Beechworth Asylum is a decommissioned psychiatric hospital located on the outskirts of the rural Victorian town of Beechworth. First opened in 1867, it was one of a collection of large psychiatric hospitals that once serviced the state, and at its peak housed some 1,200 patients and 500 staff members. Following the royal commission into psychiatric care, the hospital was shut down in 1998 after running for 128 years.
The grounds feature a unique architectural feature known as a “ha-ha wall.” These barriers were built into a trench, so they looked low from the outside but tall from the inside. These walls were meant to prevent patients from escaping, without giving the appearance of tall prison-like walls.
Today, most of the buildings have fallen into disrepair. They have been put to new use in the form of running historic tours, ghost tours, an escape room, and private accommodations. The surrounding gardens are also in surprisingly good condition, and despite the struggles of those who were once held in the asylum they make for a surprisingly tranquil environment.
Historic tours of the asylum can be booked in daylight hours, and ghost tours can be booked in the evening. On these, you can hear tales of the more gruesome side of the asylum’s history, alongside that of supposed more recent ghost sightings. Maps of self guides exploration tours are available from the local tourist information, where you can take in more of the architecture of the building.
Know Before You Go
Entry to the asylum grounds is free where you can walk around and see the outside of the many buildings. You can book online to do historical and ghost tours, as well as asylum themed escape rooms.