Escape from Scape By Chelle Marshall

As a special treat for all students in CM1, Chelle and our TGS staff decided to organize a Halloween haunted house at our res. The following passages are the haunted stories Chelle she had heard about at our res and all the ghosts that are living here completely unnoticed. Read carefully, like Chelle mentions, later on, your mistakes could be fatal....

If you ever scroll through the Scape website, you will see that it has locations in the UK, Australia, Ireland and they have plans to expand to the US and Asia. The idea of student-centered living was conceived of by 3 founders who, in 2008 came together to put things into action - first in the UK and now in Australia. Scape Swanston is their flagship residence in Australia and we have come to enjoy the amenities and vibe of the place - there are a few details that you might not know about that you should be aware of in the next week especially.

Tom Ward, one of the CEO's is credited with expertise in alternative property and his responsibility is to buy and convert the property in the area of universities. While negotiating for the Swanston location, Tom was warned that the previous building had problems with their basement relating to an underground tunnel that made the foundation unstable. Tom solved this by instructing the builders to fill the tunnel with concrete before construction on Scape.

What you need to know... Between 1788 - 1857 penal colonies were set up at Botany Bay (now Sydney) but less is known about the penal colony that was established in Melbourne circa 1803 (formally Port Phillip) where the worst of the worst were sent to carve out an existence in the Yarra Valley.

The tunnel that Tom Ward had filled connects to the State Library which wasn't always the State Library; originally, the dock area was the main CBD and this area was on the outskirts of Melbourne and where the State Library is now - was actually the Melbourne penitentiary - most of the incarcerated were slightly insane and certainly desperate. In 1919, 4 prisoners conspired to escape by digging a tunnel under the fence surrounding the prison. It took them 10 months of digging and scraping dirt using wooden implements that were fashioned out of their bed legs. The tunnel is not straight or large as it had to skirt around large stones and boulders and it was only the width of two bodies - as they would work on the tunnel in pairs lying on their stomachs in the dead of night each night.

On the night of October 28 in 1919, George Tallus and Moe Dirken were working on the tunnel with the task of angling it up to the surface. Less and less work could be done as it would take time just to crawl through the tunnel to get to where they needed to continue digging and they had to leave enough time to get back to their cell. Just that week, a new prison warden (Valden Valdarque) who had been relieved of his duties at the Bagne de Toulon for his excessive use of torturous means of 'reforming' prisoners, had taken command of the prison (being the only person who would accept this remote posting). Valden Valdarq would personally patrol the prison cell blocks at night, wearing a dark cloke with a hood to conceal his protrusive front teeth.

Ooops, someone is coming... I will have to continue the story later!

Now if Tom Ward found out that I was passing along this story to you, he would most likely evict TGS from the residence... so don't speak of it to each other or ANYONE - just BEWARE...

As I was recounting...

Valden Valdarque, on the night of 28 October 1919, was sweeping through the cell blocks of the Port Phillip Penitentiary in his hooded cloak (sp from before) and noticed the two missing prisoners. Rather than raise the alarm, he crept into their shared cell and found the tunnel entrance. He squirmed through the tunnel until very close to the pair who were about to begin crawling back to their cell. Valden Valdarq used his 9 inch long blade to loosen several stones from the top of the tunnel and quickly packed them with dirt, effectively narrowing the tunnel to slow the return of George Tallus and Moe Dirken, whom he could hear as they made their way toward him. He then scrambled back along the tunnel to the opening and sidled out of their cell, creeping quietly along the hallway, back to his office.

George and Moe were quite shaken by the obstruction as it did not resemble a rockfall or caving in of the tunnel, but they had to hastily remove the blockage and get back to their cell before being discovered. The next day, out in the prison yard, they related their encounter of the blockage to their two co-conspirators (Jim Devine and Nester Pallock). The group of 4 convicts decided to accelerate their escape plans, agreeing that the night of 30 October would be their break out date.

The second thing you need to know... Valden Valdarq, aside from having protrusive and upon closer inspection, slightly sharpened front teeth. He was a pale, white, sickly man with an unusually bulbous head. Back in the prison in Toulon, he was feared by his staff as much as the prisoners with his erratic, scathing anger and violence. Why do you need to know this?? He is still haunting the place where the tunnel ends.... remember this description of him if you value your life, NO! if you value your sanity!!!

Back to the story... but you probably can guess where this is going; on the night of 30 October, the four fated inmates scrabbled their way through the dark and dank tunnel, this time sealing the prison access securely and at 20 m intervals, collapsing and packing the dirt behind them to slow anyone who might try to follow them. At the end of the tunnel, they spent 4 arduous hours of scraping and gauging the dirt above them to create their escape hole. They emerged from the dark tunnel into the equally dark and cloudy night; relieved at first to be in the fresh air, but then fearful of the snarling and howling of the wolf-like animal (or was it animals?) that seemed to be surrounding them. They quickly decided to break into pairs and make a run in different directions. Jim and Nester quickly ran into a farmyard that had laundry hanging on the line. They slipped between the hanging sheets, stopping to listen for the beast. That was their last thought as the weirdly white beast's claws and sharpened canine teeth rendered them to mere shreds. Moe and George heard their screams of pain and terror and, running in the opposite direction, soon found themselves back at the prison wall where they were captured and made to go back to dig the grave for Jim and Nester. They were also made to build a cairn and a plaque that read:

Beware the Scape... Escape if you can!

The last thing you need to know... on the night of October 30th every year, there is unusual paranormal or even haunting activity in the vicinity of the State Library AND near to the attempted escapee's tunnels end which is the very spot where our residence exists today. We now know that the Scape is where the tunnel ends, what we don't know is why the cairn's script reads as it does. At least you might not know! Mwa ha ha ha ...

If you can - stay away from the Scape kitchen area on the night of 30 October. If you dare, come at 8 PM to see or hear or feel the tortured message from Jim, Nester, George, and Moe and the deranged rantings of Valden Valdarq... IF YOU DARE!

Following these messages, students participated in a haunted escape room experience in which they had their fingerprints and mug shots taken before entering the prison maze handcuffed to their partner. In the maze that had trapped prisoners dangling from their shackles, and spiders lurking from their webs, students had to escape from their handcuffs, find severed fingers, and answer a skill-testing question before the exit was revealed to them. Staff and students enjoyed the hype and fright.