Former Animal Experimentation Facility at Downer Shops?

Disposable 11 February 2009 30

About 15 or so years ago there used to be a building at the Downer shops that apparently was where perfumes and chemicals were “tested” on animals.

It was featured on the local news when an underground rave/performance art event was illegally held there. 

The most memorable thing about the news story was that there was the corpse of a full horse on the floor of one of the rooms.

I assume this had been brought in as the building hadn’t been used in years.

There was mention of witchcraft being conducted there in the news story but I also remember someone else trying to explain the dead animal as a performance art piece. Anyway being 17 and bored my mates and I made several visits to the place we lamely named the Satan House.

The first time we didn’t have the guts to go in so we went to Dickson Woolies, bought some torches and ventured back.

It wasn’t hard to get in as there was only a 6 foot wire fence and all the doors to the building were open. 

The building had about 15 rooms that were all individually decorated by different graffiti artists.

While it was a little scary being in there we never found the horse. We found the room it was in though.

If anyone else has any more info on this please post it here.

My memory is hazy at best and I assume most of the things we had been told were urban myths.

The site was bulldozed years back and there are townhouses there now.   


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30 Responses to Former Animal Experimentation Facility at Downer Shops?
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ScrappyKat ScrappyKat 12:36 pm 16 Feb 09

The cafe was there probably 25 years ago.It became a chinese restaurant probably 20 years ago. It was there for a long time and was very good. The Indian restaurant was quite recent really, and I used to get takeaway from there a lot, it was very good too. I remember the Italian cafe too, but never went there. In the good old days the supermarket wasn’t too bad.

I agree with the service station idea, but can you imagine how much they’d charge for that service?

Granny Granny 10:45 pm 13 Feb 09

I am so tracking with you dude! Surely there is a niche market for that …. I still remember my dad saying, “Fill her up with super!” as his arm dangled casually out the window. I have never gotten to say, “Fill her up with unleaded.” It’s just not fair.

sepi sepi 9:24 pm 13 Feb 09

Wow really. I remember when it had an Indian Restaurant, a funny little italian cafe and the world’s worst supermarket.

I wish there was a servo there – or an small local servos.

Buying petrol without getting out of the car was a luxury I didn’t appreciate til it was gone! And now with kids in the back it would be even better.

In fact a drive thru servo where you could pick up bread and milk and a frozen pizza, all without leaving the car would be fantastic.

ScrappyKat ScrappyKat 6:39 pm 13 Feb 09

Gosh, goes to show how long since I’ve been anywhere near the Downer Shops. Once upon a time there was a post office, doctors surgery, butchers, supermarket, chinese restaurant and a chemist there. A long long time ago…. I learnt to use chopsticks in that restaurant. Before it was a chines it was a cafe that sold lollies. The good old days.

Ozhair Ozhair 1:47 pm 12 Feb 09

I remember this from when I was working at WIN. I wasn’t on that story, but I do remember that there was some footage of the horse in-situ floating around. I can’t remember if it was us or Prime that got it, though.

Disposable Disposable 1:37 pm 12 Feb 09

There were a block of new units behind the Lame House when we did our exploring, I remember that we had to be quiet.
Now there are two sets of units so I assume the second lot got built after the building got knocked down.

I never knew about the servo though.

It was on the front page of the CT, I am getting keen to hit the National Library and see if I can get a copy.

Squil Squil 1:36 pm 12 Feb 09

Shit man. I wish underground raves illegally held in disused public spaces were still a part of Canberra.

ScrappyKat ScrappyKat 1:13 pm 12 Feb 09

I grew up in the area, and I’m pretty sure the units went up before that site was cleared. There used to be a service station where the units are.

I do remember everyone freaking out when it happened though.

Mr Evil Mr Evil 1:03 pm 12 Feb 09

aelliso said :

I’d really like to know how they managed to get a 500kg animal into the building…

If I recall correctly, the horse’s carcus weighed nothing near it’s original weight after having been lying out in the open for about 6 months.

It certainly wasn’t fresh!

Disposable Disposable 10:53 am 12 Feb 09

aelliso said :

I’d really like to know how they managed to get a 500kg animal into the building…

I thought the same thing.

flyamanita said :

My god, I was going to make a post of this exact topic. I got in there back when I was 11 or 12, just before they demolished the place and took a few photos, I’ll dig around and upload them tomorrow.

Sweet mate, that would be awesome.

enrique enrique 9:27 am 12 Feb 09

flyamanita said :

My god, I was going to make a post of this exact topic. I got in there back when I was 11 or 12, just before they demolished the place and took a few photos, I’ll dig around and upload them tomorrow.

Cool, someone is actually going to answer the Photos or it didn’t happen challenge.

NoAddedMSG NoAddedMSG 8:45 am 12 Feb 09

aelliso said :

I’d really like to know how they managed to get a 500kg animal into the building…

My thoughts exactly, followed by “I wonder how long the horse had been dead before they carried it in there and was it mid-summer?”

I’m not surprised they didn’t remove the horse afterwards. It was probably a bit smelly and where would you take it to?

flyamanita flyamanita 1:40 am 12 Feb 09

My god, I was going to make a post of this exact topic. I got in there back when I was 11 or 12, just before they demolished the place and took a few photos, I’ll dig around and upload them tomorrow.

aelliso aelliso 12:33 am 12 Feb 09

I’d really like to know how they managed to get a 500kg animal into the building…

enrique enrique 11:09 pm 11 Feb 09

Yep, no witch craft at all. Just an art installation by a bunch of Canberra School of Art students.

julz julz 9:17 pm 11 Feb 09

Mr Julz worked there (NBSL)in the early 80’s. They experimented on mice and rabbits (no rats).

Disposable Disposable 6:54 pm 11 Feb 09

Thanks for that Mr Evil. That’s heaps more than I could remember.

taninaus taninaus 6:48 pm 11 Feb 09

I think NBSL was up near ANU though – maybe subsequent to the Downer site or both?

Mr Evil Mr Evil 5:58 pm 11 Feb 09

In about 1993 or 94, a photography student from the School of Art was into photographing dead animals, and being a cocky little try-hard wanker he decided it would be a ‘good’ idea to organise an artistic event at this particular site (without any approval, of course!). He managed to convince a few other art students to be involved by contributing various other works. The event was held on either a Friday or Saturday night, if I recall correctly.

He apparently picked the dead horse up from a property somewhere outside Canberra, and after the event he stupidly left the dead horse and quite a number of other bizzare works on site.

A few days later some young kids were snooping around the site, and of course found all this weird shit on the site, and then ran home to tell their parents. The parents contacted the Police and the media about it, because quite fairly they thought it was some sort of Santanic ritual stuff.

To cut a long story short, the organiser of the event wasn’t quite so cocky when the Police came looking for him at the Art School…….

Disposable Disposable 5:32 pm 11 Feb 09

There is nothing to see there anymore, just townhouses.

I tried to link a google map but didn’t have any luck. It is on Frencham St.

The NBSL sounds interesting, looks like the urban myth wasn’t that far from the truth.

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