The Abandoned Swan District Hospital in Perth, Western Australia

The abandoned Swan District Hospital and Asylum in Perth, Western Australia was under Australian media scrutiny in 2011 when a nurse allegedly threw a woman’s miscarried baby into the garbage alongside medical waste.

The hospital, otherwise known as Swan Kalamunda Health Service, had previously been in the public eye in 2004 when a psychiatric patient assaulted two nurses, one of whom suffered from multiple skull fractures and was left fighting for her life.

The Mysterious Case of Missing Sarah Anne McMahon

But perhaps the story that people recognise the most when they hear the name “Swan District Hospital”, was the mysterious missing case of Sarah Anne McMahon in 2000. Sarah had been missing for 12 days, police had no leads and were publishing information to the public in the hope of finding a lead. Her car was then found in the car park of the Swan District Hospital and it appeared to have been parked there for some days. Her phone was located later on Great Northern Highway near the Swan District Hospital.

On the day she went missing, Sarah had received phone calls from a man named Donald Victor Morey (it took the WA police 12 years after her disappearance to find out this information).

In 2003, 3 years after the missing case file was first opened and still unsolved, Morey was sentenced to 13 years and four months in jail with no parole over the attempted murder of a Perth sex worker in 2003. He served the sentence and was released under a Post Sentence Supervision Order (PSSO).

Shortly after, he was charged with carrying an article with intent to injure and breaching his PSSO. He pleaded guilty and was fined $2000. Morey was interviewed several times by WA police but was never found guilty for the abduction or murder of Sarah.

In fact, to this day, no one knows where she is. Morey has since passed away and Sarah’s family are still looking for answers.

When I came across this missing case story whilst doing research on this abandoned site, I recognised the name “Sarah” from a message written on one of the walls in the asylum section of the abandoned hospital. I can’t be sure that it’s the same Sarah, but the message plea aligns with the missing story. Very sad story.

Does anyone remember this case? What are people’s thoughts or assumptions?

The History of the Swan District Hospital, Perth

In the 19th century, a casualty ward in West Midland (now Woodbridge) functioned as the primary health service to treat those too poor to afford a private doctor in the Swan area.

Poor funding marred the ward and it fell into disrepair, eventually closing in 1910. From then on, all patients had to travel to Perth for treatment or pay at one of Midland’s private hospitals.

Pressure from Swan residents and the Midland Junction Roads Board mounted on the State Government to help fund a local hospital.

It was only when Guildford’s private Seaton Ross Maternity Hospital closed in 1945 that the tide turned in favour of a newer and larger hospital campus for the Swan area.

By 1949, the site south of Eveline Road was confirmed for a new 25-bed maternity hospital and in 1954, the Swan District Hospital was officially opened as a maternity ward by the Health Minister, Emil Nulsen.

Almost 10 years after the initial opening, in October 1963, the construction of a new 40-bed wing with operating rooms was completed. By this point, Swan District Hospital had become very popular and the local population in its catchment had grown substantially.

However, the hospital’s small size and low budget meant that only 30% of locals could avail of the new health services.

In August 1971, another outwards extension was completed, including a nursing aide training school, lab services, an X-ray suite and 10 more beds for the nurses’ quarters.

A 25-bed mental health facility was added in 2001.

In 2003-04, a comprehensive review was undertaken of the future health system needs of Western Australians by the Health Reform Committee. The report, known as the Reid report, recommended that Swan District Hospital be expanded to at least a 300-bed major general hospital to improve access to hospital care in high-growth metropolitan areas and to reduce demand on tertiary hospitals. Establishing large general hospitals in outer metropolitan areas with appropriate infrastructure, emergency departments, diagnostic facilities and theatres staffed by appropriately skilled clinicians would provide a comprehensive range of core clinical services where people live.

The Reid Report stated that:

“… Swan District … Hospital(s) should be expanded over the next ten years to approximately 300 bed general hospital(s). This development will improve access to hospital care in high growth metropolitan areas and reduce demands on the tertiary hospitals for general care.”

In November 2005, following the Reid report, the then state Labour government announced its intention to build a new 326-bed hospital in Midland at a cost of $182.7 million to replace Swan District Hospital. It was expected to be completed by 2011.

During 2006 the planning for the site commenced and in 2007, the site’s structure plan was approved by the Midland Redevelopment Authority.

The Closure of the Swan District Hospital, Perth

In 2015, the Swan District Hospital officially shut its gates for the last time and was handed over to the Department of Lands in March 2016.

At this time, the 307-bed St John of God Midland Public Hospital worth $182.7 million opened and the Swan District patients, staff and equipment were transferred over.

When the Midland Public Hospital opened, the proportion of patients in the catchment area who could be treated at their local hospital doubled from 35% to 70%. The larger site also allowed for services that weren’t available at the Swan District Hospital such as high dependency and coronary care units, cancer services and adult rehabilitation services.

In 2018, La Salle College confirmed that they had purchased one of the buildings at the former Swan District Hospital to accommodate a boarding facility. 

As of today, the Swan District Hospital is in a dilapidated state and despite being abandoned since 2015, security personnel man the site 24/7 (even on Sundays). The reason why security is so high is unknown but the bottom line is that if you’re curious and decide to take a trip – be careful! 

The late Dr Michael Lyon who helped established the Swan Medical Group in 1966.

What does the abandoned Swan District Hospital, Perth look like today?

Enjoy the photography slideshow below and don’t forget to follow Abandoned World Photography for regular urbex updates on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

2 Comments

  • Liam Comley
    Liam Comley
    March 30, 2021 at 10:39 am

    Is this place easy to get into? I’ve heard that it is guarded. I’d love to get inside and explore. Thanks!

    Reply
  • declan
    April 3, 2022 at 8:24 pm

    do the guards gaurd in the mourning bout 11 oclock and wat would they do if u go in and u get caught cause i would love to explore in there and i would still do it if there were guards

    Reply

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