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Ghost-hunting in Australia (aka Oh Crap! What was that noise?) Part One

Aradle Ghost Tour

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.

I could explain it away by saying that the only copy of the document was on my old laptop, replaced only a week ago as of writing this. I could try, anyway, but I know I backed the document up on the memory stick. I used Microsoft’s Synctoy program. I’ve been using that handy little program for nearly three years, and it hasn’t failed me once yet. Well, now it has.

So I’m writing this from memory. I don’t think it will suffer much, if at all, as my memory of that weekend is still strong.

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.


Aradale CorridorWe arrived at Aradale about 4pm to find our hosts vacuuming and dusting the accommodation areas for the approximately thirty guests booked in for the investigation weekend. We unpacked, set up our bedding on the mattresses supplied and got settled. After dinner, the majority of the group went on a guided tour of the facility. We waited with the people from the Australian Paranormal Society (APS), one of the investigation groups present, and went on an investigation with them after the tour group had left.

The tour group went through the women’s ward first, so we decided to wait until they had left the building and then went in ourselves. To start, we went to the governor’s office in the front admin section. The original head of the facility had ingested poison to suicide – allegedly unable to cope with the inhumane treatment of the patients. There are a lot of reports by ghost tour participants that they feel sick and cold in this room.

The APS used an EMF meter*, which registers increases in the electro-magnetic energy level in the room, and it seemed to respond to instructions to move closer and move away from the meter. We held an Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP) session, where digital recorders are used to try and record voices outside the human hearing range, and managed to get a name (Jim Ross) out of the Frank’s Box* unit.

Marianne of the APS felt sick, as did my wife Dawn. Both exhibited signs of nausea, light-headedness, and loss of balance.

We left, and the sickness faded. We went on to the ward area, and held another EVP. I wandered into the next area, as I had seen movement, and I asked if anyone was there. I heard a soft voice answer “yes”. I squealed like a girl and ran back to the group. I told them what happened. We checked out the area, and got some major readings on the EMF meters.

We walked slowly through the rest of the ward, and made our way back to the central hall where we were all staying.

*     *     *

APS RECORDS [William Tabone]:

Friday night we started our investigation in the upper administration area and the governor’s suites. Here we received audible responses to our questions in the form of knocking and several verbal responses.

We then moved on to the top floor of the women’s ward, which is a labyrinth of rooms connected by winding corridors. Several members appeared to be affected by the energies in this part of the building, becoming very uncomfortable and agitated. At this point we returned to base and regrouped, refreshing and picking up new equipment.

*     *     *

I went to the toilet at that stage, and noticed movement of a piece of rubbish. I walked into the empty passage to investigate. There was no breeze whatsoever (this passage was well inside the asylum). We set up the rubbish with a marker, and later on, both were moved – three feet in different directions.

After a break, we continued the investigation.

*     *     *

APS RECORDS [William Tabone]:

Our next stop was the area behind the main kitchen. There are several store rooms that have not been open on previous visits, these were our next stop. The largest had a very negative feel to it, and once we started our EVP session, things really kicked up. When one of the team appeared to be physically harassed, I called the entity to come to me. What ensued was an amazing thing. Upwards of 15… pulsating orbs started to swirl around me, performing acrobatics then slamming into my body. I could feel slight hits as each connected, especially on my head. This was caught on camera.

*     *     *

Standing in the kitchen, we all heard a loud sigh from the doorway. No one else was anywhere near us in the building.

We received major readings on the EMF meter, and I sat down on a chair facing a blank wall. Immediately, I felt cold, and then a breeze hitting the back of my head and neck, like the blast from an air-conditioner. No other air movement in the room. Then, another sigh, this time from the doorway between the dining room and the lounge. There is no other entrance into the area.

After this, we went down to the cellar, which is still part of the building that contains the hall we slept in. Although this room typified the ‘creepy cellar’ archetype, nothing much happened at all, and there were neither aberrant energy readings nor any sign of spirit activity.

Then, off to the chapel.

*     *     *

APS RECORDS [William Tabone]:

We proceeded to the chapel next. The energies in the chapel felt extremely negative. While conducting an EVP session I decided to try and elicit a reaction by reciting the Lord’s Prayer. The reaction we received was an entity laughing mockingly to my prayer. Lionel, an APS member, was also poked repeatedly and Marianne, also a member, was overwhelmed by the energy and needed to be removed from the building. The minister’s rooms behind the altar had a completely different feel, very calming, which I found very interesting.

*     *     *

Then we went to the ground floor of the men’s ward, which is acknowledged by many groups as a very active part of the asylum.

*     *     *

APS RECORDS [William Tabone]:

The last place we investigated on Friday night was the rear part of the ground floor men’s ward. Lionel, Geoff and I investigated this part of the building, and while conducting Frank’s box and EVP sessions, heard an audible coughing from one corner of the room. We also heard footsteps and shuffling.

At this point, after a very eventful investigation we decided to call it a night and get some rest for a big day to come.

*     *     *

I finally staggered back to the hall and managed to get to sleep at about 4.30am.



First up – in this order – breakfast, shower, coffee. Chatting with several other people, we found that a lot of them reported strange noises and other phenomena overnight. Situation normal for Aradale.

My wife and I went into town for the coffee, and when we returned, we found the others in the front admin museum section, trying on straightjackets. One girl was tied up in what can only be described as a full-body restraint device.

My wife and I had a look around outside the western buildings in the daylight. Afterwards, we went into the men’s infirmary, which includes the procedure room and the lobotomy room. We found these to be very atmospheric and creepy, even during the day.

Then I went back to the hall to write up things a little bit and have a bit of lunch.

During this time, the APS conducted their own investigations.

*     *     *

APS RECORDS [William Tabone]:

Saturday during the day was spent hitting some areas with audio such as the Ovilus X*, Frank’s box and digital recorders. As well as some cameras, KII’s* etc. So Lionel, Marianne and myself from the APS began our afternoon of investigations, we were also joined by Andy from Australian Ghost Adventure.

Our first port of call was the ground floor of the men’s ward, where we made contact with a female who seemed very timid. Her energy hid behind Marianne but answered questions using two KII meters.

~ ~ ~

The investigations, up to this point, seem to be giving us some very good results. Little did we know that the next few hours, and the rest of Saturday night, would take us (and the APS) to new heights of evidence, as well as new levels of fear.



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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  1. Generally, I have a good imagination, but I’m having trouble picturing you squealing like a girl…

  2. I visited Aradale a few years ago as part of a photographer’s weekend there. Walking through one of the wings of the building, I came to a large open room with three smaller rooms (doors open) at the end. I walked towards the room on the left, and when I got to within 5m, the door slammed violently shut in my face. There was no wind. I turned on my heels and left immediately.BTW – I don’t believe in ghosts, but I can’t explain this phenomenon.

    • Andrew on February 4, 2016 at 8:04 pm
    • Reply

    Why is the picture at the top Beechworth Asylum but your story is sbout Aradale???

    1. Hi Andrew. The top picture is Aradale. You can tell by the caged walkways on top that run between the centre and the exterior wings. Beechworth does not have these.

    • Georgina Parsons on October 22, 2018 at 11:53 am
    • Reply

    I went to Aradale in mid 2018, and there was this one room in the mens ward (you walk into it and to your left is three doors) where both my mother and I had this strange feeling and didn’t want to go in. I did anyway, but my mother wouldn’t step more than one step in. Apparently many people have had the same feeling but there’s nothing on record that happened in that room whilst the asylum was open.

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