Whilst Melbourne is far from one of the oldest cities in the world, it has still managed to build up a lot of rumours and urban legends over the years. I’m not sure where these all came from, but most people who live in Melbourne will have heard a few of these somehow in the past.
# 1: Does Crown Casino Have a Morgue?
A visit to a casino can really go one of two ways, you either you get guided by lady luck or unfortunately, find yourself emptying your pockets and your bank accounts. The wins and the losses can be a real rollercoaster ride of emotion and more often than not, you’ll end up with nothing.
Crown Casino is the closest thing that Melbourne has to “Las Vegas” but it has been rumoured to have a morgue underneath it. You may be asking yourselves why but a lot of people have successfully, or if not, have attempted suicide after playing at the casino. It is rumoured that Crown Casino intended to make a morgue underground to pile bodies of people who willingly took their own lives after losing everything trying to get their luck, and the staff has to cover it up; of course, who would want to visit a place full of dead bodies — no one. More so, it has been said that the end cubicle of the restroom was always occupied, subtly that it can rotate itself to discreetly make way to the doors of the underground morgue. I’ve never noticed which cubicles are always full there. I guess I’ll pay more attention next time.
# 2: Dead Bodies Underwater Below Yarra River
Just on the south bank of the Crown Casino, the Yarra River is an odd-looking water bank that Australians find weird. No fish or water inhabitants were ever found below the streams, and everyone close to it would say it smelled bad. In fact, there has been a great deal of effort made to clean up the Yarra in recent years.
While this may sound normal and one would think that it’s just polluted, the Yarra River has been rumoured to have corpse underneath it; the smell of decaying bodies are said to be the cause of the stinking waters, leading a way to connect the above mentioned Crown Casino Morgue to the connection of the Yarra River tales. The legend was even fueled up by the fact that it was close to the junction of the closed Bend Lunatic Asylum in the 19th century, and foretold that bodies of the ill-minded were dumped in the waters if their families could not afford fees for the proper burial of their deceased while in the asylum. By then, more and more bodies were believed to be dumped underneath the clouding river, and are just clamouring to be discovered soon.
I’ve actually seen people trying to fish in the Yarra River. I wonder what they found?
# 3: Queen Victoria Bone Market
Queen Victoria Market was once known to be a cemetery to thousands of Victorian settlers ranging from about 10,000 bodies. However, since its redevelopment as a market in the 1800s, people tend to get the eerie feeling as to what lies underneath the market’s ground.
Somehow, others are already suited by the fact that remains have been exhumed already and were relocated in the new crematory in Carlton North. Yet, as too many bodies are buried underground, developers could not hide the fact that there are still up to 9000 remains left by just a few feet underneath, at a minimum. Legend has it that once you settle your goods in your car after picking them up at the market, you’ll hear the dissatisfied cries of the people that are buried just close to the car park’s surface. Yet, economical concerns led the city to go with its plans, while other remains still lay close to that of any shopper’s souls.
# 4: Monster Cats at the Grampians Mountains
It has been said that the Grampians mountain has big, black, and murderous cats as big as the size of a black leopard, puma or panther on the outskirts of Stawell and Dunkeld. There have been reported livestock attacks and sightings going back to the 1970s only leaving massive paw prints but no conclusive evidence. Studies by Deakin University in 2003 even suggested that ice-age pumas are a possibility in the Grampians mountains, and some have claimed to have seen the monstrous creature during the night. Others suggest that if these big cats are real they are believed to have escaped from the military or zoos.
# 5: Is there a Secret Tullamarine Train Station?
If there’s one thing that makes Sydney a better travel destination than Melbourne, it’s that there is a train line connecting their airport to the CBD. I assume the rumour of Melbourne’s Secret Tullamarine Train Station was bred from wishful thinking or perhaps some confused Harry Potter fans.
Rumour has it that there’s a secret railway station just beneath the Melbourne Airport Terminal which can take you to secret places. However, airport workers and domestic pilots have laughed at the rumour and dismissed the tales of a fully operational underground railway. But if it’s a secret, then why would they admit it? There are meant to be some unused train platforms at Southern Cross station which were originally meant to connect to the airport, so this would further the rumours.
# 6: Princess Theatre Opera Singer Ghost
This story goes back over 100 years about a ghost in the Princess Theatre in Melborune. The legend started in 1888 when an opera singer by the name of Frederick Fedirici performed in the Princess Theatre and had a heart attack and died while singing the last note of his opening song. However, no one knew what was going on as he allegedly was on stage taking bows with his cast members after his act. By the time the death was official, others have claimed that he still goes around the theatre very much often dressed in his theatre costume. Nevertheless, people claim he’s a friendly ghost and even had theatre personnel reserve a seat for him during shows. Care to sit next to the dead opera singer? It’ll be a good show if he shows up during opening nights.
# 7: Jack the Ripper in Australia
Did the legendary murderer known as “Jack the Ripper” come to Melbourne? He was famous for murdering loads of impoverished people in the Whitechapel district of London in 1888, slitting an incomprehensible amount of throats without showing mercy; and apparently, he was actually a real person but no one could identify who he was. A lot of rumours have circled about him, including his relocation to Melbourne, most specifically in Windsor.
Perhaps it’s a little too far-fetched, but some people believed that he was actually Frederick Bailey Deeming, an English-born man who was notorious for throat-slashing as well. While no one could confirm it, it has been said that when his autopsy was about to be done, his skull had disappeared and could nowhere be found.
# 8: Drugs in Furniture at Franco Cozzo
As we grew up watching television, one ad that we can always remember is Franco Cozzo’s furniture shop. No one would ever forget how he always has discounts on his products while saying the usual “Grand sale, grand sale, grand sale. Where? In Brunswick and Footscray!” with an exciting tone and a lot of mispronounced words. It was wild watching someone be so excited about some of the most intricately ugly furniture on the planet that only a European grandmother would buy.
It is said that Franco Cozzo’s furniture empire wasn’t just built on furniture alone; many people believed that the large but intricate furniture is stuffed with drugs to create a facade for his drug cartel. Rumour has it that when he shows up on TV, it’s an indication that a new drug shipment has been made and it’s time to flock to his furniture store. While nothing has proven this claim, it was then worsened as his son was imprisoned because of dealing drugs, adding more fuel to the fire. Whilst there are surely more cost-effective ways to sell drugs than involving giant pieces of handcrafted furniture and this is all highly unlikely, Franco Cozzo has become a beloved figure in Melbourne pop culture and is truly an icon of our city.
I think people came to this conclusion as they could not fathom who would actually buy this furniture and wondering how they’ve stayed in business all these years.
# 9: The Pineapple Smoothie, No Ice
The Moroccan Soup Bar is famous for its continental menus most especially to those who are just tired of eating the usual fast-food in Melbourne. However, legend says that the bar does not only sell food.
When you’re on your way to the bar, some people would suggest ordering a Pineapple Smoothie with no ice. The rumour has it that when you get to say their secret code to the bar staff, you’ll be escorted to a dark room where you will be assessed from head to toe. If you look appropriate, they will take your phone number and by the time night comes, you’ll receive a text message inviting you to an orgy.
Whether true or not, I wonder how many people have heard about this and tried it. Starting a rumour like this would be a very annoying prank for any business you don’t like.
# 10: The Ghost of Chopper Read
Mark “Chopper” Read was one of Australia’s most infamous hitmen from the 1970s. He was imprisoned at the Pentridge Prison in Coburg.
Some 150 years after it opened, the prison was renovated into a residential and commercial space now called the Coburg Quarter. However, some say the ghost of Mark Read isn’t happy with the changes at all. Others even made a rumour that he does not like visitors, and thus haunts the area to scare away the living. There have also been numerous claims that when you get to his cell, a voice would scream, “Get the f***k out!”. Some even said that he would still go to his favourite nearby bar to puff some cigars and down a beer.
# 11: Music Box at the empty Larundel Mental Asylum
Just before the Larundel Mental Asylum housed mentally ill patients suffering from psychiatric, psychotic, and schizophrenic disorders, it was an emergency housing during WWII before it became an asylum back in 1953. Like any other old prison and mental institution, it was rumoured to have spirits still trapped on the corners of the building.
For decades, it was enclosed and regulated very well, but then officially closed in 1999. Since then, the institution became a structure for vandals, squatters, and paranormal activity watchers. Haunted activities were claimed to have walked around the halls with alleged loud crashes, and the sound of a music box playing around. It was said that a 10-year-old girl had been admitted to the institution only with her music box to play, and was strangled by a nurse for not sleeping early. Also, it is said that when you get to visit at exactly midnight, you’ll feel chills and cold hands wrapping around your neck trying to bring you to death.
# 12: Altona Homestead Catman
In 1909, a homeless man Edward Goodson in Melbourne was found murdered in the gunky toilets outside the Altona Homestead. This man had a fondness for killing fish and bringing them along just for safekeeping. He was smelly and rugged and probably quite unpopular with other people.
It was then rumoured that he was always followed by cats because he smelled like dead fish. By then, he befriended the cats that always surrounded him, and when he was killed, the cats were said to take revenge for their loss. It’s a fishy story but legend tells that when you get to use one of the toilets, you’ll hear a cat meowing while clawing your leg. Bet this was just a ridiculous story, but somehow, some people actually believe the tale.
# 13: The Cover-up of Westall UFO
This one is more of a conspiracy theory than an urban legend. In Westall, Melbourne, there’s a story of a UFO sighting from about a hundred Australians back in 1966.
About 100 students and teachers from 2 different schools insisted that they saw a circular, shiny, unidentified flying object maneuvering silently around the skies. Yet, only 5 argued that it was just an ordinary aircraft flying. Still, it was too sketchy that the police and military personnel swarmed the area hastily ordering them to speak to no one about the incident. Up to this day, many suggested that it was a government cover-up to deceive us on what’s true and not and that everything was just trash. But legend tells us that the UFO ought to land in Westall because kids were easier to abduct than adults.
# 14: Underground Tunnel Work
From Railways to hundreds of tunnel works beneath the roads of Melbourne, there have been speculations that the city has built a specific tunnel built by the US armed forces for a huge bunker system.
A guy named Mark Rawson and a team of amateur historians to dig into the theory of these laneways and tunnel ways and that they spent hundreds of weeks excavating underground, but then was stopped by the Darebin Council after their work proved nothing at all. Nevertheless, other conjectures said that there was tunnel work done for the Parliament House and the nearby brothels had an underground way to meet prostitutes without being scrutinized by the press and that 1920s gangster Squizzy Taylor used these tunnels to escape gambling raids (turns out the latter was found to have built claustrophobic passageway underneath a factory).
While none of them has proven to be true, we could not help but think about how ingenious these tunnels are and that it would make an interesting film at least!
# 15: Restricted Magic Books at the State Library of Victoria
The WG Alma Conjuring Collection in the State Library of Victoria held hundreds of books about magic. While this may already be known, there have been rumours that the books donated by the ever famous magician Will Alma were off-limits for most people and stored in a hidden vault.
Speculations circulated that his collection of magic was only authorized for licensed magicians and bona fide researchers. Some say that the main room was only a facade to a vault full of detailed tricks as to how magic works. Whether or not it’s true, it’s still a library. Why deprive anyone of reading it?
# 16: The La Trobe University Nuclear Bunker
It is said that beneath the La Trobe University’s Bundoora campus is a nuclear bunker presumptuously built for nuclear invasion and safekeeping of staff and teachers, but unfortunately not for students. The part about students not being welcome seems to be why this story is carried on to any student who goes there.
It was said that the underground bunker was also a way for authorized personnel to hide, such as when student unions had set protests against the school’s admin staff. More so, the campus was allegedly built to avoid student activism, and more proven by the fact that the union hall is located quite far away from the administration area. As with most of these Melbourne stories, there are also tunnels under the university.
# 17: The Flinders Street Train-swap
When you go around Flinders Street, you might be baffled why it looks something East-Indian. Well, legend has it that the Flinders Street railway station and the Mumbai Central have the same architect and that designs for both stations were mistakenly swapped. This is why when you search for Mumbai Central in India, you get to see something more looming and gothic; seems more Australian than the rest of the stations you can find in India. Weird.
Nothing particularly creepy about this story but here’s the picture of the Indian station.
# 18: The Rambo Granny of Melbourne
One popular story in Melbourne is the tale of Ava Estelle avenging her 18-year-old granddaughter who was raped. The story goes to her hunting down the rapists, blowing their testicles off after no justice was served for her granddaughter after the court ruling. She then turned herself in after the alleged incident… and that was just it.
However, this story was debunked after it was found out that the tale was published by an American tabloid known for publishing no-basis stories just for the hype. This was proven false as the Melbourne Office of Public Prosecution found no record of this event occurring.
# 19: The Vanishing at Hanging Rock
While this is not technically in Melbourne, the sight of the Hanging Rock is both mesmerizing and haunting. There’s a story of the disappearances of 3 schoolgirls and their teacher, and that all bodies are nowhere to be found. The tale associated with supernatural forces has drawn the women into the rock, and that all mysteriously vanished without any trace at all. Various films have been created to retell the story of the Picnic at Hanging Rock.
# 20: Westgate Underground Tunnels for Cartels
More tunnels. There are rumours of underground tunnels near the Westgate Bridge that were once used for running drugs around by cartels. There were later rumours that the KFC restaurants on each side of the Westergtate also used tunnels to transfer fried chicken from the larger outbound restaurant to the smaller inbound restaurant. Whilst this has been widely debunked it has been acknowledged that some tunnels exist in the area for VicRoads emergency vehicles.
# 21 Bungey’s Hole at the Werribee River
This urban legend is the closest to my childhood, there is a part of the Werribee River behind the football field and public pool on Watton street where the original Werribee pool and bathing areas existed. The Legend is that a man named Bungee, Bungey or Bungie died accidentally riding his horse and cart off into the Werribee River near here. The story suggests that the particular areas were so deep that no one could find the wreckage or the bodies of Bungey, his horse or cart could be found. Check out this article for a deeper history of this legend.