ARADALE and J Ward both received record-breaking visitor numbers in 2019.
Almost 16,000 visitors took day tours of either J Ward or Aradale, up from 15,500 visitors in 2018.
The visitor boon comes even after a temporary closure of Aradale, the huge psychiatric facility near green Lake, in August due to fears of high levels of lead paint.
Since volunteer group Friends of J Ward began running tours at J Ward and Aradale in 1993 and 2009 respectively, visits have increased by 36 per cent.
Ken Richie has been volunteering as a tour guide for 13 years and said repeat visitors were common.
"The number of people who say 'this is my third visit here' amazes me," he said.
"They just think there is so much to see and they can't take it all in in one go, so they come back.
"We average around 10,000 during the quiet times and now it looks like we're going to average about 12,000 a year. It's such a fascinating place - I can understand why people want to visit.
"When you go through and look it really gives you the horrors that people were locked up in here right up until 1991.
"In the waiting room there's a quote on the wall from the Inspector of Asylums (in 1901) and he thought it was horrifying that we kept people with a mental health problem in a former jail. It really is a horrifying place, but people like to be horrified."
One person that likes a good scare is Darlene Solly, of Melbourne, who spent the weekend touring Aradale and J Ward with her husband.
"We came up to go to Aradale to do the ghost tour because my husband likes the ghost tours and stuff, and so this was an extension to that," she said.
"It's something we've always been interested in doing. I actually thought (J Ward) was part of the Asylum and (after the ghost tour) I said 'we didn't see J Ward', so as we were leaving I said let's go back and have a look."
While Friends of J Ward volunteers run historical tours during the day, at night Eerie Tours takes over and runs the paranormal and ghost tours.
Eerie's chief executive Nathaniel Buchanan said Eerie also had high visitor numbers in 2019, though exact figures were not available.
"It would have been over 10,000," he said.
"It attracts people who are fascinated by ghost stories and movies, and horror enthusiasts as well as people attracted by history, architecture, and people who have heard that it is amazing from friends."
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