For almost 90 years Glenside’s Z Ward was home to South Australia’s “criminally insane”, patients who sat on the overlapping edges of criminality and mental illness.
Z Wards construction was completed in 1885 however, it was not opened until 1888. Patients who were accommodated in Z Ward were Governor’s pleasure patients: those acquitted of their crime on the grounds of their insanity. The majority were people charged and convicted of a minor offence, but exhibiting sufficient signs of psychiatric instability that it was thought more beneficial for them to be placed in an asylum rather than in a gaol to serve their sentence.
Another small group of patients were those who were considered to be dangerous to themselves or to others and were placed in there for the protection of the Asylum’s other inmates. Z Ward closed on the 13th December 1973.
It’s also home to a rare, complete example of a ‘Ha Ha Wall’, a deceptive piece of design that provided security to the building while softening the prison-like image that high walls would have conveyed.
Join us in exploring and preserving this unique treasure with our regular guided tours, that showcase the building in interesting new lights.
Please note Z Ward’s upper level is accessible by stairs only. Wheelchairs/prams can access Z Ward’s lower level.