The Tunnels of Princess Margaret Hospital

Photo by James Vergen

The old tunnels under the main building of Perth’s Princess Margaret Children’s Hospital appears to be fairly unknown.

Other than a few chambers filled with maintenance machinery, extensive lengths of all sorts of pipes, pumps and anything typically found in a boiler room, it takes some considerable amount of time to walk through it all. Due to the site being in the process of demolition, I’ve been told two parts of the tunnel have since been filled in and one part demolished.

Photo by James Vergen

I’ve also been told by an ex-PMH staff member that the tunnel once connected the underground staff carpark, on the corner of Hay and Hamilton Streets, to the main hospital building. It seems a bit strange that staff, particularly nurses and doctors wearing perfectly clean clothes, would walk through such narrow gaps, squeeze under pipes and climb up and down a number of ladders to get in and out of their workplace.

One of the filled in parts appears to have been connected to the landmark chimney stack (one of the few buildings that won’t be demolished). Interestingly, all entries into that building have apparently been sealed or locked.

Nevertheless, it apparently takes a good 18 minutes of fast walking (and crawling) to explore what remains but it won’t be long before this tunnel network becomes a part of history. A number of people have documented it, so thankfully it won’t be forgotten. With plenty of photos and videos being shared on social media, many can virtually see the experience for themselves.

Many people enjoyed the experience of visiting the South Fremantle Power Station in Coogee, back when the tunnels were accessible, although very few photos and videos have since surfaced. There is much speculation bordering-myths on whether or not these tunnels actually once existed, which they did. Sadly, very little photos and videos have been shared online, although a free movie on YouTube called Derelict is partially set inside the power station and shows the tunnels, which were filled in a long time ago.

Like the power station, Princess Margaret Hospital is a NO-GO zone. Aside from its high security environment and fast-responding police to anyone caught trespassing or even considering it, it is a dangerous place and certainly not worth risking your life for. A lot of people fail to realise that it’s a demolition site and anything could collapse on them at any time. Not to mention many health threats such as the copious amounts of asbestos.

Photo by James Vergen

There are so many tunnels and secret underground chambers in Perth, although most are rarely documented, if at all. Aside from those being on private property, redevelopments have temporarily or permanently blocked access to many and then there’s some that are perhaps just a myth. Maybe they existed at one stage but many have mystified even the most experienced archaeologists and historians. Despite strong evidence and personal accounts of their existence, such as the one in Guildford, locating them is a different story when there isn’t any documentation, let alone blueprints.

Thankfully, much of that won’t apply to the Princess Margaret Hospital tunnels.

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