Ghost-hunting in Australia (aka There’s Something Behind Me, Isn’t There?) Part Two

Women's infirmary

Last month we began this outline of a weekend full of paranormal investigations at the abandoned Aradale Lunatic Asylum here in southern Australia.

This column continues where the last left off… and moves right into the good part. Well, the more intense and interesting part, anyway.


From Friday 17 May to Sunday 19 May, my wife and I stayed in an abandoned and haunted lunatic asylum. Advertised as an ‘investigation weekend’, it included nearly thirty guests and three paranormal investigation groups. The guests could take part in ongoing paranormal investigations from the Friday until the Sunday.

All equipment used is described at the bottom of this column.

Over the course of the weekend, I took copious notes of our investigations and interactions, and I backed them up on my 16G memory stick. Yet when I try to find them, to write this column, they are gone. As invisible as the spirits I allege we encountered during that now-lost weekend.

Aradale Mental Hospital (formerly Ararat Lunatic Asylum) has been covered in a previous column, Haunted Australia, so I won’t go too deeply into descriptions. Suffice it to say that it is one of the largest intact 18th Century lunatic asylums left in the world. Approximately 63 buildings set on close to 100 acres, in its prime it housed 1500 ‘lunatics’ and a staff of over 500. Built in the 1860s, over its 150 year history it was the site of over 13,000 recorded deaths. It is likely one of the most haunted places in Australia. It was perfect for the planned weekend.

Enough backstory: now, on to the fun.

Saturday (cont.)

After eating, the Australian paranormal Society (APS) went with us to investigate the morgue. APS member Lionel was put into the drawer and tried an EVP session.

Bill, Lionel, and Marianne, all from the APS, and myself, Dawn (my wife), and Andrew from Australian Ghost Adventures (another paranormal investigation group that was present for the weekend) shuffled off to check out the morgue, a small building that was well-separated from the rest of the facility. This separation, as well as a massive peppercorn tree which towers over the building, is most likely to lessen the impact of any smells that escaped.

Australian morgue

The morgue has two rooms – the entrance room, which also houses the four-drawer refrigerator, and the autopsy room. Lionel from the APS decided he wanted to perform an electronic voice phenomena (EVP) session inside the fridge drawers. Results from this EVP session are still being analysed. I intend, sometime in the future, to link and outline the resulting recording and videos from this and other explorations at Aradale.

*     *     *

APS RECORDS [William Tabone]:

The second location was the morgue. Lionel was placed in the morgue freezer and conducted an EVP session. Afterward, we conducted an EVP session on the examination slab using the Ovilus X. We did have some interesting hits but it was pretty quiet.

*     *     *

All in all, the morgue was, to me, one of the quietest places in the entire facility. Whereas some of the areas are chilling and intimidating, the morgue seemed to be calm and empty of any activity.

4pm Saturday: Off to the women’s infirmary.

We walked over to the staff quarters, hoping to gain access. It was locked, so I called Nathaniel (our host for the weekend) to gain access, but he was halfway through a tour and couldn’t get there to unlock it for us any time soon.

Present were myself, my wife Dawn, Australian Ghost Adventures representative Andrew, and APS members Bill, Lionel, and Marianne.

After checking, we found that the nearby women’s infirmary building was unlocked, so we went for a look in there. It is a bright and airy building, but the atmosphere didn’t reflect this. One long corridor stretches east to west, with doors off both sides all the way along. Walking along, looking into each of the rooms (about half were locked), there was a strong sense of foreboding and suffering (it may have been my imagination, or what I expected to feel, but it was certainly strong enough). We found what appeared to be the medicine room. There was a locked cabinet mounted on the wall, where I assume the stringer drugs were kept, and one wall was filled to hip height with drawers labelled with names for different drugs or pieces of medical supplies. A double sink filled the space between two windows on the south wall, and a preparation bench sat snug against the eastern side. Every time I walked in this room, I felt a strong pain in my temple, which would ease the moment I went back into the corridor.

When I was standing out in the corridor, I caught continual glimpses of shadows moving at the west end of the corridor, by the door we entered. Not shadows from outside, but shadows against the far wall. I also heard shuffling, as of feet on the tiles, and the occasional knock from down there. This continued for a while. Eventually, I managed to stay in the medication room, seated on the bench to the east.

We asked a series of questions, with some auditory responses in the form of knocking and what sounded like faint whispers of a human voice.

*     *     *

APS RECORDS [William Tabone]:

Next was the women’s infirmary. We spent some time in the medication prep room and were getting audible responses to our questions, including knocking and verbal responses… The next room was the shower room where we were told to go east by the Ovilus X, which meant we had to go to the last room in the building, the procedure room, again with some great responses.

*     *     *

We finished up in the medication room, and walked further east to the shower room, near the end of the long corridor. The smell was very medicinal, seeming like a modern, fully-functioning hospital, which was strange for something that hadn’t been used since the mid-90s, and even then only used for showering patients. The eerie things in here, appearing after questioning as to the presence of anyone, were some barely-audible whispers, and unexplained movement of a shower brush hanging from one of the taps. There was no wind in this building. None at all.

We moved to the procedure room after this, and had some more audible responses similar to the last two rooms. During this, Lionel ventured outside to ensure there was no one nearby that could have been speaking, so as to rule out that contamination as the cause of the whispering we were all hearing.

After this, we went back to the main hall, to prepare for our dinner outing at the local club.

After dinner, the group split into four: I stayed in the hall to try and get some writing done, and my wife stayed with me. One group went with Nathaniel (our host), for a historical tour of the staff quarters, the forensics unit, and the outlying cottages, while a second group went with Andrew from Australian Ghost Adventures to have a brief investigation. The third group, which consisted of the APS investigators, went on their own investigation through the women’s ward, the main admin building, and the men’s ward.

Here is their story.

*     *     *

APS RECORDS [William Tabone]:

Saturday night in Aradale was an amazing experience. The first location for our investigation was the ground floor of the women’s ward. As we moved through the rooms and halls of this ward, we could hear the muffled whispering of several voices as well a [sound suggestive of] walking and shuffling. When we asked the spirits that were in the building to give us a sign we received knocking on the walls as a response.

While in one of the open recreation areas where I was standing filming Lionel, I was grabbed on the right knee and felt what I can only describe as icy fingers drilling into the very core of the knee which caused extreme pain. It was just after this that we left the area.

Our next investigation target was the ground floor of the administration building. Earlier in the evening Lionel had been in the bathroom in the ground floor administration building, when he heard heavy footsteps walking up to the [outside of the] bathroom door, but when he opened the door no one was there. So this event pushed us to make this building a priority.

We worked our way through the hallway to several rooms before we reached the last two rooms in this area. We had to go through one room to reach the last; this room has recently had some work carried out. As we entered the first of the last two rooms we were greeted with a very strong and audible, “GET OUT” (sounded like it was out of a horror movie). At the same time there was whispering behind us. So being your typical paranormal investigators we entered.

The energy in these two rooms really didn’t want us there, so after an EVP [electronic voice phenomena] session we left this area but felt the energy follow us to the entrance. A very interesting experience.

Following a short break we made our way back to the ground floor of the men’s ward, which we have always found to be very active and quite negative. We had spent some time in this area earlier in the day and had made contact with a female spirit.

After an initial walk through to get a feel for the energy in the area, we again made contact with what we believed was the young lady from earlier this afternoon.

Central Hall Night Aradale

As we worked with this lady’s energy, trying to get as much information about her as we could, our questioning continued for a few minutes. Then at one point it felt as if the girl had been taken away; pulled away, if you will.

We urged her to come back or to break loose and to come to us. Lionel encouraged her to hold his arm, to which he immediately felt the sensation of a hand firmly holding onto his right arm.

The atmosphere changed dramatically and felt extremely negative. We were very reluctant to leave the spirit of this young lady with what we believe was holding the young lady there. We then decided to try and perform a spirit rescue for this lady.

As we sat in a carpeted recreation room we began to spirit rescue. As we proceeded I heard a voice behind me say, “Fuck you”. We continued, and eventually we believe we felt the young lady pass. My face became very warm at this time, which is a usual reaction I feel when a rescue is successful,

Now, whatever was holding the lady there was not happy that we moved her on and things started to kick up. Energy/electrical waves hit our bodies and a very strong wind started to blow even though we were indoors. So we decided to leave at this point. While packing up our equipment the wind grew even stronger.

As we were leaving, Lionel exited and I followed, but before I made it out I felt a presence rush towards me, so I asked for protection again as I left.

Sitting outside this building we put a KII meter just outside the door, and the meter continued to spike to full and the door itself continued to be pushed from the inside for several minutes, as if something was trying to get out.

 *     *     *

Meanwhile, my wife and I were sitting at tables in the central hall. I was trying to get some writing down, but I kept hearing whispers from the doorway at the north end of the hall. The kitchen area there was deserted, as I went to check a few times, thinking someone was playing a practical joke. My wife heard it too, and we both heard knocking coming from one of the doors at the southern end of the hall. These two doors led to the clocktower, which was sealed as it was quite a dangerous and decrepit area. It is not possible that someone could be in there knocking on the door.

Most of the people were still out exploring and investigating when we both decided that 12:30am was time to sleep.

Next morning, it was time to pack up and go our merry way.

I hated to leave Aradale, as I love the place, even though it scares the hell out of me.

It has such a desolate and isolated feeling, combined with a sense of horrible things having happened there. The empty buildings stand as testament to the terrible way people were treated in days gone by. I’m sure most of the staff did the very best they could to ensure the patients suffered as little as possible, but the medical mindset of the day didn’t treat people classified as ‘lunatics’ very well at all.

In August, we have been invited along for a one night investigation at the Old Geelong Gaol, one of the last standing 18th Century prisons left in Australia. If I make it back alive, I will let you all know what happens.

Ghost-hunting Equipment

KII/EMF Meter: An EMF meter is a scientific instrument for measuring electromagnetic fields (abbreviated as EMF).

Frank’s Box: A combination white noise generator and AM radio receiver modified to sweep back and forth through the AM band selecting split-second snippets of sound. This allows for easier spoken communication by entities.

Ovilus X: The Ovilus, or Puck, is an electronic speech-synthesis device which utters words depending on environmental readings, including electromagnetic waves.


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