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Old Melbourne Gaol

Old Melbourne Gaol is a bleak setting but an interesting attraction nonetheless. It was the scene of 135 hangings, including that of Australia's most famous outlaw, Ned Kelly (Kelly's armour and death mask are on display.)

The gaol has such a strong association with hanging that it's not surprising that there is an exhibition on the "Art of Hanging", featuring the "Hangman's Box" and its contents. The gaol is a relatively small and narrow building with cells either side on three levels. The upper levels have timber floors and iron rails. Interestingly, the hangings took place on the first landing, where a trap door is cut into the floor.

This then becomes the hangman's box. When the prisoner was hung and his body dropped through the trapdoor, he would have been hanging in the main ground-floor corridor of the gaol. This must have been an horrific experience for the other prisoners.

A book on display, which is known as the "Particulars of Executions", gives all the gory details and details the last moments of those hanged. Education packages include a collection of death masks that were used in the "science" of phrenology - the study of the skull to predict criminal behaviour.

Night performances by staff are a feature of the gaol. You can follow a warder by candlelight as he makes his way through the Gaol, giving an account of its history and telling stories about those who were hanged there.

The Old Melbourne gaol is open seven days a week, 9:00am to 5:00pm, but is closed on Good Friday and Christmas Day.

There are a number of options to pre-book your ticket to visit the Old Melbourne Gaol, try one of these:


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