Words by Georgia Cameron Art by Ty Foley
Did you know that there is a graveyard of bodies underneath the carpark of Queen Vic market? If that hasn’t already spooked you away then get ready; we’re about to jump into the kookiest parts of Melbourne.
So dear reader, you like things a little creepy? Maybe you enjoyed the new Netflix series on Ted Bundy, are an avid listener of a true crime podcast or maybe you binge watched the entirety of David Farrier’s Dark Tourist. Well, let me introduce you to the creepiest spots around Melbourne so you don’t have to travel far and wide for a shot of scary. It’s not all EMF readers and blurry photos. Victoria’s ghost tours give context to some of the darkest elements of its history.
First and foremost, The Old Melbourne Gaol. Over 130 hangings in its 79 years of operation, this gaol housed an array of Australia’s most notorious criminals before its closure in 1929. Ned Kelly, infamous bushranger, and Frederick Bailey Deeming, the potential suspect for the Jack the Ripper murders, were among those who resided here.
If the name Jack the Ripper has you interested, then you’re in luck. Once a year as part of Victoria’s Law Week, Melbourne’s CBD becomes home to a tour following the footsteps of Frederick Bailey Deeming, who murdered a young woman on Christmas Eve of 1981. Hung at Melbourne Gaol the next year, many still believe him to be Australia’s Jack the Ripper.
Our next eerie location is Point Cook, home to an 17th century homestead belonging to the Chirnside family. It’s believed to be haunted by the original owner of the house Thomas Chirnside, who committed suicide after falling into fits of melancholia. They say he still walks the halls of his first home.
Melbourne is home to many historic mental asylums. The practices in these asylums are not for the faint hearted and are beyond unethical. Overfilled beyond capacity, Beechworth, Kew, Ararat were home to ‘lunatic’ facilities. People admitted to these facilities had a history of drinking, were violent and abusive, or many had little reason to be admitted at all. It took just two signatures to have a person condemned to a psychiatric ward in a time when understanding of mental illness was desperately wanting. Sometimes those who called these places home for the rest of their lives were merely victims of vengeful family members. The patients here were at times experimented on or received treatments that resembled medieval torture methods. If you’re up for a road trip there are several around the state offering tours. If you’re game you can even have a sleepover at Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum in Beechworth.
Exploring Melbourne’s history through crime proves to be especially interesting as it reveals much about the history of our legal system and our treatment of mental health. Sadly, our dark side will never truly be over, as many of Melbourne’s crime remains unsolved. Who stole $6 million over three robberies on the Yarra River in 2014? Who stole the weeping woman painting from the NGV? But until then we can explore the dark sides of Melbourne’s tourism. Some people like the NGV or a Yarra cruise but for others it’s about haunted houses and old asylums.