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Old Melbourne Gaol

Go to Jail in Melbourne

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Inside Old Melbourne Gaol: the Hangman's Box

Inside Old Melbourne Gaol: the Hangman's Box

© Tourism Victoria

A fascinating Melbourne attraction, even if it may be perceived as verging on the macabre, is Old Melbourne Gaol on Russell St, which most certainly is part and parcel of Australian history as one of the places where convicts were imprisoned and those sentenced to death were hanged.

It was here on November 11, 1880, that the Australian bushranger Ned Kelly, who has acquired some status as a folk hero, met his death on the gallows.

Ned Kelly's revolver — and his death mask — are on exhibit at Old Melbourne Gaol.

Hangman's box

Old Melbourne Gaol, no longer serving as a prison, is a narrow building, with cells on either side on three levels, in the northrn part of Melbourne city centre.

Hangings took place on the first landing where a trapdoor, known as the hangman's box, was cut into the floor, so that the body of a hanged convict would fall through the trapdoor and be visible in the main ground-floor corridor.

National heritage

Old Melbourne Gaol was the first extensive prison complex in Victoria with the first of its buildings constructed in 1841-44. Additional buildings, wings and demolitions marked its development through the years.

It ceased operating as a prison in 1929 except for a brief period in World War II when it housed Australian soldiers found to have been absent without leave.

In 1972, the National Trust of Australia (Victoria) was given management of Old Melbourne Gaol as a tourist attraction.

The National Trust is Australia's largest community conservation organisation safeguarding Australia's heritage for future generations.

Day and night visits

In the daytime, Old Melbourne Gaol is open to the public daily from 9.30am to 5pm, except on Christmas Day and Good Friday. An admission fee is charged.

If you wish to visit Old Melbourne Gaol at night, there are candlelight tours which combine theatre with historical fact four nights a week from 8.30pm.

As well, there may be a ghost hunt tour which normally starts at 10.30pm.

Check schedules, and buy tickets, for night and ghost tours at ticketek.com.au.

Getting there

For visitors to Victoria, a convenient way to get to Old Melbourne Gaol in the daytime is to take the free City Circle tram, alight at the corner of LaTrobe and Russell Sts, and walk a short distance northward to Old Melbourne Gaol.

If taking the train, alight at Melbourne Central Station, walk east on LaTrobe and north on Russell.

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