Mayday Hills Lunatic Asylum sits crouched like a spider atop the hills overlooking Beechworth, a historic mining town in country Victoria, Australia.
In 128 years of operation, there have been over 9,000 recorded deaths, and likely many more than that, if the truth be known.
My wife and I were offered purchase of the central theatre hall (the Bijou Theatre) and the entire women’s wing, in total around 5000 square metres of extremely-haunted buildings. We jumped on the opportunity, as it included the exclusive rights to run ghost tours through the entire facility.
We’ve been here for eighteen weeks now, and during that time we’ve explored a lot of the buildings by day and night, both the ones we own and the ones we have access to for the tours. I think we may have stirred up some stuff while we did this.
There’s always an aura of weird about the place. Not ‘bad’ weird, well, not most of the time anyway, but just plain old ‘weird’.
Some buildings I dislike more than others, and some I will not go in after dark, even with other people, unless I have to.
Olivene, the male criminally-insane ward, is one of them.
Olivene always feels… I dunno… ominous and observant, as if a building can be watching as you move through it. I tend to avoid it as much as I possibly can, which isn’t hard, as the new business takes up a lot of our time.
Initially, we worked seven days a week, usually in the foyer offices of the theatre hall, and even though the vast majority of the asylum is creepy as hell, I feel (mostly) safe in the foyer.
One night I was up there, working on the laptop while a tour was out, and I heard some scratching behind me. I turned around to see what it was, and realised it was coming from the other side of the wall near me. We’d worked out earlier in the week that the other side of that particular wall was dead-space, where the baker’s ovens were when the area was the main asylum kitchen. When the ovens were removed, the area was sealed in. There is no way in or out of there. What the hell was making the noises? I hope it was rats or possums. I really hope that.
Then it got worse. I was over at the women’s ward putting a padlock on the outside of one of the external doors after the tour had finished.
I had to open the door a little to close it with enough force and bring it back in line with the bolt-hole. I did that three times, and on the third, I opened it a little further than the first two, which didn’t quite get the bolt in line.
Just visible in the light seeping though from the outside to the other side of the door (the inside of the building) I saw a goddamn hand! A bone-white hand that was almost skeletal in size, palm up and fingers curling closed, as though making a gesture saying “come in”.
I nearly died of fright, and when I ran back to the Bijou Theatre, the staff there laughed so hard at how scared I look.
I didn’t sleep well that night. I even marked up the old car I had by scraping a post next to the building as I reversed out to go home later on.
I’ve had other things happen since, but this is something I’ll never ever forget.
Since then, I’ve found myself locked (alone!) in that same building, and also locked (with company) in the old criminally-insane ward.
I’ve had my phone start dialling a random number on the touchscreen by itself while I’ve stood there watching, and then a few days later I’ve watched as someone (something?) scrolled through the phone book app and selected someone else to ring.
Mayday Hills is a crazy old place (pun intended) and I love owning parts of it, but damn, it’s scary at times. More freaky happenings will be outlined in future monthly columns.