Melbourne Trip 2019 ~ Old Melbourne Gaol
A wise man once said, in order to understand a country’s cultures and belief do pay the local museum a visit.
This statement, though, is quite divisive as a love and hate relationship. Perhaps the love comes from the museum that gave a lot of visionary excitement and the hate comes from museum that relies on pure written narration on a mundane signage.
Let me tell you that your visionary excitement would multiple by hundred fold if you are to visit the a more than century old prison converted to museum. The eerie atmosphere including the realisation that you are actually sitting in the same cell as the first few batches of prisoners 159 years ago would be once a lifetime experience.
I always thought my hubby was joking when he insisted that a visit to Old Melbourne Gaol to be part of our busy itinerary. But when he did booked the tickets that I realized “hey, I am actually going there” and bracing myself on the prospect of accidental meet-up with unsavoury lost spirits :-(. My hubby’s rationale is that as Australia was formed largely from immigrants communities since the discovery of New World, it would be interesting to see the stories of the “poor” multi-national souls incarcerated in the prison.
Let me quote the introduction about Old Melbourne Gaol from Wikipedia for the context:-
The Old Melbourne Gaol is a museum on Russell Street, in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. It consists of a bluestone building and courtyard, and is located next to the old City Police Watch House and City Courts buildings.
It was first constructed starting in 1839, and during its operation as a prison between 1842 and 1929, it held and executed some of Australia’s most notorious criminals, including bushranger Ned Kelly and serial killer Frederick Bailey Deeming. In total, 135 people were executed by hanging.
The prison cell that turned into Ned Kelly’s mini-exhibit that displays his stories, prison life, death mask and even his revolver!
Who is Ned Kelly? I think he was the grand-dad of Robocop as he is infamous for his steel bulletproof armour in his last stand-off with the police. Watch the video here.
Although I have agreed with the visit, we opted for the day tour as I am too timid to commit myself to a night tour. Nevertheless, the day tour does not take away the chilling feeling when you actually walked into the poorly lighted area of the Gaol.
I highly recommend that you start your tour with the immersive lock-up experience at the infamous City Watch House as you will be treated and processed like an inmate by very convincing acting from the staff (the fierce lady warden really did shout at you!).
The Watch House experience
We entered the watch house as a prisoner and we needed to line up against the wall. A few of us were given a character story of why we were arrested. The police sergeant and then checked us all for contraband before sending us to the cells. While we were in our cells the lights were briefly turned off so we could get a true experience of being locked away in one of these cells.
Strolling the watch house and get your mug shot taken!
Exploring the prison cells filled with information about the inmates who lived there.
The gallows and execution area.
Verdict: I guess it is not bad after all to visit a jail (not the functioning jail) as we spent more time there than we expected reading all the stories of the inmates and imagining the living conditions at that time. Heck, I think Sam is behaving better too after the visit 😉
Souvenirs shopping time!
Old Melbourne Gaol
377 Russell St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia.
Tel: +61 3 9656 9889
Operating hours: 9.30am to 5.00pm
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