The old Melbourne Gaol once housed some of the most notorious criminals of Victoria. The legendary Ned Kelly was jailed here and there is a lot of information here regarding his life as well as his "death mask". Here you can walk the dimmed cell house and go into each cell to see exhibits about the criminals who once roamed the halls.
Also included in the price of the ticket is the Watch House Experience. Here you experience what criminals would have as a guide serving as a "Charge Sergeant" goes through the process of being incarcerated. This includes being booked in, being led to the cell block and eventually being locked into one of the cells. A very unique experience that should not be missed.
This is a definite "must see" attraction in Melbourne. It has won a number of awards for being a first class tourist site. The Gaol was built between 1841 and 1845 and closed in 1924. It was opened again temporarily in the Second World War to house military detainees.
There were 135 hangings in Old Melbourne Gaol during its years of operation and of course, the most famous of these was the hanging of Ned Kelly in 1880. Many of the cells feature the death masks of men who were hanged there.
The entrance fee of $AUD21.00 covers the whole day and includes the Watchhouse experience as well (see my next tip). Allow several hours if you want to see it all thoroughly.
Open daily 9.30am -5.30pm. It is best to get there early so you can look around with plenty of room to move.
No trip to Melbourne would complete without your Ned Kelly fix. No better way to get it than at the old jail.
FYI, do the free tour for some real fun and a chance to see part of the old jail that you normal can't see... including the chance to take some mug shots of yourself. there are only a few tours each day though, you might want to call ahead for times and reservations.
I learned about Ned Kelly long ago through the old Mick Jagger movie of the outlaw. Since he was hanged here, I wanted to visit the place. We visited it during the day when a lot of school tours were going through, but it was still a pretty chilling place. The building that you tour is only about half of the complex. The womens wing was demolished some time ago but there are still three stories of cells left to poke into. Of special interest are the many exhibits of condemed prisoners. You can see the flogging frame, death masks of executed prisoners, and some exhibits of gross injustice done to innocent men and women imprisoned there. They even have some plastic getups of Ned Kelly's armor you could put on and take a picture of. A very sad place all in all but worth your time if you are into crime and punishment.
Ever wanted to visit a jail? This was my 3rd, after Port Arthur and Fremantle. Thought I will do it just for the heck of it. This iconic landmark, with its imposing sandstone and bluestone walls, dominated the Melbourne skyline as a symbol of authority when it was built in the mid 1800s. Between 1842 and its closure in 1929, the gaol was the scene of 136 hangings including Australia's most infamous outlaw, Ned Kelly. The prison was also a focus during some of Australia’s most significant historical moments, including the Gold Rush and World War II. The goal went through a number of facelifts and was extended periodically to cater to new needs till its eventual closure.
Your ticket allows you to visit 3 sections. The main cell block did come with a sense of foreboding as you enter. You can do your own exploration or join the guided yours at fixed hours to understand the history better. Many of the cells contains "death masks" (In Western cultures a death mask is a wax or plaster cast made of a person's face following death. Death masks may be mementos of the dead, or be used for creation of portraits), something quite eerie for Asians but they do give you an idea of the face of some of Melbourne's most hardened criminals. The highlight of the display was of course the aforementioned Ned Kelly.
The 2nd section allows you to enter the City Watch House where you will be locked away and the key thrown into the pits. Kidding. But you can playact through what it would be like to be arrested and shown your rights and what it meant to spend some time in lockup. The Sergeant who guided us through did it with much aplomb and humour and I truly enjoyed it.
You need a lot more spark to do the last section, which is The Old Magistrate's Court where you can put yourself on trial. A mock trial that it, where you can grab the chance to put on a stuffy wig and be judge, or be the sly hand behind the crime as renactments of the trials of the days played out from the docks. Go with a big group of friends. You'll enjoy it more. I have in my group several old farts who refused to participate and sat sullen in their seats throughout the mock trial. Gosh, folks, have some humour!
Open daily from 9:30am to 5:00pm (closed Christmas Day and Good Friday)
Admission Fees (circa 2008):
* Adult - $18.00
* Child - $9.50
* Concession - $14.00
* Family - $44.00 (2 Adults and up to 4 children)
GHOST TOURS (Disclaimer: Did not try this yet)
Hangman’s Night Tours
Experience Australia’s most haunted building by candlelight. Generally held 4 times a week at 8.30pm (7.30pm in winter). Bookings Essential – contact Ticketek on 13 28 49 (local) or go to: TICKETEK
We decided to pay a visit to the Old Gaol on whim and ended having an amazingly fun and spooky experience! The Old Gaol itself is chilling reminder of what prisons used to be. Dark, cramp and miserable for criminals. The cells on the first and second level have been converted into a gallery providing information on notorious outlaws and the hangman's scaffold is still on display.
I highly recommend that a tour of the Watch House be included. Its a role-play tour that brings a whole new definition to guided tour! By the end of the tour, we decided that its was tremendous fun and that people should think twice before doing anything naughty!
Don't miss it!
You MUST visit the Old Melbourne Gaol. Lots of interesting history here and great value for money. See where Ned Kelly was hanged, and learn heaps about the prisoners who once lived within these horrible cells
BUILDING WORK FOR THE OLD MELBOURNE GAOL STARTED IN 1841 WITH THE FIRST CELL BLOCK OPENING IN 1845, BUT THE DISCOVERY OF GOLD IN VICTORIA STIMULATED A MASSIVE INFLUX IN THE POPULATION AND A GENERAL BREAKDOWN OF LAW AND ORDER SAW THE OLD MELBOURNE GAOL'S PRISIONER HEADCOUNT SOAR, AND BY 1850 IT WAS ALREADY OVERCROWDED.
A SECOND BLOCK WAS OPENED IN 1858, THAT IS THE ONE THAT REMAINS TODAY.
IN 1864 A WOMENS BLOCK WAS ADDED TO THE PRISON.
THERE WERE 135 HANGINGS AT THE PRISON, THE MOST FAMOUS WAS THAT OF NED KELLY.
KELLY THE FAMOUS AUSSIE BUSHRANGER WAS HANGED IN 1880.
HIS MOTHER WAS ALSO IMPRISONED THERE AT THE TIME AND WHEN TOLD HER SON WAS ABOUT TO HANG SHE TOLD HIM TO DIE LIKE A KELLY.. AND BY ALL ACCOUNTS HE DID.
IT IS POSSIBLE TO VIEW A SUIT OF KELLY'S ARMOUR, COLT REVOLVER AND HIS DEATH MASK. THE GAOL CLOSED IN 1926. AND OPENED AS A MUSEUM IN 1972 RUN BY THE AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL TRUST. THE MUSEUM IS OPEN 7 DAYS A WEEK FROM 9.30AM-5PM
ADULTS 12.50 CHILDREN 7.50. A NIGHT TOUR IS POSSIBLE ON WED-FRI-SAT.. CHILDREN ARE RECOMMENDED TO BE 12 AND OVER.
PRICES ARE, ADULT 25.00 JUNIOR 16.50 ALL PRICES IN AUSTRALIAN DOLLARS.
THERE IS LOADS TO SEE AND DO ON THIS TOUR AND ITS ONE I REALLY THINK YOU SHOULD TAKE TIME OUT AND DO. MELBOURNE OLD GAOL IS WORTH DOING SOME TIME IN.. ENJOY.
Visited one evening to this place - Old Melbourne gaol. We went inside by 4:00pm in the evening, while purchasing the ticket, we asked the ticket selling clerk, whether we can able to make it before 5:00pm, since it closes by 5:00pm. She is great enough to tell us that I will write it at the back of your ticket and you can visit again, if you can't see all the cells and she did it when we came back and said we would like to come back.
The also have some Ghost Busters tours on Saturday nights by 12:00am & 2:00am. You can try that too.
Visit the Old Melbourne Gael and experience the chilling environment where Ned Kelly spent his final moments. Ned Kelly was the infamous Australian bushranger, one of 136 men and women who were hanged on the Gaol's scaffold. See the Hangman's box, the Execution Book and other exhibitions on the grim period of Victoria's history. View Ned's death masks which was used in the study of phrenology to predict criminal behaviour.
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