The Old Geelong Gaol
Operated and maintained by the Rotary Club of Geelong Inc
Open to the public each Saturday and Sunday, school holidays and public holidays 1pm to 4pm
Closed Christmas Day, Boxing day, New Year's day and Good Friday
Admission: Adults:$10   Children:$5   Family:$22   Concession:$8
Special arrangements can be made for large tourist groups
Email: info@OldGeelongGaol.org.au (click here)


About the Old Geelong Gaol
This historic, Heritage listed site is a ‘must see’ for anyone remotely interested in Australia’s early penal history during the nation’s establishment as a British colony. You will be surprised at both the size of the Gaol and the harsh conditions of confinement that inmates endured up to the time of the facility’s closing in 1991.

When the first prisoners were admitted in 1853 and indeed for the greater part of the life of this Gaol, primarily internment was for the purpose of punishment rather than rehabilitation. Even the most hardened criminals interred here were intimidated by the conditions.

Based on the Pentonville Prison which opened in London in 1842, building of the Geelong Gaol commenced in 1849 but was not completed until 1865 due to the Gold Rushes to Ballarat, Bendigo and other parts of Victoria. A key feature of the Pentonville design was the fact that the great majority of cells were intended to accommodate only one prisoner -- a big advance in thinking at that time. The solid basalt block walls (known locally as bluestone) and masonry, together with the finely laid brickwork, are among the best examples of the skill of artisans in the region.

The Gaol replaced prison hulks (moored nearby in Stingray Bay between Eastern Beach and Point Henry) and an old, small, log walled prison in South Geelong where prisoners had lived in absolute squalor. When prisoners were first relocated to the new facility, they would have been pleased by the upgrade in their living conditions; however by today’s standard of prison accommodation, certainly they were not being pampered in any shape or form.

The Gaol could accommodate some 150 prisoners most of whom were confined to individual bluestone blocked cells (approximately 4m long, 2m wide and 3m high) with minimum natural light and small, unglazed, barred windows near the ceiling through which cold winds chilled the occupants. From 1853 until closure in 1991 it housed many notorious prisoners including ‘Squizzy’ Taylor and ‘Chopper’ Read who still manages to be in the news. (His book and the movie sequel “Chopper” are still available)

A total of six convicts were hanged in Geelong from 1854 to 1865. Four of these took place at Gallows Flat (on Crown land near the Gaol) and two were within the Gaol -- James Murphy on November 7 1863 and Thomas Menard (an American) on October 28 1865.

Ghostly experiences

Geelong Gaol Ghost Tour
Geelong Ghost Tour takes you through one of Australia's largest 1800's convict prisons after dark. Explore the prison for 90 minutes and be haunted by stories of murderers, lunatics, brutal prison realities, amazing personal stories, and of course lots of ghost stories. The tour travels through the most intact 3 story cell blocks in Australia, shower block, punishment cells, exercise yard, chapel, kitchen, infirmaries, surgery theatres. Tours are limited to 30 people, and are led by a team of professional theatrical historians. Tours start at 8pm and depart every 30 minutes depending on demand.
Geelong Gaol Ghost Adventure
The ultimate paranormal investigation experience... Led by Australia’s premier investigation team, Geelong Gaol Ghost Adventure, provides every customer with state of the art equipment and one of the best locations in Australia. Every group gets
  • Night vision cameras
  • infrared goggles
  • laser grids
  • emf detectors
  • laser thermometers
  • parabolic microphones
  • spirit boxes
  • motion sensors
and a wide range of other equipment


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Created 12 June, 2009.     Last Updated: 23rd June, 2013.
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