Z Ward: Behind The Walls

11 Feb 2023 ‐

27 May 2023

2:00 pm ‐ 3:30 pm

Adult: $15.00

Concession: $13.00

National Trust Member: $10.00

Child (Children under 15): $10.00

Companion Card: Free

The Story


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.


Completed in 1885, Z Ward was a significant architectural statement that can still be appreciated today. Designed by EJ Woods, the prominent South Australian designer and one-time Architect-in-Chief who helmed St. Peter’s Cathedral, the State Library of South Australia’s Mortlock Wing and Parliament House, its high ceilings, magnificent windows and advanced ventilation system represents what was, for its time, an innovative attempt at providing a humane solution for patients. 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.


Officially decommissioned in 1973, the site was lost to the public for years as it sat unoccupied save for core samples and file storage for the Department of Mining. In 2014 however, following an outpouring of community support the National Trust of South Australia came to an agreement with current owners Beach Energy to open the gates and shed new light on the breath-taking architecture and sobering history of this remarkable building.


Join us in exploring and preserving this unique treasure with our regular guided tours, or one of the many other events and experiences that showcase the building in interesting new lights.