the Haunted Hills are called Hernes Oak, and in fact, they have been named so since 1939.

Drive the Haunted Hills

Drive a loop of Haunted Hills, start in Newborough at Haunted Hills Road, then cross the overhead pass of the Princes Highway, go down McDonald’s Track until you get back to Newborough, or explore the other ghost towns and small towns by heading further into the hills.

It’s a beautiful drive.

Where are the places the Haunted Hills podcast discusses?

The podcast discusses locations, such as the Princes Highway, Haunted Hills Road, the Yallourn Cemetery, and Haunted Hills Road at the t-intersection at Bill Schultz Road.

There are many other places discussed however the buildings themselves are ghosts.

In the 1960s Hernes Oak was dismantled as there was and still is a lot of coal beneath them. The train line and Princes Highway seemed to have prevented the mining of this location.

There are places discussed in the podcast which you cannot visit, such as the Haunted Hills Hall (1934) on Hall Road, Bourke St, Haunted Hills. Nor can you visit Tyers St, Yallourn that is within the Yallourn Mine today.

There are many private residences in the Haunted Hills however one which allows visitors to stay is called Brigadoon Cottages.

A brief history of the Haunted Hills

The Haunted Hills from its history to its naming boasts a story unique to the Latrobe Valley area alone. Conquering the Haunted Hills opened up Gippsland by land, before this the first Gippsland City, Sale, due to its access to the sea and port. Located on the western side of Latrobe City, east of  Moe. The Haunted Hills boasts a story unique to our area alone. The first newspaper reference of the Haunted Hills is 1866. As an obstacle to the railway moving through, also further complicated by the swamp between Koo Wee Rup and Moe. There was a path mostly traversed by drovers up until this point, most people coming to Gippsland chose steamers to Port Albert or Sale or Lakes Entrance.

The Hernes Oak Township was on the North Side of the Princes Highway, with a road over the train tracks up until about where Haunted Hills Road meets DeCampo Road. The decision to close this township occurred at the same time as Yallourn. The dismantling of the township occurred quicker as the government began buying back properties in the 1960s and the school was closed in 1975. Much of the area still exists close to the mine stopped eating into the hills further to protect the highway and train line which were well planned and not easily moved.

History of the industry at Haunted Hills

  • Coal mining and electricity at Yallourn, which is less than five minutes down the road today.
  • Farming
  • Forestry and logging.
  • Road works were continually occurring. The grader was very on the Haunted Hills – there were so many complaints about the condition of the road.

The Haunted Hills School 

The Haunted Hills did not have a Department of Education school. However, there was a Sunday School Santa clause visited in 1936. The Hernes Oak school opened on the 13 August 1947, with 28 children attending under the tutelage of teacher Mrs Rookes. Two more children started the week after. The progress association is working to open up another 5 acres; however, only children between grades 1 and 2 were attending the school. They were hoping they would get a grade 3 class. The parents were grateful to have a closer school, especially since there had been particularly severe storms the week before school started.

Snow tour of the Haunted Hills

Between 1935 – 1939 photographer Herbert Percival Bennett took two pictures of a significant dusting of snow on the Haunted Hills.

ghost gums, old car, haunted hills, gippsland

Haunted Hills Post Office

The Haunted Hills post office was in the Haunted Hills Station house around 1935.

When the town was renamed to Hernes Oak so was the post office.

Why is it called the Haunted Hills?

The Haunted Hills received its name by an oddity experienced before the drovers arrived and since drovers have long been replaced by cattle trucks. The oddity is a rumbling noise like phantom cattle stampeding. This kept the Gunai Kurnai people from staying on the hills after nightfall and caused many cattle losses for drovers.

Even though the Haunted Hills were renamed in 1939. Gippslanders never let go of the legend of the Haunted Hills, the name has been preserved for over 150 years. The first account I can find is an article in 1866, that discusses the rail line and the “haunted hills” as an obstruction.

The Haunted Hills quickly became the preferred method to Mount Hotham and Lakes Entrance where people would stop at a picnic area and refresh themselves. The boundary of the Rosedale Shire used to have the Haunted Hills in their bounds because they went as far to Narracan Creek in the 1870s, before the creation of the Traralgon Shire.

Listen and all will be revealed.

Tour the Haunted Hills or Hernes Oak for yourself lose yourself in the ghost town.

Finally, let’s tour the geology of the Haunted Hills

If you’re interested in the geological composition of the Haunted Hills was the last part of the Latrobe formed. The base of the Haunted Hills is the same as the surrounding area. The coal built up over a while as part of the Yallourn seam.
There are no underground rivers. There are no caves beneath the haunted hills. No survey has shown there are caves or rivers. The caves would likely result in sinkholes as brown coal is not a dense substance; it has high moisture content and would not support an upholding a structure.
Typical Characteristics of Victorian Lignite Brown Coal
Energy value (net wet)
5.8 to 11.5 MJ/kg
Energy value (gross dry)
25 to 29 MJ/kg
Overburden thickness
10 to 20 metres
Strip ratio (coal: overburden)
0.5 to 5:1
48 70%
65 70%
25 30%
4 5.5%
The makeup of the Brown Coal, from August 2014 Earth Resources website.
The high moisture content is one of the reasons the Morwell Coal Company found it so difficult to start up. It was only until the Victorian State Government required more control over the electrical system prompted by a New South Wales black coal strike. Victoria employed German experts in Brown Coal technology to help start up the industry in Yallourn.
Victorian brown coal resources
Total estimated brown coal in Victoria
430 billion tonnes
Measured brown coal in the Latrobe Valley
65 billion tonnes
Potentially economic brown coal in the Latrobe Valley
33 billion tonnes
Moisture content of Latrobe City Council coal
The moisture of content of brown coal across the world concerning the Latrobe Valley resources
Key of Moisture content brown coal

There article like so many before it, in fact they used the article from 1951 to declare coal the reason.