Yarra Bend Asylum Pillar – Fairfield, Australia - Atlas Obscura

Yarra Bend Asylum Pillar

This lone pillar is all that remains of a 19th-century asylum. 


Yarra Bend Asylum first opened in 1848 as the first permanent institution in Victoria designed for the treatment of the mentally ill. Prior to the construction of Yarra Bend, the mentally ill were often imprisoned in jails across the region. 

These institutions were often referred to during those times as asylums, emphasizing their function as a place to simply house patients as opposed to an acting hospital. From the start, the facility suffered from overcrowding. Despite constant additions over the years, not having adequate space would constantly plague Yarra Bend. During the 1850s, the facility came under fire for allegations of corruption and the severe mistreatment of patients. 

Yarra Bend eventually closed due to its persistent issues of overcrowding and staffing. The facility stopped accepting patients in 1925. The remaining patients were eventually relocated to other facilities. 

The asylum was badly damaged by a fire in 1982 and was mostly demolished as a result. There is very little evidence left of the facility’s existence. A lone pillar from the old entrance gate is all that remains. There is a small information board about the hospital next to the pillar.

Some of the brick foundation walls of the asylum still exist below ground level. 

Know Before You Go

The Yarra Bend Asylum was situated on the banks of the Yarra River. The pillar stands along the road from the Thomas Embling Hospital, a modern psychiatric institution. 

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October 16, 2020

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