2. Jail Backpackers – Mount Gambier, Australia
Some former jails go through massive renovations led by world renowned architects and top-notch designers. Others kick the prisoners out and open their doors to patrons the next day. The Jail Backpackers (website under construction) falls into the second category. Don’t expect witty jailhouse names or tongue and cheek references here…don’t even expect a private bathroom. The cells haven’t changed much since the prisoners left — except now the doors lock from the inside and the former chapel is used as a common room. The hostel is owned by Gary and Patricia Adams who seem to be an, “if it ‘aint broken, don’t fix it” kind of couple.
If you’re dying to see more, take the $3.30 “grand tour” of the property where a “tour guide” takes patrons around to the solitary confinement cells, a mural painted by the inmates and the old kitchen, and much more:
Volleyball and tennis were played here on the weekends and at the end of each day. In the early days this was not a high security gaol, and sometimes the inmates would climb over the walls, run down to the pub, buy some grog, climb back inside and hide it to drink later. Did you know that tennis nets make good ladders?
An extra enticement for playing tennis was having friends on the outside who would throw in a doped tennis ball. (An ordinary tennis ball with a slit was stuffed with some drugs – mainly marijuana – in a plastic bag. The recipient would swallow these drugs, plastic and all, and retrieve it later in the privacy of his cell, as it passed through him! This ruse didn’t always go as planned, however, and at least one prisoner was very ill because the plastic bag had not been well enough seal; an overdose resulted!
Oh those prisoners, what tricksters!!