A child has vanished.
The only person who knows what happened and where the missing child is, is in a coma.
Can you and your team of detectives enter this person’s mind and find out where the child has been taken?
That’s the storyline of an escape game at Melbourne’s premier VR escape room.
As you can guess, the driving element of the storyline – and of the VR game – is a shocking event, that inspires curiosity and stimulates thrill and adrenalin.
It’s the same elements that drive urban legends, and make their lure so very difficult to escape from.
Here are 4 of the best-known urban legends of our home city – Melbourne.
Urban Legends: A Very Short Introduction
An urban legend is defined as stories that are widely circulated as true; and framed as having affected a friend or family member.
They will very often contain a horrifying element, and are known to thrill and enthrall audiences.
Many urban legends have a universal base, with the details changing from geography to geography to reflect local facts.
Some of the most popular urban legends are based on
- Secret tunnels beneath the city
- Unknown creatures wandering the streets
- People being kidnapped from parties, and their organs harvested
- Rooms or portions of old buildings (libraries, theatres, and so on) being haunted
Melbourne Urban Legend 1 – The ‘Morgue’ at Crown Casino
It’s nothing new for casinos to attract the kinds of persons who shouldn’t be within a hundred feet of a casino, a.k.a. gamblers who don’t manage to keep in control and end up losing more than they can afford to.
As you can well imagine, thoughts of ending their lives do come to some of these individuals.
The legend surrounding Crown Casino in Southbank is that it has a very high mortality rate – much higher than what presumably would be considered ‘normal’ – and that the casino has designed its own underground morgue to dispose of bodies and cover up the alleged deaths.
There’s also rumoured to be a system of tunnels that lead from the casino to various locations where, presumably, bodies can be discreetly transported.
The third rumour is about specially rotating bathroom stalls that allow for swift disposal of corpses.
Melbourne Urban Legend 2 – Jack The Ripper Retired To Melbourne
Jack The Ripper was a real serial killer who prowled the streets of Whitechapel, London, in 1888, and murdered 5 women in horrific ways.
As if the mutilated corpses weren’t enough, he found other novel ways to terrorize the public, such as the ‘Letter From Hell’.
However, the verifiable history ends there.
In 2011, a Dr. Geoff Crawford (let’s not forget Will Graham’s boss in the Hannibal series of books/films is also called ‘Crawford’) claimed that Jack The Ripper was in fact Frederick Bailey Deeming, who settled in Windsor, Melbourne, when he arrived in Australia from England.
This may or may not be true; however, as of now, most sources say Jack The Ripper remains an unidentified serial killer.
Which makes Dr. Crawford’s theory an urban legend.
Melbourne Urban Legend 3 – The Vanishing At Hanging Rock
While this is not technically in Melbourne, it’s such a haunting, and sometimes believed as true, urban legend, that I decided to include it.
This goes back to a 1967 novel by Joan Lindsay called Picnic at Hanging Rock.
It’s about 3 school girls Miranda, Marion and Irma and their teacher Miss McCraw, who mysteriously vanish while on a Valentine’s Day picnic at Hanging Rock in the year 1900.
Image courtesy council website
The writer, Ms. Lindsay, included an image of what was said to be a newspaper clipping of the time, which would back up the event as true.
And, she took care to be evasive when people would ask her about the vanishing.
However, it is now known that the event never happened; and the newspaper clipping was made up, which makes this one of Melbourne’s, indeed, one of Australia’s most well-known urban legends.
Melbourne Urban Legend 4 – The Ghost Of Princess Theatre
Melbourne’s Very Own Phantom Of The Opera
In 1888 (the very same year Jack The Ripper was active in Whitechapel), Italian-born British opera singer Frederick Federici died of a heart attack while rendering the final notes in his role as Mephistopheles in a staging of the opera Faust in the Princess Theatre.
Unfortunately, since he had been lowered into the basement (presumably to represent hell) when it happened, and the body been carried discreetly to the green room, the remaining cast were unaware of his death.
So, they would claim that he had been present among them when they were taking the bows (which happened after the time of his death), which set off the urban legend of a phantom wandering the hallways of the Princess Theatre.
What do you think?
Can you escape the lure of these 4 Melbourne urban legends?