There has been significant new literature on the experience of women and lesbians on the Goldfields but very little has been published on the experience of homosexual men. However, despite being a capital offence until 1864 and a criminal act until the 1980s, records from the mid-ninteenth-century indicate there was a well-established, perhaps even flourishing, culture of male homosexuality on Victoria's Goldfields. This culture had its origins in the long established and distinct underground 'gay' subculture of late eighteenth and early nineteenth century of Great Britain, 'Molly houses'. These illegal bars and taverns, essentially served a function as the gay bars of their day.
Ghosts have long been a popular subject in central Victoria. Even in the late Goldfields era, belief in ghosts, ghost stories and hauntings were popular subjects for entertainment and attracted significant attention in the printed press and public gatherings and lectures. In a sense Ballarat was a 'haunted' city from very early in its coloniel history. With such a demand and popular interest in ghosts, Ballarat also became a hot bed of spiritualism and ghost hoaxing. This paper examines the history and context of ghost hoaxing in nineteenth-century colonial Victoria with a focus on Ballarat and the central Victorian region.