I’ve always had a odd fascination with crime. Not in ever committing it, just that people do and that despite all the psychologists in the world, we just really will never know truely why it happens. Call it my innate desire for justice, or just too many crime scene shows watched as a child (C.S.I was my bread and butter), I was just always intrigued with anything to do with the subject. Perhaps that’s why I’ve dabbled with the idea of becoming a lawyer, I’m not sure.
When I was in grade eight, we went to St Helena Island on the school excursion. St Helena Island is located in the Moreton Bay Region, four kilometres from the mouth of the Brisbane River and home to colonial Queensland’s foremost maximum security prisons for men in the 19th century. We had spent most of the day there touring the old ruins of the prison, imagining what it would have been like to be a prisoner there all that time ago.
I was enthralled. I always had been when it came to history, and when paired with a notorious past of crime – I was hook, line and sinker. I remember standing fearful to the soles of my feet as they talked about the Cat-of-nine-tails, struggling to believe how much times have changed.
On the way back to the bus, my school teacher at the time had made mention of another well known prison in Melbourne. And when she explained it was the prison Ned Kelly had been held captive at before his hanging – you bet it made it’s own special place on the bucket list.
Almost ten years later, I finally got to visit the notorious Melbourne Gaol, #33 on the list.
My Mr. had booked a surprise getaway to Melbourne for my birthday last year. We had stayed in a cosy little AirBnB in the heart of the CBD, and spent the week walking through the many back lanes of the busy city exploring. We had become so exceptionally good at riding the Tram be the end of the third day, we could have almost been mistaken as locals.
Nevertheless, in the home town of the Melbourne Gaol, we decided to visit.
After grabbing a coffee from a cafe on a nearby corner (with honey instead of vanilla, because apparently syrup in coffee in Melbourne is a crime all of its own…), we walked along Russell Street to the jail entrance. If there is one thing I really love about Melbourne, it’s the integration on old historic buildings amongst the new. And there on Russell Street, we found one of the oldest buildings in the city.
The Old Melbourne Gaol opened it’s first cell block in 1845, lasting 79 years until it’s closure in 1924. Famous for being the location of the hanging of Ned Kelly, the jail remains open to the public today to explore the prison, and it’s eyry past. You can climb the stairs of the prison and explore the cells. There is a multitude of information plastered to the walls, and plenty of real life memorabilia to take in. And when you reach the end of the prison block, you can even stand where Ned Kelly was finally hung and bear witness to the rope that claimed his life.
If you have a bit of time, it’s worth doing the full tour, which not to give too much away, includes being processed as prisoner and locked in a prison cell – just a little something to put you out of your comfort zone. The tour includes the city watch tower and magistrates court, before delivering you through to the prison block itself. There are plenty of tourist photo opportunities along the way (and you better believe I made use of every one of them). I thoroughly enjoyed every moment learning about the past, and the lives of some of the most notorious criminals. The tour through the Old Melbourne Gaol cost $28 per adult, and is worth every cent. I couldn’t recommend it enough.
If you’re interested, you can check out our Melbourne trip (inclusive of the old gaol!) here.
Otherwise, if you’re in Melbourne – go see for yourself, this is definitely a must do!
You can find more information about the Old Melbourne Gaol at https://www.oldmelbournegaol.com.au
#33 – Explore the prison where Ned Kelly was help captive in Melbourne: Check!