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.
I would recommend you put a visit to Melbournes Old Gaol on your 'Must Do' list. This remarkable old building is in the care of the National Trust of Australia and they do a superb job of letting you experience the sad history and heavy atmosphere of the Old Gaol.
Built to accommodate prisoners in the 1840's, the Gaol quickly became overcrowded, not only with male prisoners, but with women and children also, many of them poverty-stricken and desperate. As you tour the cells, you get to read the history of the individual prisoners held. What really strikes home, however, are the actual death masks taken from the faces of those that were hanged here. Staring at the plaster-cast face, complete with eyelashes, of a hanged prisoner is a sobering experience to say the least.
The Gaol was also the prison where the notorious Australian outlaw Ned Kelly was held and ultimately hanged. You get to see his death mask too, and the 'drop' where he met his end. Ned Kellys story is far too long to be recounted here, but is told at the Gaol in detail.
Melbourne Old Gaol was Victoria's first prison, built in 1841 and which remained in use until its official closure in 1924 (although it was used as a military prison during WWII, mainly for short stay periods for those who went AWOL during leave or were arrested for being drunk and disorderly). During this period, it saw 136 hangings, with its most famous victim, Ned Kelly, being hanged in 1880.
(Dates of opening and closure of the prison vary from source to source).
It's a fascinating, if gruesome, place to visit. Only one wing of the prison is open to the public. During its heyday, the prison covered the whole block - nowadays its bluestone buildings have either been demolished or incorporated into the city campus of RMIT (although the Prison Chapel is still open to the public but is accessed through an entrance which is part of the University in Franklin St). Virtually all the cells are open to viewing (except those that have been incorporated into offices!!), although many are empty of any furnishings. Throughout the 3 floors of cells there are, however, a number of displays and, more interestingly, boards providing information about life in the prison - ranging from military use through to life as a hangman as well as the stories of many of those imprisoned or hanged in the prison. There's also a collection of Death Masks, including that of Ned Kelly himself as well as the weird hologram of the hangman's noose.
Monday - Sunday 9.30am - 5pm (closed Christmas Day and Good Friday)
Family: AUD$33.50 (2 adults, 4 kids)
There's also Old Melbourne Gaol By Night (usually Wed/Fri & Sunday) - a tour by candlelight and which involves history and re-enactments. AUD$25/AUD$16.50 for the privilege.
Gaol prounounced Jail. This was a prison used many years ago. The famous outlaw Ned Kelly was imprisoned here. This was a fun and interesting place to check out. It's not your typical museum visit!
The jail was dark and not so great for taking pictures.
You can do a 'performance' tour of the Old Melbourne Gaol at night. See where Ned Kelly was hanged, by candlelight. Spooky!
The freakiest bit was walking past all these dark spaces of cells - kept expecting to see ghosts/have somthing jump out at you!!
The Flintstones must have been well ahead of their time, and must have come to Melbourne at some point. This is obvious because their theme song makes reference to "You'll have a Ga-ol time!"
One of the most referenced locations in Melbourne is the Old Melbourne Gaol, which became famous internationally as the location in which Ned Kelly was hanged. Ned was an infamous bushranger who was responsible for many Victorian Police Officers death, while alledgedly avenging his mother's honour.
The National Trust of Australia - Victoria has been in charge of the restoration of this location, which was originally erected in the mid 1800's.
Today there has been much debate about whether the location is actually haunted, with some believing that it is actually Ned Kelly's mother that is hanging about waiting for her sons to come back and avenge their death.
I came away from this place with mixed feelings.
Firstly it was absolutely fascinating, a really interesting place to visit to get the historic background information on Melbourne in its early days & the way criminals, petty or otherwise were treated & dealt with.
However, it would be really easy to come out of here really depressed, for a number of reasons. Just the feel of the place inside gave palpable evidence to the horrid repression of the human spirit that took place in here.
It is famous in Australian history as the place where Ned Kelly said his famous last words, "Such is life!" before he was hanged by the neck until dead. Even today we still don't know if he was a hero or a villain. I guess it all depends of your perspective. Ned's death mask can also be seen at the Gaol. Please note the English spelling Gaol as it was used then & not "jail".
The Old Melbourne Gaol is a National Trust administered property & if you are a member you will have reduced admission fees.
Also, you may be lucky enough to catch one of the
"Night Performances - a blend of theatre and history:
Experience the gaol by candlelight with hangman 'Michael Gately' as he recounts stories of the gaol, its inmates and his infamous art. Not for the faint hearted or children under 12 years old. Tickets available from Ticketek 13 28 49 or www.ticketek.com.au" info taken from the National Truest website
If you're in Melbourne & you have the time I really recommend a visit here.
The Old Melbourne Gaol is best known as the place where Ned Kelly (Australia's infamous bushranger) was hanged in 1880. Consequently there is a lot of interest in his life.
If you visit on a Saturday you can watch a live performance of "Such A Life" which tells the Ned Kelly story at 12.30pm and 2.00pm. This is included in the entry price of $13.50 per adult.
"Hangman's Night Tours" are generally held 4 nights a week. Bookings are essential, phone Ticketek on 13 28 49, or go to www.ticketek.com.au
This 3 story bluestone building is one of Melbourne's oldest surviving buildings. Construction began in 1841, the 1st cell block opened in 1845.
On the ground floor, outside the cells, you will find storyboards about early Melbourne and the building of the gaol. Inside the cells, there are stories about executed prisoners.
The story about Ned Kelly and his gang is told at the far end of the gaol. Here you can also see his death mask.
Open 7 days a week. Closed Christmas Day and Good Friday.
The gaol saw 135 hangings in the time that it was in operation. The most famous victim was Ned Kelly who was the first Victorian-born person of European descent to die in the prison's gallows. His death mask, one of his pistols, and a suit of armour from one of his gang are on display with other macabre memorabilia. You can take a day or night tour.
The Old Melbourne Gaol was originally part of a gaol complex that was constructed in 1852-4. It was the first to be built in bluestone in preference to sandstone and had its own perimeter wall. At the time it was a model prison. It served as a prison for the last time in the Second World War to hold soldiers who were AOL.
Australias most famous outlaw Ned Kelly was hanged here in 1880, his last words were "such is life"...... acceptance of the fact that in those days execution was an employment hazard for a bank robber,
he was injured in the siege at Glenrowan, when he was captured, so as soon as he was well enough they executed him
you can see the beam he was hung from and his death mask...........we were suprised to see that he had a strong resemblance to the character Nick Cotton from the BBC soap `Eastenders` ......... perhaps there is something going for the phrenology theory after all
also on show is some of the armour made and worn by the Kelly gang, and a child size version if any younger visitors would like to dress up for a photo opportunity
the scaffold here is still in working order, using it on husbands and wayward offspring is of course forbidden, and there is an display entitled "Art of Hanging" which is either educational or macarbe depending on your viewpoint
there is an amazing collection of death masks here all of which look far too life like
[ or should that be death like ?]
several eminent doctors during Victorian times believed that the shape of the skull was indicative of the personality, this study [ phrenology ] was said to be able to identify the "criminal type", death masks of hanged criminals were often made, and their skulls studied after death, these death masks are on display at the gaol, with the history of the person and the catalogue of their crimes
l found them very interesting, but very spooky