Friday, December 01, 2006

The Hanging Garden

Nope, not a post about the Cure, this is about a real hanging garden. I'm not exactly sure what's prompted me to do this post right at this moment, it has been on my mind for a fair while now. I can't disclose the exact location, but trust me when I say this, this isn't an urban myth. It's an actual place and this actually happened - some people know about, the majority of the population don't know about. It's fascinating and damned morbid.

As you can see from the map Adelaide is surrounded by gardens and parklands. Towards the hills there's even more gardens and nature parks, some good, some better than others. Most have their secluded spots and as anyone connected to the field of mental health or the police in Adelaide will tell you those secluded spots are perfect for people to commit suicide. People can just walk into the wilds and vanish. It takes a lot for them to be discovered and each month will go by with another body being found and identified. Also barely a week goes by when someone isn't discovered hanging from one of the trees. They can go there and hang themselves knowing full well that they probably won't be found for days on end. There's not much of a chance of anyone coming across the body while it's still breathing, so as places to kill yourself go, they're right up there. The favourites would have to be places like the Kuitpo and Mount Crawford Forests. Easy access, loads of high trees.

Newspapers and other media in Adelaide rarely, if ever, report suicides. They happen each week so don't be fooled into thinking it's something that is so infrequent it's a major media event. The opposite is the truth - they're so frequent that the media deliberately don't report them for fear of encouraging the more sick elements of the community into going to the places where the bodies are found, or, more importantly, they're not reported for fear of copy-cat suicides. Better to not report something than to add to an epidemic. Suicide is very real. Depression, anxiety, fear, confusion, lack of esteem or lack of sense/worth. They all add up. Better to help those left behind than to celebrate the death. But every so often something happens that can't be ignored. The hanging garden is one of them.

As I said, I'm not going to say where the garden is, but I will say this - it's not that far from the CBD, in Australian terms (which, as we all know, could mean it's anywhere from 10 to 200 kilometers away). Here's how it unfolded.

One Friday the police received a report of a missing person. No great cause for alarm, the man was suffering from the onset of dementia and as such had been depressed and was making noises about ending it all. Again, common. So a report is filed and the number plates for the car are listed and flagged in case the car turns up. On the following Monday a park ranger contacts the police and says that a car that was parked in the car park on the Friday was still there on the Monday. Could the police come and check it out? Off they go, run a check and bang, it's the missing person with dementia. So the police call it in and then go for a walk to locate the inevitable. The scrub in that park is particularly heavy and vision is often obscured by brush and threes. Still, finally they find what they're looking for - a body swinging in the breeze.

Only it's not the body they're looking for. It's someone else. So they call that one in and head back to wait. Then they find another body about 50 yards away. Unusual, so they check it - it's still not the body they want. They call it in and then go walking. They find another body. This time it's the one they want. They call it in and keep walking. Yep, another body. At no point could they see any of the bodies from any one location. Four people had gone to this section of the scrub, all over the weekend, and hung themselves less than 50 meters from each other. It's highly doubtful that any of the men had seen the others either before or during the event. It confused the police and the parks authority, neither of whom can't really do anything when it comes to people hanging themselves in a national park. The trees in that garden bore bitter fruit that day.

So why did four men go and hang themselves in virtually the same place on the same weekend? Well we'll never know the answer to those questions, just that they did and that's that. What is known is that you won't be reading about it in any books or newspapers printed about Adelaide. Odds on you'll visit those gardens at some stage in your life, heaps of people go there, they just don't go to that section. Now that'd be a haunted garden indeed.

1 comment:

Robert Thomas said...

Does anyone else think that Adelaide is the "Twin Peaks" city of Australia?

We have serial murders on the Truro moors, bodies in barrells in Snowtown, the vanishing Beaumont children, the mysterious "Family" and now the hanging gardens.

The city of churches has a very dark underbelly...