Alexandra Men's Hostel
Located on Hay Street, in Perth's CBD, this two-storey commercial building was constructed from 1903 to 1907 following the gold boom.
Not much can be found on this building which is sad but it's most reknown for the famous story of Bob Hobson's 1946 murder of Stella Farnworth, which took place at the Alexandra Hostel. I have included articles from the Museum of Perth's excellent recount of the story below, as well as a link to their website.
The Alexandra Hostel later became a men's hostel providing single accomodation for 24 residents with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. All rooms were fully furnished and included linen supply and a refrigerator. There was an on-site caretake responsible for cleaning and the general operation of the premises. Rent was $67.50 but I don't recall for what year.
From my time on and around the streets of Perth, I have strong memories of this hostel being for men's accomodation. Perhaps there was female quarters somewhere, I am unsure, although females were allowed to visit to which I did when my mates Owen and Thomas lived there. I also recall that nearly all the residents were parolees, bailees or ex-homeless men, many with mental health troubles. It is hard to find any exact dates for anything related to this hostel but I think it was around 2006 the hostel closed down but perhaps it could have been a few years earlier.
It's almost unheard of, that a so-called abandoned place doesn't change. Whether from homeless people setting up camp, thieves seeking opportunities, graffiti artists, vandals or the various weather conditions.
Although the building itself, or a tleast parts of it, is still being tenanted by a small business, the rear of the property remains forgotten some 15 years after forming part of the Alexander Men's Hostel.
I only noticed four small changes since my last visit 14 months earlier: The thorny bougainvillea has certainly grown wild during this time, although the hedera helix ivy not so much. The laughing pink lobster on the back wall has been painted over with a patch of chrome, as if someone was preparing a canvas for their graff. A few childlike tags line the walls of the outside bathroom and the broken wooden pallet that was also in there, has since been removed.
Extracts from the Perth book Deep Into Dark by Delphine Jamet
Sunday 6 February 2000
Owen lives in the Alexandra hostel, which is reknown for cockroaches. One night, he was dreaming about a cockroach and woke up choking. He turned on the light and realised he was choking on a massive cockroach but managed to get it out alive. It was awhile untill he could sleep again!!!
Wednesday 7 March 2001
Carl is walking down Wellington Street. I haven’t seen him since Rob was arrested in Forrest Chase the other day. When I tell him where I’m going to sleep for the morning, he becomes angry with me for even considering it. Apart from the warm shelters the Entertainment Centre offered, it’s definitely not a place for girls or women to sleep, especially on their own. I’ve never seen anything dangerous nor anyone lurking around, but Carl is more streetwise than me, so I had to take his word.
“I’m telling you… and there’s no arguing about it… that you’re going to come to my place or wherever I’m going,” he says.
Carl is walking around the city, completing a very long drug deal which appeared to involve him moving the drugs around all night from Northbridge to the other side of the city, so that if he and his mate were pulled up by the cops, the drugs wouldn’t have been very far off.
“Why are you so paranoid?” I ask.
“Our (Alexandra) hostel got raided by the cops. I’m not going to get busted with this shit on me.”
“Were you there when they raided it?”
Carl shakes his head no, as he looks around for any suspicious cars hanging around the area.
“Nuh, we’ve got a good caretaker. Every time the hostel gets raided, the caretaker comes and wakes us up 10 to 20 minutes before the cops rock up so we have time to get our drugs out.”
“Do you pay him off?”
“Nuh, he doesn’t even use, either.” Carl looks behind him. We stop at the Perth Entertainment Centre on our way to cross the bridge over the train tracks. Carl is so paranoid that him and Thomas keep scanners on them in case there is mention of more drug raids on the police radios. “The other day, I heard someone outside my door. It was like they were listening for movements from my room. Then when the person left, I heard on the scanner stuff like, ‘he doesn’t even know we’re coming’ which pretty much described me so I reckon there was a copper outside my door.”
(A few hours later, Melinda Mae Davies who was sleeping at the Perth Entertainment Centre with two men, was brutally raped and murdered).
Thursday 29 March 2001
Edward and Thomas started talking to a hooker on Brisbane Street. She’d just finished work and was heading home. I knew her from a while ago but I can’t place her or remember her name. Thomas asked her if he could borrow some money, as he’d already been busted by the manager of the Alexandra Hostel for being behind late on his rent. The girl gave him $20.
We returned to the squat Edward and I had found on Money Street, to grab my bag. I think it was number 29. Then we headed back to Alexandra Hostel at three in the morning, after sneaking back in as quietly as we could. We went to a small room at the back of the hostel in the backyard. I sat on a chair and Edward was on the end of the bed with his neck in a ridiculously bad angle against the wall. Julia and Thomas were in each other’s arms at the top of the bed with very little space. The radio was left on to 96FM. Every hour when it was time for the news, I tried to listen out for any report on an Asian bashing or death. I couldn't sleep and I was stuck with the visions of the horrific violence, which I just couldn't get out of my head.
At 7.30 am, I sat on the floor against the wall with a blanket that had been on the floor. At 8.50 am, someone started banging on the door. I didn't move but just waited for Thomas to wake up. I was worried it was the police. It turned out to be his mum. I'm not sure if it was his real mum or just someone he calls mum. She yelled out to him that he'd better go to the bank and get his rent money like he said he would. He yelled out he already had the money and she left, probably to continue watering the garden. She kept spraying Thomas’ roof, to make sure he wouldn’t go back to sleep. I didn't want to miss the Shirley’s food van so I told Thomas I had to go. He got off the bed and called out to his mum to smuggle me out, so the manager wouldn't know I’d slept the night here. Even though I hadn't.