- Type: Museums
NileGuide Expert Says:
Gritty penal history from a remote penal colony! Try a Hangman's Night Tour or a Ghost Tour for a close up look (or feel) of what it was like to reside within the bluestone walls of Victoria's oldest jail.
One of my favorite Melbourne attractions has been given an added dimension in the past year, making it even better. Maybe I'm mad to enjoy being locked up in a cell, but the Old Melbourne Gaol's new Crime & Justice Experience is an interesting way to spend a few hours. Start off at the historic old prison, with its tiny cells and spooky collection of death masks and artifacts of 19th-century prison life. Some 135 hangings took place here, including that of notorious bushranger (and Australian folk hero) Ned Kelly, in 1880. The scaffold where he was hanged still stands, and his gun, as well as a suit of armor used by a member of his gang, is on display. The jail closed in 1929. Profiles of former prisoners give a fascinating perspective of what it was like to be locked up here. Each Saturday, free performances of "The Real Ned Kelly Story -- Such a Life" are held at 12:30 and 2pm. (Be warned: When we attended, a small girl burst into tears.) Then move next door for a guided tour of the former City Watch House to find out first-hand what it might have been like to spend time here. The lockup, which operated from 1908 to 1994, is just across the road from the scene of one of Melbourne's most notorious crimes, the 1986 bombing of the Russell Street police station. There's role playing involved for everyone, and it can be quite confronting for children. On Sundays at noon, 1pm, 2:20pm, and 3:20pm, you can also visit the adjacent former Magistrate's Court and take part in a re-enactment of a real life court case, the trial of Elizabeth Scott, the first woman hanged in Victoria. Chilling night tours run every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday, where you can experience the jail by candlelight with a "hangman," who will recount stories of the jail, its inmates, and his infamous art -- not for the fainthearted or children under 12. Tickets, available from Ticketek (tel. 13 28 49 or www.ticketek.com.au), cost A$30 (US$27/£14) for adults, A$23 (US$21/£10) for children under 15.
- © Frommer's 2013
- Very Highly Recommended 2010