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The 4 Spookiest Urban Legends in Melbourne

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by Sean Goedecke (subscribe)
Sean Goedecke is a freelance writer trying to visit every cafe in Australia. If you enjoy his articles, it can't hurt to click the 'like' link at the bottom or subscribe.
Published June 19th 2012
The Crown Casino Morgue

Every city has its myths: implausible tales of murderers and ghosts set in familiar streets and tailored to a familiar culture. British urban legends tend to be unsettling and understated, like faces seen in the fog or haunted buildings. American ones are a bit more brash – think screaming cannibals with chainsaws, or serial killers with a hook in one hand and a severed head in the other. What about Melbourne, though? Here are four stories you can hear whispered on late-night Metro trains or at lonely bus stops.



Crown Casino is a place of broken dreams and despair. That's common knowledge, not an urban legend. It's also a place that tends to give people suicidal thoughts, although the cited number varies from a sensible three per year to a horrifying thirty or forty. You'd expect Crown to cover the real number up, if there was a real suicide epidemic, so legends about suicide at the casino find fertile soil here. People say that the casino has its own morgue, down in the basement, to deal with the constant stream of corpses – or at the very least a secret underground tunnel to the hospital's morgue. What's more, particular bathroom cubicles are said to have such a high suicide rate that they're actually engineered to rotate for quick body disposal. Presumably this is so the next visitor to the bathroom isn't deterred from further gambling by discovering two Crown employees wheeling a corpse down the hallway. No word yet on the number of ghosts in these cubicles, but it's safe to assume that it's in the double digits.

Corpses in the Yarra

Like a werewolf under the full moon, the Yarra River undergoes a terrible metamorphosis somewhere between its pure mountain origins and its entrance to the Melbourne CBD. The water is brown, foul-smelling and possibly radioactive – in fact, it's often suggested that spitting in the Yarra makes it cleaner. Inquiring minds want to know why the Yarra is as dirty as it is, and whether corpses are involved.

litter trap
These certainly don't help.
Wikimedia Commons


As you might expect, the aforementioned Crown Casino plays a role in these speculations. It's said that, years ago, the casino dug into the riverbank outside so that there's an underwater lip. The casino's victims collect under this lip, rather than floating to the surface, and pollute the surrounding water. By now there should be a cemetery's worth of bones, just waiting to be pulled into view by freak tides or police divers. And that's not even mentioning the mafia victims that line the riverbed in their concrete slippers. It certainly explains why there are no fish in the Yarra River – let alone water pollution, there's simply not enough room for them between all the dead bodies.

The CBD Tunnel Network

It's undeniable that Melbourne has a lot of tunnels. When the city was being built, large sewers were an architectural fad, and once you build a huge underground tunnel it's kind of hard to get rid of. In fact, there's even a questionably-legal organisation, Cave Clan, dedicated to exploring drains and underground bunkers. As well as the tunnel between Crown Casino and the hospital morgue, there are reportedly tunnels between every major site in Melbourne. Victoria Barracks and the Shrine of Remembrance, Flinders Street Station and the State Library, and so on.

tunnel
May contain insane rat people.
Adam.J.W.C. - Wikimedia Commons


The craziest urban legends claim that the US armed forces built a network of tunnels during the Second World War, in which the inhabitants of Melbourne could be herded during an invasion. What the plan was after that varies depending who you talk to. Some just say that the tunnels were for temporary shelter, while others go so far as arguing that the orders were to gas everybody and collapse the tunnels on top of them. Why would the US want to murder its Australian allies? The reasons are endless: Illuminati machinations, lizard-people, alien mind control devices. Take your pick.

Phantom Suburb Cats

The study of 'phantom cats', more amusingly called 'Alien Big Cats', falls squarely into the domain of fringe science: among cryptozoologists and the sort of people you find at outer suburban tram stops. Despite the 'alien' name, phantom cats are supposedly terrestrial felines, prowling populated areas. Pumas and cougars, for instance, have been reported around the Western suburbs. It's a scary thought – huge silent predators, subsisting on possums and the occasional hapless human.

jaguar
And looking painfully cute the rest of the time.
Wikimedia Commons


Despite the total lack of evidence, it's a powerful idea. When you're walking home late at night, every black shadow or dark hedge could be a crouching jaguar. It's not hard to imagine somebody working themselves into a frenzy of terror, fleeing inside and calling the police. The occasional actual cat, wandering at night, might easily be mistaken for a ferocious beast. Or there could actually be a colony of big cats, sleeping in hidden places during the day and padding into your backyard at night. They've even been known to venture into people's houses in search of an easy meal. Predators like that move very quietly, and very fast. Don't look behind you.
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Why? Because knowing is half the battle. The easy half.
Where: Danger could be anywhere.
Your Comment
There are so fish in the Yarra! I've seen a whole school of fish near Morell Bridge and birds on the banks scoffing down tiny fish they've caught for dinner. And the best bit - DOLPHINS! (Not that they're fish, but I did see them in the Yarra near Birrarung Marr)
by jayho (score: 0|5) 1833 days ago
Great article :)
by Tarryn Guttenberg (score: 2|272) 1834 days ago
Interesting, Im surprised they let you publish this one. Ive seen one of those big cats on a farm in the wheatbelt in WA. A farm cat took on the cat, that fell, landed in a wheelbarrow upside down, righted itself and ran away. The 2 farm dogs had run inside and hidden under the bed sheets when they had first spotted the big cat up in the eucalypt tree with the farm cat.

As for reptilians, mind control and all things alien, you might like to read some David Icke.

Luckily, I dont know much about the mafia...
by Jody Kimber (score: 2|829) 1832 days ago
Interesting about the tunnels. Fact: There is a network of underground tunnels used during WW2 between the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Royal Women's Hospital (old) and Royal Children's Hospital (old). It was blocked up a while ago. But am not sure of it's status since new buildings and locations have taken place.
by Fio (score: 0|4) 1831 days ago
What a fantastic imagination you have, how much time did you spend thinking these up?
by Myhea (score: 1|10) 1833 days ago
My cat is 86cm long, sits at 16 cms tall top ear-top, & weighs 10 kilos. He big, black, aggressive & lives inside all the time. Found in a tree by my brother, he was tiny. The vet said 6-7 months old, starved and highly aqggressive = 'put him down". /i was horrified and kept my little gift cat.
BUT, 8 years later, I have deep, dark scars everywhere from his frequent 'bad attitude'. It was 5 years before he'd sit beside me and only after i was in hospital for 2 weeks when a cousin fed him each day in my absence.
I love him, but he is ambivalent. Nothing funny about being bitten on the thigh when on the loo!
There is no reason to disbelieve the 'big cat' theories of Victoria.
Were my 'baby' to be outside, surely he would be one of them. It is only his lack of exercise thru. being indoors 24/7 that keeps him, and everyone else, safe. Meantime, I continue as Mumma to a big, feisty, aggressive, long-toothed, razor-sharp clawed, very scary, indoor Panther Puss.
by fluffynut (score: 2|599) 1389 days ago
There may be tunnels, there are tunnels in every city. But the rest of these are ridiculous. Having worked at Crown Casino I can assure everyone there is not a revolving door of suicides or corpses. Plus aren't urban legends suppose to be heard of a lot. I haven't heard a whisper of any of them!
by Leanne Sampson-Bowden (score: 1|92) 1376 days ago
Well the truth about crown and the yarra is true. Never mind the dead bodies but they did dig out under the river. While they did the river "fell" into crowns basement and flooded it. That's why it's kept a secret from the media and spawned Chinese whispers.
by yonny (score: 0|2) 1105 days ago
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