When I was at the Fannie Bay Gaol Museum in August 2010, they were having a prisoner art show (presumably prisoners from other active institutions) in the Stores Building. The artwork was for sale. There were paintings, sculptures and furniture. The talent was amazing. How can people with abilities like this end up in prison?
The first picture shows a corner of the Infirmary, the west end of the Stores Building, the Visitors' Building and the history signboards on the west wall near the entrance. The Stores building was erected in about January 1958 and used as a reception area for prisoners upon arrival, clothing issue and to store prisoners' effects. Toward the end of 1958, the building was modified to include office space for the Gaoler and the Chief Guard. When I was there in August 2010, the Stores Building was being used for a prisoners' art show (see a separate tip).
There was no smoking in the visitors' area. Other rules included: (1) Conversations to be of a private nature only and spoken in English, (2) Do not discuss prison matters, and (3) No articles to be passed through the fence.
The Remand Section is located in the southeast corner of the Fannie Bay Gaol. The sign says: "Anecdotal evidence (for the graves were unmarked and outside the original boundary of the prison) suggests that prisoners who died while in Fannie Bay Gaol were buried in the area somewhere between the Remand Building and the present fence line."
The Medium Security C Wing building at Fannie Bay Gaol, and others like it, were made from modified Sidney Williams huts. They were installed in the 1960's. The corrugated iron and internal weldmesh design seems to not be private, but the prisoners preferred it to the isolation of "closed" cells. This type of cell design, where prisoners can see and talk to each other, was supported by the findings of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (1991).
Two cells were placed in the middle of the lawn for violent or mentally ill inmates. These cells included a small yard encased with cyclone fencing. In the first picture, the Separate Confinement Building is the small white building on the right. The east end of the Ablutions Block is on the left.
Cell blocks A and B were the original maximum security cell blocks at the Fannie Bay Gaol. Maximum security cells included hooks mounted into the walls for the restraint of inmates and very narrow doorways to prevent inmates escaping when a guard entered. Don't miss the signboard exhibit in Cell Block A about the Dawn of Art. It details the first Australian Aboriginal art exhibition, which featured works by Northern Territory (NT) artists that was unveiled to the public in 1888 in the NT display at the great Centennial International Exhibition in Melbourne. Three of the four artists were Fannie Bay Gaol prisoners.
Fannie Bay Gaol operated as Her Majesty's Gaol and Labour Prison in Darwin from 20 September 1883 until 1 September 1979. The original building has a kitchen, a wash house, and two maximum security cell blocks (A and B), each with six cells. The Infirmary was added in 1887 and contains the gallows installed for the last executions held in Northern Territory in 1952. A separate cell block for female prisoners was added in 1928. A watch tower, "native section" for Aboriginal prisoners, kitchen mess building, remand section and two medium security wings were added during the 1950's.
The Fannie Bay Gaol Museum is administered by the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT). It is open from 10 AM to 3 PM daily, but the last visitors are admitted at 2:45 PM. Admission is free. The entrance is on the east side of East Point Road just south of the intersection with Ross Smith Avenue. Aviators Park and the Fannie Bay Shopping Center are just across Ross Smith Avenue to the north. The Capricornia Motel is ~700 meters south of the museum. BTW, "gaol" is pronounced the same as "jail." See also several other off-the-beaten-path tips and a travelogue on the history of the Fannie Bay Gaol.
A sign said: "At Fannie Bay Gaol, unlike prisons elsewhere, the male prisoners did not eat in their cells, but ate communally in the Mess. Care was taken to separate the juvenile offenders from those imprisoned for more serious offences or who were believed might expose the children to the threat of sexual abuse." There are many juveniles in the USA that might want to read that or a similar sign before they decide to do certain things.
There was also a building called the Children's Section. The sign says that "This building was constructed some time after 1963 to house prisoners which the administration felt required separate handling: juvenile offenders, inmates with contagious diseases (such as leprosy) and, in the 1970's, refugee Vietnamese boat people.
The sign says that "Before the installation of an ablutions block, prisoners were taken daily to a nearby beach at Fannie Bay for a wash and also to empty the night soil into the sea. During one such visit in 1933, the Aboriginal outlaw, Nemarluk, escaped into the nearby rainforest at East Point to evade the police." Times have changed now. When one searches for "ablutions" on the internet, one hit is Ablutions, just a tad different from the Fannie Bay Gaol ablutions block.