This iconic landmark is the site where 135 people, including infamous bushranger Ned Kelly, were hanged. The prison was also a focus during some of Australia’s most significant historical moments, including the Gold Rush and World War II.
The bushrangers, murderers, baby farmers and gangsters kept here lived alongside petty offenders, including lunatics, vagrants and bankrupts. Experience what life behind bars was like for some of our most notorious villains – learn about their life and crimes, their trials and treatment. Step into the shoes of a hangman…
The Old Melbourne Gaol was the place where Ned Kelly, Australia’s most controversial character, was hanged in 1880.
The son of an Irish convict, young Kelly frequently brushed with the law, becoming a fugitive in 1878. Relentless police pursuit culminated in a shootout at Glenrowan, in which he was captured and the rest of his gang were killed. Ned’s famous revolver is on display at the Gaol today. Until he was hanged in 1880, the wounded Kelly spent his days in the Gaol while his mother was serving a sentence in the women’s wing.
Come face to face with Ned when you gaze upon his death mask at the Old Melbourne Gaol.
Activities: Self Guided Tours
Guide your way through the chilling history and secrets of the Gaol. Learn about Ned Kelly, see the Death Masks and find out what prison life was really like in the 1800’s.
Watch House Experience
A guided tour and interactive performance held daily in the Watch House.
Hangman’s Night Tours
Michael Gateley was Melbourne’s most prolific and brutal hangman. Join him and experience Australia’s most haunted building by candlelight …if you dare! Generally held 4 times a week at 8.30pm (7.30pm in winter). Bookings Essential – contact Ticketek
Ghostseekers Night Tours
Held monthly, the Ghostseekers team conduct paranormal investigations in the Old Melbourne Gaol. Bookings Essential - contact Ticketek. For further information about these tours visit: www.ghostseekers.com.au
Such a Life
A free live performance staged every Saturday at 12.30pm and 2.00pm. Experience the truth behind Ned Kelly’s life and legend in the very place where the iron outlaw drew his last breath in 1880.
The name Ned Kelly is a definite selling point for a visit here although there are plenty of other highlights.
Our kids enjoyed the Watch House Experience the most. The Watch House functioned as a working processing centre up until 1994. You get a "real life" experience of getting arrested, processed and locked up in a cell by the Watch House Sergeant. Woe betide anyone who doesn't obey the Sergeant's orders quick smart. You can inspect the various areas of the Watch House including the exercise yard and the padded cell for those clumsy people who might trip over and hurt themselves. The tour lasts about 30 minutes and parental guidance is required for children 15 years and under. Be prepared for some rather raw but authentic graffiti. It's rather clear from some of the graffiti that the detainees weren't great fans of the Frankston Police - although I guess any member of the constabulary wasn't high on their Christmas present list.
The gaol has three levels of cells and there are lots of interesting exhibits in the cells covering the experiences of women and children in the gaol, how the gaol was used in World War II, the whipping triangle which was used to punish male prisoners for bad behaviour, the story of Colin Ross who was hanged for a crime he probably didn't commit, life in early Melbourne, the building of the gaol, the hangman's trade and stories (with death masks) about some of the executed prisoners.
At one end is the story of Ned Kelly and his gang including the cell where Kelly spent time with a priest before his execution, the gallows and Ned Kelly's death mask. I have been told (by a guide passionate about his facts) that the sign next to the death mask is not correct. His head was not removed during an autopsy and a death mask made. The death mask was made with his head still intact to his body. There is also some "Ned Kelly armour" which the kids can dress up in.
You can either wander about yourself, or for an extra nominal cost, you can take a guided tour (about 40 minutes). The guided tour was very interesting and full of information but moved a little too slowly to keep younger kids interested.
The Watch House Experience was scheduled about every 30 minutes from 11am to 3:45 and the guided tour was scheduled hourly between 10:15 and 2:15. Make sure you don't come too late if you want to take the guided tour.