Abandoned Asylum: The Haunting Legacy of Wolston Park in Wacol

Once considered Australia’s most notorious mental asylum, the mere mention of Wolston Park Asylum is enough to fill people with dread. Former patients recount horror stories of torture and abuse suffered within its walls.

As a heritage building, it cannot be demolished and over time, its ruins have become shrouded in mystery, marred by the occasional visits from policemen patrolling the area to keep out vandals and the morbidly curious.

The Haunting Ruins of Wolston Park

Abandoned Asylum: The Haunting Legacy of Wolston Park
Photo Credit: State Library of Queensland

Located on the outskirts of Brisbane, Wolston Park Asylum first opened its doors in 1864. The 150-year-old building in Wacol, near Brisbane, has been left to the elements since it closed in 2001.

Graffiti-covered walls, rotting wood and littered waste are all that remain of the decaying hospital that was once Australia’s most notorious mental asylum. It is now a desolate and eerie site often visited by urban explorers. Little of the abandoned structure remains intact, and police have warned that the building is dangerous.

A Dark History of Abuse and Torture

Abandoned Asylum: The Haunting Legacy of Wolston Park
Photo Credit: Queensland Government

The dark history of Wolston Park Hospital is one of horrific suffering. Over 50,000 people, including children as young as 11, have passed through the asylum since it opened in 1865.

Former patients were often smuggled in by boat and crammed into conditions that resembled prison rather than a treatment facility. Survivors have come forward to tell of frequent sexual assaults by staff, electroshock therapyand the force-feeding of banned drugs.

Struggle for Justice of Wolston Park Survivors

Wolston Park survivors have fought a long and arduous battle for justice. Recently, an unexpected offer of compensation was extended by the Queensland Government to nine of the former asylum residents who are still living.

Many were surprised by what they considered to be a ‘very respectable’ offer. The ex-gratia payment, which goes beyond previous offers, is intended to acknowledge the wrongful imprisonment at Wolston Park rather than the abuse suffered there. All nine survivors will receive the same amount.

Reconciliation and Unfinished Business

While the offer of compensation is a significant step forward, there remains unfinished business in the aftermath of Wolston Park. Survivors hope that the government will extend its recognition and support to other children who were not classified as wards of the state.

Disabled children, autistic individuals, and those with physical and intellectual disabilities were also left to suffer within the asylum’s walls. Campaigners such as Sue Treweek continue to fight for the rights and recognition of these forgotten victims.

Abandoned Asylum: The Haunting Legacy of Wolston Park
Photo Credit: Queensland Government

The abandoned Wolston Park Asylum stands as a haunting testament to the horrors endured by its former patients. Its dilapidated state adds to its eerie atmosphere, attracting urban explorers despite the danger. The survivors said that offer of compensation brings them a measure of closure, but their fight for justice is far from over.

As Queensland grapples with the haunting legacy of Wolston Park, the remaining survivors and their families say that it is vital that all victims, including those previously overlooked, receive the support and care they deserve, in order to pave the way for healing and change.

Published 8 July 2023