by Harry Jackson


Either I’ve either landed on the set of a new Indiana Jones movie, or I took too many trips in the sixties. Given I was only three when the sixties ended and my Mum wasn’t the kind of woman who saw Hendrix at the Isle of White festival, I’m going to have to presume the former is true.


Here I can trace the footsteps of the Pharaohs, immerse myself in the violent infamy of Mr. Ned Kelly, or mingle around the round table with Camelot’s knights.


Let’s get real. I’m obviously not well connected, talented or cool enough to find myself hanging with a man who sounds like a cross between a casual jacket (Harrington) and a car (Ford.) Plus the last time I looked Melbourne wasn’t an obvious location choice for an ‘Indi’ adventure. So where the ‘Flippin Heck’ am I?


I’m in The Mystery Rooms, an interactive puzzle solving adventure in trendy Fitzroy. Myself and three associates have been invited to pit our wits against the puzzles of Ancient Egypt. My guess is we’re going to stack up badly, you only get sixty minutes to solve all the puzzles and escape. And there’s a surprising amount of puzzles. My pessimistic outlook is influenced by the fact that it took us forty minutes to find the place (and it’s well located,) plus we thought that was the first puzzle. You see what we’re working with here.


Once inside we’re met by our hostess and asked to remove our shoes. She runs the rules and regulations past us, the most important of which is use all of your senses except taste. Don’t lick the sand, plastic snakes, Cleopatras Sphinx, the walls, hosts (male or female) or Seymour’s bones, they won’t taste good and it won’t help you solve anything. You will need the other senses though, especially your eyes, fingers and your nose. Most importantly you’ll need your brain and your voice as you’ll be communicating your ideas to each other in an attempt to complete the challenge.


Obviously I cannot divulge the nature of the puzzles, that would help you cheat. This is a relief as I didn’t take notes and I’ve a short term visual memory. What I can tell you is that most puzzles are designed for the purpose of discovering a combo of numbers. These numbers enable you to crack padlocks and discover new clues. The puzzles are inventive, fun and definitely require one’s brain cogs to creak into gear. Our hostess had to offer us some clues because she didn’t want to sleep in a musty tomb with nefarious mummies. In truth they do let you out even if you don’t complete all the puzzles. If they didn’t the place would fill up pretty quickly and people would start eating each other. That’s a health and safety issue.


I hope they continually update and evolve the puzzles because once you’ve completed a room it’s done. It would be easy on a second attempt, which is great if you’re a charlatan and you want to impress a date.”


I have a confession to make. I actually didn’t understand the last challenge at all, I just smiled and nodded at the female engineer in our group that was smarter, or at least more knowledgable than I. I’ve a suspicion the rest of my group were doing the same. How did we thank her for saving us? Well not at all actually. Like we were going to admit we didn’t get it.


We completed in just over an hour, it would have been less but one of the padlocks had a wardrobe malfunction, which cost us valuable time. No doubt in my mind we were a brilliant success. A team to rival the English at the 66 World Cup, or any group to have ascended Everest’s summit. We were brilliant, our hostesses assessment was less enthusiastic. But she was thousands of years old and Egyptian, what does she know? (Actually she was lovely and very encouraging and had good hearing for someone so old.)


The other thing I can tell you about The Mystery Rooms is it’s brilliant. We had so much fun trying to solve the interactive puzzles and the design of the spaces is incredible. All constructed by hand by a small team of dedicated puzzle nuts. If this idea, in this place, at this time had been done by Disney it simply wouldn’t have the same charm. And I wouldn’t have accepted the invitation, such are my feelings towards greedy multinationals. This is handmade in Melbourne by creatives. That’s the only way to go.


After escaping the grips of the nymphomaniac zombie cleopatra we took a tour of the other rooms. Though not quite complete one can only marvel at the work and imagination that’s gone into them. I can’t recommend this enough. Take a break from the bars, restaurants and cafes and do your brain and your face a favour. You’ll  be grinning from ear to ear when you leave The Mystery Rooms.


I hope they continually update and evolve the puzzles because once you’ve completed a room it’s done. It would be easy on a second attempt, which is great if you’re a charlatan and you want to impress a date. You could go a second time but pretend you’ve never heard of the place. Then you’d smash it and look really smart. Unless you’ve got a short term visual memory of course, then you’d just look as thick as you did the first time.


The Footsteps of the Pharaohs is open for bookings now and the Ned Kelly and Camelot rooms will be with us soon. Each will offer a greater challenge than the last, which means I probably did the easiest first. I’m going to need some more female engineers for the next two.


The Mystery Rooms is located in 303 Napier St, Fitzroy. Opening hours are: Wednesday – Friday 5-10pm and Saturday/ Sunday – 1pm to 10pm. A four person room costs $150 while a six person room costs $225. For more information, visit

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