Last week, we visited the Old Melbourne Gaol, a museum and former prison. Gaol, by the way, is just a British variant spelling of jail.
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.
Admission to the Gaol includes a tour of the old City Police Watch House next door, which closed in 1994.
Although it’s small and not nearly as picturesque as Port Arthur, the darker and gloomier Old Melbourne Gaol is worth a visit.
Have you visited any historic prisons?