Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum
Established in 1838, Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum, also known as Gladesville Mental Hospital, is an abandoned psychiatric hospital in Bedlam Point on the shores of the Parramatta River in New South Wales. Overcrowded and mis-managed, the asylum was built for 60 patients, but by 1844, there were 148 inmates which led to an investigation in 1850 over the death of two patients. Employee deaths and instances of abuse among patients was common. Supervisor Frederick Norton Manning described the place as ‘prison-like and gloomy’ and sought to befriend patients, but reports suggest inmates roamed the grounds in handcuffs. Parts of the complex have been refurbished, demolished and rebuilt, while other areas lie abandoned, with The Bush House ruins completely overtaken by greenery and with 1,000 corpses buried on the grounds, ghost stories are fairly common.
The Big Textile Factory
No information is available on the history of Brisbane Big Textile Factory, but what remains has captured the attention of urban explorers. Abandoned in 1992, the factory is exactly how it was the day it closed. It’s as if workers just stood up, turned off the machines and left without explanation. Unfinished textiles sit pressed in rusting machines and grey cotton yarn is ready for use. The factory is littered with decaying boxes, engines, sewing machines and colorful fabrics ready for sale, including piles of towels intended for a Queensland hospital. There’s also a lunch room, yellow forklift and wool waiting to be used. The factory is bright with sunlight filtering in from above, but there’s an eerie silence from the engines that came quite suddenly to a stop.
Atlantis Marine Park
In 1981, the Atlantis Marine Park opened at Two Rocks, 60 kilometres north of Perth. The park was to be to the crown jewel in Alan Bond’s Yanchep Sun City leisure and recreation region. The park has several pools, pedal boats and a dolphin show. Seven bottlenose dolphins were caught locally and trained as performers and in 1988 two female calves were born. Changes in regulation meant that the pools would need to be expanded in order to legally house the growing number of dolphins. These renovations, as well as the stock market crash of 1987, led to the park’s closure in August 1990. The park is easily accessible and the looming statue of King Neptune has been restored to his former glory while other statues and structures are a reminder of Perth’s forgotten water park.
Aradale Mental Hospital
Located in Ararat, Victoria, the Aradale Asylum was a psychiatric hospital founded in 1865. The complex featured 63 buildings, from the original wings to the modern day forensic unit built in 1991. Aradale could house over 900 patients with a staff of 500. The building was modeled on the E-plan barrack style lunatic asylum of Colney Hatch, England and was quite literally ‘a town within a town.’ Aradale closed in 1998, but female prisoners remained on site until 2001. Aradale also included a J-Ward which opened in 1861 and was converted in 1887 to ‘a maximum security psychiatric ward for the criminally insane.’ J-Ward’s longest serving inmate was Charles Fossard who served 71 years, while Bill Wallace was the oldest patient, dying in custody at age 107. Unsettling stories of Nurse Kelly and Old Margaret can be heard on the ghost tour.
Opened in December 1985, Wonderland was Sydney’s answer to the problematic Luna Park and became the largest theme park in the Southern Hemisphere. The theme park was separated into the themes Goldrush, Medieval Faire, Old Botany Bay, Hanna-Barbera Land and Transylvania, and the park included three rollercoasters and 24 rides at its peak. Memorable rides included The Bush Beast which was the largest wooden rollercoaster in Australia, Space Probe 7 and Demon. Amidst its success, Wonderland expanded to include a seasonal water park and Australian wildlife park, but after 19 years, attendance was dwindling and new owners blamed everything from 9/11 to the bird flu upon the park’s closure in 2004. Some rides were demolished, others were dismantled and sold for re-use and a group of Wonderland fanatics even acquired ride carriages to preserve the park’s history. Today, scattered through the bush are the few remnants of Wonderland.
Rozelle Tram Depot
Operating as a part of Sydney’s long-gone tram network, Rozelle Tram Depot opened in 1904 and could originally accommodate 96 carriages. By 1907, the depot had room for 125 carriages and after renovations in 1918, 200 trams could be housed at the depot. Rozelle once contained six historic Sydney trams as well as Leyland Royal Tiger Worldmaster bus, which was subjected to heavy vandalism after the depot’s closure. After closing on the 22nd of November 1958, the tram sheds and the remaining trams became a haven for graffiti artists, with the entire area profoundly tagged. Currently there are plans to transform Rozelle into a shopping centre that will include a pasta bar and Gelato Messina – the complex is expected to open sometime in 2016.
Larundel Mental Asylum
Formerly abandoned, Larundel Mental Asylum in Bundoora has been given a new life, but for 16 years the site was a popular destination for paranormal investigators with countless reports of supernatural occurrences. Built in 1940, Larundel was hoped to be the answer to Kew’s outdated mental house and had several uses over the years. From 1943 to 1945, the site was used by the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force before becoming a housing commission until 1949. In 1953, Larundel officially became an asylum and by the 1960s was home to 700 patients. Larundel closed in 1999 and is said to have been ‘lovingly managed,’ unlike other asylums. Rumors of banging walls and the ghostly sounds of a music box belonging to a little girl who died on the third floor have captured imaginations. Today, Larundel is a part of the Polaris development and has been completely transformed.
Built upon a hilltop, Swanbourne Hospital (also known as the Claremont Hospital for the Insane) was built in 1904 with the purpose of rehabilitating those with mental illness, as well as people suffering from diseases such as tertiary syphilis and kidney disease. Patients were divided into wards including “quiet and chronic”, “recent and acute”, “sick and infirm”, “epileptic” and “violent and noisy”. During World War II, the treatment block known as Gascoyne House became the quarters for “ex-servicemen with psychiatric disorders” and by 1966, there were 1,700 long-term patients. Swanbourne closed in 1972 with much of the property demolished; however, the Administration Block, Montgomery Hall, Male and Female Attendants Block, Kitchen and Store survived.
St John’s Orphanage Goulburn
Opened in 1905, St John’s Orphanage was home to both boys and girls until 1912 when it became a boys only orphanage. The institution could house 100 boys at a time with numbers doubling during World War II. St John’s was a foundling orphanage meaning that most children had at least one parent alive. Over 66 years, 2,500 boys between the ages of five to sixteen passed the orphanage which had a reputation for sports. The premises featured a chapel, hall and several wings and life was tough with regular beatings and limited toilets. Since the orphanage shut its doors in 1975, the buildings have been vandalized and windows smashed in. Ghost tours in Goulburn pass through the orphanage and a fire in 2015 led to the collapse of the roof.
Mandurah Castle Fun Park
On the corner of Old Coast Road and Leisure Way in Perth is the Mandurah Castle Fun Park. Built in 1979, the miniature village featured a Bavarian castle modeled on the German nineteenth-century Neuschwanstein Castle, a pool shaped like Australia, a mini golf course, racing car circuit, wild west fort, picnic areas and kiosk and was popular throughout the 80s and 90s for casual weddings and children’s parties. Located in Halls Head, Mandurah Castle Fun Park closed in the early 2000s after the Mandurah Bypass Bridge was built and has since fallen victim to vandalism and a destructive bushfire. All that remains is the castle and swimming pool and although the subjects of restoration and/or residential development have been raised, as of yet nothing has been decided.