Z Ward was once part of the Parkside Lunatic Asylum, now called Glenside Hospital. It recently held its first Open Day in 130 years, attracting a massive crowd of around 5,000 people who queued for hours to see it.
Z Ward Glenside was last used as a mental health facility in the 1970's as part of the Glenside Hospital Precinct, and subsequently was used by the Department of Mines to store core samples for a number of years.
After leaving it derelict for decades, the government recently sold it to oil and gas exploration company Beach Energy, despite protests by the National Trust of South Australia and many other concerned people that the building should remain in public hands.
The Derelict Condition of the Day Room Reflects Badly on State Government
Since then Beach Energy have been working with the National Trust SA to agree common ground on the building's future. As part of that partnership the first Open Day was scheduled, producing an unexpectedly huge response. The entry queue wound around Z Ward all the way back to Conyngham Street, and at one point extended as far as Greenhill Road.
Unfortunately it was simply not possible to allow so many people through, even though the opening times were extended by one hour, and many people were turned away. Another Open Day with longer hours has now been scheduled, and organisers hope that this will cope with demand.
Local Member of Parliament Vicky Chapman Visiting Z Ward Glenside
One surprising thing about the first Open Day was the variety of people in the crowd. There were many young people such as students, mental health professionals, photography fans, people interested in urban exploration, ghost hunters, and even former Z Ward workers aged in their 80's.
The National Trust SA has tried to identify any people with a personal connection to Z Ward, so that their oral histories can be taken and preserved for the future. With the help of the Glenside Hospital Historical Society SA they hope to keep alive the stories of how mental health treatment was different in days gone by.
Display by Say NO To Selling Fort Largs Facebook Group
Most of those in the crowd who visited Z Ward were very sympathetic to heritage preservation, and hundreds took the opportunity to learn more about the threat to Fort Largs at a display stand. Many were keen to donate and sign the petition to save Fort Largs on the National Trust's new Heritage Watch website.
Once inside the grand old building it was something of a challenge to take photos without people suddenly appearing in the frame. Despite this many people shared their photos on Facebook including our writer Paula McManus.
Access to Z Ward is easiest via Conyngham Street, and there is limited parking on site. It's recommended that you do not come through Glenside Hospital, as it can be hard to find Z Ward that way. The entrance is not wheelchair friendly, as there are a few steps at the front and the rear of the building - many people found it easier to leave prams outside.
If you missed out on the first Open Day, then we hope that you will be able to see Z Ward this time. The Open Day on Saturday November 15 will be held from 9am until 4pm, with last admissions at 3.30pm - at this time there are no other openings scheduled. Beach Energy are understood to be planning building renovations to start early next year.
The second and last free Open Day at Z Ward will be held on Saturday November 15 from 8.30am until 4pm. Admission is free but you MUST have a ticket for a 90 minute timeslot, which you can obtain on the website below. This will avoid the need to queue for long periods.
After this, there will be three other ways to visit Z Ward by paying a fee - guided Day Tours, guided Night Tours, and Photography Visits. See the Heritage Watch website for more details, and to book your free Open Day tickets.