Now Australia’s largest abandoned mental institution, when Ararat Lunatic Asylum, or Aradale Mental Hospital as it later became known, was closed in 1997, it had seen 13,000 deaths in its 130 year history.
Opened in 1867, that averaged out to be 100 deaths a year. Patients, prisoners and staff included.
Located about 205 kilometres away from Melbourne, once upon a time Ararat was used to relieve the prison system of those thought to be the most criminally insane and irreparably evil, however, it also became a place for individuals suffering from mental illness, post-natal depression and conditions such as epilepsy, autism or Down Syndrome.
At any one time the old Victorian structure was home to roughly 1000 patients and 500 staff.
Today the building is used for ghost tours, where reports of visitors unexpectedly fainting, feelings of nausea and pains while walking through certain rooms, wards with ominous smells and “methodical banging sounds” like patients hitting their head against walls, are commonly noted.
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However, out of the asylum’s 60 buildings, the ‘J Ward’ was known for housing Ararat’s most infamous patients, with one of its most prominent being Bill Wallace.
While never tried or convicted, Wallace was a suspected murderer who allegedly shot a friend over an argument about a cigarette and was then declared “insane” by two separate doctors in 1925.
He was sent to Aradale for 64 years to be “held at the Governor’s pleasure,” and died there aged 107 in 1989.
Other supernatural sensations have arisen from tours as well.
According to Real Paranormal Experiences visitors have reported feelings of being “shoved and bitten,” as well as sounds of shrieking voices, ticking clocks and electric interference with cameras and other electrical equipment.