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Aradale1                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Some weeks back now I went on a tour of Aradale. For those of you who don’t know, Aradale is the vast psychiatric hospital, now closed, based in the Victorian country town of Ararat. I had a bit of a crisis of conscience driving up to the building, along the winding road and past the towering trees. I didn’t want to further exploit the former patients of Aradale. They had surely suffered enough already. I was imagining how it must have felt to have been driven up that road towards this imposing building, knowing that this was your new home. The tour itself though turned out to be, as well as suitably creepy, very sympathetic to the plight of the then inmates and very informative as well. It was studded with fascinating gems of information. For example, did you know that John Batman, the founder of Melbourne, ended his days in an asylum? No, I didn’t either. The building itself is amazing. Aradale was opened for patients in 1865 and closed as a hospital as recently as 1998. At its height it housed up to 900 patients. It’s a vast complex with up to 70 buildings. I came away totally inspired and intrigued, with all sorts of ideas for stories.