Old Melbourne Gaol
The Old Melbourne Gaol is one of the city’s most recognizable landmarks, marking the darker side of the city’s history. It has stood in the heart of Melbourne since 1839 and has seen many hardened criminals pass through its doors, though not all departed the jail alive.
Being the only jail in the Melbourne area, this jail was used to house an array of prisoners. These criminals ranged in age, gender, offense and innocence. Men, women and even children were often housed at the jail with the youngest prisoner on the record being just three years old.
Poor conditions and executions at the jail made death a common occurrence within the building. Tragedy and these harsh conditions have led many to believe in the possibility that ghosts now haunt the former jail.
Death and the Old Melbourne Gaol
Death is commonly associated with hauntings, so it is important to understand some key events that led to death within the jail, to understand its ghosts.
Throughout the 90 years of the jail’s operation, it has seen many people pass over within its walls. Some of the souls of the people who have died here are thought to linger within the old buildings of the jail. Executions were a form of death that greatly added to the death toll at the Old Melbourne Gaol. The hangman’s noose was responsible for some 133 executions within the Old Melbourne Gaol.
Some of the notable executions to occur at the jail include that of Ned Kelly, an infamous Australian bushranger and outlaw. Another well-known execution was of a man named Frederick Bailey Deeming. This man was known for murdering two of his wives and own children. Many also speculate that he may have actually been the infamous Jack the Ripper, having been in London around the time of the Whitechapel murders. Finally, the death of Elizabeth Scott is also well known. She was actually the first woman to be executed within the state of Victoria in 1863 and is thought to remain at the jail to haunt it.
Ghosts of the Old Melbourne Gaol
As previously mentioned, the spirit of Elizabeth Scott is believed by many to haunt the Old Melbourne Gaol. Many people claim to have heard the disembodied voice of a female within the jail. This is believed to be Elizabeth attempting to communicate with visitors beyond the grave.
Elizabeth’s spirit isn’t the only one thought to haunt the Old Melbourne Gaol. Many former prisoners are also thought to dwell there. Not only have people claimed to hear the voices of the former inmates still at the jail, but they have also claimed to capture a glimpse of them. Sometimes they are described as dark shadowy figures of men lurking within their cells and sometimes something much more sinister. Others have described seeing the dark outlines of what looks like men standing at the entrances of cells, though upon closer inspection their skin appears to be rotting off their skeletons.
Cell 17 has been described as the jail’s most haunted cell. Though no one truly knows who or what lurks within, many people have claimed to be physically assaulted by an unseen force within the cell. Many who enter this area of the jail have been either unexplainably scratched or even pushed.
Visiting the Old Melbourne Gaol
The Old Melbourne Gaol is one of the most visited attractions in the city. The jail can be entered after purchasing a ticket either online or at the gate. Visitors can explore at their own leisure as the tour is self-guided. There are many informative signposts and displays around the jail and enough to see and spend a few hours in the building. The jail also offers watchtower tours which, encompass more of an experience. These depart from the front of the watchtower and visitors will be led through the tower by a guard who ‘locks you away.’ Almost nightly ghost tours can also be attended, where a guide takes you through the jail after hours.
If you enjoyed this article you may also like to learn about the Old Adelaide Gaol.
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