Visit the place where infamous outlaw Ned Kelly was executed and learn about the brutal system of law and order a century ago.
The Old Melbourne Gaol gives a full and often frightening insight into the severe Australian penal system as it operated through the course of the 19th century and on into the start of the 20th. Closed in 1929, it is the oldest surviving prison in the state of Victoria, and was converted into a museum by the National Trust of Australia in 1972.
Today, the body of the prison has been preserved, with different areas used to house displays on the harshness of everyday prison life, the often cruel punishment meted out to inmates, and the individual histories of celebrated prisoners. Shudder at the miscarriage of justice which saw Colin Campbell Ross executed despite evidence of his innocence, or take in the tale of the vicious and twisted murderer Frederick Bailey Deeming – after his execution it is said that 12,000 people cheered in the streets.
The most famous of the 133 inmates who met their end here was Ned Kelly, the most notorious of all Australian outlaws. Examine his celebrated homemade armour, worn during his final shootout with police officers. His death mask and pistol are also on display, and you can see the gallows where he was hung. Kelly’s skull was also in the possession of the museum until it was stolen in 1978.
Take in a reproduction of a legal trial in the Old Magistrates Court, or get some insight into what it was like to be a prisoner in the Watch House Experience, where you’ll be arrested and imprisoned before taking a fascinating tour of a life of incarceration.
Unexplained voices in the corridors and paranormal sightings have fed the belief in many that the gaol is haunted. Join a night tour to hear scary stories and learn about the dark past of the institution. This needs to be booked online before your visit.
The Old Melbourne Gaol is located in the city centre and is easily accessible via public transport. It is open daily, except for Christmas Day and Good Friday.