Located in the beautiful town of Beechworth, just a few hours from Melbourne is the Beechworth Lunatic Asylum. One of the most seen ghosts is that of Matron Sharpe, her apparition has been seen in several different parts of the hospital.
The Asylum was later renamed the Mayday Hills Hospital, it is the second oldest asylum in Victoria, dating back to 1867. When the asylum opened it stretched half a kilometer from one end to the other. The Beechworth Lunatic Asylum held a total of 1200 patients when full 600 men and 600 women. Over 3000 patients died within its walls in the 128 years the hospital operated. Its doors closed in 1995, and since then has operated as a campus of La Trobe University, run as a hotel and conference center.
In one of the day rooms, the signature of a J. Kelly is scratched in the glass. J Kelly was Ned Kelly's (the famous outlaw) uncle James Kelly. After burning down his sister in laws house in Greta, in which a young Ned was in at the time, Jim was sentenced to 15 years hard. As part of his sentence he was sent to Mayday Hills to help build the hospital. After serving his time, it's said his mind "was broken" and as such spent the rest of his days housed in the hospital until his death in 1903.
The Ghost Tours run at Beechworth Lunatic Asylum have become the most popular ghost tours on mainland Australia. Only the Ghost Tours offered in Port Arthur, in Tasmania, attract more visitors. Tours are offered every evening; on some evenings, as many as twelve tours are conducted. The Beechworth Asylum is now considered to be one of the most haunted buildings in Australia.
One of the ghosts most often seen at Beechworth is that of Matron Sharpe her apparition has been seen in several different parts of the hospital. Matron Sharpe's ghost has been seen in the former dormitory area, which is now part of Latrobe University's computer rooms. Witnesses have seen her walking down the granite staircase and into one of the classrooms. Matron Sharpe was apparently very compassionate toward the patients, which is uncharacteristic of the era.
One patient whose ghost is thought to haunt Beechworth is Tommy Kennedy. Tommy was well liked at the hospital and was given a job as a kitchen hand. Tommy actually died in the kitchen which is now part of the Bijou theatre, it is here that people have said they have felt the sensation of someone tugging at their clothes or poking their ribs.
The Reaction Hall was an area where patients could sing, play music or perform in plays, on Sundays the hall doubled as the chapel. In 1939 the hall became a cinema, where inmates could come in to watch movies. There are two common sightings in the hall, one is of a young girl, who approaches women and desperately tries to communicate with them. The other ghost has been seen in a window that was once part of the Bell Tower; the apparition of an elderly man facing away from the window is often seen.
The Grevillia wing was the section of the hospital all patients feared, it has been closed for 13 years, and now in a derelict state. As medication wasn't introduced until the 1950s, restraints such as straightjackets and even shackles were commonly used as well as electro-shock treatment. Electro shock treatment was widely used in the hospitals early days and there are stories of mass treatments in which almost the entire patient population was shocked in one session. When the shocks were administered the patient's bodies either splayed out backwards with force or contracted inward into a fetal position, which ever position ligaments would snap, bones were often broken and teeth shattered.
There are two common sightings in Grevillia, one is thought to be that of an unknown male doctor, his apparition has been seen wandering the corridors at night. The other is Matron Sharpe whose ghost was often seen in this area by the nurses who worked at Mayday Hills. They would report seeing the Matron sitting with patients who were due to have electro-shock treatment. Those who say they've witnessed this say the room was icy cold, but her presence was comforting, and seemed to bring a sense of reassurance to the patients.
Workmen at the hospital have reported hearing the sound of children laughing and playing; when they investigate the sound they are unable to trace there source. Several years ago on a ghost tour a parent noticed their 10 year old son talking to himself when asked who he was talking to the boy said he was talking to a boy called James who lived there.
A patient, a woman who was a big chain smoker was thrown out of a window to her death by another patient who wanted her cigarettes. Because the woman was Jewish her body was not allowed to be moved until a Rabbi had seen it, so her body was left lying out the front of the hospital dead for 2 days whilst the Rabbi made the trip up from Melbourne. Her ghost has been seen on the spot where she fell, by several witnesses over the last decade. The photo on the right was taken of the window from which she was thrown, an orb is clearly visable in the photo.
The gardens of Beechworth have long been subdivided into allotments; those who live nearby have seen the ghost of a man, wearing a green woolen jacket. The ghost is thought to be of a gardener named Arthur who worked the gardens for many years earning ten shillings a week. He wore his green jacket in winter and summer and no one could persuade him to remove it. After Arthur died, it was discovered why Arthur had been secretly storing his wages in the seam of his jacket. When the nurses opened it, they found 140 pounds, over four years of his wages, hidden inside.
There's one final and grizzly tale of a patient who disappeared, despite efforts by staff to locate him. Several weeks later his location was discovered when the resident dog Max, was found chewing a leg near the gate house at the grounds entry. A second search found the body up in a tree; the body had decomposed so badly that his leg had come off. The ghost of the patient has been seen near the entrance to the Asylum, the sightings have often been in the early hours of the morning.