I called my friend Jason from Brisbane to say that I’ll be in town, he had the day off and told me about an abandoned insane asylum not too far from where he worked, my interest was piqued and I slung the camera over my shoulder in excitement as we set off for the potential horror film set.
The place certainly fit the bill, set on a long sloping grassy hill this old stone and brick structure stood silently, its temperament calm as if made malevolently wise from decades of observing painful human behaviour. The corrugated iron roof splotched with rust covered its two stories, thick bars held over the few windows peeping out into the world and a large chain link fence surrounded with keep out signs – the explorer’s welcome mat – dotting the perimeter.
Jase led the way, the first act was to balance on a diagonal beam passing over rubble from the basement to a wide open room. The floorboards had all been removed for salvage so upon entering the room we had to balance on the supporting beams, the second floor bore the same as we could see the ceiling through the skeleton of timber. Ancient concrete walls shaped the rooms, the faded two tone asylum paint peeling and barely visible underneath years of graffiti.
Long hallways dotted with open doors to cells gave an ominous feel, most of the long gone and forgotten residents were lucky enough to have windows, some without – the imagination went wild with possibility, what would life in a higher security cell be like? Vivid mental movies played out showing when this place was still operating. Nurses and orderlies dressed in white, their belts separating shirt and pants – some pushing wheelchairs or holding paperwork as they moved from room to room on their daily rounds. Patients scattered sparsely around the larger rooms, sitting on lounges or folding chairs, gazing blankly into the freshly painted walls. Eerie stilling silence broken without warning by nonsense monologue, outburst or a chilling distant scream.
We found a concrete stairway and ascended to the second level, steel hand railing stopped at an old red fire hose box. We made the decision to traverse the second level as well, the same beam balancing act but as we were now twelve feet above the ground considerable caution was taken. On each slow step I could see the distant rubble below, the mind played quick takes of a rotten or broken beam giving way as I lay pressure against the century old wood. We passed through decaying toilet and shower blocks, akin to a prison movie, covered in an age of black dust yet brightened by strange poetry and colourful graffiti.
As brave as we were to venture into such a relic of dangerous mind made manifest I could not fathom a night time expedition, I could assume however that such a challenge was attempted by younger souls in dare of each other or, by dark fanatics in even darker rituals.