Now known as the Gladesville Mental Hospital, when you stroll though the grounds of the old Tarban Creek Asylum, you can’t help but feel sad for the lost souls here.
Since the very first colony of British and Irish people to Australia, to settle and build new cities of hope and development, anyone considered mentally challenged, disabled or impaired due to any other health condition, were often out aside and gathered together, sent off to asylums for someone else to deal with.
Often forgotten, as families did not know how to manage them, care for them or even be able to afford the costs of looking after them, misinformation and ill education about anyone who was different, often meant most were left at hospitals, never to be seen again by their families.
A sad and sorry tale which reminds us of our past and how far we have grown since then.
When you stroll through the enormous grounds of the Gladesville Mental Hospital, and you take in the amount of buildings there are, the amount of rooms there were and how the hospital was once packed to capacity, it’s difficult not to feel an overwhelming sense of sadness at the idea of how many people were left here to suffer, often forgotten about families and left to die.
But it it’s also a reminder of how far we have come since the first days of colonisation, where we now have a better and clearer understanding of what is needed for families to both emotionally support and financially support any family member who is mentally challenged, disabled or different.
Though there is always room for improvement, and I realise there are many families still missing out on government assistance and other assistance required in order for them to be able to better live their life caring and living with anyone who is different, reflecting on early 1800s Australia reminds me we have come so far as a people with respect to anyone who is different.
Putting aside the emotional impact the Gladesville Mental Hospital has on you, you begin to appreciate the foundations of the architecture ad the beautiful settings for the hospital and how it must have looked back when to was fully functional.
With most buildings being built from convict carved sand stone, an appreciation of what the convicts went through to build Sydney reminds me that no matter what is happening in the world today, the past is our past and we must never tear down what remains, as it is a reminder of what we must not do in the future.
These old structures, whether they be buildings, statues or signs of a past which both haunts the dead and the living, should remain strong in their foundations, as a way of teaching our young what not to do and now we should be better as a species, living together in harmony.
After all, history is violent, no matter the race, skin colour or religion. But our future doesn’t have to be, it can be made with light, peace and harmony. We must protect the past, as this is the key to finding peace in the future.