J Ward


The famous J Ward of Ararat was once (and arguably still is) the home of the criminally insane. It housed criminals who were deamed too ‘unstable’ or too ‘unhinged’ to be jailed in a ‘normal’ high security prison. The notorious Chopper Read was ‘shipped off’ to J Ward after his famous/infamous ear incident. Though Chopper was just one of many who were branded criminals of an unfit mind.

Lantern Ghost Tours invited Victoria Discovers to join them on the tour of J Ward. A simple building who’s residents have frightened Victorians for decades. Residents who have long since died and yet still have a presence that is still feared by many. As members of the Victoria Discovers team found out first hand…

Sat in the waiting room on a cold dark night, the Victoria Discovers team waited for the tour to begin. An eerie calm before the storm you might say as none of us could of envisaged what was about to happen. Our friendly and very knowledgeable tour guide welcomed us all and allowed us to freely roam around the J Ward museum which is filled with historic facts and information about the Gaol, its residents, staff and treatments. The museum houses actual instruments used to ‘help’ or even ‘cure’ residents deemed to be criminally insane. However, whether you think they were used for treatment or torture is upto you to decide???

As soon as we walked down the stairs, we all felt and understood how J Ward had earned its reputation as being one of the most haunted buildings in Australia. Each of us instantly knew something (or should we say somethings) very dark were watching us. The image below was taken by Victoria Discovers representative Emma C-Cole. (Who has not altered this photograph in any way.) We suspect this frightened looking soul could be George Leondieu. A dangerous and delusional murderer, paranoid of everyone.


If you ever do come face to face with George, we must stress to only approach him with extreme causion as he has been know to launch violently if provoked. As one Victoria Discovers representative found out that night…

Some believe these tormented souls are still worth trying to save. Whilst others have long since given up any kind of redemption.

Whatever your thoughts or beliefs one thing is for certain, this tour is NOT for the faint hearted and is NOT suitable for children under 16 years of age.

If these walls could talk? With at least 3 people (that we know of) buried inside of the walls of J Ward maybe they can? Talking walls? Now that would be insane…

Photography by Emma C-Cole

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