Old Geelong Gaol
Originally known as HM Prison Geelong, the Old Geelong Gaol, formerly a high security prison, remains much the same as when it ceased operation in July 1991.
The basalt (locally known as bluestone) walls and masonry together with the finely laid brickwork are among the best examples of the artisans' craft in the region.
It was built to replace prison hulks moored in Stingray Bay (between Eastern Beach and Point Henry) and an old log-walled prison in South Geelong. Here prisoners lived in absolute squalor.
The Old Geelong Gaol is operated and maintained by the Rotary Club of Geelong Inc
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.
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❊ Address & Contact ❊
⊜ 202 Myers Street Geelong | Map
✆ (03) 5221 8292
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→ Old Geelong Gaol
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