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  • Writer's pictureCandace Nola

Haunted Locations: Aradale Asylum, Victoria, Australia

The Aradale Asylum was once known as the Ararat Lunatic Asylum and is in Ararat, Victoria, Australia. For me, anything that had once been called a “lunatic asylum” immediately conjures up images of electro-shock treatments, lobotomies, and a whole host of deranged patients screaming in a basement cell. We can probably thank the movies for that, and far too many horror books, but that is exactly why we are here, is it not?

The former asylum is now a legit ghost town, housing more than 70 buildings, that once housed and maintained a patient population of more than a thousand people. Aradale began construction in 1864 and was the first of three such asylums being built. The other two were in Kew and Beechworth. The campus contained gardens, orchards, and vineyards, as well as a market, a piggery, a laundry, medical buildings and more. It was designed to be a self-sufficient campus and give the patients a productive labor to assist with their care.

The campus employed more than 500 workers at its peak and was still in operation in the late 1990’s, with the most recent building being built in 1991. Once of the most distinctive features of the campus was it use of “ha-ha” walls, which were walls constructed to appear low on the outside to passerby but was actually set down into trenches on the inside, being quite high for the patients. This tactic was used so the community did not see it as a prison, but as a community.

The primary use of Aradale was as a center for the criminally insane, a place to relive the already over-populated prison system of those that needed more specialized care. Shortly after it opened, it became a home for those suffering from a wide variety of mental illnesses, including down syndrome, autism, depression, anxiety, postnatal depression, PTSD and more.

Imagine having regular people that truly needed care, mixed with violent and more mentally disturbed criminals. It was a recipe for disaster and chaos in a slow-simmering pot. More than 13,000 people died during the operations of Aradale, including patients, staff, and inmates. Many of the residents that live near the former asylum consider it one of the most haunted locations in Australia.

Among the long-term ghostly inhabitants, there is a ghost thought to be Gary Webb, a career criminal, that ended up with a life sentence at Aradale and commenced to hurting himself and castrated himself three times while he was alive. His ghost haunts his room to this day, screaming and pushing visitors.

The ghost of George Fiddimont, known as the governor of the goal, died of a major heart attack while giving a tour in 1886. He died instantly. People claim to hear his footsteps and banging coming from the stairs where he died, but when they go to see what is causing the noise, nothing is there.

There are more apparitions that appear, visitors also report suddenly feeling ill, developing a strange taste in their mouth in a haunted office, and hearing all kinds of phantom noises. Tours are given daily, and ghost tours are also offered. You can check out the links below for more information on Aradale.

If you plan on heading down under to take a gander at the former lunatic asylum of Aradale, as always, remember the three rules. Respect the property. Respect the owners. Respect the residents. Happy Hunting!

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