“Words alone may not carry the full significance of a dead person or place” – Peter Read, ‘Remembering Dead Places’, page 26.
Like all attempts to innovate, the Asylum was subject to faults and drawbacks. The administrative aspects of the institution attempted to form a self-sufficient location for the mentally ill and criminally insane that was separate from the outside community, and which sought long term solutions to the multiple ‘incurable’ inmates.
History seeks to examine all aspects of the past and it cannot be denied that Aradale was active in the social suppression and containment of those dubbed as socially unfit for the community that was attempting to form itself.
Unlike its British models, Aradale was run by the state government rather than British local governments. It is this aspect of the administration that suggests the actions of the establishment can be viewed as a reflection of the broader State’s understanding of mental illness and crime.
The foundation of Aradale was and is primarily constructed through public exposure. The following newspaper articles are examples of how the community viewed the organisation. Primary sources such as these highlight the notion of selective history, that historiography continues to explore to grasp an objective concept of institutions that present themselves as innovative with the intent of improving the community, whilst having omitted corruption or taboos.
What is the true Aradale?
A benevolent hospital
A tourist site
A Heritage building
A sanctuary for unwelcomed minorities such as Chinese miners
A place of confinement
‘Suicide of a Doctor’, The Border Morning Mail and Riverina Times, 21 Aug. 1912, page 3.
“A sensation was caused at the Ararat Hospital for the Insane this morning when
Dr. William L. Mullen, the next superintendent of the institution, was found
dead in bed. The cause of death is supposed to be suicide by prussio acid poison
It appears that a dog was howling outside the superintendent V residence and he
asked Dr. R.JJ. Naylor to get some prussic acid to nolson the animal Dr did not do so, and Dr. Mullen went into the surgery himself yesterday afternoon and got a bottle, a label being placed on
it by. Dr. Naylor.
Last night Dr Mullen was playing cards with a young woman who was looking after his residence in his wife’s absence and retired to bed about 12.30. When ‘the
housekeeper called in this morning with a cup of hot milk for Dr Mullen she found
him dead in bed. An inquest will be held tomorrow.
Dr Mullen was a graduate of Melbourne University, -at which be had a brilliant
degree in 1887, and the M.D degree in 1888. He was also a barrister and practised for a fmie at the bar. For a tune he was Acting-Asylum Superintendent at the Ivew Asylum, and about __
years ago was appointed Medical Superintendent at Tcarra Bend About’ 18 months
ago he was transferred to Ararat, practically at his own request. Dr. Mullen left his nrst wife, to whom he was greatly attached, about fifteen months ago and about three weeks ago he married’ again.
Dr. Mullen was 51 years of age.”
‘The Ararat Asylum Trouble’, The Argus, 9 Oct. 1902, page 9.
“The board appointed to investigate the
charges against Mr. C. J. Tyers, secretary
of the Ararat Asylum for Insane, resumed
its sitting this morning. Evidence was
given by Mr Vallance, secretary of the
Kew Asylum, and Mr. Hill, acting secre-
tary of the Ararat Asylum in Mr Tyers
place, both contradicting the witnesses who
alleged that any secretary with only one
assistant could do the work which Mr.
Tyers and one clerk had to do. Mr Tyers
gave evidence showing the duties which he
devolved on him and the numerous times he
had complained of his staff being under
manned. He also put in documents show-
ing that he had applied several times to
be removed in consequence of being unable
to keep up with the work. After hearing
the address of counsel the board spent two
hours examining the asylum buildings and
grounds, with a view of ascertaining, by
personal investigation, the nature of the
secretary’s duties Judgment was then re-
‘Suicide in an Asylum’, The Argus, 8 May. 1897, page 11.
“A case of suicide occurred in the Ararat
Asylum for Insane this week. The victim
was a young woman named Mary Clarke, who was last month admitted as a patientfrom Ballarat. She was suffering from melancholia and suicidal mania, and on Tuesday afternoon got some carbolic acid disinfectant form the medicine cupboard inthe ward, and swallowed a lot of it. She lingered until Wednesday. Yesterday afternoon an inquest was held, when it was deposed that attendant Minnie Barbour opened the cupboard, but her attention was attracted to another patient, and she ran
to her, forgetting to lock the cupboard. The jury found a verdict of death form poisoning, but added that no blame was attachable to anyone.”
Images sourced from Trove online database, National Library of Australia, http://trove.nla.gov.au/