See & Do

Old Melbourne Gaol

Last week, we visited the Old Melbourne Gaol, a museum and former prison. For my American readers, gaol is a British variant spelling of jail. They’re pronounced the same.

The building of the Old Melbourne Gaol began in 1841 and expanded following the discovery of gold in Victory, which led to rapid growth in population and increased crime. It held and executed some of Australia’s most notorious criminals including Ned Kelly. At one point, the Gaol occupied an entire city block and included exercise yards, hospitals, a chapel, a bath house, and accommodations for staff. It closed in 1924 and parts of the Gaol have since been incorporated into the RMIT University. The rest is a museum.

Inside the Old Melbourne Gaol.

Inside the Old Melbourne Gaol.
Cells have information about the prisoners. Women were also held and executed here.
The death mask of the outlaw Ned Kelly.
The death mask of the outlaw Ned Kelly.
The gallows.
The gallows.
The triangle where prisoners were flogged.
The triangle where prisoners were flogged.

Inside the Old Melbourne Gaol.

Inside the Old Melbourne Gaol.
Bricked up doors. Where did they lead?
Outside the Old Melbourne Gaol.
The Gaol is shown on the right. The RMIT Alumni Courtyard once held the Gaol’s hospital.
The entry to the Old Melbourne Gaol.
A peek through the Gaol’s original entry gate. This part of the site now belongs to RMIT University.
The entry to the Old Melbourne Gaol.
The original entry gate.

Admission to the Gaol includes a tour of the old City Police Watch House next door. It closed in 1994.

Inside the old City Police Watch House.
The cells at the old City Police Watch House.
Inside the old City Police Watch House.
The interior of a cell.
Inside the old City Police Watch House.
A padded cell.
Inside the old City Police Watch House.
A view of the exercise yard from a separate cell for isolated criminals at the old City Police Watch House.
Graffiti in the women’s exercise yard at the old City Police Watch House.
Graffiti in the women’s exercise yard at the old City Police Watch House.

For more information about the Old Melbourne Gaol, visit its website here.

Comments

comments

  • Wonderful photos and very interesting! It looks pretty grim.

    • Cosette

      It is grim. I believe they offer a ghost tour too. Thanks for stopping by!